Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Spain, &c.
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV.  1876–79.
 
Spain: Darro, the River
Moorish Ballad
José Zorrilla (1817–1893)
 
Translated by S. Eliot

RISING ’neath the moon’s dim ray,
        Far away,
Stands a Moorish tower tall;
The Darro’s waters, swift and pure,
        Flow obscure        5
Below its frowning wall.
 
Above the stream the sad elms sigh
        Mysteriously,
Making soft music to the ear;
And close among the meadow reeds        10
        And tangled weeds
The night breeze whispers near.
 
On the shore of yellow sand
        Flowers expand,
Outpouring perfume wild;        15
Birds of plumage, fair and bright,
        Sing by night,
Amidst the flowers mild.
 
Waters, dropping, sparkling, fall
        Dashing all        20
Down the rocks’ rough sides;
And like the image of a dream,
        The broken stream
Paints pictures as it glides.
 
Thrown open to a wayward breeze,        25
        The jalousies
Welcome its murmurs breathed around;
Within the dark balcony wide,
        The Sultan’s bride
Stands as in silence bound.        30
 
Yet, soft! she sings, half hidden there,
        The midnight air
Is touched with gentle sound,
And the bride’s voice, in breathings low,
        Is lost below        35
Upon the herb-grown ground.
 
Only to that plaintive voice,
        With wakeful noise
The nightingale replies,
Warbling in tuneful ease,        40
        Among the trees
That in the garden rise.
 
This sweet and strange accord
        Of voice and bird
Swells round that solemn tower;        45
Hushed, as if listening, seem
        The breeze, the stream,
Elm, palace, field, and flower.
 
There sang the Sultan’s bride,
        And there replied        50
The bird in harmony,—
And there the Sultan stood,
        And murmurs heard,
While watching jealously.
 
“They give me love of price untold,        55
        Rich pearls and gold,
And bring me garlands dear;
Yet say, O flower! to fortune rare
        And beauty fair,
What still is wanting here?        60
 
They give me festival and state,
        And gardens great,
To Eden’s paradise near;
But, garden, say,—with fortune rare
        And beauty fair,        65
What still is wanting here?
 
“They give me plumes as bright
        As fleecy light,
Veiling the charms they fear;
O, say, thou bird! to fortune rare        70
        And beauty fair,
What still is wanting here?
 
“Nothing appears in frightful guise
        Before my eyes,
Nothing calls forth a tear;        75
Then say, O moon! to fortune rare
        And beauty fair,
What still is wanting here?”
 
So far she sang,—when silently
        And suddenly        80
A shadow came across the light,—
It was the Sultan, at the side
        Of his fair bride,—
She started, half in fright.
 
“Thou hast all things,” said he to her,        85
        “In thy tower,—
Flowers and jewels dear;
Tell me, loved one, to thy portion,
        To thy passion,
What still is wanting here?        90
 
“What is there in the garden old,
        Or waters cold,
What has the bird or flower,
That with the dawn of every day
        I do not lay        95
At thy own feet, a dower?
 
“Tell me what thou wishest, sweet one,
        Charm or fortune,—
Ask me even for a folly.”
“Sultan, these birds that I love, singing,        100
        These flowers springing,
Have air and liberty!”
 
 
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