Sunday, July 6, 2014

País de Ensueño (1907)

Dream Country

    A princess was born in a land which the sun turns golden, that kisses the blue sea, and wherein the wind sings a hymn of eternal love.
    The immense palaces were filled with flowers, in the golden temples the bells reverberated, and on top of the walls of the imperial city, royal heralds of Happiness blew their trumpets of gold and trumpets of silver.
    A Chinese wizard wearing a sparkling dress baptized the princess. With his arms toward the sun and his forehead on his breast, he said:
    “In the name of Love and of Dreams, I baptize you little princess…
    “Oh my queen! How will the little princess be named?”
    And the queen, with the soul of a mother profaning the mystery of destiny, answered: “Well Happy.”

    The fairies began to arrive at the royal palace; the fairies arrived on fluttering carriages of doves and flowers, on carriages o wings and moonbeams. The palace was filled with music and dreams; the queen dressed in emeralds receive the court.
   And the fairies bending over the little princess, left in the royal cradle marvelous gifts.
     “You will be precious!”
    “You will be loved!”
    “You will have dreams!”
    “You will have joys!”
    “You will know how to cry!”
    The fairy of tears said, very slowly, preparing to pour over the eyes of the child her amphora’s essence. But the queen, trembling, interposed between the fairy and the cradle… “What were you saying? … her child should cry! her little princess should cry! her Princess Happy! No, never, she implored and moaned; that all the tears destined for her daughter should fall instead on her eyes and heart. The princess of the royal palace, the princes of the place of dreams and flowers could not, should not know tears…”

    The radiant and haughty fairy considered the request a slight and regarded the ignorance a malice, ascended her carriage of roses and bats, and disappeared through the air, entangling aromas and breezes along her golden route. But before leaving, she cursed the little girl:
    “Oh, you will not have tears! you will not know how to cry!”
    And the queen kissed her daughter. She had had saved her from tears.

    But not from pain. The child, a woman even as she was a princess, suffered like all women. And they would see the grimaces of anguish of that infantile and divine face that suffered and suffered without being able to cry.
    And the queen, looking at the girl, learned one thing.
    “That pain without tears is twice as painful”

    It was springtime. The princess was pretty. The princess was pale.
    Like the fairies said, she was beautiful, loved, she had dreams, and joys.
    But she has no tears. She knew pleasure, she yearned to cry with joy, she could not…
   And since then, Princess Happy became the most unhappy of princesses.

    One time—it was late afternoon in the royal gardens — the princess caught a glimpse of two lovers who were concealed by the foliage.
    The man had his arm round the waist of the beloved woman; she with her head thrown backwards, received a kiss on her lips.
    The princess followed with her sad eyes the idyllic dream; but suddenly the branches rippled, the sweet pair were lost among the flowers, and a vibrant and harmonic sob of love shook in the breezes.
    Each flower was a mystical censer, a light and vague perfume rose, like the soul of a poet, towards the heavens; a silvery trickle sang in the fountain where a pale swan supported the plinth of a fantasy statue.
    And the princess moved away, she moved away slowly from the garden, with her throbbing breast, with swollen eyes, with her heart full of envy and foolish things.
   The princess moved away, she moved away from the splendid and cursed garden of love.
   A heavenly heraldist. Over the gules Venus shone—golden light—and the new moon raised its great blue eyebrow, like the arch of light of a bowman who shot arrows in the sleeping atmosphere, the conquered monarch that moved away fleeing.

    Tears of sorrow, monstrous and bitter tears are the waves of the ocean. Tears of joy, tears of crystal and of laughter are the dewdrops that the morning showeres over the wings of birds and on the lips of the flowers. Melancholic tears, golden tears — perhaps tears of love —are the leaves that Autumn pulls off the dead branches.
    But in the luminous eyes, in those bid dreamy eyes of the princess, there are no tears.
    The queen, worried to death, requested national consolation for her daughter. Who knew the remedy to make the princess cry?
     Over the walls of the imperial city, the royal heralds of Pain blew their trumpets made of horn and their trumpets made of amber. It is not known from what cave came an old hunchback and horrible woman.
    “I am a thousand years old,” she said, “and I know that the only way to erase the hatred of the fairy of tears is that a handsome youth not related to the princess come to her palace to seek pardon.”
   The royal heralds of Pain again blew their trumpets of horn and their trumpets of amber. A handsome warrior presented himself in the court.
   “I shall go”
   As he offered his services, he looke at the purple and sad eyelids of the poor princess.
    “Blessed are you! said the queen.
    “And return soon,” she sighed.


    She dreamed about the return of the warrior, of the handsome and beloved warrior.
    Because she love him, she loved him with all her soul, since she saw his gallant eyes looking at hers stained with melancholy. And the warrior returned. The whole court dress in gold to receive him. He returned happy and satisfied, narrating adventures of the journey; abysses surmounted, monsters defeated.
   “And here is, Princess, the amphora of tears which you desired so mush; here are all your tears; you will cry, Princess, on the day the crystal that keeps them breaks.”
   “And what do you desire as a prize,” she asked, dreaming of putting the royal crown on him.
   “Nothing, Princess; only my pity urged me to make you happy. I am already happy, so very happy that I no longer wish for more.”
    From his eyes appeared a light of love; the Princess followed his eyes and she found them in the air, bursting into a kiss with that woman whom she heard one afternoon cry of love in the royal gardens..
    Then she felt jealous; in her soul she felt despair; and the glass of amphora of tears was broken.
    And before the royal court all dressed in gold, before all the court assembled to celebrate that matchless good fortune, the princess cried her first tears, which were more painful than all the sad pains in her past.

Jesus Balmori
Excelsior, Manila
May 30, 1907

Translated to English by Pilar E. Mariño