Poems Without Frontiers

Poems in Translation

David Paley






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How Brief the Moon
David Paley

Light invades the sprinkled dark
As solder melts to ashen grey;
A touch of silver gilds the arc
Overwhelmed by glowing day.
The cloak is quickly prised away,
Untimely ripped from beauty's view;
And stars transform to beaten gold
To yield to this more garish hue
As sun commands no more delay.

When the morning bell has rung,
Lovers lose their bride of night
Who, then, retires from public stare
Yielding to a greater might,
Overburdened by the glare.
In temple depths of distant land,
As shelter for that fading flame,
A priestess lends her shielding hand
Whilst queen of pearl revives her fame.

The world has rolled and my star collides
With waves that break on fleeting time
To wash the sands with deeper tides
Drawn by moons that drown the past
And scatter fortune to the blast.
For, how so flimsy be your garments,
You bear my world within your robe
Taking our remembered moments
On your voyage round the globe.

We bid farewell as candles dim
In the dawn from which you flee.
Sail on beyond the scudding clouds
To part from us across the sea
With sight soon lost to waving crowds;
But if you meet opposing storms,
Beyond the gulf that before me yawns,
Return the cargo that you stole
To the harbour of my yearning soul.

You take with you the girl I knew
As all delights, now, melt in dew.
Here, beneath this vaulted grace,
Despair is left; and empty space
Becomes a blaze of kindling skies
That shine upon our moonlight bowers
Where we had stored our happy hours
Preserved so fondly in our hearts
But, now, fly forth as she departs.

That full blossom of our embrace
Was changed by the course of fate
Wherein our petals clasped a thorn
To wound our flower that lies prostrate
No more to live or be reborn.
Another branch on another tree
May grow to fill this honoured place
But none will know the bough
From which our blooms were torn.

Memories that are here retained
Are etched on life that they will save
For, here I wait as if detained
By hope that lives beyond the grave
To hear the speech that you reprise.
Let silence fall on ocean shores
As you pass with practised ease,
Through darkened skies that she adores,
And sing her words upon the breeze.

Persuade the earth to turn again
And bear the lamp with golden flare
As you soar above your old domain,
Climbing, still, on heaven's stair
Where you will rise to new acclaim.
Hold your court among the stars
As rightful heir, once more, to reign,
Although the joy for which I care
Has sunk from trace and all reclaim.

Float above the proudest eagle
To trap my muse beneath your rays
And flood the fields that you encircle
With all my songs of former praise,
Though absent, now, of happy sound.
But, if there be no dawn for me,
Pause upon my noiseless mound
To bathe the earthbound mystery
Of love extant below the ground.

Let mental strife be undeserved
Beneath the light that you dispose;
And let me lie there undisturbed
Unless the vision you impose
Should be that I with stars commune.
Thus, unlocked from prison dreams,
I would leap, at once, from my repose
To touch nocturnal, golden beams
That stream from our immortal moon.