An angel you are, for such a power
Never by a woman was possessed,
Never will a woman have over me.
An angel you are, who endlessly
Overpowers my being;
My insolent reason
Bows before your whim,
And my strong, burning soul,
Who respects no authority,
Goes by your command.
An angel you are, not a woman.
An angel you are. But what kind?
On your clouded brow
I do not see the snowy crown
Of the white roses of heaven.
On your flaming naked breast
I do not see the waving veil
With which grasping modesty
Conceals the mysteries of love.
Your eyes are black in hue,
Colored as the starless night;
Their flame is lively and beautiful,
But it has no light. -- what angel are you?
In whose name have you come?
Have you brought me war or peace
From Jehovah or Beelzebub?
You give me no answer -- and in your arms
With frantic embraces
You keep me tightly, close!...
What fell on my chest
What was it?...A tear? It scalded me...
It burns, it heats, it ulcerates...I give myself
I offer myself to you, accursed angel,
For this fire that devours me
Is already the reprobate fire,
The eternal flame that on an ill--fated hour
You have brought...from where?
Behind what mysteries does your fatal,
Strange being hide itself!
An angel you are, or are you a woman?
~Almeida Garrett (1799-1854)
~Painting by Antonio Ambrogio Alciati~
17 september 2009