Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Waddington, ed. > The Sonnets of Europe
Samuel Waddington, comp.  The Sonnets of Europe.  1888.
Last Sonnet
By Miguel de Cervantes (1547–1616)
Translated by James Y. Gibson

O POWERFUL, 1 grand, thrice-blessed, and passing fair
  City of Rome! To thee I bend the knee,
  A pilgrim new, a lowly devotee,
Whose wonder grows to see thy beauty rare!
The sight of thee, past fame, beyond compare,        5
  Suspends the fancy, soaring tho’ it be,
  Of him who comes to see and worship thee,
With naked feet, and tender loving care.
The soil of this thy land which now I view,
  Where blood of martyrs mingles with the clod,        10
  Is the world’s relic, prized of every land;
No part of thee but serves as pattern true
  Of sanctity; as if the City of God
  Had been in every line its model grand!
Note 1. This sonnet by Cervantes, in honour of the City of Rome, is said to have been the last sonnet that he wrote. It is to be found in his Persiles and Sigismunda, and is followed by these words: “When the pilgrim had finished reciting this sonnet, he turned to the bystanders and said, ‘A few years ago there came to his holy city a Spanish poet, a mortal enemy to himself and a disgrace to his nation, who made and composed a sonnet, reviling this illustrious city and its noble inhabitants; but his throat will pay the fault of his tongue, should they catch him. I, not as a poet, but as a Christian, as if to make amends for his crime, composed what you have heard!’”
  More curious, however, and worthy of the genius of Cervantes, is that entitled, The Author to His Pen, which forms the frontispiece of his Journey to Parnassus. The following quaint prologue to that work is also admirable:—“If haply, curious reader, thou art a poet, and this Journey should come (be it even stealthiwise) into thy hands, and thou find thyself inscribed therein and noted as one of the good poets, give thanks to Apollo for the grace he hath given thee; and if thou do not so find thyself, in like manner mayst thou give thanks. And God be with thee.” [back]

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