Poems Without Frontiers

Poems in Translation

David Paley

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The Welcome Tyrant
David William Paley

No master can demand indenture
To be served with joy by every captive
Except those struck by Cupid's arrow
And are bound in bonds of iron.
But this for me has been decreed:
That I become a willing slave
And bear this yoke of bondage
Where I submit to domination
Subject to a tyrant will
To which I, gladly, now accede.

The gods looked out from clouds above
And loosed a ray from distant stars
In far off realms of space
To fly on wings through sunlit skies
And guide the bolt from Amor's bow.
The wind that bent the reeds
And drove the foam across the bay
Has stroked me with its hidden hand
To declare a victory in the fray
As I lay wounded by that wanton blow.

A golden spark was sent
To light a torch within my breast
That rages like a flaming furnace
Brightly flaring, unextinguished,
To kindle warmth through every season.
Here, I lie, held in harness,
To live in thrall to a greater power
Where spring is ever present
For, within this ageless land,
Time may strike the hour
But love knows no division.

Timorous whirlpools in ocean wastes
Swirled around my quivering soul
And drew me down to unknown depths
In a harbour lost to worlds we know
To drown in billowing waves.
We rose and fell on tender tides,
And grasped at straws for breath
Till washed upon the sandy bed
Of a beach beneath the moon
Where heavenly bodies held our gaze.

My wealth is stored in a treasure chest
Buried deep within my heart
Where none can find the place
Except the one who has the chart.
She needs no spade when she is near;
I am open to her plunder;
But, with such abundance,
She has no need to be constrained
I urge her, too, to take my all
For, both will, then, have gained.

If my purse be empty,
I shall be rich without a fortune.
What is wealth and what is beauty?
If love be absent
Life can have no purpose
Other than a barren duty.
It will live beyond the tomb,
Transform our graveyards into gardens,
Turn the yew to cherry blossom
And thorn bush into roses.

If depths of oceans and heights of alpine snows
And eagle's nest remote on mountain crag
As well as lark unseen in summer skies
Could join with garden thrush in gurgling song
Close to hearth and home,
No better measure could we choose.
Through long length of years,
Rehearsed by songsters in the day,
Troubadours, at night, would then convey
Serenades from their nocturnal muse.

If darkness falls and we must part
When called to go our separate ways,
Those stars may blaze with pride
That they have proved their worth
And that the arrow has not broken.
We shall pass the years, together,
Until, at last, the end is nigh.
We shall have loved each other;
But one, alone, perforce, must sigh
When words can be, no longer, spoken.