The Road

On this day I look back,
for I have traveled far—
    a half-century,
shouldering the cross to Calvary
without even one Simon Cyrene.

Only a summer ago I was an innocent child,
Miracles teemed in my sight and my mind,
    then the sun pivoted,
December came with its sharp, cold bite—
the world is not always in the April season.

On a ladder to the promised land, I followed
    the rainbow,
    till I knew
that all the fantasies of the heart are rainbows:
if looked at from afar, the sky, if touched, ashes.

Once a Prometheus, I brought fire
to the wounded in the darkness;
    I was punished
by the vindictive gods who cried out,
“The light of Olympus is not for creatures of clay!”

I found at times, as Florante did,
that wickedness often rules,
    and good is often downed;
and then I tried to give virtue its due:
I turned into Don Quixote tilting at windmills.

How rare the man who doesn’t act like the shrimp,
flowing along with the tide, getting what it needs;
    the wise serpent
imitates the color of grass and wood;
the bird in the cage still is a bird that sings.

So many tangled paths in the world,
more destruction than one had dreamed of,
    everywhere lurks a demon—
at the starting place, sand leads to the sea;
a lake stretches out to the jungle.


All roads are both good and evil,
all prayers are heard by God;
    to step on earth
is to fulfill your destiny, your longed-for goal,
to tread on wind is to lose your way.

In the flowery beauty of my chosen road,
I learned how to withstand temptation;
    I also realized
that intelligence, not convention, is the key
to the door of life, whether sad or glorious.

And now, in my last journey,
when the black frontier is only a few steps away,
    on my grave,
you will read my history:
“He did not follow the old trodden ways.”