Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547–1616). Don Quixote, Part 1.
The Second Book
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.
VI. Wherein Are Rehearsed the Despairing Verses of the Dead Shepherd, with Other Unexpected Accidents
THE CANZONE OF CHRYSOSTOM.
SINCE cruel thou (I publish) dost desire,
From tongue to tongue, and the one to the other pole,
The efficacy of thy rigour sharp,
I’ll hell constrain to assist my soul’s desire,
And in my breast infuse a ton of dole.
Whereon my voice, as it is wont, may harp,
And labour, as I wish, at once to carp
And tell my sorrows and thy murdering deeds;
The dreadful voice and accents shall agree,
And, with them, meet for greater torture be
Lumps of my wretched bowels, which still bleeds.
Then listen, and lend once attentive ears,
Not well-consorted tunes, but howling to hear,
That from my bitter bosom’s depth takes flight;
And by constrained raving borne away,
Issues forth from mine ease and thy despite.
THE LION’S roaring, and the dreadful howls
Of ravening wolf, and hissing terrible
Of squammy serpent; and the fearful bleat
Of some sad monster; of foretelling fowls,
The pie’s crackling, and rumour horrible
Of the contending wind, as it doth beat
The sea; and implacable bellowing, yet
Of vanquish’d bull; and of the turtle sole
The feeling mourning, and the doleful song
Of the envious owl, with the dire plaints among
Of all the infernal squadron full of dole,
Sally with my lamenting soul around
All mixed with so strange, unusual sound,
As all the senses may confounded be;
For my fierce torment, a new way exact,
Wherein I may recount my misery.
THE DOLEFUL echoes of so great confusion
Shall not resound o’er father Tagus’ sands,
Nor touch the olive-wat’ring Betis’ ears.
Of my dire pangs I’ll only make effusion
‘Mongst those steep rocks, and hollow bottom lands,
With mortified tongue, but living tears:
Sometimes, in hidden dales, where nought appears,
Or in unhaunted plains free from access;
Or where the sun could ne’er intrude a beam;
Amidst the venomous crew of beasts unclean,
Whose wants, with bounty, the free plains redress;
For, though among those vast and desert downs,
The hollow echo indistinctly sounds
Thy matchless rigour, and my cruel pain,
Yet, by the privilege of my niggard fates,
It will their force throughout the world proclaim.
A DISDAIN kills; and patience runs aground,
By a suspicion either false or true;
But jealousy, with greater rigour slays;
A prolix absence doth our life confound.
Against fear of oblivion to ensue,
Firm hope of best success gives little ease,
Inevitable death lurks in all these.
But I (O unseen miracle!) do still live,
Jealous, absent, disdain’d, and certain too
Of the suspicions that may life undo!
Drown’d in oblivion which my fire revives,
And amongst all those pains I never scope
Got, to behold the shadow once of hope:
Nor thus despaired would I it allow;
But ’cause I may more aggravate my moans,
To live ever without it, here I vow.
CAN hope and fear, at once, in one consist?
Or is it reason that it should be so?
Seeing the cause more certain is of fear;
If before me dire jealousy exist,
Shall I deflect mine eyes? since it will show
Itself by a thousand wounds in my soul there.
Or, who will not the gates unto despair
Wide open set, after that he hath spy’d
Murd’ring disdain? and noted each suspicion
To seeming truth transform’d? O sour conversion!
Whilst verity by falsehood is belied!
O tyrant of love’s state, fierce jealousy!
With cruel chains these hands together tie,
With stubborn cords couple them, rough disdain!
But woe is me, with bloody victory,
Your memory is, by my sufferance, slain!
I DIE, in fine, and ’cause I’ll not expect
In death or life for the least good success,
I obstinate will rest in fantasy,
And say he doth well, that doth death affect,
And eke the soul most liberty possess,
That is most thrall to love’s old tyranny.
And will affirm mine ever enemy,
In her fair shrine, a fairer soul contains;
And her oblivion from my fault to spring,
And to excuse her wrongs will witness bring,
That love by her in peace his state maintains,
And with a hard knot, and this strange opinion
I will accelerate the wretched summon,
To which guided I am by her scorns rife,
And offer to the air body and soul,
Without hope or reward of future life.
THOU that, by multiplying wrongs, doth show
The reason forcing me to use violence
Unto this loathsome life, grown to me hateful,
Since now by signs notorious thou mayst know,
From my heart’s deepest wound, how willingly sense
Doth sacrifice me to thy scorns ungrateful.
If my deserts have seem’d to thee so bootful,
As thy fair eyes clear heav’n should be o’ercast,
And clouded at my death; yet do not so,
For I’ll no recompense take for the woe:
By which, of my soul’s spoils possess’d thou wast:
But rather, laughing at my funeral sad,
Show how mine end begins to make thee glad
But ’tis a folly to advise thee this,
For I know, in my death’s acceleration,
Consists thy glory and thy chiefest bliss.
LET Tantalus from the profoundest deeps
Come, for it is high time now, with his thirst;
And Sisyphus, with his oppressing stone;
Let Tityus bring his raven that ne’er sleeps,
And Ixion make no stay with wheel accurs’d,
Nor the three sisters, ever lab’ring on.
