On the old elm, split by lightning
and decayed in its center,
with the rains of April and the sun of May
a few green leaves have come out.
The age-old elm on the hill
bathed by the Duero! A yellowish moss
stains the whitish bark
of its worm-eaten, dusty trunk.
It will not be, like the singing poplars
that guard the road and the riverbank,
inhabited by brown nightingales.
An army of ants in single file
is climbing over it, and in its bowers
the spiders spin their gray webs.
Before the woodcutter fells you, Duero elm,
with his axe, and the carpenter
converts you into a church-bell frame,
a wagon pole, or the yoke of a cart;
before you burn redly, tomorrow, in the hearth
of some wretched cottage,
beside some road;
before a whirlwind uproots you
and the gust from the white sierras snaps you;
before the river forces you into the sea
by way of valleys and ravines,
elm, I want to set down in my notebook
the grace of your newly green boughs.
My heart is hoping
also, facing the light and facing life,
for another miracle of the springtime.
Translated by Stanley Appelbaum