from El Vergonzoso en Palacio

We present this work in honor of the 375th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Tirso de Molina
1579 – 1648


Have you told your lady of your love? – I have not dared to. – So she has never found out? – I don’t doubt that she’s seen the flame of love in my infatuated eyes, which cry out in silence. – The tongue should perform that task; otherwise it may as well be a foreign jargon. Has she not given you occasion to declare yourself? – So much so, that my shyness amazes me. – Speak, then. Any delay can only hurt your love. – I’m afraid to lose by speaking what I enjoy by keeping quiet. – That’s just foolish. A wise man once compared a mute lover to a Flemish painting that’s always kept rolled up. The painter won’t get very far unless he shows his paintings to the public, so they can admire and buy them. The court is no place for reticence. Unroll your painting so it may be sold. No one can cure you if you won’t tell them what’s wrong. – Yes, my lady. But the inequality between us holds me back. – Isn’t love a god? – Yes, my lady. – Well then, speak, for the laws of the god are absolute, toppling the mightiest monarchs and leveling crowns and clogs. Tell me who you love, and I’ll be your go-between. – I don’t dare. – Why not? Am I not fit to be your messenger? – No, but I’m afraid… Oh, god! – What if I say her name? Would you tell me if she is, by any chance… me? – My lady, yes. – Let me finish! And you are jealous of the Count of Vasconcelos, right? – It’s hopeless. He is your equal, my lady, and the heir of Braganza. – Equality and likeness don’t come down to whether a lover is noble, humble or poor, but to an affinity of soul and will. Make yourself clear from now on, don Dionís, I urge you. When it comes to games of love, it’s better to go over than to undershoot the mark. For a long time now I’ve preferred you to the Count of Vasconcelos.

Translation by Ben Sachs-Hamilton

To Sleep

We present this work in honor of the 410th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Lupercio Leonardo de Argensola
1559 – 1613


Frightful representation of death,
cruel sleep, my heart no longer agitate,
by showing me the tight knot has been cut,
sole consolation for my adverse fate.

Seek out the ramparts of some tyrant strong,
his walls of jasper, ceiling made of gold;
or seek the miser rich in his poor bed,
and make him wake up sweating, trembling, cold.

Then let the first see how the angry mob
breaks down with wrath his iron-covered gates,
or see the hidden blade of lackey bought;

and let the second see his wealth exposed
by stolen key or furious assault:
and let Love keep the glories he has wrought.

Translation by Alix Ingber


Juan de Mena
1411 – 1456


As I upon my pallet lie,
The greatest grief I know
Is thinking when I said “Good-bye”
To the breast I’m loving so.

In spite of all the woes I feel
Upon that parting thought,
At times my memories reveal
The mighty joys you brought.
So let the world a-whispering go
To tell why here I lie;
Because they know I’ve said “Good-bye”
To the breast I’m loving so.

I languish but I let none hear
How deep my sorrows are,
Although my griefs are quite as near
As your sweet balm is far.
And if it be the end they show
And death is coming nigh,
While living, let me say “Good-bye”
To the breast I’m loving so.

Translation by Thomas Walsh

Sonnet CXI

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

Juan Boscan Almogaver
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


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

Patrocinio de Biedma y la Moneda
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
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
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
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
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