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

To Spain: An Elegy

By José de Espronceda (1808–1842)

HOW solitary is the nation now

That peopled countries vast a former day!

That, all beneath her sovereignty to bow,

From East to West extended once her sway!

Tears now profuse to shed, unhappy one,

Queen of the world! ’tis thine; and from thy face,

Enchanting yet in sorrow, there is none

Its overwhelming traces to erase.

How fatally o’er thee has death poured forth

Darkness and mourning, horrible and great!

And the stern despot in his maddened wrath

Exulted wildly o’er thy low estate.

Nothing or great or beautiful he spared,

My country!—the young warrior by him fell,

The veteran fell, and vile his war-axe glared,

Pleased all its fury o’er thee to impel.

Even the pure maiden fell beneath the rage

Of the unpitying despot, as the rose,

Condemned the summer’s burning sun to engage,

Her bloom and beauty withering, soon must close.

Come, O ye inhabiters of all the earth,

And contemplate my misery! can there,—

Tell me!—be any found of mortal birth

Bearing the sorrows I am doomed to bear?

I, wretched, banished from my native land,

Behold, far from the country I adore,

Her former glories lost and high command,

And only left her sufferings to deplore.

Her children have been fatally betrayed

By treacherous brethren, and a tyrant’s power;

And these her lovely fertile plains have made

Fields o’er which only lamentations lower.

Her arms extended wide, unhappy Spain!

Her sons imploring in her deep distress:

Her sons they were, but her command was vain,

Unheard the traitor-madness to repress.

Whate’er could then avail thee, tower or wall,

My country! still amid thy woes adored?

Where were the heroes that could once appall

The fiercest foe? where thy unconquered sword?

Alas! now on thy children’s humbled brow

Deeply is shame engraved, and on their eyes,

Cast down and sorrowfully throbbing now,

The tears alone of grief and mourning rise.

Once was a time for Spain, when she possessed

A hundred heroes in her hour of pride;

And trembling nations saw her manifest

Her power and beauty, dazzling, by their side.

As lofty shows itself in Lebanon

The cedar, so her brow she raised on high;

And fell her voice the nations round upon,

As terrify a girl the thunders nigh.

But as a stone now in the desert’s wild

Thou liest abandoned, and an unknown way

Through strangers’ lands, uncertain where, exiled,

The patriot’s doomed unfortunate to stray.

Her ancient pomp and power are covered o’er

With sand and weeds contemptuous; and the foe,

That trembled at her puissance before,

Now mocks exulting and enjoys her woe.

Maidens! your flowing locks disheveled tear,

To give them to the wandering winds; and bring

Your harps in mournful company to share

With me the sorrowful laments I sing.

Thus banished from our homes afar away

Still let us weep our miseries. O Spain,

Who shall have power thy torments to allay?

Who shall have power to dry thy tears again?