IN THE IMPOSING NAVE...

  IN THE IMPOSING NAVE...

In the imposing nave
of that Byzantine temple
I saw the Gothic tomb in the uncertain
light that trembled in the stained-glass windows.

Her hands were on her breast,
and in her hands a book,
and this most beautiful woman was lying
on the urn, a miracle of carving.

Sinking under the weight
of her sweet abandoned body
her granite bed was creased as if made
of the softness of feathers and of satin.

Of her last sweet smile
her face preserved the divine
radiance, just as the heavens preserve
the fleeting rays of the dying sun.

Sitting at the edge
of her pillow of stone
two angels with fingers on their lips
enjoined silence all around.

She did not seem dead;
she seemed to be asleep
in the shadow of the massive arches,
and seeing paradise in her slumber.

I approached the darkness
at the corner of the nave
as someone walking on quiet feet
would approach the cradle where a child is asleep.

I looked at her for a moment
as she glowed there brightly,
and at her bed of stone that offered
another, empty, space by the wall,

and they revived in my soul
the thirst for the infinite,
the yearning for that life in death
for which the centuries are but a moment.

Weary of the battle
I fight all through my life
sometimes I recall with envy
that retreat so dark and hidden.

I recall that pale
and silent woman, and say:
"What a silent love is that of death!
What a peaceful sleep is that of the grave!"

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer
Translator: Brian Cole


Libro de los gorriones (nº74) nº75 nº73
Rimas (Edición 1871) Rima LXXVII Rima LXXV
Recitado por Antonio Mula Franco
Original version