Jacint Verdaguer: Atlantis.

JACINT VERDAGUER: ATLANTIS.
EXCM SR D Antoni López. Riding your vessels on Beneida’s wing, I searched for the Hesperides’ orange tree in blossom, Further out! All that remains are the waves, That for centuries have overtaken themselves, And I can only offer if they please you, These leaves of the golden fruit tree. -JACINTO VERDAGUER, PVRE. Transatlantic vapour. The Count’s city. -18th November 1876.

Introduction.
The Genoese and Venetian fleets encounter one another on the high seas and engage each other in battle. A great storm occurs and a lightning bolt strikes the gunpowder magazine, which upon igniting, drags the other one also into the abyss. The soldiers and sailors dive overboard, and only with great difficulty a Genoese youngster who, embracing a piece of broken timber, is able to reach shore and is saved. An elderly wise man that, having withdrawn from the world, lives near the sea, goes out to receive the shipwrecked person; he guides him towards a rough altar of the Virgin and leaves him there next to her cave, made of branches and rock. Days later, seeing that the sailor is worried looking out across those waters, he recounts an ancient story to distract him from the misfortunes of his past shipwreck. Near the sea of Lusitania, one day, The gigantic hills of Andalusia, See two enemy ships struggling in battle, On one flames the flag of the Genoese, And upon the other made prey, The lion of Venice with his cubs.

Jacint Verdaguer: Atlantis.

They mount their stern prows, As the desert sun ignites its harsh heat, To kill one another in mutual animosity, And turning like a carriage the thunder of war, Making the earth pulsate through their angst, Thoroughly fearful as they go. Like this in the sultry summer noon, Two clouds of blackish wing no sooner borne, Attack each other, seeing with a roar, And attracted by the warmth of their entrails, They widen, making the mountains shake, By the crack of the approaching lightning. With determination and force they clutch, Like high towers that are landed, Carving with their fall a forest of pines, And among cries, shouting with wild alarm, The feral shout of resounding echoes, And a hundred axes gnaw like mastiffs. In the carnivorous and rough fight, The black storm mixes and blasts forth, Suddenly towards the southwesterly wind, And the fierce waves beat against, The ships that creak and are splintered, Like reed beds in a terrifying torrent. The frightful embrace thereupon tightens, And they clash against one another, rolling, pushing, Collated by the tempest’s volcanic mouths, Due to that horrid storm they do not notice, And spitting fire and iron pounce, Into the deep throat of the abyss. Such an array of highlander’s oak, In times of summer for the alert lumberjack, Of the hurricane in the devouring depths, A rough groan from a small dying world, Echoes through the basins and the long cliffs cry, The wails and shrieks of men and beasts.

Jacint Verdaguer: Atlantis.

Smothered and drowning in the din of battle, A lightning bolt from the crashing sky descends, Upon the Venetian ship’s powder magazine, Which wreaks havoc like Vesuvius of old, Whilst smashing into that of Geneva a flood, Of foam, fire and flame into a whirlpool. Under the Burden of the waves the ship is swallowed, And with them the sharks are able to share, A thousand warriors until alone but one, still a boy remains, Amongst the foaming water, to a loose timber clings, And just as he tightens his grip, up he is pulled, Once more he is buried beneath the frothy waves. Amongst the whirling abyss, skillfully he floats, Riding upon a piece of the topmast, That he turns where it well pleases him, alike to a steed, And in that whirlwind of waves he denies, Like an old shepherd together with his flocks, And oxen to which the earth gives of its water. The Cetacea partake of human meat, That of which the sea also makes its demand, Coupling itself with the crow; everywhere gives, Remembrance of the cataclysmic attack, By each step brings forth a new abyss, Who will bring on the darkness of night? Only a God. At the peak of a cliff by whose coast, Upon which the waves crawl and gnaw, A white bearded monk thereabouts lived, Fugitive from a world riddled with vanity, In a tree of the mystical branches of knowledge, That bloom in sweet loneliness. A worldly day, lit in the sky suspended, It dazzled him with its rays, and in his old age, As for more beauty to revive death he ponders, How careless to have the world and her crowns, As something nested like a bird on the waves, Over her flattering cradle of childhood.

Jacint Verdaguer: Atlantis.

And when the storms of night had subsided, Beside the lighthouse that poor shipwrecked person, He lit the quivering flashlight of the altar, And those who with eyes full of tears saw, “Made it! To port!” He spoke kneeling, “See it there! The Star of the sea!” Maria! She is the tender youngster’s northern star, Who regretting in his heart a life lead to the full, With such courage, towards which he longingly sought, And by the increasing rays of the beautiful starlight, That dreamy landscape is more closely seen, Like the Virgin in the shadow of a flowery rosebush. He approaches breathless, looking and staring hard, Further out! That passageway that there opens, Seems like a crag where the waves took off, Becoming frightened, like someone amongst the moss, Of an overgrown orchard, pink and sweet, After having seen there a half hidden adder. Distracting himself with a severe rough glance, Looking with passion closely at the richly planted earth, His juvenile heart could not take any more, In his veins the blood ceases to flow, freezes, His spirit already lost, clinging to that timber, Feeling himself fall down into the kiss of death. But he raises himself, though sadly, to a small lamp, And in the Virgin’s plain green light seems, To receive him, his soul awkwardly displayed, A breath of air and all of a sudden, softened, Even the waves help him, as eternally, In pure agony seeing in her such a vibrant beauty. Rocking him, as in the arms of Mermaids, They rested him on those soft sands, Of reeds and coralline pillows, When, like a loving eye in jealousy, From over the cliffs of Betica rose, The world in view of the morning star.

Jacint Verdaguer: Atlantis.

On that sandy ground he lay murmuring, And, oh sacred Providence! Opening his arms, The venerable old man then appeared to him, Saying “Here approach the first rays of dawn, I want to accompany you to your salvation, And the spring will flourish for you yet again”. Along a footpath that passes among ferns, He was guided to a forest of oaks and olive trees, Over their courteously entwined heaps, Where he saw amongst the blooming foliage, And under curtains of ivy and satin, Found an altar of the blessed Virgin. The oratorical mystic entered the shipwreck, Making a musky rosebush from a prow and trunk, And below the tender cheeks of the Virgin, He fell to his knees before her image’s feet, And kissed the mistral and the waves, Being thus moved to tears of pleasure. In an altar, bordering alongside the chapel, A bee cellar opens among the arms of a crag, There he partakes of savory fruits, And pointing towards a leaf’s cracked surface, Still shows the storm’s dense humidity, As the seasonal rains beat down upon them. Herbaceous plants of blue flowers by the sea, Seem the head of a sky oriel about the land, By day they turned towards the beautiful peaks, Seeing him in angst the old man thought of the sailor, Calling for him to sit under an oak tree, Where they sheltered from the brackish drizzle. And opening the immense book of his memory, He unraveled the golden thread of this story, Of western pearls rich in purity, And the youngster, for whom Europe was too narrow, Found his soul widened further, given wings, Like sea creatures taking fully of their space.

Jacint Verdaguer: Atlantis.

By noon with its rays which surround the earth, Like an old woman regaling of her girl scout childhood, And by the sea, half asleep, raised up to the shore, Everything mixes her music into a fine song, The old man seemed the Genius of the Atlantic, And his courteous listener was Christopher Columbus.

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