The River Elsa

Jorge de Montemayor

Ah me! thou relie of that faithless fair!
Sad changes have I suffered since that day
When in this valley, from her long loose hair
I bore thee, relic of my love! away.
Well did I then believe Diana's truth,
For soon true love each jealous care represses;
And fondly thought that never other youth
Should wanton with the maiden's unbound tresses.

Here on the cold clear Esla's breezy side
My Land amid her ringlets wont to rove,
She proffered now the lock and now denied,
With all the baby playfulness of love.
Here the false maid, with many an artful tear,
Made me each rising thought of doubt discover.
And vowed and wept, —till hope had ceased to fear.
Ah me! beguiling like a child her lover.

Witness thou how that fondest, falsest fair
Has sighed and wept on Esla's sheltered shore,
And vowed eternal truth, and made me swear,
My heart no jealousy should harbor more.
Ah! tell me! could I but believe those eyes?
Those lovely eyes with tears my cheek bedewing,
When the mute eloquence of tears and sighs
I felt, and trusted, and embraced my ruin.

So false and yet so fair! so fair a mien
Veiling so false a mind who ever knew?
So true and yet so wretched! who has seen
A man like me, so wretched and so true?
Fly from me on the wind, for you have seen
How kind she was, how loved by her you knew me;
Fly, fly, vain witness what I once have been,
Nor dare, all wretched as I am, to view me!

One evening on the river's pleasant strand,
The maid too well beloved sat with me,
And with her finger traced upon the sand,
"Death for Diana, — not inconstancy!"
And Love beheld us from his secret stand,
And marked his triumph, laughing to behold me,
To see me trust a writing traced in sand,
To see me credit what a woman told me