At Parting

Algernon Charles Swinburne was an English poet, playwright, novelist, and critic, who was born on 5 April 1837.
He was famous for his innovative versification, and a central figure in the spread of ideas associated with Pre-Raphaelitism, Aestheticism, and the Symbolist.
Swinburne was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature every year from 1903 to 1907 and again in 1909, the year of his death.

                                   At Parting

For a day and a night Love sang to us, played with us,
    Folded us round from the dark and the light;
And our hearts were fulfilled of the music he made with us,
Made with our hearts and our lips while he stayed with us,
    Stayed in mid passage his pinions from flight
                For a day and a night.

From his foes that kept watch with his wings had he hidden us,
    Covered us close from the eyes that would smite,
From the feet that had tracked and the tongues that had chidden us
Sheltering in shade of the myrtles forbidden us
    Spirit and flesh growing one with delight
                For a day and a night.

But his wings will not rest and his feet will not stay for us:
    Morning is here in the joy of its might;
With his breath has he sweetened a night and a day for us;
Now let him pass, and the myrtles make way for us;
    Love can but last in us here at his height
                For a day and a night.

This poem has the voluptuousness of Swinburne’s love verse.
After a day and a night of intense love-making, he warns his partner that deeply experienced love cannot last forever.
The repeated reference to myrtle alludes to love since it was a holy tree, sacred to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty and sex.

                              Alla separazione
Per un giorno e una notte l'amore  ha cantato e giocato con noi,
     ci ha avvolti riparandoci da tenebre e luce;
ha appagato  i nostri cuori  con la musica che faceva con noi,
con i nostri cuori e le nostre labbra, mentre era con noi,
con le piume fermate come  a  mezzo di un volo è rimasto
             un giorno e una notte.

Dai suoi nemici che sorvegliavano con le sue ali ci ha nascosti
     protetti da sguardi che volevano punirci,
da piedi che ci avevano inseguito e da lingue che ci avevano biasimato
riparandoci  all'ombra dei mirti che a noi erano proibiti;
  mentre spirito e carne  si fondevano con gioia
                un giorno e una notte.

Ma le sue ali non si riposeranno e i suoi passi non si fermeranno per noi:
     è giunto il mattino nel giubilo della sua potenza;
con il suo alito ha reso dolci per noi una notte e un giorno;
ora lasciamolo andare, e i rami dei mirti si aprano per noi:
     l'amore nel suo culmine dura solo  
               un giorno e una notte.
(L.Z.)

Image: Egon Schiele ‘The Embrace’ – 1917

35 thoughts on “At Parting

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