The Moorish King

Text by Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)

Translated into English by Joseph Massaad 

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Silent, and his heart full of grief,
The young Moorish king that day
Rode into exile in the Alpujarras;
At the head of the column, he led the way.

The women of his household
Sat behind on many a high palfrey
And on many a golden litter;
Mules carried black women along the way.

Riding on noble Arab horses,
A hundred loyal servants follow;
The steeds are proud, and yet,
The riders hang on the saddles with sorrow.

One could hear no cymbals, no drums,
No singing resounding,
Only the mule's little silver bells,
Painfully in the silence, whimpering.

On the heights, from where the eye
Downwards, the Duero valley can sweep,
And at the battlements of Granada,
Takes its last peep:

There, the king dismounted from his horse,
And gazed at the city's wonder sight,
Which, as if adorned with gold and purple,
Gleamed in the evening light.

But Allah! What a sight!
Instead of the loved crescent of Allah,
The crosses of Spain and its banners
Sparkle over the towers of Alhambra.

Alas! With this sight deep sighs
Broke from the king's breast,
And suddenly, like torrents, tears
Flooded his cheeks, fell on his chest.

From her high palfrey, the king's mother
Looked down sombrely
At her son's misery,
She chided him proudly and bitterly:

" Boabdil el Chico, " she said,
"You are now mourning like a woman
That city that you have failed
To defend like a man. "

When the king's favourite concubine
Such a harsh speech, heard,
She threw herself from her litter
And embraced her beloved.

" Boabdil el Chico," she said,
" My dearly loved one, take comfort,
From the abyss of misery,
A beautiful laurel will blossom forth.

Not only the man who triumphed,
Not just the victory-crowned
Favourite of the blind goddess,
The son of misfortune who has been bloodied,

The heroic warrior too,
Who succumbed a monstrous destiny,
In the memory of his fellow-men,
Will live for eternity "

" Mount of the last Moorish sigh "
Is to this day the name given
To this place so high,
Where the king saw Granada for the last time.

The time has kindly fulfilled
The prophecy of the king's beloved,
And the name of the king
Was glorified and celebrated.

His fame will never die away,
Not before the last string
From the last Andalusian guitar
Will jarringly break and spring.