Gonzalo de Berceo
(1180-1246)

The Praise of Spring

(From The Miracles of our Lady)

     Gonzalo de Berceo was born at Berceo. Little is known of the events of his life, except that he was a priest of the Benedictine Monastery of San Milan in the diocese of Calahorra. His poems, for the most part devotional, were edited by Florencio Janer (Biblioteca de autores españoles, vol. lvii). There is an edition of the Vida de Santo Domingo by J. D. Fitzgerald (Paris, 1904).

I, Gonzalo de Berceo, in the gentle summertide,
Wending upon a pilgrimage, came to a meadow's side;
All green was it and beautiful, with flowers far and wide,—
A pleasant spot, I ween, wherein the traveller might abide.

Flowers with the sweetest odors filled all the sunny air,
And not alone refreshed the sense, but stole the mind from care;
On every side a fountain gushed, whose waters pure and fair,
Ice-cold beneath the summer sun, but warm in winter were.

There on the thick and shadowy trees, amid the foliage green,
Were the fig and the pomegranate, the pear and apple seen;
And other fruits of various kinds, the tufted leaves between,
None were unpleasant to the taste and none decayed, I ween.

The verdure of the meadow green, the odor of the flowers
The grateful shadows of the trees, tempered with fragrant showers,
Refreshed me in the burning heat of the sultry noontide hours;
Oh, one might live upon the balm and fragrance of those bowers!

Ne'er had I found on earth a spot that had such power to please,
Such shadows from the summer sun, such odors on the breeze;
I threw my mantle on the ground, that I might rest at ease,
And stretched upon the greensward lay in the shadow of the trees.

There soft reclining in the shade, all cares beside me flung,
I heard the soft and mellow notes that through the woodland rung;
Ear never listened to a strain, for instrument or tongue,
So mellow and harmonious as the songs above me sung.

                —H. W. Longfellow (translator)