Jose Asuncion Silva

(1865 - 1896 / Colombia)

Childhood


These recollections with the scent of ferns
Are the idyll of early years
(Gregorio Gutierrez González)

Accompanying the hazy memories
Time so generously glorifies,
Returning to a welcoming heart
And flocking like white butterflies,
Come fantasies of happy childhood days.

Blue Beard, Little Red Ridinghood,
Lilliputians and the giant Gulliver,
All of you, floating in the mist of dreams,
Spread your wings, fly,
So I, the happy journeyer
Through storybooks, may summon you
To join with other, beloved characters.

O blessed youth! Eyes aglimmer
With dawning discovery
Follow the weary teacher’s hand
Across the big red figures
In the tattered primer,
Where traces of vague recognition,
Rewarding periods of youthful despondency,
Beneath indifferent shadows
Begin forming letters into words

On a dewy, white,
Luminous, restless August morning,
Helping a blazing sun rise
On wings of the breeze
Toward skies dotted with drifting clouds;
Listening to a grandmother’s
Exemplary fairy tales;
Skipping school
To organize a clamorous battle
In which rocks rattle like bullets
And a rumpled kerchief becomes a flag.
Constructing a manger scene
Of materials gathered from the woods,
Then, after the long, rowdy outing
Arranging the grasses,
Coral twigs, and treasured mosses,
And on strange and alien landscapes,
Perspectives never seen or dreamed,
Creating roads of golden sand
And waterfalls of gleaming tinsel.

Positioning the Wise Men on the hill
And overhead
The star that led them from afar;
In the crib, the laughing Baby Jesus
In his bed of
Softest mosses and leafy ferns.

Pristine soul, blush-pink cheeks,
Skin like ermine on the snow,
Flaxen curls,
Sparkling yet peaceful eyes, how fair
In memory the innocent babe!

Childhood, hallowed valley
Of blessed calm and coolness,
Where rays that will later blast our days
So softly shine,
How saintly your pure innocence,
How fleeting your brief happiness,
How sweet in hours of bitterness
To turn back to the past
And call upon those memories!

Submitted: Tuesday, April 06, 2010

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