Thursday, October 04, 2012


Fernando de Herrera's Ode to Sleep

Fernando de Herrera (1534-1597), Ode to Sleep (tr. Thomas Roscoe):
Sweet Sleep, that through the starry path of night,
With dewy poppies crowned, pursu'st thy flight!
Stiller of human woes,
That shedd'st o'er Nature's breast a soft repose!
Oh, to these distant climates of the West
Thy slowly-wandering pinions turn,
And with thy influence blest
Bathe these love-burdened eyes, that ever burn
And find no moment's rest,
While my unceasing grief
Refuses all relief!
Oh, hear my prayer! I ask it by thy love,
Whom Juno gave thee in the realms above.

Sweet Power, that dost impart
Gentle oblivion to the suffering heart,
Beloved Sleep, thou only canst bestow
A solace for my woe!
Thrice happy be the hour
My weary limbs shall feel thy sovereign power!
Why to these eyes alone deny
The calm thou pour'st on Nature's boundless reign?
Why let thy votary all neglected die,
Nor yield a respite to a lover's pain?
And must I ask thy balmy aid in vain?
Hear, gentle Power, oh, hear my humble prayer,
And let my soul thy heavenly banquet share!

In this extreme of grief, I own thy might.
Descend, and shed thy healing dew;
Descend, and put to flight
The intruding Dawn, that with her garish light
My sorrows would renew!
Thou hear'st my sad lament, and in my face
My many griefs may'st trace:
Turn, then, sweet wanderer of the night, and spread
Thy wings around my head!
Haste, for the unwelcome Morn
Is now on her return!
Let the soft rest the hours of night denied
Be by thy lenient hand supplied!

Fresh from my summer bowers
A crown of soothing flowers,
Such as thou lov'st, the fairest and the best,
I offer thee; won by their odors sweet,
The enamoured air shall greet
Thy advent: oh, then, let thy hand
Express their essence bland,
And o'er my eyelids pour delicious rest!
Enchanting Power, soft as the breath of Spring
Be the light gale that steers thy dewy wing!
Come, ere the sun ascends the purple east,—
Come, end my woes! So, crowned with heavenly charms,
May fair Pasithea take thee to her arms!
In Spanish:
Süave Sueño, tú, que en tardo vuelo
las alas perezosas blandamente
bates, de adormideras coronado,
por el puro, adormido y vago cielo,
ven a la última parte de Ocidente,
y de licor sagrado
baña mis ojos tristes, que cansado
y rendido al furor de mi tormento,
no admito algún sosiego,
y el dolor desconorta al sufrimiento;
ven a mi humilde ruego,
ven a mi ruego humilde, ¡oh amor de aquella,
que Juno te ofreció, tu ninfa bella!

Divino Sueño, gloria de mortales,
regalo dulce al mísero afligido,
Sueño amoroso, ven a quien espera
cesar del ejercicio de sus males,
y al descanso volver todo el sentido.
¿Cómo sufres que muera,
lejos de tu poder quien tuyo era?
¿No es dureza olvidar un solo pecho
en veladora pena,
que sin gozar del bien que al mundo has hecho,
de tu vigor se ajena?
Ven, Sueño alegre; Sueño, ven dichoso;
vuelve a mi alma ya, vuelve el reposo.

Sienta yo en tal estrecho tu grandeza,
baja y esparce líquido el rocío,
huya la alba que en torno resplandece;
mira mi ardiente llanto y mi tristeza
y cuánta fuerza tiene el pesar mío,
y mi frente humedece,
que ya de fuegos juntos el sol crece.
Torna, sabroso Sueño, y tus hermosas
alas suenen ahora,
y huya con sus alas presurosas
la desabrida Aurora,
y lo que en mí faltó la noche fría
termine la cercana luz del día.

Una corona, ¡oh Sueño!, de tus flores
ofrezco; tú produce el blando efeto
en los desiertos cercos de mis ojos,
que el aire entretejido con olores
halaga, y ledo mueve en dulce afeto;
y destos mis enojos
destierra, manso Sueño, los despojos.
Ven, pues, amado Sueño, ven liviano,
que del rico Orïente
despunta el tierno Febo el rayo cano.
Ven ya, Sueño clemente,
y acabará el dolor. Así te vea
en brazos de tu cara Pasitea.
Another translation, by Mary Anna E. Charnock:
Oh, gentle Sleep! thou who in noiseless flight
Beatest so lazily thy downy wings,
Thy brow with blushing wreath of poppies crowned,
When the pure, fragrant, placid air of night
O'er all the earth its dreamy influence flings,
Come from the distant west's remotest bound,
    And with thy sacred balm,
Oh soothe my aching eyes, and gently calm
The anguish of my heart—assuage my grief—
    Grant me release from care—
Thou who alone canst bring desired relief,
    Come to my humble prayer—
Come to my humble prayer, oh gentle Sleep!
And in profound repose my senses steep.

Oh blessed Sleep, thou choicest boon of heaven!
Thou refuge sweet from misery, and pain!
Beloved Sleep, to whose entrancing power,
Forgetfulness of all our woes is given!
Who still'st the busy workings of the brain,
And giv'st severest pain one tranquil hour!
    How we suffer—even die—
Mysterious Sleep, when thou dost from us fly!
How hard it is to banish from the mind
    One grief when thou art gone!
What joy in earth's possessions can we find
    When thou hast from us flown?
Then come, oh gentle, and beloved Sleep!
And in profound repose my senses steep.

I know how swiftly thy benignant sway
Departs, when morning's pearly dew appears,
And the bright sunrise throws its radiant blaze
On all around.—How oft the early day
Has heard my sighs, and seen my burning tears,
And marked the overwhelming care that weighs,
    Upon my aching brow!
Then, gentle Sleep! thy blessed influence throw
Over my couch! oh wave thy downy wing,
    Upon soft zephyrs borne!
And come, before the hours, swift passing, bring
    The bright unwelcome morn!
Come, whilst the cool night breeze remains, oh Sleep!
And in profound repose my senses steep.

A wreath, oh Sleep! of thy most favourite flowers
I offer thee, that thou should'st o'er me fling
Thy soothing spell, and on my weary eyes
Let the soft breezes play, whose balmy powers
Are gathered from the sweetest blooms of spring,
And whilst they o'er me breathe their fragrant sighs,
    Banish the last remains
Of my worn spirits never ceasing pains.
Then come! come speedily—oh tranquil Sleep!
    Ere, from the east, the sun
Shall rise, in youthful splendour, o'er the deep.
    Then come, thou gentlest one!—
Oh heal my heart's deep wounds, beloved Sleep!
And in profound repose my senses steep.
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