Federico Garcia Lorca

Invocation to the Laurel


Over the horizon, lost in confusion, came the sad night, pregnant with stars. I, like the bearded mage of the tales, knew the language of stones and flowers. I learned the secrets of melancholy, told by cypresses, nettles and ivy; I knew the dream from lips of nard, sang serene songs with the irises. In the old forest, filled with its blackness, all of them showed me the souls they have; the pines, drunk on aroma and sound; the old olives, burdened with knowledge; the dead poplars, nests for the ants; the moss, snowy with white violets. All spoke tenderly to my heart trembling in threads of rustling silk where water involves motionless things, like a web of eternal harmony. The roses there were sounding the lyre, oaks weaving the gold of legends, and amidst their virile sadness the junipers spoke of rustic fears. I knew all the passion of woodland; rhythms of leaves, rhythms of stars. But tell me, oh cedars, if my heart will sleep in the arms of perfect light! I know the lyre you prophesy, roses: fashioned of strings from my dead life. Tell me what pool I might leave it in, as former passions are left behind! I know the mystery you sing of, cypress; I am your brother of night and pain; we hold inside us a tangle of nests, you of nightingales, I of sadness! I know your endless enchantment, old olive tree, yielding us blood you extract from the Earth, like you, I extract with my feelings the sacred oil held by ideas! You all overwhelm me with songs; I ask only for my uncertain one; none of you will quell the anxieties of this chaste fire that burns in my breast. O laurel divine, with soul inaccessible, always so silent, filled with nobility! Pour in my ears your divine history, all your wisdom, profound and sincere! Tree that produces fruits of the silence, maestro of kisses and mage of orchestras, formed from Daphne's roseate flesh with Apollo's potent sap in your veins! O high priest of ancient knowledge! O solemn mute, closed to lament! All your forest brothers speak to me; only you, harsh one, scorn my song! Perhaps, oh maestro of rhythm, you muse on the pointlessness of the poet's sad weeping. Perhaps your leaves, flecking by the moonlight, forgo all the illusions of spring. The delicate tenderness of evening, that covered the path with black dew, holding out a vast canopy to night, came solemnly, pregnant with stars.

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