Translation of excerpted poem by Filipino poet Rolando Tinio. In the original Tagalog text by Balagtas, it is Gubat na Mapanglaw.
THE DARK WOOD
The thick weave of thorny vines…
Rays of Phoebus cannot pierce,
Almost, the solid wilderness.
Great trees loom, disclosing
Sadness only, grief, despair.
Mournful birds dispel
The cheerful air, the stoic pose.
Convolutions of the vine
On branch and twig bristle with thorns.
Their fruit, as if downed with knives,
Wounds the passerby.
And flowers for the looming trees,
Specks of bright shooting through leaves,
Wear the color of mourning,
Sharpen the dizzying stench.
Clumps of cypress and young fig
Cast a terrifying shade.
Fruitless, they spread great leaves.
Darkness deepens on the weed.
And beasts that roam
Are shapes of serpent, basilisk,
Hyena, tiger — beasts that prey
On man and beast.
The wood hugs the gate
Of dour Pluto’s Avernus,
Its precincts watered by
The rivering poisoned Coccytus.
Ito’y gubat manding sa pinto’y malapit
ng Abernong Reyno ni Plutong masungit
ng nasasakupang lupa’y dinidilig
ng ilog Kositong kamandag ang tubig.
– – –
(Salin ni Rolando Tinio.)