To The Spring. Or Of The Fables Of The Ancients.

A poem by Giacomo Leopardi

Now that the sun the faded charms
Of heaven again restores,
And gentle zephyr the sick air revives,
And the dark shadows of the clouds
Are put to flight,
And birds their naked breasts confide
Unto the wind, and the soft light,
With new desire of love, and with new hope,
The conscious beasts, in the deep woods,
Amid the melting frosts, inspires;
May not to you, poor human souls,
Weary, and overborne with grief,
The happy age return, which misery,
And truth's dark torch, before its time, consumed?
Have not the golden rays
Of Phoebus vanished from your gaze
Forever? Say, O gentle Spring,
Canst thou this icy heart inspire, and melt,
That in the bloom of youth, the frost of age hath felt?

O holy Nature, art thou still alive?
Alive? And does the unaccustomed ear
Of thy maternal voice the accents hear?
Of white nymphs once, the streams were the abode.
And in the clear founts mirrored were their forms.
Mysterious dances of immortal feet
The mountain tops and lofty forests shook, -
To-day the lonely mansions of the winds; -
And when the shepherd-boy the noontide shade
Would seek, or bring his thirsty lambs
Unto the flowery margin of the stream,
Along the banks the clear song would he hear,
And pipe of rustic Fauns;
Would see the waters move,
And stand amazed, when, hidden from the view,
The quiver-bearing goddess would descend
Into the genial waves,
And from her snow-white arms efface
The dust and blood of the exciting chase.

The flowers, the herbs once lived,
The groves with life were filled:
Soft airs, and clouds, and every shining light
Were with the human race in sympathy,
When thee, fair star of Venus, o'er
The hills and dales,
The traveller, in the lonely night,
Pursuing with his earnest gaze,
The sweet companion of his path,
The loving friend of mortals deemed:
When he, who, fleeing from the impious strife
Of cities filled with mutiny and shame,
In depths of woods remote,
The rough trees clasping to his breast,
The vital flame seemed in their veins to feel,
The breathing leaves of Daphne, or of Phyllis sad;
And seemed the sisters' tears to see, still shed
For him who, smitten by the lightning's blast,
Into the swift Eridanus was cast.

Nor were ye deaf, ye rigid rocks,
To human sorrow's plaintive tones,
While in your dark recesses Echo dwelt,
No idle plaything of the winds,
But spirit sad of hapless nymph,
Whom unrequited love, and cruel fate,
Of her soft limbs deprived. She o'er the grots,
The naked rocks, and mansions desolate,
Unto the depths of all-embracing air,
Our sorrows, not to her unknown,
Our broken, loud laments conveyed.
And thou, if fame belie thee not,
Didst sound the depths of human woe,
Sweet bird, that comest to the leafy grove,
The new-born Spring to greet,
And when the fields are hushed in sleep,
To chant into the dark and silent air,
The ancient wrongs, and cruel treachery,
That stirred the pity of the gods, to see.
But, no, thy race is not akin to ours;
No sorrow framed thy melodies;
Thy voice of crime unconscious, pleases less,
Along the dusky valley heard.
Ah, since the mansions of Olympus all
Are desolate, and without guide, the bolt,
That, wandering o'er the cloud-capped mountain-tops,
In horror cold dissolves alike
The guilty and the innocent;
Since this, our earthly home,
A stranger to her children has become,
And brings them up, to misery;
Lend thou an ear, dear Nature, to the woes
And wretched fate of mortals, and revive
The ancient spark within my breast;
If thou, indeed, dost live, if aught there is,
In heaven, or on the sun-lit earth,
Or in the bosom of the sea,
That pities? No; but sees our misery.

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