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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV. 1876–79.

Spain: Darro, the River

Moorish Ballad

By José Zorrilla (1817–1893)

Translated by S. Eliot

RISING ’neath the moon’s dim ray,

Far away,

Stands a Moorish tower tall;

The Darro’s waters, swift and pure,

Flow obscure

Below its frowning wall.

Above the stream the sad elms sigh


Making soft music to the ear;

And close among the meadow reeds

And tangled weeds

The night breeze whispers near.

On the shore of yellow sand

Flowers expand,

Outpouring perfume wild;

Birds of plumage, fair and bright,

Sing by night,

Amidst the flowers mild.

Waters, dropping, sparkling, fall

Dashing all

Down the rocks’ rough sides;

And like the image of a dream,

The broken stream

Paints pictures as it glides.

Thrown open to a wayward breeze,

The jalousies

Welcome its murmurs breathed around;

Within the dark balcony wide,

The Sultan’s bride

Stands as in silence bound.

Yet, soft! she sings, half hidden there,

The midnight air

Is touched with gentle sound,

And the bride’s voice, in breathings low,

Is lost below

Upon the herb-grown ground.

Only to that plaintive voice,

With wakeful noise

The nightingale replies,

Warbling in tuneful ease,

Among the trees

That in the garden rise.

This sweet and strange accord

Of voice and bird

Swells round that solemn tower;

Hushed, as if listening, seem

The breeze, the stream,

Elm, palace, field, and flower.

There sang the Sultan’s bride,

And there replied

The bird in harmony,—

And there the Sultan stood,

And murmurs heard,

While watching jealously.

“They give me love of price untold,

Rich pearls and gold,

And bring me garlands dear;

Yet say, O flower! to fortune rare

And beauty fair,

What still is wanting here?

They give me festival and state,

And gardens great,

To Eden’s paradise near;

But, garden, say,—with fortune rare

And beauty fair,

What still is wanting here?

“They give me plumes as bright

As fleecy light,

Veiling the charms they fear;

O, say, thou bird! to fortune rare

And beauty fair,

What still is wanting here?

“Nothing appears in frightful guise

Before my eyes,

Nothing calls forth a tear;

Then say, O moon! to fortune rare

And beauty fair,

What still is wanting here?”

So far she sang,—when silently

And suddenly

A shadow came across the light,—

It was the Sultan, at the side

Of his fair bride,—

She started, half in fright.

“Thou hast all things,” said he to her,

“In thy tower,—

Flowers and jewels dear;

Tell me, loved one, to thy portion,

To thy passion,

What still is wanting here?

“What is there in the garden old,

Or waters cold,

What has the bird or flower,

That with the dawn of every day

I do not lay

At thy own feet, a dower?

“Tell me what thou wishest, sweet one,

Charm or fortune,—

Ask me even for a folly.”

“Sultan, these birds that I love, singing,

These flowers springing,

Have air and liberty!”