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When from this prison drear,
Philip, may I take flight into the sky,
And in the farther sphere,
Pure truth without concealment may descry?


In my new life elate,
Converted into light of radiant sheen,
At one and separate,
What is and what hath been,
Shall I see and its true origin unseen.


There 'twill be mine to see
How the divine power the foundations laid
With such skilled accuracy
That stable, undismayed,
Earth's heaviest element therein is stayed;


And there shall I behold
The pillars that prop Earth everlastingly,
The boundary-marks that hold
In check the angry sea,
In prison fixed for it by Heaven's decree;


Why the Earth trembles, why
The waters of the deep sea rage and swell,
The north wind comes, what spell
Causes the Ocean waves to ebb and well;


Where rise the crystal springs,
And who to the great rivers' ceaseless flow
Their store of water brings;
Of icy cold and snow
And summer heat the causes I shall know;


Who in the air sustains
Water on high, the forge of lightning flash,
The dwelling of the rains
Shall I see, and now God's lash
Furls the treasured snow, and whence the thunders crash.


Look, on a summer day
When through the air a veil of grey is thrust,
Day's face grows dark in play
Of mad north-west wind's gust,
And lightly to the sky is whirled the dust;


God moves amid the cloud,
Guiding his aery chariot swift and bright,
With dreadful thunder loud
And flashing fire's light:
Men bow themselves, Earth trembles in affright.


The roofs are washed with rain,
And rushing streams pour down from all the hills:
At his lost labour vain
And peasant's heart dismayed amazement fills.


And thence uplifted, I
The motions shall behold of lofty Heaven,
All that moves naturally
And that by force is driven,
And to the signs and fates what cause is given;


And who the stars inspires
And kindles with a beauty radiant, clear,
Their Great and Little Bear
To bathe themselves in Ocean ever fear


I shall see where the sun,
The light and fountain of our life, abides,
Why is so swiftly run
His course of wintertides,
And why in the long nights his ray he hides;


Yea, in the highest sphere
Those dwellings of delight shall I behold:
Motionless they appear,
Fashioned of light and gold,
The mansions that the spirits blest enfold.


Fray Luis de León
Translation by Aubrey F. G. Bell

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