And let them all at once their mortal moan
Translate into my breast, and lovely sound
(If it may be a debt due to despair),
And chant sad obsequies, with doleful air,
Over a corse unworthy of the ground.
And the three-faced infernal porter grim,
With thousand monsters and chimeras dim,
Relish the dolorous descant out amain;
For greater pomp than this I think not fit
That any dying lover should obtain.
DESPAIRING canzone, do not thou complain,
When thou my sad society shalt refrain;
But rather, since the cause whence thou didst spring,
By my misfortune, grows more fortunate,
Ev’n in the grave, thou must shun sorrowing.
Chrysostom’s canzone liked wonderfully all the hearers, although the reader thereof affirmed that it was not conformable to the relation that he had received of Marcela’s virtue and care of herself; for in it Chrysostom did complain of jealousies, suspicions, and absence, being all of them things that did prejudice Marcela’s good fame. To this objection Ambrosio answered (as one that knew very well the most hidden secrets of his friend): ‘You must understand, sir, to the end you may better satisfy your own doubt, that when the unfortunate shepherd wrote that canzone he was absent from Marcela, from whose presence he had wittingly withdrawn himself, to see if he could deface some part of his excessive passions, procured by absence; and as everything doth vex an absent lover, and every fear afflict him, so was Chrysostom likewise tormented by imagined jealousies and feared suspicions as much as if they were real and true. And with this remains the truth in her perfection and point of Marcela’s virtue, who, excepting that she is cruel and somewhat arrogant and very disdainful, very envy itself neither ought, nor can, attaint her of the least defect.’ ‘You have reason,’ quoth Vivaldo; and so, desiring to read another paper, he was interrupted by a marvellous vision (for such it seemed) that unexpectedly offered itself to their view; which was, that on the top of the rock wherein they made the grave, appeared the shepherdess Marcela, so fair that her beauty surpassed far the fame that was spread thereof. Such as had not beheld her before did look on her then with admiration and silence, and those which were wont to view her remained no less suspended than the others which never had seen her. But scarce had Ambrosio eyed her, when, with an ireful and disdaining mind, he spake these words: ‘Comest thou by chance, O fierce basilisk of these mountains! to see whether the wounds of this wretch will yet bleed at thy presence? or dost thou come to insult and vaunt in the tragical feats of thy stern nature? or to behold from that height, like another merciless Nero, the fire of inflamed Rome? or arrogantly to trample this infortunate carcase, as the ingrateful daughter did her father Tarquin’s? Tell us quickly why thou comest, or what thou dost most desire? For, seeing I know that Chrysostom’s thoughts never disobeyed thee in life, I will likewise cause that all those his friends shall serve and reverence thee.’
‘I come not here, good Ambrosio, to any of those ends thou sayst,’ quoth Marcela; ‘but only to turn for mine honour, and give the world to understand how little reason have all those which make me the author either of their own pains or of Chrysostom’s death; and therefore I desire all you that be here present to lend attention unto me, for I mean not to spend much time or words to persuade to the discreet so manifest a truth. Heaven, as you say, hath made me beautiful, and that so much that my feature moves you to love almost whether you will or no; and for the affection you show unto me, you say, ay, and you affirm, that I ought to love you again. I know, by the natural instinct that Jove hath bestowed on me, that each fair thing is amiable; but I cannot conceive why, for the reason of being beloved, the party that is so beloved for her beauty should be bound to love her lover, although he be foul; and, seeing that foul things are worthy of hate, it is a bad argument to say, I love thee, because fair; and therefore thou must affect me, although uncomely. But set the case that the beauties occur equal on both sides, it follows not, therefore, that their desires should run one way; for all beauties do not enamour, for some do only delight the sight, and subject not the will; for if all beauties did enamour and subject together, men’s wills would ever run confused and straying, without being able to make any election; for the beautiful subjects being infinite, the desires must also perforce be infinite. And, as I have heard, true love brooks no division, and must needs be voluntary, and not enforced; which being so, as I presume it is, why would you have me subject my will forcibly, without any other obligation than that, that you say you love me? If not, tell me, if Heaven had made me foul, as it hath made me beautiful, could I justly complain of you because you affected me not? How much more, seeing you ought to consider that I did not choose the beauty I have! for, such as it is, Heaven bestowed it gratis, without my demanding or electing it. And even as the viper deserves no blame for the poison she carries, although therewithal she kill, seeing it was bestowed on her by nature, so do I as little merit to be reprehended because beautiful; for beauty in an honest woman is like fire afar off, or a sharp-edged sword; for neither that burns nor this cuts any but such as come near them. Honour and virtue are the ornaments of the soul, without which the fairest body is not to be esteemed such; and if that honesty be one of the virtues that adorneth and beautifieth most the body and soul, why should she that is beloved, because fair, adventure the loss thereof, to answer his intention which only for his pleasure’s sake labours that she may lose it, with all his force and industry? I was born free, and, because I might live freely, I made election of the solitude of the fields. The trees of these mountains are my companions, the clear water of these streams my mirrors. With the trees and waters I communicate my thoughts and beauty. I am a parted fire, and a sword laid aloof. Those