The lamp that stands beside the crib
by Jose Asuncion Silva
Is not yet lighted to warm the gloom
Of the blueish, opaque light falling
Through the curtains of late afternoon.
From outside come unfamiliar sounds
And weary children interrupt their play
While in every corner of the house
Fairies awaken at the end of day.
Shadows gathering among the drapes
Rustle and murmur to childish ears,
And from the pages of their storybooks
Come all their favorite characters.
First, industrious Rin Rin Renacuajo,
And Mouse Pérez, scurrying to survive,
Then, casting even deeper shadows,
Blue Beard, who killed his seven wives.
Given life in darkest corners,
Somewhere in a distant wood
Puss-in-Boots strides through the meadows
And the Wolf stalks Little Red Ridinghood.
In a deep dark forest echoing
With chilling howls, the handsome Prince,
On his white charger, rides toward
Sleeping Beauty, who awaits his kiss.
The children’s voices, silver and pure,
Form a chorus that speaks as one:
“Then they went to the ball and left
Poor Cinderella all alone.
“She wiped away her flowing tears
And scrubbed the kitchen pots and bowls
Watching the dance leaping among
Somber shadows and glowing coals.
“But her fairy godmother soon appeared
With a beauteous gown and, in a thrice,
From a pumpkin produced a golden coach
With prancing steeds, once six white mice.
“She gave Cinderella a lush bouquet
And a glass slipper she quickly donned,
She turned ashes to flashing jewels
With one wave of her magic wand.”
Abandoned dolls tossed on the carpet,
The listening girls sit in thrall,
The light grows pale and dark creeps in
As lowering evening shadows fall.
Wondrous stories of fairies and sprites
Are alive with ideas and fantasies,
They open to childish imaginations
A whole world of possibilities!
Stories born of times long gone,
Wing through the dark of ages,
From powerful, early Aryan tribes
To diminished future races.
These stories are told by nannies
When children can’t get to sleep,
The essence of poetic dream
Is the mystery they keep.
These stories have proved more lasting
Than tomes of the philosophers
And with every generation
Have entertained our ancestors.
O tales of elves and ghosts and fairies
That people the dreams all children have,
Time buries you forever in our soul
And man evokes you with his love.