Sonnet CXI

We present this work in honor of the 480th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Juan Boscan Almogaver
Spanish
1490 – 1542

 

I am like one who in a desert bides
Forgotten by the world and its concerns,
By chance encounter suddenly who learns
A dear friend lives, whom he supposed had died.

He fears at first this doubtful apparition,
But finding it then reliable and assured,
Commences to recall his past condition
By newly awakened sentiments allured

But when it’s time for friend and friend to part
Since to be parted soon he must consent
He finds old solitude stamped with new indent.

To mountain grass he must then reconcile,
And barren wastes which lack a trace of art,
Trembling each time he enters his cave the while.

Translation by Dia Tsung

Wishes

We present this work in honor of the 95th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Patrocinio de Biedma y la Moneda
Spanish
1848 – 1927

 

I would like to be the ray of the dawn
that lights up your forehead in the morning;
to be a flower that you admired for its gallantry
and give you an intoxicating essence.
I would like to be the echo that disgraces her
distant music reaches you:
the fugitive and vain sweet shadow
that you caress in your dreamy soul.
But alas! that the sun the aurora fades,
the flower dies and is lost in the wind
the soft echo that vibrated in calm:
I don’t want to be an illusion that disappears…
It’s better to occupy your thoughts
and be, like today, the soul of your soul.

Like Someone Who Loves Herself Loving the One She Loves

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 30th birthday.

06-17 Sastre
Elvira Sastre
Spanish
b. 1992

If you had met me pure,
without a bad conscience,
without sorrow in my dreams,
without bites from others rooted in my shoulders.

Would you have bathed me in the morning light,
licked the sleep from my eyes,
stroked my insomnia,
caressed my wrinkled hands with your teeth?

And if I had dressed up
in something to look like you,
if I had lied to you telling you my truths,
if I had told you that you were the only one
and not the first.

Would you have undressed me with your eyes closed
and your expert hands,
kissed me while I told you about my life,
placed your name and mine
on a pedestal
and made this a love between equals?

And if I had sold myself
as the love of your life,

if I had bought you
as the love of mine.

Would we have fallen in love
like someone who loves herself
loving the one she loves?

The Beggar

We present this work in honor of the 180th anniversary of the poet’s death.

05-23 Espronceda
José de Espronceda
Spanish
1808 – 1842

The world is mine; I am free as air;
Let others work that I may eat;
All shall melt at my piteous prayer:—
“An alms, for God’s sake, I entreat.”

The cabin, the palace,
Are my resort;
If the threat of the thunder
Shall break from the mountain,
Or the torrent’s quick fountain
Shall drive me under,
Within their shelter
The shepherds make place,
Lovingly asking me
Food to grace;
Or by the rich hearthstone
I take my ease
Fanned by the odors
Of burning trees;
With the luscious banquet
And cushioned store,
Upon the couch
Of some proud señor.

And I say to myself:—
“Let the breezes blow
And the tempest rage
In the world without:
Let the branches crack
Where the high winds go,
As I slumber with nothing to trouble about.
The world is mine; I am free as air!”

All are my patrons,
And for all I ask
My God as I daily pray;
From peasant and noble
I get my pay,
And I take their favors
Both great and small.
I never ask them
Who they be,
Nor stop to task them
With thanks for fee.
If they desire
To give me alms,
‘Tis but their duty
To tip my palms.
Their wealth is sinful
They must see;
And a holy state
Is my poverty,
And he is a miser
Who would deny
An alms, and a beggar
Blest am I.

For I am poor and they grieve to note
How I groan beneath my pain;
They never see that their wealth is a mine
Where I my treasures gain.
The world is mine; I am free as air!

A rebel and a discontent
Amid my rags am I;
To satirise their ease I’m sent
And with a sour-set eye
I boldly stare at the potentate
Who dares to pass me in his state.

The lovely maid
Of a thousand scents
In her joy arrayed
With her love-locks blent—
‘Tis she I follow
Till she turns around,
And my evil smells
Her sense astound.
At the feasts and spreads
My voice is heard
And they bow their heads
At my merest word.
Their joy and revel
I come to stay,
At the sight of my rags
And my voice’s brags
Their music dies away.
Showing how near
Dwell pain and joy;
No joy without tear
No pain sans glad alloy.
The world is mine; I am free as air!

For me no morrow
Nor yesterday;
I forget the sorrow
And the welladay.
There’s nought to trouble
Or weary me here,—
It’s a palace tomorrow
Or a hospital’s cheer.
I live a stranger
To thoughts of care;
Let others seek glory
Or riches rare!
My one concern
Is to pass today;
Let the laws prevail
Where the monarchs sway!
For I am a beggar
And a poor man proud;
‘Tis through fear of me
There are alms allowed.

A soft asylum
Where’er it be,
And a hospital bed
Will be ready for me;
And a cosy ditch
Where my bones shall lie
Will cover me over
When I die.

The world is mine; I am free as air;
Let others work that I may eat!
All hearts must melt at my piteous prayer:—
An alms, for God’s sake, I entreat!”

Translation by Thomas Walsh

A Night in the Wheat Field

We present this work in honor of Galician Literature Day.

05-17 Curros
Manuel Curros Enríquez
Spanish
1851 – 1908

 

Once upon a night in the wheat fields
By the reflected white light of the bright moon
A young girl mourned without pause
The disdain of an ungrateful beau.

And between plaints the poor girl said,
“I have no one left in the world…
I’m going to die and my eyes do not see
The dear eyes of my sweet boon.”

