THE LYRE (Translated from Jose Rizal)

by Luis G. Dato

You bid me strike the lyre
Long time since still and broken,
When now it lies unspoken
And Muses none inspire.
The tuneless strings suspire

For some forgotten strain,
Their laughter I but feign,
And feigned their wailing only,
I live through seasons lonely,
Stranger to joy and pain.

A day there was once ours,
A time far flung from now,
When friends place round my brow
A crown of leaves and flowers,
Of those triumphal hours,

But memory remains
As when the ear retains
Of some hilarious feast
Dim echoes that persist
Of fled orchestral strains.

A tender plant I seem,
Torn from an orient Eden,
Where winds are perfume-laden,
Where life’s a long sweet dream,

Country whose memories gleam,
Your songbirds faint with winging
Have taught me of their singing,
Your brooks in swift uproar,
Your ocean’s sounding shore,
With songs the seas come flinging.

When still a happy child
I at your sun would gaze,
I felt in me ablaze
Volcanic passions wild,

The Muses on me smiled
I wished with lyric cry,
To all the winds say, “Fly!
Be trumpets clear for my land,
On every shore and island,
Of earth to star and sky!”

I left the countryside
My soul a barren tree,
Now of my singing free
The echoes all have died;
I roamed the ocean wide,

That change I might my doom,
I knew not in my gloom,
That far from refuge finding,
There would round me be winding,
The shadow of the tomb.

My hope and vision grand,
My dream, desire, and love
Rest ‘neath the heavens of
My sunny Motherland;
Ask not my failing hand,
To strum love’s broken lay,

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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