whom I have enamoured with my sight, I have undeceived with my words. And if desires be sustained by hopes, I never having given any to Chrysostom, or to any other, it may well be said that he was rather slain by his own obstinacy than by my cruelty. And if I be charged that his thoughts were honest, and that I was therefore obliged to answer unto them, I say, that when in that very place where you make his sepulchre, he first broke his mind unto me, I told him that mine intention was to live in perpetual solitude, and that only the earth should gather the fruits of my solitariness and the spoils of my beauty; and if he would, after this my resolution, persist obstinately without all hope, and sail against the wind, what wonder is it that he should be drowned in the midst of the gulf of his rashness? If I had entertained him, then were I false; if I had pleased him, then should I do against my better purposes and projects. He strove, being persuaded to the contrary; he despaired, ere he was hated. See, then, if it be reason that I bear the blame of his torment. Let him complain who hath been deceived; let him despair to whom his promised hopes have failed; let him confess it whom I shall ever call; let him vaunt whom I shall admit: but let him not call me cruel or a homicide, whom I never promised, deceived, called, or admitted. Heaven hath not yet ordained that I should love by destiny; and to think that I would do it by election may be excused. And let this general caveat serve every one of those which solicit me for his particular benefit. And let it be known, that if any shall hereafter die for my love, that he dies not jealous or unfortunate; for whosoever loves not any, breeds not in reason jealousy in any, nor should any resolutions to any be accounted disdainings. He that calls me a savage and a basilisk, let him shun me as a hurtful and prejudicial thing; he that calls me ungrateful, let him not serve me; he that’s strange, let him not know me; he that’s cruel, let him not follow me: for this savage, this basilisk, this ingrate, this cruel and strange one, will neither seek, serve, know, or pursue any of them. For if Chrysostom’s impatience and headlong desire slew him, why should mine honest proceeding and care be inculped therewithal? If I preserve mine integrity in the society of these trees, why would any desire me to lose it, seeing every one covets to have the like himself, to converse the better among men? I have, as you all know, riches enough of mine own, and therefore do not covet other men’s. I have a free condition, and I do not please to subject me. Neither do I love or hate any. I do not deceive this man, or solicit that other; nor do I jest with one, and pass the time with another. The honest conversation of the pastoras of these villages and the care of my goats, do entertain me. My desires are limited by these mountains; and if they do issue from hence, it is to contemplate the beauty of heaven—steps wherewithal the soul travels toward her first dwelling.’ And, ending here, without desiring to hear any answer, she turned her back and entered into the thickest part of the wood that was there at hand, leaving all those that were present marvellously admired at her beauty and discretion.
Some of the shepherds present, that were wounded by the powerful beams of her beautiful eyes, made proffer to pursue her, without reaping any profit out of her manifest resolution made there in their hearing; which Don Quixote noting, and thinking that the use of this chivalry did jump fitly with that occasion, by succouring distressed damsels, laying hand on the pommel of his sword, he said, in loud and intelligible words: “Let no person, of whatsoever state or condition he be, presume to follow the fair Marcela, under pain of falling into my furious indignation. She hath shown, by clear and sufficient reasons, the little or no fault she had in Chrysostom’s death, and how far she lives from meaning to condescend to the desires of any of her lovers; for which respect it is just that, instead of being pursued and persecuted, she be honoured and esteemed by all the good men of the world; for she shows in it, that it is only she alone that lives therein with honest intention.’ Now, whether it was through Don Quixote’s menaces, or whether because Ambrosio requested them to conclude with the obligation they owed to their good friend, none of the shepherds moved or departed from thence until, the grave being made and Chrysostom’s papers burnt, they laid the body into it, with many tears of the beholders. They shut the sepulchre with a great stone, until a monument were wrought, which Ambrosio said he went to have made, with an epitaph to this sense:
‘Here, of a loving swain,
The frozen carcase lies;
Who was a heard likewise,
And died through disdain.
Stern rigour hath him slain,
Of a coy fair ingrate,
By whom love doth dilate
Her tyranny amain.’
They presently strewed on the grave many flowers and boughs, and everyone condoling a while with his friend Ambrosio, did afterward bid him farewell, and departed. The like did Vivaldo and his companion: and Don Quixote, bidding his host and the travellers adieu, they requested him to come with them to Seville, because it was a place so fit for the finding of adventures, as in every street and corner thereof are offered more than in any other place whatsoever. Don Quixote rendered them thanks for their advice and the good will they seemed to have to gratify him, and said he neither ought nor would go to Seville until he had freed all those mountains of thieves and robbers, whereof, as fame ran, they were full. The travellers perceiving his good intention, would not importune him more; but, bidding him again farewell, they departed, and followed on their journey; in which they wanted not matter of discourse, as well of the history of Marcela and Chrysostom as of the follies of Don Quixote, who determined to go in the search of the shepherdess Marcela, and offer unto her all that he was able to do in her service. But it befel him not as he thought, as shall be rehearsed in the discourse of this true history; giving end here to the Second Part.