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Miguel de Unamuno
The poet, novelist, and playwright Miguel de Unamuno was born in 1864, he was the author of several collections of poetry and translated the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Giacomo Leopardi into Spanish...
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It is Night, in My Study

 
by Miguel de Unamuno
translated by Lillian Jean Stafford and William Stafford

It is night, in my study.
The deepest solitude; I hear the steady
shudder in my breast
--for it feels all alone,
and blanched by my mind--
and I hear my blood
with even murmur
fill up the silence.
You might say the thin stream
falls in the waterclock and fills the bottom.
Here, in the night, all alone, this is my study;
the books don't speak;
my oil lamp
bathes these pages in a light of peace,
light of a chapel.
The books don't speak;
of the poets, the meditators, the learned,
the spirits drowse;
and it is as if around me circled 
cautious death.
I turn at times to see if it waits, 
I search the dark,
I try to discern among the shadows
its thin shadow,
I think of heart failure,
think about my strong age; since my fortieth year
two more have passed.
Toward a looming temptation
here, in the solitude, the silence turns me--
the silence and the shadows.
And I tell myself: "Perhaps when soon
they come to tell me
that supper awaits,
they will discover a body here
pallid and cold
--the thing that I was, this one who waits--
just like those books quiet and rigid, 
the blood already stopped,
jelling in the veins,
the chest silent
under the gentle light of the soothing oil,
a funeral lamp.
I tremble to end these lines
that they do not seem
an unusual testament,
but rather a mysterious message
from the shade beyond,
lines dictated by the anxiety
of eternal life.
I finished them and yet I live on.






From Roots and Wings: Poetry from Spain 1900-1975, translated by William Stafford and Lillian Jean Stafford, edited by Hardie St. Martin, and published by Harper & Row. © 1976 by Hardie St. Martin. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
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