miércoles, 8 de octubre de 2014

The London Sparrow

Nuestro gran ornitólogo de las pampas, don Guillermo Enrique Hudson escribió en 1833 (ya instalado en Inglaterra) un verso dedicado al gorrión de Londres que iré escribiendo de a poco y con alguna ayuda traduciendo. Tengan paciencia. Aquí va:

A HUNDRED years it seemeth since I lost thee,
O beautiful world of birds, O blessed birds,
That come and go ! the thrush, the golden-bill
That sweetly fluteth after April rain,
In forest depths the cuckoo's mystic voice,
And in the breezy fields the yellow-hammer,
And over all the mounting lark, that makes
The blue heaven palpitate with ecstasy !
Nor in this island only : far beyond
The seas encircling it swift memory flies
To other brighter lands, and leaves behind
The swallow and the dove : in hot sweet woods
The gaudy parrot screams ; reedy and vast
Stretch ibis and flamingo -haunted marshes.

I from such worlds removed to this sad world
Of London we inhabit now together,
O Sparrow, often in my loneliness,
No other friend remaining, turn to thee,
Like some imprisoned wretch, who in his cell
A cricket hears, and listening to its chirp,
Forgets the vanished sunshine and the laughter.
Not oft, O winged Arab of the streets,
Thou dusty little scavenger - a bird
Ambitious bard should blush to name - not oft
Canst claim such victory : for I have known
The kings and glorious nobles of the race
Whose homely mean ambassador thou art ;
Imperial-crested birds in purple clothed
And splendid scarlet, swans in bridal white,
And many a rainbow-tinted tanager.
Ah ! how couldst thou thy birthright, liberty
In breezy woodlands, where were springs for thirst
And many-flavoured fruits to feed upon,
Resign for such a place ? - to live long years
From nature sweet in exile voluntary,
Nourished on mouldy crumbs, ignoble bird !
Imprisoned in a lurid atmosphere
That maketh all things black and desolate,
Until, as in a coin illegible To keenest Antiquary, lost are all
The signs that mark thy kind the pretty gloss
That Nature gave thee clouded and confounded,
Till to the ornithologist thou art A bird ambiguous : to others, too,
A thing offensive. Sometimes even I,
Aroused to fury by thy barrel-organ
That puts my thoughts to flight, would gladly hale thee
Before the magistrate. For thou hast not
The coyness of thy kind - for awful man
No veneration ; noisy, impudent,
Begrimed with soot, the chimney-sweep of birds
To minds aesthetic.

Roughly have I used
The liberty of a friend, and yet I know I love thee,
Sparrow, and thy voice to me -
A dweller once in summer-lands brings back
Responsive joy, as unto him that walks,
Pensive at eventide, the robin's song
'Midst wintry loneliness. Oh, my lost Muse,
If aught of thy sweet spirit is remaining
After my long neglect, in gratitude
To this my frequent, welcome visitor,
Whose little pipe from out discordant noises
Springs like a flower amidst a waste of rocks
To cheer my exile, I will strike again
The quaint and rust-corroded instrument
I played of yore, and to the Sparrow sing
My latest song, albeit now the chords
Give 'neath my touch an unfamiliar sound
To sadden me the note of time and change.

At dawn thy voice is loud a merry voice
When other sounds are few and faint. Before
The muffled thunders of the Underground
Begin to shake the houses, and the noise
Of eastward traffic fills the thoroughfares,
Thy voice then welcomes day. Oh what a day !
How foul and haggard-faced ! See, where she comes
In garments of the chill discoloured mists
Stealing unto the west with noiseless foot
Through dim forsaken streets. Is she not like,
As sister is to sister, unto her
Whose stained cheeks the nightly rains have wet
And made them grey and seamed and desolate,
Beneath the arches of the bitter bridge ?
And thou, O Sparrow, from the windy ledge
Where thou dost nestle creaking chimney-pots
For softly-sighing branches ; sooty slates
For leafy canopy ; rank steam of slums
For flowery fragrance, and for star-lit woods
This waste that frights, a desert desolate
Of fabrics gaunt and grim and smoke-begrimed,
By goblin misery haunted, scowling towers
Of cloud and stone, gigantic tenements
And castles of despair, by spectral glooms
Of fitful lamps illumined, from such place
Canst thou, O Sparrow, welcome day so foul ?
Ay, not more blithe of heart in forests dim
The golden-throated thrush awakes, what time
The leaves a-tremble whisper to the breath,
The flowery breath, of morning azure- eyed !
Never a morning comes but I do bless thee,
Thou brave and faithful Sparrow, living link
That binds us to the immemorial past,
O blithe heart in a house so melancholy,
And keeper for a thousand gloomy years
Of many a day tradition, heritor
Of Nature's ancient cheerfulness, for thee
'Tis ever Merry England ! Never yet,
In thy companionship of centuries
With man in lurid London, didst regret
Thy valiant choice, -yea, even from the time
When all its low-roofed rooms were sweet with scent
From summer fields, where shouting children pluck
The floating lily from the reedy Fleet,
Scaring away the timid water-hen.

Awake at morn when still the wizard Sleep
Refracts from twilight mists the broken rays
Of consciousness, I hear thy lulling voice,
Like water softly warbling, or like wind
That wanders in the ancient moonlit trees.
And lo, with breezy feet I roam abroad ;
Before me startled from the shadowy fern
Upsprings the antlered deer and flees away,
And moors before me open measureless
Whereon I seek for Morning washed in dews
Immaculate. To other realms I fly
To wait its coming, walking where the palms
Unmoving stand like pillars that uphold
Some hoary vast cathedral. Lift my heart
To thee, O holy daughter of the sun
Sweet harbinger - the Dawn ! The stars grow pale,
And I am fainting by the way, oppressed
With incense from a thousand forest flowers
All prescient of thy coming ! Lo, how vast,
From mist and cloud the awful mountains rise
Where ever up with incorporeal feet
I climb to meet the dead Peruvian's god !
O, swift approaching glory, blind me not
With shafts ineffable ! But re-awake
In me the sacred passion of the past,
Long quenched in blood by spirits uninformed
That slew thy worshippers ! My senses swim,
Sustain, or bear me back to earth ! My feet
Scarce feel the rolling cloud, or touch they still
The awful summit of the world ? Far, far
Beneath, the dark blue ocean moves, the waves
Lift up their lightning crests ; the lonely earth
Is jubilant ; the rivers laugh ; the hills
In forests clothed, or soaring crowned with snow
In barren everlasting majesty,
Are all in gold and purple swathed for joy
That thou art coming !

Vanished is my dream ;
Even while I bowed and veiled my eyes before
The insufferable splendour of the sun
It vanished quite, and left me with this pale,
This phantom morning ! With my dream thou fled'st,
O blithe remembrancer, and in thy flight
Callest thy prattling fellows, prompters too
Of dreams perchance, from many a cloudy roof
To flit, a noisy rain of sparrows, down
To snatch a hasty breakfast from the roads,
Undaunted by the thund'rous noise and motion :
But like the petrel fearless, fitful seeker,
The fluctuating bird with ocean's wastes
And rage familiar, tossed with tossing billows
So, gleaner unregarded, flittest thou -
Now, as of old, and in the years to come,
Nature's one witness, till the murmuring sound
Of human feet unnumbered, like the rain
Of summer pattering on the forest leaves,
Fainter and fainter falling 'midst the ruin,
In everlasting silence dies away.

Copiado del libro: "A little boy lost" together with the poems of W.H. Hudson. (Pag. 149)
London & Toronto
J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd.
New York:  E. P. Dutton & Co.

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