Poems Without Frontiers

Poems in Translation

David William Paley






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The Days That Were
David Paley

I felt the scent of churning seas
Waft upon a zephyr breeze
As all the life that I revered
Sailed away to unknown coasts
And left her words to live as ghosts.
Gone are, now, those happy days,
Held in vaults with bolt and bar;
Gone with all that they encountered,
Lost within a thickening haze
In realms where none have ventured.

Locked by Time behind stone walls,
They serve a lifelong sentence
Trapped in dungeon cells
In a sea girt fort with sealed off entrance,
Whilst their report in the book of ages
Fades from view as the world flies on.
Despite the gold that paid their wages,
They glint, no more, on our horizon,
But are sadly blurred by new arrivals
Heaped behind those bands of iron.

I cast my gaze on fields around
In which we spent a happy hour
When she and I, on hallowed ground,
Awarded each the greater prize
As we picked a fragrant flower.
We sparkled in celestial rays
Beneath a heavenly choir
That drew from us perpetual praise
Exchanged for that undying dower
Dropped from skies of glowing fire.

The burgeoning bells embraced the bees
That sought the warmth of summer leas
But, then, they closed as the sun descended
To slumber through the years now ended.
The wind has jaded autumn leaves
And blown defeat from tired trees.
Now, the task that they had borne
Of sighing songs upon the breeze
Lies interred with that bright dawn
For which this sad mourner grieves.

I strode beneath the louring cloud
And looked above with anxious glance
But was too slow to dodge the fog
That gathered thickly round me.
All that glistered in my darkened store
Made bright what draining sands made poor
As I sensed the swells of seas unknown,
Deprived of crests they once displayed,
Wash upon some further shore
On tides that swept the years aside.

The cloud then lifted as it passed across,
The sun beat down with greater power
And turned my mind towards my loss;
Or was it raised by some mysterious force
High above the tallest tower?
I let go the weight that dragged me down,
Released the ropes that bound my soul
And, drifting over the miser's hoard,
Made Time scroll back and waves unroll
To find where all my past was stored.

I walked the path around the heights
Where a happy couple picked bouquets.
Such were we in that bygone age
When we sat beneath that floral shower
And all stood still upon our stage
As we bought with sighs that golden hour.
I turned, once more, as I reached the gate
But they had gone and the field was empty;
For, the blast has blown through life's estate
But remembrance stays to taunt and tempt me.

Mortal life has tricks to play
When all lies bare devoid of flower
Causing spirits to float away
To scenes from that immortal bower,
Too rich to lose that mound of youth,
Too well preserved by memory's truth.
I have known those depths consigned to sleep
But have left those dreams and tribulation;
I can turn the key to the castle keep
And open treasures for adoration
Should I wish to seek for consolation.

I shall have another chance
To find distraction on the morrow;
But can summon, too, our day of wonder,
When I may snatch just one more glance
At the sight I lost to sorrow.
My frost, thus, melts to spring
As I raise my eyes above the snow,
Like the crocus after winter,
To view the skies in brighter light
With a heart that, now, can enter
Broader vistas than those of night.

How far away those ancient caves!
Our former lives so near recall!
But, so wide is that divide,
That no link can bridge the two.
Let waters roll forever, they will not return;
Let oceans boil beneath the storm,
Their fury will, at last, be spent.
Despite his locks and prison bars,
Time, itself, as all the winds relent,
Will smooth the deeps to mirrored glass
For, turmoil will dispense with rages
And seas regain the calm of ages.