Cedars grow tall on Liban hills,
life beyond grasp of human will;
flame is bright over muddy grave
of a hermit-saint who hid his face;
the heart is kissed by burning light
as cedar soars to sun and sky,
is charged with day without a night,
and burns but is not burned.
The god of wine and revel
made dizzy the city's prince
and omens darkly muttered
with a strange malevolence.
But the king kept to his folly;
he was slain by the godly bull,
carried home in his mother's arms.
Amen: the gods are cruel.
You are proud in your ways, O mortals!
Better it were to mourn
than to march through mocking streets
to where the beasts are torn.
You are vain with vain cosmetics:
you think to hide your soul;
you boast of civic order
when destruction is your goal.
You speak the name of Justice?
But Justice walks with sword
to slit the throats of mortals
with a fate no charm can ward.
And when your life is over
we will see the path you've trod:
in place of boasted glory
just the mocking of the god.
With silver ray the moon now smiles
on leaves that tremble in the wind;
with laughing eye you beam at me
and breathe soft flutters through my heart,
to make me royal here and now,
more blessed than kings imperial.
For in your face I see a life.
It winds its way in front of me
and all of me will flow along
that path into the dancing sea.
No heaven on this earth is found.
No joy will pour in endless rain.
But this a man may have:
to say a word, to keep a word,
to choose a path with living heart,
and, best, to look back at the end
and know he chose the better part.
Cast your glance at me, O dryad-nymph!
Let branch and bough and leaf send forth a glimpse
of spirit sighing free like inner breeze
within the living sap of oaken tree.
Let smiles like the sun's rays on your leaves
shine forth to light the day, and pleasures keep
in store for me along this way my life has made,
that I may rest and stay beneath your shade.