Poems Without Frontiers

Poems in Translation

David William Paley

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The Lost Land
David William Paley

In that lost land that once was ours
We knew the hills and dales;
Yet, now, I face the barren moors
Where the wilderness prevails.
Love has flown in winter wind
And snow lies all around.
The trees are bare, no garlands wave
From the looming mountain brow
And ice will form upon my grave
For, neither spring nor summer
Will show their faces now.

Volcanoes grumbled beneath the sea
And waves crashed hard upon the shore;
A glow-worm lost its way in mist
And a guiding light was, thus, no more.
A goblin stumbled in the elfin glade
And a fairy broke her wand in two;
A wizard cast a spell on song
That caused a minstrel much ado;
A god has conjured clouds of rain
And the deluge broke the dam;
But it was an unknown evil tyrant
Who has sundered our enchantment.

We were the lovers who knew no end
To the world and its creations.
The anger of the fates is clear:
The bond has broken past repair;
Now is time to shed a tear!
The charm that made us walk on air
And all the pleasures we have known
Have been snatched from fortune's hand
Then, with force, to the winds been hurled
Blown across a foreign land
To all far corners of the world.

Now I stand at the edge of doom
One more step will be my last
And turn or go means life or death;
To live again or die forever.
Darkness swallows both events:
A Hobson's choice and cruel dilemma!
To pass the years without reward
Or enter realms of constant dreams!
To dread the waking and the slumber;
To be alive without existence
Or asleep devoid of rest!

To turn is to feel despair
And fear the morning light;
To go is to close the day
And meet eternal night.
But could Time be guardian to my loss
And ensure that, at some future date,
The healer will have done his work!
Or could unconscious frenzy
Excite tremendous torment
Within my bonds of stupor
Greater than my present state!

The abyss is deep, the gap is wide
Too far to leap or to bestride.
Another course must be pursued
Within this turmoil of inquietude.
But what decision can I reach
If I have stepped beyond my power?
Can the stream retrace its flow
Or the rain regain the clouds?
Will secret hope direct my steps
Towards another bower?

A fatal step means one direction
And eternal dereliction.
But, if I seek a lesser sentence
In pleading my repentance,
I may bear the slings and arrows
For the rest of my tomorrows
Or, perhaps, be quite indifferent
To a memory then long distant
When I shall join the madding crowd
In which to stand no longer bowed.

How strange it is that this dark hour
Can intrude a logic into grief
That may last through all my days
Or be a lapse of time so brief
That it will prove to be a passing phase
Wherein I hold a firm belief,
As I stumble through the maze,
That the storm is but a shower
And ends with grand displays
When a bud has blossomed to a flower.

David William Paley