My childhood is all memories of a patio in Sevilla,
A garden where the summer sun meant lemons in the fall.
My youth: some twenty years or so in regions of Castilla.
My history: a turn or two I’ve no wish to recall.
I’m no seducer, never been Don Juan or Casanova
—Dull of dress and dull of mien, I little fit the part—
Yet Cupid had a shaft for me, shot, and I endured it.
But took no more than they could give that had a friendly heart.
Although my veins have blood enough ripe for revolution,
My poetry comes flowing from some untroubled well.
I’m not the chap we see around can chant the catechism,
Yet dare say I’m as good of heart, if “good” be taken well.
Beauty—there’s the saint I serve. To click of modern scissors
I cut the ancient roses in gardens of Ronsard,
No lover of the current muse who prinks amid beauticians;
I’m not a swan of those swans who warble avant-garde.
But devil take the tremolo of certain whiskey tenors,
The choir of all those katydids who twitter at the moon.
I pause apart, to ascertain true voices from the echoes,
And—out of all the voices there—care for only one.
Am I romantic, classical? I shrug. But know I’d leave it.
My poetry, in much the way a captain leaves his sword:
Famous for the manly hand that made the good air whistle,
And not the scientific fist that buffed it at the forge.
My conversation’s levelled at a fellow always with me
—Who holds a parley with his soul may talk with God some day—
And what appears soliloquy is chat with this companion
Who taught me how to love the race, and taught the only way.
I owe you nothing, after all. You owe me for my volumes.
I go about my work with care, with my resources buy
The suit of clothes that covers me, the roof that I live under,
The bread that keeps my flesh alive, the pillow where I lie.
And when the sailing day arrives, the day of the last voyage,
The ship that never comes again will cast the anchor free—
You’ll find me waiting safe aboard, and find I travel lightly,
With scarce a rag upon my back, like children of the sea.