Her echoes of melancholy
Strolled on the wings of the wind
And she kept repeating the lament,
“I’m going to die and my boon doesn’t come!”

Far away from her, standing at the stern
Of a rogue steamboat slaver,
The unfortunate, forlorn lover
Emigrates en route to America.

And upon watching the gentle swallows
Cross toward the land he leaves behind,
“Who could turn back,” he pondered,
“Who could fly away with you…!”

But the birds and the vessel sped onward
Without hearing his bitter laments,
Only the winds kept repeating,
“Who could fly away with you…!”

Clear nights of fragrances and moonlight:
How much sadness you own since then
For those who saw a young girl weeping,
For those who saw a ship leave port…

Away from a heavenly, genuine love
That is not shown by teardrops alone:
A grave on a lookout
And a corpse on the ocean floor!

 

Translation by Eduardo Freire Canosa

I Have a Need for Your Voice

04-30 Hernandez
Miguel Hernandez
Spanish
1910 – 1942

 

I have a need for your voice,
a longing for your company,
and an ache of melancholy
for the absence of signs of arrival.
Patience requires my torment,
the urgent need for you, heron of love,
your solar mercy for my frozen day,
your help, for my wound, I count on.
Ah, need, ache and longing!
Your kisses of substance, my food,
fail me, and I’m dying with the May.
I want you to come, the flower of your absence,
to calm the brow of thought
that ruins me with its eternal lightning.

 

Translation by A.S. Kline

Good-Bye Rivers, Good-Bye Fountains

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 185th birthday.

02-24 Castro
Rosalia de Castro
Spanish
1837 – 1885

 

Good-bye rivers, good-bye fountains;
Good-bye, little rills;
Good-bye, sight of my eyes:
Don’t know when we’ll see each other again.
Sod of mine, sod of mine,
Sod where I was raised,
Small orchard I love so,
Dear fig trees that I planted,

Meadows, streams, groves,
Stands of pine waved by the wind,
Little chirping birds,
Darling cottage of my joy,

Mill in the chestnut wood,
Clear nights of brilliant moonlight,
Cherished ringing bells
Of the tiny parish church,

Blackberries in the brambles
That I used to give my love,
Narrow footpaths through the cornfields,
Good-bye, for ever good-bye!
Good-bye, heaven! Good-bye, happiness!
I leave the house of my birth,
I leave the hamlet that I know
For a world I haven’t seen!
I leave friends for strangers,
I leave the lowland for the sea,
I leave, in short, what I well love…
Would I didn’t have to go!
But I’m poor and—base sin!—
My sod is not my own
For even the shoulder of the road
Is loaned out to the wayfarer
Who was born star-crossed.
I must therefore leave you,
Small orchard I loved so,
Beloved fireplace of home,
Dear trees that I planted,
Favourite spring of the livestock.
Good-bye, good-bye, I’m leaving,
Hallowed blades of grass in the churchyard
Where my father lies buried,
Saintly blades of grass I kissed so much,
Dear land that brought us up.
Good-bye Virgin of the Assumption
White as a seraph,
I carry you in my heart:
Plead with God on my behalf,
Virgin of the Assumption mine,
Far, very far away hear
The church bells of Pomar;
For hapless me—alas—
They shall never ring again.
Hear them still farther away
Every peal deals out pain,
I part alone without a friend…
Good-bye land of mine, good-bye!
Farewell to you too, little darling…!
Farewell forever perhaps…!
I send you this farewell crying
From the precious coastline.
Don’t forget me, little darling,
If I should die of loneliness…
So many leagues offshore…
My dear house! My home!

 

Translation by Eduardo Freire Canosa

Remembrance of Spain

We present this work in honor of the 160th anniversary of the poet’s death.

02-07 Martinez
Francisco Martínez de la Rosa
Spanish
1787 – 1862

 

Written in London in 1811

I saw upon the shady Thames
Unnumber’d ships with riches fraught;
I saw the power the nation claims
Immense, the greatness it has wrought,
And arts that such renown have brought.

But the afflicted mind exhaled
A thousand sighs; again to view
The flowery banks the wish prevail’d,
Where glides the Douro calmly through,
Or Henil’s streams their course pursue.

I saw the proud Court’s ladies forth
Their wealth and grandeur gaily show;
I saw the beauties of the North,
Their bright complexions white as snow,
Commingling with the rose’s glow.

Their eyes appear’d of heavenly blue,
Their tresses of the purest gold;
Their stately forms arose to view,
Beneath the veil’s transparent fold,
As white and lovely to behold.

But what avail the gay brocade,
The city’s silks, and jewels’ pride;
Or charms in rosy smiles array’d,
With brilliant gaiety supplied,
That all to beauty are allied?

When but is seen my country girl,
Clad in her robe of simple white,
Shamed are the needless silk and pearl;
And by her pure and blooming light
Confused hides beauty at the sight.

Where shall I find in icy clime
Her black and beaming eyes of fire?
That whether scornfully the time,
To look, or kindly they desire,
To rob me of my peace conspire?

Where the black hair that may like hers
In hue with ebony compare?
Where the light foot that never stirs,
When bounding o’er the meadows fair,
The lowly flowers that blossom there?

Maids of the Henil! dark ye be;
But ne’er would I exchanged resign
Your charms for all that here I see,
Proud Albion shows, of brows that fine
Ev’n as the polish’d ivory shine.

O, father Douro! gentle stream,
Whose sands a golden store supply,
Deign of my heart the wish supreme
To hear, thy sacred margins by,
That it may be my lot to die!

 

Translation by James Kennedy