Lingering

Come to me in the silence of the night;
    Come in the speaking silence of a dream;
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright
    As sunlight on a stream;
       Come back in tears,
O memory, hope, love of finished years.

O dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter sweet,
    Whose wakening should have been in Paradise,
Where souls brimful of love abide and meet;
    Where thirsting longing eyes
       Watch the slow door
That opening, letting in, lets out no more.

Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live
    My very life again though cold in death:
Come back to me in dreams, that I may give
    Pulse for pulse, breath for breath:
       Speak low, lean low,
As long ago, my love, how long ago!

Echo, Christina Rossetti

Photo: Leça da Palmeira, after the storm (March 2018)

Não fora o Mar

Não fora o mar,

e eu seria feliz na minha rua,

neste primeiro andar da minha casa

a ver, de dia, o sol, de noite a lua,

calada, quieta, sem um golpe de asa.

Não fora o mar,

e seriam contados os meus passos,

tantos para viver, para morrer,

tantos os movimentos dos meus braços,

pequena angústia, pequeno prazer.

Não fora o mar,

e os seus sonhos seriam sem violência

como irisadas bolas de sabão,

efémero cristal, branca aparência,

e o resto — pingos de água em minha mão.

Não fora o mar,

e este cruel desejo de aventura

seria vaga música ao sol pôr

nem sequer brasa viva, queimadura,

pouco mais que o perfume duma flor.

Não fora o mar

e o longo apelo, o canto da sereia,

apenas ilusão, miragem,

breve canção, passo breve na areia,

desejo balbuciante de viagem.

Não fora o mar

e, resignada, em vez de olhar os astros

tudo o que é alto, inacessível, fundo,

cimos, castelos, torres, nuvens, mastros,

iria de olhos baixos pelo mundo.

Não fora o mar

e o meu canto seria flor e mel,

asa de borboleta, rouxinol,

e não rude halali, garra cruel,

Águia Real que desafia o sol.

Não fora o mar

e este potro selvagem, sem arção,

crinas ao vento, com arreio,

meu altivo, indomável coração,

Não fora o mar

e comeria à mão,

não fora o mar

e aceitaria o freio.

Fernanda de Castro, in “Trinta e Nove Poemas”

I couldn’t find a translation of this poem. I did try to translate it myself and I think I ended up mutilating it because I was not able to translate the feeling of disquiet a lifetime staring at the sea actually has over ourselves. In the midst of all the routines, broken illusions and plans that have not been fulfilled, you can’t help yourself. You don’t surrender.

It weren’t for the sea,

and I would be happy on my street,

on this first floor of my house

to see, by day, the sun, at night the moon,

quiet, quiet, without a blow of the wing.

It weren’t for the sea,

and my steps would be numbered,

so many to live, to die,

so many movements of my arms,

little anguish, little pleasure.

It weren’t for the sea,

and your dreams would be without violence

like iridescent soap bubbles,

ephemeral crystal, white appearance,

and the rest – drops of water in my hand.

It weren’t for the sea,

and this cruel desire for adventure

would be vague music in the sun

not even live coal, burning,

little more than the perfume of a flower.

It weren’t for the sea

and the long appeal, the mermaid’s song,

only illusion, mirage,

brief song, brief step in the sand,

bursts of travel.

It weren’t for the sea

and, resigned, instead of looking at the stars

everything that is high, inaccessible, deep,

high, castles, towers, clouds, masts,

would be travelling face down through the world.

It weren’t for the sea

and my song would be flower and honey,

butterfly wing, nightingale,

and not rude halali, cruel claw,

Royall eagle defying the sun.

It weren’t for the sea

and this wild colt,

mane in the wind, harnessed,

my haughty, indomitable heart,

It weren’t for the sea

and I would eat out of hand,

It weren’t for the sea,

and would accept the bridle.

The Greater Sea

My soul and I went to the great sea to bathe.  And when we reached the shore, we went about looking for a hidden and lonely place.

But as we walked, we saw a man sitting on a grey rock taking pinches of salt from a bag and throwing them into the sea.

“This is the pessimist,” said my soul, “Let us leave this place. We cannot bathe here.”

We walked on until we reached an inlet.  There we saw, standing on a white rock, a man holding a bejeweled box, from which he took sugar and threw it into the sea.

“And this is the optimist,” said my soul, “And he too must not see our naked bodies.”

Further on we walked.  And on a beach we saw a man picking up dead fish and tenderly putting them back into the water.

“And we cannot bathe before him,” said my soul.  “He is the humane philanthropist.”

And we passed on.

Then we came where we saw a man tracing his shadow on the sand. Great waves came and erased it.  But he went on tracing it again and again.

“He is the mystic,” said my soul, “Let us leave him.”

And we walked on, till in a quiet cover we saw a man scooping up the foam and putting it into an alabaster bowl.

“He is the idealist,” said my soul, “Surely he must not see our nudity.”

And on we walked.  Suddenly we heard a voice crying, “This is the sea.  This is the deep sea.  This is the vast and mighty sea.” And when we reached the voice it was a man whose back was turned to the sea, and at his ear he held a shell, listening to its murmur.

And my soul said, “Let us pass on.  He is the realist, who turns his back on the whole he cannot grasp, and busies himself with a fragment.”

So we passed on.  And in a weedy place among the rocks was a man with his head buried in the sand.  And I said to my soul, “We can bath here, for he cannot see us.”

“Nay,” said my soul, “For he is the most deadly of them all.  He is the puritan.”

Then a great sadness came over the face of my soul, and into her voice.

“Let us go hence,” she said, “For there is no lonely, hidden place where we can bathe.  I would not have this wind lift my golden hair, or bare my white bosom in this air, or let the light disclose my sacred nakedness.”

Then we left that sea to seek the Greater Sea.

 Kahlil Gibran, The Greater Sea 
Photo: Peniche, October 2017