Ode to Francisco Salinas

by Luis de Leon

English version by Michael Smith
Original Language Spanish

Serene, Salinas, grows the air
and decks itself in beauty
and unaccustomed light
when consummate music sounds
steered by your knowing hand.

At its divine sound my soul
that's in oblivion sunk
retrieves its sense
and lost remembrance,
illumined by its primary source.

And as it knows itself,
its fate and thoughts improve;
and it ignores the gold
the blinded mob adores,
fleeting beauty that deceives.

It goes beyond all air,
reaching the highest sphere,
and thereupon it hears
music of another mode,
imperishable, primordial.

It sees how the great master,
plying the immense cither,
with deft stroke brings forth
the sacred music that upholds
this everlasting temple.

And since composed of numbers
in accord, it sends at once
a consonant response,
and both then mingling vie
in sweetest harmony.L

Here upon a sea of sweetness
the soul sails, absorbed
at length to such degree
it neither hears nor feels
whatever's alien or strange.

O blessed swoon! O life-
bestowing death! O sweet oblivion!
Would that I could linger
in your bliss and never be restored
to this lower, viler sense.

Glory of Apollo's sacred choir,
I call you to this rapture,
friends I love
above all treasure,
for all the rest is but sad plaint.

O let your strains ring
always in my ears, Salinas,
by which my senses wake
to heavenly good
while to all else they stay asleep.

-- from Shearsman Gallery web site

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Recommended Books: Luis de Leon

Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty Ten Centuries of Spanish Poetry: An Anthology in English Verse with Original Texts, from the Xith Century to the Generation of 1898 Poetry and Truth in the Spanish Works of Fray Luis de Leon Luis de Leon: The Names of Christ: (Classics of Western Spirituality) Poesias: (Spanish Language)

Ode to Francisco