The Flower of Gnido

Garcilaso de la Vega

Had I the sweet resounding lyre
"Whose voice could in a moment chain
The howling wind's ungoverned ire,
And movement of the raging main,
On savage hills the leopard rein,
The lion's fiery soul entrance,
And lead along with golden tones
The fascinated trees and stones
In voluntary dance;

Think not, think not, fair Flower of Guide,
It e'er should celebrate the scars,
Dust raised, blood shed, or laurels dyed
Beneath the gonfalon of Mars;
Or, borne sublime on festal cars,
The chiefs who to submission sank
The rebel German's soul of soul,
And forged the chains that now control
The frenzy of the Frank.

No, no! its harmonies should ring
In vaunt of glories all thine own,
A discord sometimes from the string
Struck forth to make thy harshness known.
The fingered chords should speak alone
Of Beauty's triumphs, Love's alarms,
And one who, made by thy disdain
Pale as a lily clipt in twain,
Bewails thy fatal charms.

In snows on rocks, sweet Flower of Gnide,
Thou wert not cradled, were not born,
She who has not a fault beside
Should ne'er be signalized for scorn;
Else, tremble at the fate forlorn
Of Anaxarete, who spurned
The weeping Iphis from her gate,
Who, scoffing long, relenting late,
Was to a statue turned.

Whilst yet soft pity she repelled,
Whilst yet she steeled her heart in pride,
From her friezed window she beheld,
Aghast, the lifeless suicide;
Around his lily neck was tied
What freed his spirit from her chains,
And purchased with a few short sighs
For her immortal "agonies,
Imperishable pains.

Then first she felt her bosom bleed
With love and pity; vain distress!
0, what deep rigors must succeed
This first sole touch of tenderness!
Her eyes grow glazed and motionless,
Nailed on his wavering corse, each bone
Hardening in growth, invades her flesh,
Which, late so rosy, warm, and fresh,
Now stagnates into stone.

From limb to limb the frosts aspire,
Her vitals curdle with the cold;
Tin- blood forgets its crimson fire,
The veins that e'er its motion rolled;
Till now the virgin's glorious mould
Was wholly into marble changed,
On which the Salaminians gazed,
Less at the prodigy amazed
Than of the crime avenged.

Then tempt not thou Fate's angry arms
By cruel frown or icy taunt,
But let thy perfect deeds and charms
To poets' harps, divinest, grant
Themes worthy their immortal vaunt;
Else must our weeping strings presume
To celebrate in strains of woe
The justice of some signal blow
That strikes thee to the tomb.

Main Location:

Napoli - Naples, Italy