Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE LAMENT OF SIGISMUNDO IN LA VIDA ES SUENO, by PEDRO CALDERON DE LA BARCA



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THE LAMENT OF SIGISMUNDO IN LA VIDA ES SUENO, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: O heaven, if I suffer this
Last Line: Of the ocean or the air.


O Heaven, if I suffer this,
Suffer me to probe the cause.
Could my birth defy thy laws?
Yet if I was born, I wis
How my grievous guilt began:
There was reason in thy scorn,
There was justice in thy ban,
For the greatest sin of man
Is that ever he was born.
Still one answer ever fleeing
Mocks the vigils of my doubt
(From the reckoning leaving out,
Ye just gods, the crime of being):
Came not all souls else to be,
In my guilt of birth agreeing?
What grace, then, their spirits freeing,
Never was vouchsafed to me?
The swift bird, whose natal hour
Paints the iris on her plumes --
Now a winged spray of blooms,
Now a feather-petalled flower --
Born with beauty for her dower,
Through the ethereal domes to fare
And to cleave the realms of light
Leaves her fledglings in their plight,
Of her treason not aware;
And I, winged for holier flight,
Have not freedom of the air.
Dappled beasts may come to birth
(Whom the eye of science sees
In night's starry heraldries)
And at hazard range the earth,
By their cruel need beguiled
To grow cruel, blood-defiled
Monsters of the forest maze;
And I, bred to nobler ways,
Have not freedom of the wild.
Silly fish, born not to breathe,
Spawn of the prolific tide,
Through the crystal waves may glide
Or the frigid depths beneath,
Or like scaly galleys sweep,
Foaming through the level flood;
And my warm, discerning blood
Has not freedom of the deep.
From the womb of earth the rill
May in gentle dalliance flow
And unwind his coils at will
Where the cress and daisy grow,
Lazy silvery meadow-snake,
Flowing, flowing till he slake
The young thirst of every flower
At whose roots the ripples make
Music for her beauty's sake,
Though 'tis beauty but an hour,
Whence the broadening valley yields
Majesty to his career;
And this living torrent here
Has not freedom of the fields.
In such throes of passion riven
Might the ribs of Aetna start
And his mad lips hurl to heaven
Pieces of his fiery heart.
By what reason, right, or law
Was to man alone denied
That sweet privilege and wide
Needful to the breath we draw,
Boon unhappy me might share
Had I sprung to life a fountain,
Or a nursling of the mountain,
Of the ocean or the air.





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