translated from the Spanish of Gabriela Mistral


So you might sleep, my little boy,
the sky now bears no trace
of gleaming. There’s no glow but dew,
no whiteness but my face.

So you might sleep, my little boy,
the river passing by
is all that groans. The roads fall mute.
What now remains? Just I.

The field retreats inside the mist,
the violet’s petals close,
and like a hand upon the world
rest silence and repose.

It was not just my boy I rocked.
My singing also made
the Earth itself grow sleepy as
the rocking cradle swayed.

translated from Rainer Marie Rilke (Herbsttag)


Lord, it’s time. Great summer now must yield.
Cast your shade across the gnomon’s shade
and loose your winds across the darkened field.

What grapes remain unripened on the vine,
afford them two more days of southern heat,
urge them to perfection. Let their sweet
essence mellow the harshness of the wine.

The homeless now will never have a home.
Those who are alone will stay that way,
awake, composing letters night and day,
and through the restless thoroughfares will roam
back and forth, as leaves of autumn may.

translated from the Spanish of Rubén Darío


Happy the tree that scarcely feels a thing!
And happier still the nothing-feeling stone!
No pain exceeds the pain that living brings;
and grief attends the conscious life alone.
To be, yet not to know. No path ahead.
The fear of having been, and future fright . . .
The dread of knowing soon we will be dead
but only after suffering through the night
what we can’t grasp, nor hardly can we guess;
the flesh that tempts us like a grape or plum,
the tomb that waits for us with wreathes; and yes,
not knowing where we’re heading, even less
knowing whence we come.