lake I

The voice of the flute
reaches the farthest bank.
It is sunset, and I am coming with you,
my master.
From the high shore of the lake
I turn back again to look;
On the green of the mountains
white clouds are gathering.

Wide in the emptiness
spreads the water of the lake:
Its pellucid splendour
reflects the hue of the sky.
I moor the boat to the bank,
and whistle contentedly
The freshness of the breeze
reaches me from every side.

Wang Wei
P’ei Ti

black swans

As I lie at rest on a patch of clover
In the western park when the day is done,
I watch as the wild black swans fly over
With their phalanx turned to the sinking sun;
And I hear the clang of their leader crying
To a lagging mate in the rearward flying,
And they fade away in the darkness dying,
Where the stars are mustering one by one.

Oh! ye wild black swans, ’twere a world of wonder
For a while to join in your westward flight,
With the stars above and the dim earth under,
Through the cooling air of the glorious night.
As we swept along on our pinions winging,
We should catch the chime of a church-bell ringing,
Or the distant note of a torrent singing,
Or the far-off flash of a station light.

From the northern lakes with the reeds and rushes,
Where the hills are clothed with a purple haze,
Where the bellbirds chime and the songs of thrushes
Make music sweet in the jungle maze,
They will hold their course to the westward ever,
Till they reach the banks of the old grey river,
Where the waters wash, and the reed-beds quiver
In the burning heat of the summer days.

Oh! ye strange wild birds, will ye bear a greeting
To the folk that live in that western land?
Then for every sweep of your pinions beating
Ye shall bear a wish to the sunburnt band,
To the stalwart men who are stoutly fighting
With the heat and drought and the dust storm smiting,
Yet whose life somehow has a strange inviting,
When once to the work they have put their hand.

I would fain go back to the old grey river,
To the old bush days when our hearts were light;
But, alas! those days they have fled for ever,
They are like the swans that have swept from sight.
And I know full well that the strangers’ faces
Would meet us now in our dearest places;
For our day is dead and has left no traces
But the thoughts that live in my mind tonight.

There are folk long dead, and our hearts would sicken —
We would grieve for them with a bitter pain,
If the past could live and the dead could quicken,
We then might turn to that life again.
But on lonely nights we would hear them calling,
We should hear their steps on the pathways falling,
We should loathe the life with a hate appalling
In our lonely rides by the ridge and plain.

In the silent park is a scent of clover,
And the distant roar of the town is dead,
And I hear once more as the swans fly over
Their far-off clamour from overhead.
They are flying west by their instinct guided,
And for man likewise is his fate decided,
And griefs apportioned and joys divided
By a mighty power with a purpose dread.

Banjo Peterson

beside Christ’s lake in Aldehuela de Yeltes, on a night of full moon

White night in which the glassy water
sleeps quietly in its lake bed,
over which watches a round full moon
that leads its army of  stars,

and a round holm-oak is reflected
in the unrippling mirror,
white night in which the water acts as cradle
for the highest and most profound wisdom.

It is a tatter of sky that Nature holds
clasped in her arms, it is a tatter of sky
which has come down

and in the silence of the night prays
the prayer of the lover resigned
solely to love, which is his only riches.

Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo

le lac

So, always impelled towards new shores,
carried forever into eternal night,
can we never cast anchor
in time’s ocean for a single day?

O lake! The year has hardly finished its course and behold!
I come alone to sit upon this stone where you saw her sit,
near the beloved waves that
she was to have seen once more!

Thus you murmured beneath these steep rocks;
thus you broke upon their torn sides;
thus the wind threw the foam from your waves
on her adorable feet.

One evening, do you remember? We were sailing noiselessly;
we only heard far off, on the water and beneath the skies,
the sound of rowers rhythmically striking
the melodious waves.

All at once strains unknown to earth
struck the echoes of the spell-bound shore;
the waves were attentive, and the voice dear to me
let fall these words:

,,O time, suspend your flight! And you, propitious hours,
suspend your course!
Let us taste the swift delights
of the fairest of our days!

,,Enough unhappy beings pray to you down here on earth:
flow on, flow on for them;
together with their days take away the cares that consume them;
forget those that are happy.

,,But in vain I ask for a few more moments;
time escapes me and flees away;
I say to this night: ,,Go more slowly’’; and dawn
will scatter the night.

,,Let us love then, let us love!
Let us hasten to enjoy the fleeting hours!
Man has no harbor, time has no shore:
it flows on, and we pass by! ‘’

Jealous time, can it be that these moments of intoxication,
when love pours us happiness in long draughts,
fly far away from us with the same speed
as days of misfortune?

What! Can we not preserve their trace at least?
What! Gone for ever? What! All quite lost?
The time that gave them, the time that blots them out
will give them back to us no more?

Eternity, nothingness, past – dark abysses –
what do you do with the days you swallow up?
Speak: will you give us back those sublime
raptures that you snatch from us?

O lake! Silent rocks! Caves! Dark forest!
You whom time spares or can make young again,
keep at least the memory of that night;
keep it, fair landscape!

Let it be in your calms or in your storms,
sweet lake, and in the sight of your laughing hillsides,
and in these black pines, and in these wild rocks
overhanging your waters!

Let it be in the breeze trembling and passing by,
in the sounds of your shores and their echoes,
in the silver-browed star that whitens your surface
with its soft lights!

Let the moaning wind, the sighing reed,
the light perfumes of your scented air,
Let everything that is heard, seen, or breathed,
Let everything say: ,,They loved!’’

Alphonse de Lamartine