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

Spain: Escurial (Escorial), the

The Escurial

By Théophile Gautier (1811–1872)

Translated by C. F. Bates

SET as a challenge at the mountain’s side,

Afar the dark Escurial is descried.

Three hundred feet from earth uplifting thus

On its colossal shoulder firmly braced,

Huge elephant, the cupola defaced,

Granite debauch of Spain’s Tiberius.

Old Pharaoh built not for his mummy’s tomb

On mountain-side a thing of greater gloom;

The desert’s sphinx hath seen no more unrest.

In chimney-tops the stork is sleeping now,

Through all the abandoned courts the grasses grow,

Of monks, priests, soldiers, courtiers, dispossessed.

All would seem dead, but that from everything,

Niche, cornice, fronton, hand of sculptured king,

The flocks of swallows constant flutter keep,

With their wild merriment and charming cries;

Teasing, with flapping wings to ope his eyes,

This drowsy giant of eternal sleep.