Sunday, 28 March 2010
Come sit by my side, Lydia
Come sit by my side Lydia, on the bank of the river
Calmly let us watch it flow, and learn
That life passes, and we are not holding hands.
(Let us hold hands)
Then let us reflect as grown-up children, that life
Passes and does not stay, leaves nothing, never returns
Goes to a sea far away, near to Fate itself,
Further than the gods.
Let us hold hands no more: why should we tire ourselves?
For our pleasure, for our pain, we pass on like the river.
'Tis better to know how to pass on silently,
With no great disquiet.
With neither loves nor hates, nor passions raising their voice,
Nor envies making the eye rove too restlessly,
Nor cares, for if it knew care, the river would flow no less,
Would still join the sea in the end.
Let us love each other calmly, with the thought that we could,
If we chose, freely kiss and caress and embrace,
But that we do better to be seated side by side
Hearing the river flow, and seeing it.
Let us gather flowers, and do you take some and leave them
In your lap, and let their scent lend sweetness to the moment -
This moment when calmly we believe in nothing,
Innocent pagans of the decadence.
At least, should I first become a shade, you will remember me after,
Though remembered, I may not inflame nor hurt nor disturb you,
For we never hold hands, nor kiss,
Nor were we ever more than children.
And if, before me, you take the obol to the gloomy boatman,
I shall have not cause to suffer when I remember you.
You will be sweet to my memory if I remember you thus, on the river bank,
A sorrowful pagan maid, with flowers in her lap.
- RICARDO REIS
(Translated by Peter Rickard)