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The Gardens of Cordoba

 

I long for the gardens at Cordoba,
Where the maidens weep like morning roses
And the sun never rises without gilding
The clouds with the colors of red roses,
Where the tears that fall from paradisal skies
Are the tears that quench Cordoba’s roses.

In the fairy gardens at Cordoba,
I heard ancient Moors sing of maidens meek,
Each with cheeks soft like the rose’s calyx,
Each soft like the sides of Dian’s cheek,
Where from golden braids are blooming roses
As the music softly reddens their cheek.

In those gardens blooming with myrtle,
Troubadours sang of a love so true
As their lute strings rang through gardens of jasmine,
Garlanding our thoughts with Beauty true —

True, like maidens with garlands of myrtle
In gardens blooming with romance and virtue.


I yearn for the gardens at Cordoba,
Where the maiden’s tears fall from morning roses
And the sun never sets without painting
The clouds with her ambrosial roses,
Where the tears that fall from Arcadian skies
Are the tears that quench Cordoba’s roses.

Even enemies praise Cordoba’s roses,
And faraway kings suspect that in those gardens
Hecate roams and haunts Andalusian groves
As she roams through Cordoba’s gardens,
Where the buds of beauty know no winter,
But ever dwell in perpetual gardens.

Minarets climb Cordoba’s stairless skies,
Conversing with the peaks of heaven high,
Where the Houris[1]’ sighs are carried on the air
And blown through the gardens from heaven high,
Where the crystal diadems of Andalusian peaks
Reach into heaven where the Houris sigh.

I still can hear the Moor singing his songs,
Singing of a cheek so white and pale and meek
As the sun kisses them with his gentle rays,
Mirroring Diana’s soft pale cheek,
Which stalks us like the moon in daylight—
A cheek now so pale and white and bleak.

Faraway kings sing with their tattered lutes
Of the roses and gardens at Cordoba,
Where now a teary-eyed phoenix helpless weeps,
Yearning for the gardens at Cordoba;
Like a desert rose under envious sun,
Longing for the gardens at Cordoba.

I remember well those Cordovan gardens,
Where the lines and couplets of a mortal’s tongue
Could vanquish the feuds of warlike foes,
Where feuds were sundered with an angel’s tongue,
Vanquishing enemies with Beauty’s praises—

Where feuds were conquered with a golden tongue.


How I long for the gardens at Cordoba,
Where the maidens weep like morning roses,
And the sun never rises without gilding
The clouds with the colors of red roses,
Where the tears that fall from paradisal skies
Are the tears that quench Cordoba’s roses.

 

 

Notes

 

  • [1] Houries: Mythical nymph-like beauties described in the Qur'an.

David is a translator, linguist and poet based in Montreal.