La hija del cisne / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

The Swan’s Daughter

Goethe greeted the presence of Marie Antoinette in Frankfurt am Main, a pause on the road from Vienna to Paris, with the only French verses from his pen.

     I step off the paddle steamer and visit the Benedictine abbey on a peaceful shore of the Danube. An affable young man referred to me the origin of the building, facing a solitary chapel. The monks had built it at the edge of the ancient civilization, undamaged from the vestige of Caesar.

     The monks erected the abbey, expiatory monument, with the goal of eliminating the outcome of a profane affection from the memory of men and they chose the same spot where a pair of proud lovers threw themselves to their deaths in the current.

     The monks facilitated the rescue of Vienna, besieged by the Muslim. They went to the encounter with Sobieski, the hero of the primitive quiver and the Homeric shield, and guided him to where the chieftain of the infidels, assured of his victory, was freely conversing with his sons over a Bokara tapestry.

     The young man described for me with sadness the monks’ neglect of the reverend house, on a bitter day. The victors of a war were leveling the retinue and the village with the straw on the ground and they were scattering the enraged voice of their mechanisms of death in the desolate field.

     The young man assigned the origin of the hecatomb to Marie Antoinette’s wedding and celebrated her whiteness in fervent terms, wherein shone a chimerical love for the martyred queen. The last director of the pious establishment divined the consequences of the nuptial journey and abstained from glancing at the retinue. The ascetic had locked himself in a place unscathed by the rumors of the sensible world.

     The young man finished the lively apology of his heroine by citing the epithalamium of Goethe, the thinker who was a captive to the marmoreal beauty of Helen and a believer in the return of her ghost.

El cielo de esmalte (1929)

{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }

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