SONNETS FROM A DIARY

By Luis G. Dato

I

The rills in their cascades, the brooks in their courses,
Will, seething and whirling, unresistingly flow,
Some invisible power they never can know,
Bids them stir from their basins and leap from their sources.
And there still are more strange, more singular forces,
That must carry us forward and carry us so,
We surmise not what purpose but onward we go,
Though we struggle to turn back with all our resources.

Such a time must have come in my motiveless dreaming
Through sheltered lagoon and more shadowy wood,
When soul-rapt ,in the whispering dusk of a gloaming,
On my life she appeared, and love rose in the blood,
As when rivers are lost in the vast ocean foaming,
And the rill from its sources joins flood unto flood.

II (Fragment)

But veracity lurks in the words of some others,
That the soul cannot carry the body too far, of
That of woe and of rue our lives are close brothers,
That with gayety in peace comes the groaning of war.

III

To the shrine and the sanctuary oft come a pale legion,
And they oft raise their hearts in a paean of prayer,
For they think when they pray they are dimly aware,
Of a region celestial where God holds dominion;
Ah! my soul it could speak not of any religion,
Or belief to sustain it through pain and through care,
could vision of course, in the wealth of her hair,
My utter despair should our love turn oblivion;

Her presence then stirred me to thoughts melancholy,
“What,” I asked, “would I do if she left me alone,
Are there powers on high, be they holy, unholy,
That could bid her to stay here, and never be gone?”

IV (Fragment)

O power of earth, and O power of Heaven
Why must you work woe when you promise us weal,
Why must you claim still the gifts to us given,
And leave i n our hearts wounds impotent to heal,
Why must you conclude tales scarcely told even,
And our joys with your shadow unrelentingly seal?

V (Fragment)

Ah, dear heart that has left with no thought of leave-taking,
Can your passing be sweetened by the wind-winged years?
Ah, you wished well to keep my lone bosom from breaking,
Wished to spare it the pain of complaining and tears,
But my slumber is peaceless, night finds me awaking,
With the thought of the long years, the end of our fears.

VI

For her voice was the voice of the weird spirits vernal
And her hair wore the hue of the unexplored night;
When I failed to grasp fully the power supernal,
Who is kinder than mercy and sterner than might,
I just looked in her eyes, for it seemed the eternal
Might wish to have lurked in those orbits of light.

VII

O her motion was charming, her figure enchanting,
I recall these too clearly with the thoughts she is dead,
And her eyes they were wondrous, her lips they were red,
As a rose freshly cut in the warm day-wind panting;
And the shape of her body of grace was not wanting;
Then swiftly through alleys of flowers she fled,
When, returning, the way she light-footedly tread,
Coming laden with flowers, her cold words recanting.

O form that has vanished, all graces combining,
Your departure has opened a space none can fill,
I must live on throughout for your image repining,
For the smile in your face that smile never will.
I must carry my burden, in memory reclining,
Despairing of one buried under the hill.

VIII

I paused to myself, were I now to encounter
The one fact of all life, my one dream of a mate?
Fell to doubt and consider if to take or to counter her,
As the star for whom life had revolved to its fate,
Fell to doubt and to ponder if that fragrant-armed haunter,
Were a message from Heaven that almost came late.

IX

I am sweetly perplexed when love holds and releases,
By the countless retreats and then the numberless captures,
By the petulant coldness and agreeable raptures,
By the whisper of phrases that hurts and then pleases;
I am drunk by the prodigal total of leases
From her body and spirit, her soul and her senses,
A revel in approaches and artless offenses,
In her challenging taunts as she tenderly teases,
Now will I disengage a red flower from her tresses,
And uplift her lithe form from a divan of roses,
For the zephyr of night too much passion opposes
And in delicte folds now has rumpled her dresses,
On tomorrow’s new dawn the eager heart presses,
I sleep, and the curtain of yesterday closes.

X

In this state of the mind when the least sound perplexes,
And the faintest light shadow the spirit depresses
When the pen hesitating conjenctures and guesses
On the scheme enigmatic of mortals and sexes,
When the twilight with shadow the bosom but vexes,
And the light of the morning the temper oppresses,
When society with men a mere boredom expresses,
And the phantom of silence, a war of complexes;
Then I think of the second new life of hereafter,

Which will claim at a call my lone soul from the earth,
Of the day when I cease from all tear-drops and laughter,
When the born things are dead, and the dead given birth.
From my bed of repose I, recalling would waft her
The one halcyon remembrance of our passionate mirth.

Luis Dato
Luis Dato

Luis G. Dato (July 4, 1906 - January 29, 1985) was a poet, writer and educator from Sta. Cruz, Baao, Camarines Sur. He published books in English including Manila A Collection of verse (1926), My Book of Verses (1936) and the Land of Mai in 1975. He also wrote several books and text in Bikol such as, Vocabulario Bikol-Ingles-Kastila (1963), Cantahon na Bikol (1969), Morfologia kan Tataramon na Bikol (serialized in Naga Times), Patotodon sa Bikol (Bikol Mail) and Sarabihon sa Bikol.

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