If to be welcomed by the good,
O Book! thou make thy steady aim,
No empty chatterer will dare
To question or dispute thy claim.
But if perchance thou hast a mind
To win of idiots approbation,
Lost labour will be thy reward,
Though they’ll pretend appreciation.
They say a goodly shade he finds
Who shelters ‘neath a goodly tree;
And such a one thy kindly star
In Bejar bath provided thee:
A royal tree whose spreading boughs
A show of princely fruit display;
A tree that bears a noble Duke,
The Alexander of his day.
Of a Manchegan gentleman
Thy purpose is to tell the story,
Relating how he lost his wits
O’er idle tales of love and glory,
Of “ladies, arms, and cavaliers:”
A new Orlando Furioso —
Innamorato, rather — who
Won Dulcinea del Toboso.
Put no vain emblems on thy shield;
All figures — that is bragging play.
A modest dedication make,
And give no scoffer room to say,
“What! Alvaro de Luna here?
Or is it Hannibal again?
Or does King Francis at Madrid
Once more of destiny complain?”
Since Heaven it hath not pleased on thee
Deep erudition to bestow,
Or black Latino’s gift of tongues,
No Latin let thy pages show.
Ape not philosophy or wit,
Lest one who cannot comprehend,
Make a wry face at thee and ask,
“Why offer flowers to me, my friend?”
Be not a meddler; no affair
Of thine the life thy neighbours lead:
Be prudent; oft the random jest
Recoils upon the jester’s head.
Thy constant labour let it be
To earn thyself an honest name,
For fooleries preserved in print
Are perpetuity of shame.
A further counsel bear in mind:
If that thy roof be made of glass,
It shows small wit to pick up stones
To pelt the people as they pass.
Win the attention of the wise,
And give the thinker food for thought;
Whoso indites frivolities,
Will but by simpletons be sought.
Thou that didst imitate that life of mine
When I in lonely sadness on the great
Rock Pena Pobre sat disconsolate,
In self-imposed penance there to pine;
Thou, whose sole beverage was the bitter brine
Of thine own tears, and who withouten plate
Of silver, copper, tin, in lowly state
Off the bare earth and on earth’s fruits didst dine;
Live thou, of thine eternal glory sure.
So long as on the round of the fourth sphere
The bright Apollo shall his coursers steer,
In thy renown thou shalt remain secure,
Thy country’s name in story shall endure,
And thy sage author stand without a peer.
In slashing, hewing, cleaving, word and deed,
I was the foremost knight of chivalry,
Stout, bold, expert, as e’er the world did see;
Thousands from the oppressor’s wrong I freed;
Great were my feats, eternal fame their meed;
In love I proved my truth and loyalty;
The hugest giant was a dwarf for me;
Ever to knighthood’s laws gave I good heed.
My mastery the Fickle Goddess owned,
And even Chance, submitting to control,
Grasped by the forelock, yielded to my will.
Yet — though above yon horned moon enthroned
My fortune seems to sit — great Quixote, still
Envy of thy achievements fills my soul.
Oh, fairest Dulcinea, could it be!
It were a pleasant fancy to suppose so —
Could Miraflores change to El Toboso,
And London’s town to that which shelters thee!
Oh, could mine but acquire that livery
Of countless charms thy mind and body show so!
Or him, now famous grown — thou mad’st him grow so —
Thy knight, in some dread combat could I see!
Oh, could I be released from Amadis
By exercise of such coy chastity
As led thee gentle Quixote to dismiss!
Then would my heavy sorrow turn to joy;
None would I envy, all would envy me,
And happiness be mine without alloy.
All hail, illustrious man! Fortune, when she
Bound thee apprentice to the esquire trade,
Her care and tenderness of thee displayed,
Shaping thy course from misadventure free.
No longer now doth proud knight-errantry
Regard with scorn the sickle and the spade;
Of towering arrogance less count is made
Than of plain esquire-like simplicity.
I envy thee thy Dapple, and thy name,
And those alforjas thou wast wont to stuff
With comforts that thy providence proclaim.
Excellent Sancho! hail to thee again!
To thee alone the Ovid of our Spain
Does homage with the rustic kiss and cuff.
I am the esquire Sancho Pan —
Who served Don Quixote of La Man —;
But from his service I retreat —
Resolved to pass my life discreet —;
For Villadiego, called the Si —
Maintained that only in reti —
Was found the secret of well-be —
According to the “Celesti —:”
A book divine, except for sin —
By speech too plain, in my opin —
I am that Rocinante fa —
Great-grandson of great Babie —
Who, all for being lean and bon —
Had one Don Quixote for an own —;
But if I matched him well in weak —
I never took short commons meek —
But kept myself in corn by steal —
A trick I learned from Lazaril —
When with a piece of straw so neat —
The blind man of his wine he cheat — .
If thou art not a Peer, peer thou hast none;
Among a thousand Peers thou art a peer;
Nor is there room for one when thou art near,
Unvanquished victor, great unconquered one!
Orlando, by Angelica undone,
Am I; o’er distant seas condemned to steer,
And to Fame’s altars as an offering bear
Valour respected by Oblivion.
I cannot be thy rival, for thy fame
And prowess rise above all rivalry,
Albeit both bereft of wits we go.
But, though the Scythian or the Moor to tame
Was not thy lot, still thou dost rival me:
Love binds us in a fellowship of woe.
My sword was not to be compared with thine
Phoebus of Spain, marvel of courtesy,
Nor with thy famous arm this hand of mine
That smote from east to west as lightnings fly.
I scorned all empire, and that monarchy
The rosy east held out did I resign
For one glance of Claridiana’s eye,
The bright Aurora for whose love I pine.
A miracle of constancy my love;
And banished by her ruthless cruelty,
This arm had might the rage of Hell to tame.
But, Gothic Quixote, happier thou dost prove,
For thou dost live in Dulcinea’s name,
And famous, honoured, wise, she lives in thee.
Your fantasies, Sir Quixote, it is true,
That crazy brain of yours have quite upset,
But aught of base or mean hath never yet
Been charged by any in reproach to you.
Your deeds are open proof in all men’s view;
For you went forth injustice to abate,
And for your pains sore drubbings did you get
From many a rascally and ruffian crew.
If the fair Dulcinea, your heart’s queen,
Be unrelenting in her cruelty,
If still your woe be powerless to move her,
In such hard case your comfort let it be
That Sancho was a sorry go-between:
A booby he, hard-hearted she, and you no lover.
B. “How comes it, Rocinante, you’re so lean?”
R. “I’m underfed, with overwork I’m worn.”
B. “But what becomes of all the hay and corn?”
R. “My master gives me none; he’s much too mean.”
B. “Come, come, you show ill-breeding, sir, I ween;
‘T is like an ass your master thus to scorn.”
R. He is an ass, will die an ass, an ass was born;
Why, he’s in love; what’s what’s plainer to be seen?”
B. “To be in love is folly?" — R. “No great sense.”
B. “You’re metaphysical." — R. “From want of food.”
B. “Rail at the squire, then." — R. “Why, what’s the good?
I might indeed complain of him, I grant ye,
But, squire or master, where’s the difference?
They’re both as sorry hacks as Rocinante.”
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:07