Crisálidas (or Chrysalis)

José Asunción Silva
translated by Zach Powell

Cuando enferma la niña todavía
(When the girl was still sick)
salió cierta mañana
(She went out one day)
y recorrió, con inseguro paso
(And went across, with unsure sleep)
la vecina montaña,
(The neighboring mountain.)
trajo, entre un ramo de silvestres flores
(She found, on a branch of wildflowers)
oculta una crisálida,
(a hidden chrysalis)
que en su aposento colocó, muy cerca
(That she hung in her room, very close)
de la camita blanca…
(To her white bed)

Unos días después, en el momento
(Some days later, in the moment)
en que ella expiraba,
(in which she passed away)
y todos la veían, con los ojos
(And everyone saw her with their eyes)
nublados por las lágrimas,
(Clouded with tears,)
en el instante en que murió, sentimos
(In the instant in which she died, we felt)
leve rumor de alas
The light sound of wings)
y vimos escapar, tender al vuelo
(And we saw escape, taking flight)
por la antigua ventana
(Through the old window)
que da sobre el jardín, una pequeña
(That looked out over the garden, a small)
mariposa dorada…
(Golden butterfly…)

La prisión, ya vacía, del insecto
(The prison, now empty of the insect)
busqué con vista rápida;
(I sought with rapid gaze;)
al verla vi de la difunta niña
(On seeing it I saw the dead girl)
la frente mustia y pálida,
(Her forehead withered and pale)
y pensé ¿si al dejar su cárcel triste
(And I thought, “If when it leaves its sad jail,)
la mariposa alada,
(The winged butterfly,)
la luz encuentra y el espacio inmenso,
(The light it finds and immense space)
y las campestres auras,
(And the country winds,)
al dejar la prisión que las encierra
(On leaving the prison that encloses them,)
qué encontrarán las almas?
(What will our souls find?)


Leighton’s ‘Francesca Di Rimini’

‘That day they read no more,’ Virtue grows faint,
One hand lies powerless, the wife’s sweet face
Is half-convulsed by loss of self-restraint.
Outstretched to resist, remaining to embrace,
The extended arm will clasp her guilty lover,
And all the bright, pure world beyond for her be over.

Their very forms grow blurred and change their colour
Into dim snaky wreaths of purple pallor,
Fading away with Honour’s fading Law
Into the pale sad ghosts that Dante saw;
Which we too see, crowned with departing glory,
When Leighton’s genius deepens Dante’s story.

-Robin Allen 6th April 1861

The Applicant

by Sylvia Plath

strange plath

First, are you our sort of a person?
Do you wear
A glass eye, false teeth or a crutch,
A brace or a hook,
Rubber breasts or a rubber crotch,

Stitches to show something’s missing? No, no? Then
How can we give you a thing?
Stop crying.
Open your hand.
Empty? Empty. Here is a hand

To fill it and willing
To bring teacups and roll away headaches
And do whatever you tell it.
Will you marry it?
It is guaranteed

To thumb shut your eyes at the end
And dissolve of sorrow.
We make new stock from the salt.
I notice you are stark naked.
How about this suit –

Black and stiff, but not a bad fit.
Will you marry it?
It is waterproof, shatterproof, proof
Against fire and bombs through the roof.
Believe me, they’ll bury you in it.

Now your head, excuse me, is empty.
I have the ticket for that.
Come here, sweetie, out of the closet.
Well, what do you think of that?
Naked as paper to start

But in twenty-five years she’ll be silver,
In fifty, gold.
A living doll, everywhere you look.
It can sew, it can cook,
It can talk, talk, talk.

It works, there is nothing wrong with it.
You have a hole, it’s a poultice.
You have an eye, it’s an image.
My boy, it’s your last resort.
Will you marry it, marry it, marry it.

(Courtesy of A Wind of Such Violence)

To Brooklyn Bridge

brooklyn bridgeby Hart Crane

How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest
The seagull’s wings shall dip and pivot him,
Shedding white rings of tumult, building high
Over the chained bay waters Liberty–

Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes
As apparitional as sails that cross
Some page of figures to be filed away;
–Till elevators drop us from our day . . .

I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights
With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene
Never disclosed, but hastened to again,
Foretold to other eyes on the same screen;

And Thee, across the harbor, silver-paced
As though the sun took step of thee, yet left
Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,–
Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!

Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft
A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,
Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,
A jest falls from the speechless caravan.

Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks,
A rip-tooth of the sky’s acetylene;
All afternoon the cloud-flown derricks turn . . .
Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still.

And obscure as that heaven of the Jews,
Thy guerdon . . . Accolade thou dost bestow
Of anonymity time cannot raise:
Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show.

O harp and altar, of the fury fused,
(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)
Terrific threshold of the prophet’s pledge,
Prayer of pariah, and the lover’s cry,–

Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift
Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars,
Beading thy path–condense eternity:
And we have seen night lifted in thine arms.

Under thy shadow by the piers I waited;
Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.
The City’s fiery parcels all undone,
Already snow submerges an iron year . . .

O Sleepless as the river under thee,
Vaulting the sea, the prairies’ dreaming sod,
Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend
And of the curveship lend a myth to God.

(Courtesy of

>> Cover Image is an amalgam of the following images:
>> 1. “Brooklyn Bridge, by Joseph Stella, Link
>> 2. ” Williamsburg Bridge in New York City Facing Towards Manhattan,” by Danny Lyon, courtesy of