Poetry

Magellan

They sat in silence, watching night fall over the brambles. A flock of distant animals could be heard on the horizon, and a woman’s inconsolable voice calling them by name, one by one, until it was dark.

Gabriel García MárquezOf Love and Other Demons

They say Magellan once dreamt of Maccu Picchu,

burning in the moonlight and an orphan-king who

roamed the forsaken streets with a broken crown

as his tears mingled with the lashing rain. They say

Magellan never awoke from that dream and spent

the rest of his life searching for the ruined city. On

the night before his death, they say he scribbled a

last entry into his journal. Somewhere in South

America, he wrote, an orphan-king wed an orphan-queen

and they were orphans no more. They lived in great

happiness and their rule was just and wise. But the

conquistadors came one day and took gold and took

slaves and left him with a broken crown and a broken

heart and not much else. He wandered the desolate

ruins under the strange stars until one rainy night his

sanity tripped over the edge of an endless abyss. He

ventured into the jungle, then, and the great beasts

all ran from the madness of the orphan-king. On moonless

nights, Magellan wrote, even now I can hear his footsteps

echo in that strange dream-city and my soul shall find

no rest until I wander its lonely streets. In my search for

this city I have spent the riches of a thousand kingdoms

and I would spend the riches of a thousand more. I can

not breathe, I can not eat, I am neither here nor there. I

am the yearning in your tired, tired soul on sleepless nights,

he wrote, when all your desires melt away save

one.

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One thought on “Magellan

  1. ““She?” he tried to ask himself what that meant; for it is something like love, like death (rather than like those vague conceptions of maladies), a thing which one repeatedly calls in question, in order to make oneself probe further into it, in the fear that the question will find no answer, that the substance will escape our grasp — the mystery of personality.”
    — Marcel Proust, ‘In Search Of Lost Time’

    Like

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