Poems Without Frontiers

Poems in Translation

David Paley






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After Despair
David Paley

Welcome, rest and soft repose!
Day has run its course and draws its veil.
The sighing trees in the evening breeze
Bring whispers of the night
And starlings wheel through gathering dusk
As nightingales begin their song.
Gentle breezes and balmy airs
Bring refreshment for the anxious soul
And infants sleep with scarce a murmur
Safe from preying eyes in blackest dark.
Odours of the musk of roses
Embrace the earth with sweet delight
And tinted clouds in glowing heavens
Announce a calm and bright tomorrow.
Day retreats behind the moon
And angels guard the world from storms
As I await the joyful beams
That streak the eastern sky.

But branches tap upon the window
To beckon me to unknown lands
Where nought but crags and sombre forests lurk
Enticing me to dream eternal dreams
Where time has ceased to flow.
Bleak, black, brooding night,
That overwhelms our flickering flame,
Beguiles me with perpetual peace
Where I can slip from worldly cares
Without the prospect of return
And lie in restful contemplation
With no ungentle discourse more;
To descend unending steps into an abyss
Where souls reflect upon the world
Throughout the dateless ages yet to come
Nevermore to rise from the oblivion of sleep
With neither hope nor prospect that
If night now follows day
Will day then follow night?

But no flight of swans will grace the azure skies
Nor snow peaked mountains sparkle
Above the distant meadows;
No sound of children's play
Nor sight of upturned lover's face;
No sound of steeple bells
With voices raised in their devotions.
Nought but taste of dust in a crumbling tomb
Pursued by demons whilst ravens fly.
Will sun be seen again, will light return?
Will there be dawn for me?
What judgements will be cast?
What assessments heaped upon my life?
Will there be roses on my grave
Or ivy grow around the yew?

No! I shall not go easily before my term:
Time's scythe and Charon's oar must wait.
Let there be music and sweet harmony!
Let flowers bloom!
Let trumpets sound from the depths of oak woods
Whilst orchards blossom to honour and nurture spring!
Those shadows cast by imagined doom
Lack the power to overwhelm
With their so slender depth
So weak to brighter worlds.
For candles glow within the mind
And idle thoughts, so prone to winter's gloom,
Shall be dismissed by triumphs yet to come.