Yesterday and To-Day

translated by Agnes Blake Poor

Prone lies at length the statue once so fair;
   Headless and armless, on the weedy lawn;
Yet still some lovely curve shows here and there
   Through clustering ivy like a mantle drawn.

The cracked, stained pedestal of ages tells.
   From every cranny lined with velvet moss,
The hum of bee, the chirp of cricket swells;
   And silently the lizard darts across.

How long ago, by summer breezes fanned,
   Here stood the newborn Venus, fresh and fair;
All palpitating from the master’s hand,
   The last touch of his chisel lingering there.

“And surely this shall last!” he proudly thought;
   “Fixed in immortal marble is my fame!”
Just here, where human hand has surely wrought,
   Some crumbling letters may have spelled his name.



Lo que va de ayer á hoy 


Tendida estaba en el jardín la estatua,
          sin brazos ni cabeza;
y por su talle se enredaba en círculos
          un cinturón de hiedra.

El pedestal poblaban los lagartos,
           los grillos, las abejas;
y del vetusto mármol las heridas
           de moho estaban llenas.

¿Y era aquélla la Venus que brotara 
           de una mano maestra
que, al golpe del cincel, dió forma y vida
           á su bullente idea?

¡Cómo cambia la hoz de las edades
           cuanto á su alcance encuentra!
¡Ayer la carne palpitando en mármol,
           hoy un montón de piedra!

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on October 9, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.