Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Spain, &c.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV.  1876–79.
Spain: Avila
Santa Teresa
Luis de Góngora (1561–1627)
Translated by Edward Churton

GOOD measure of the seed that fell
  Not on rude thorns or arid stone,
But the kind earth requited well
  With plenteous fruit, five score for one,
Was found in this good Saint, whose worth,        5
  Appraised by lawful standard now,
From Avila that gave her birth
  Prompts far and near the bedesman’s vow.
For not alone of grain so pure
  She gave full measure, just and true,        10
She brought, the treasure to secure,
  The girding cord and sackcloth too.
A saintly patriarch, two in one
  She played her part, in both entire,
Now Angelo, half friar, half nun,        15
  Teresa now, half nun, half friar.
In dreams she soared to Carmel’s height,
  And saw perchance the bush that bloomed,
Wrapt in a shroud of fiery light
  With buds of glory unconsumed.        20
Thence to the world returning down,
  She walked unsandalled evermore;
But in strong tables, firm as stone,
  Her reverend Code Reformed she bore.
Or, like the Tishbite’s follower blest,        25
  She tracked the car of heavenly love
That bore him to his endless rest,
  And caught his mantle from above:
Thence love-inspired, to earth’s dark ways
  She turned, her convent-homes to rear,        30
In number like the nights and days
  In Spain’s star-spangled hemisphere.
Her convent-homes for souls distressed
  She reared, celestial sojournings,
Whereto poor mourners flew for rest,        35
  Like bees at eve with weary wings.
With such wise zeal her spirit glowed,
  With language meet for gray-haired men,
The counsels from her lips that flowed
  Had graced a mitred prelate’s pen.        40
Twin lights of Avila’s fair town
  They live, Tostado, learned sire,
Whose lamp of truth shall ne’er burn down,
  And now Teresa’s signal-fire.
In Avila, right nobly born,        45
  She grew, and Nature gave beside
Such beauty as might well adorn
  The state of Juno’s bird of pride.
The rose, the lily in her cheek
  So graced her crystal form so fair,        50
That Flattery’s glossing could not speak
  Of charms that Nature gave not there.
But in the springtide of her youth,
  Proof to the fond, beguiling sin,
The fragile crystal kept the truth,        55
  The firmness of the rock within.
Unheeded round that virgin form
  The twines of flaunting flattery played;
They withered, as at touch of worm
  The wanton Spring’s waste tendrils fade.        60
So unbeguiled and fancy-free
  She like the bowering cedar grew,
And pilgrims to that sheltering tree
  From heat or storm to covert flew.
Her penitential followers pale,        65
  In ashy cowls, might match the crowd,
That to the prophet’s boding wail
  At Nineveh in ashes bowed.
Such citizens from Europe wide
  Did this good anchorite enroll,        70
Till mortal urn no more might hide
  The flame of her ethereal soul.
O host of penitents so fair,
  That drink of Camel’s living springs,
Whose forms the gown of camlet wear        75
  With glory like an angel’s wings;
Religion, spread as soon as born,
  All flowering, while its plant was young;
All fruitful on its virgin thorn;
  Forgive my too presumptuous song;        80
Forgive me, if among your swans,
  Like the vain daw, I dare to come,
To greet the Saint’s bright sun that dawns
  O’er her clear stream and mountain-home;
Forgive me, when her wondrous worth        85
  More than loud trumpet’s voice might need,
If I her praise sound weakly forth
  On my poor dull-toned shepherd’s reed.
Good mother, who her twofold flock
  Did in one blended rule combine,        90
As the good dresser from one stock
  Rears the twin boughs of one fair vine.
Laborers at every hour she drew
  To till her vineyard, man and maid,
To tasks the vain world never knew,        95
  Taught in the convent’s cloistered shade:
To hair-cloth, foe to soft delight,
  That with frail flesh so fiercely wars,
Its bristling edge, like file, might bite
  E’en through the convent-grating bars;        100
Or rather, like to horsehair sieves
  Sifting the corn-heaps fair and even,
It purges out all husks, and gives
  The grain in measure pure for heaven.
Wise virgin! she with livelong toil        105
  The watcher’s lamp so firm to bear,
Has left her store of sacred oil
  To sparkle from her sepulchre;
And it shall burn more bright with years,
  Unwasted, till the Bridegroom come,        110
And the good seed she sowed in tears,
  Return in sheaves of gladness home.

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