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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

The Lovers

By Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600–1681)

  • From ‘The Secret in Words’: Translation of Denis Florence Mac Carthy
  • [Flerida, the Duchess of Parma, is in love with her secretary Frederick. He loves her lady, Laura. Both Frederick and Laura are trying to keep their secret from the Duchess.]

  • FREDERICK—Has Flerida questioned you

    Aught about my love?
    Fabio—No, surely;

    But I have made up my mind

    That you are the prince of dunces,

    Not to understand her wish.

    Frederick—Said she something, then, about me?

    Fabio—Ay, enough.
    Frederick—Thou liest, knave!

    Wouldst thou make me think her beauty,

    Proud and gentle though it be,

    Which might soar e’en like the heron

    To the sovereign sun itself,

    Could descend with coward pinions

    At a lowly falcon’s call?

    Fabio—Well, my lord, just make the trial

    For a day or two; pretend

    That you love her, and—

    That there were the slightest ground

    For this false, malicious fancy

    You have formed, there’s not a chink

    In my heart where it might enter,—

    Since a love, if not more blest,

    Far more equal than the other

    Holds entire possession there.

    Fabio—Then you never loved this woman

    At one time?
    Fabio—Then avow—

    Fabio—That you were very lazy.

    Frederick—That is falsehood, and not love.

    Fabio—The more the merrier!
    Frederick—In two places

    How could one man love?
    Fabio—Why, thus:—

    Near the town of Ratisbon

    Two conspicuous hamlets lay,—

    One of them called Ageré,

    The other called Mascárandón.

    These two villages one priest,

    An humble man of God, ’tis stated,

    Served; and therefore celebrated

    Mass in each on every feast.

    And so one day it came to pass,

    A native of Mascárandón

    Who to Ageré had gone

    About the middle of the mass,

    Heard the priest in solemn tone

    Say, as he the Preface read,

    “Gratias ageré,” but said

    Nothing of Mascárandón.

    To the priest this worthy made

    His angry plaint without delay:

    “You give best thanks for Ageré,

    As if your tithes we had not paid!”

    When this sapient reason reached

    The noble Mascárandónese,

    They stopped their hopeless pastor’s fees,

    Nor paid for what he prayed or preached;

    He asked his sacristan the cause,

    Who told him wherefore and because.

    From that day forth when he would sing

    The Preface, he took care t’intone,

    Not in a smothered or weak way,

    “Tibi semper et ubique


    If from love,—that god so blind,—

    Two parishes thou holdest, you

    Are bound to gratify the two;

    And after a few days you’ll find,

    If you do so, soon upon

    You and me will fall good things,

    When your Lordship sweetly sings

    Flerída et Mascárandón.

    Frederick—Think you I have heard your folly?

    Fabio—If you listened, why not so?

    Frederick—No: my mind can only know

    Its one call of melancholy.

    Fabio—Since you stick to Ageré

    And reject Mascárandón,

    Every hope, I fear, is gone,

    That love his generous dues will pay.