For Who?

- 1843-1905

When the heavens with stars are gleaming
   Like a diadem of light, 
And the moon’s pale rays are streaming, 
   Decking earth with radiance bright; 
When the autumn’s winds are sighing, 
   O’er the hill and o’er the lea, 
When the summer time is dying, 
   Wanderer, wilt thou think of me? 

When thy life is crowned with gladness, 
     And thy home with love is blest, 
Not one brow o’ercast with sadness, 
     Not one bosom of unrest—
When at eventide reclining, 
    At thy hearthstone gay and free, 
Think of one whose life is pining, 
    Breathe thou, love, a prayer for me. 

Should dark sorrows make thee languish, 
     Cause thy cheek to lose its hue, 
In the hour of deepest anguish, 
     Darling, then I’ll grieve with you. 
Though the night be dark and dreary, 
     And it seemeth long to thee, 
I would whisper, “be not weary;” 
   I would pray love, then, for thee. 

Well I know that in the future, 
    I may cherish naught of earth; 
Well I know that love needs nurture, 
    And it is of heavenly birth.
But though ocean waves may sever 
     I from thee, and thee from me, 
Still this constant heart will never, 
    Never cease to think of thee. 

Related Poems

Farewell

translated by Ana Valverde Osan

To say goodbye means so little.
We said goodbye to childhood
and it came after us like a dog
tracking our steps.
To say goodbye: to shut that obstinate door that refuses to remain closed,
the persistent scar that oozes memory.
To say goodbye: to say no; who achieves it?
Whoever found the magic key?
Whoever found the point that slides us toward oblivion,
the land that will extirpate the roots
without remaining forever closed over them?
To say goodbye: to turn one’s back; but
who knows where the back is?
Who knows the way that does not die in the well-traveled shortcut.
To say goodbye: to yell because one is saying something
and to cry because nothing is being said;
because saying goodbye is never enough,
because to say goodbye completely
might be to find the spot where to turn one’s back,
the spot to sink oneself into the final no
while life slowly seeps out.


Despedida

Decir adiós quiere decir tan poco.
Adiós dijimos a la infancia
y vino detrás nuestro como un perro
rastreando nuestros pasos.
Decir adiós: cerrar esa obstinada puerta que se niega,
la persistente cicatriz que destila memoria.
Decir adiós: decir que no; ¿quién lo consigue?
¿quién encontró la mágica llave?
¿quién el punto que nos desliza hasta el olvido,
la mano que extirpará raíces
sin quedarse para siempre cerrada sobre ellas?
Decir adiós: volver la espalda; pero
¿quién sabe donde está la espalda?
¿quién conoce el camino que no muere en el pisado atajo?
Decir adiós: gritar porque se está diciendo
y llorar porque no se dice nada;
porque decir adiós nunca es bastante,
porque tal vez decir adiós completamente
sea encontrar el recodo donde volver la espalda,
donde hundirse en el no definitivo
mientras escapa lentamente la vida.

In a Boat

See the stars, love,  
In the water much clearer and brighter  
Than those above us, and whiter,  
Like nenuphars.  
  
Star-shadows shine, love, 
How many stars in your bowl?  
How many shadows in your soul,  
Only mine, love, mine?  
  
When I move the oars, love,  
See how the stars are tossed, 
Distorted, the brightest lost.  
—So that bright one of yours, love.  
  
The poor waters spill  
The stars, waters broken, forsaken.  
—The heavens are not shaken, you say, love, 
Its stars stand still.  
  
There, did you see  
That spark fly up at us; even  
Stars are not safe in heaven.  
—What of yours, then, love, yours?
  
What then, love, if soon  
Your light be tossed over a wave?  
Will you count the darkness a grave,  
And swoon, love, swoon?

The Giver of Stars

Hold your soul open for my welcoming.
Let the quiet of your spirit bathe me
With its clear and rippled coolness,
That, loose-limbed and weary, I find rest,
Outstretched upon your peace, as on a bed of ivory.

Let the flickering flame of your soul play all about me,
That into my limbs may come the keenness of fire,
The life and joy of tongues of flame,
And, going out from you, tightly strung and in tune,
I may rouse the blear-eyed world,
And pour into it the beauty which you have begotten.