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

Spiritual Verses

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

01-24 De La Cruz
Juan de la Cruz
Spanish
1542 – 1591

 

I

So I might seize the prey
in this divine venture
I flew ever higher
from sight was forced to stray,
yet love so far did fly
that though in my flight
I faltered in the height
I caught the prey on high.

II

As higher I ascended
so the hardest conquest
came about in darkness,
all my sight was dazzled:
yet since love was my prey
from blind dark a leaper
I flew on ever higher
till I overtook the prey.

III

In this highest game,
the further I ascended
the humbler, more subdued
more abased I became.
‘None attains it’, I did say.
I sank down lower, lower,
yet I rose higher, higher
and so I took the prey.

IV

My one flight in strange manner
surpassed a hundred thousand
for the hope of highest heaven
attains the end it hopes for:
there hope alone did fly
unfaltering in the height:
hope, seeking in its flight,
I caught the prey on high.

 

Translation by A.S. Kline

Rose of Roses, and Flower of Flowers

01-13 Alfonso
Alfonso X, El Sabio, of Castile
Spanish
1221 – 1284

 

1.

Rose of beauty and fine appearance
And flower of happiness and pleasure,
lady of most merciful bearing,
And Lord for relieving all woes and cares;
Rose of roses and flower of flowers,
Lady of ladies, Lord of lords.

2.

Such a Mistress everybody should love,
For she can ward away any evil
And she can pardon any sinner
To create a better savor in this world.
Rose of roses and flower of flowers,
Lady of ladies, Lord of lords.

3.

We should love and serve her loyally,
For she can guard us from falling;
She makes us repent the errors
That we have committed as sinners:
Rose of roses and flower of flowers
Lady of ladies, Lord of lords.

4.

This lady whom I acknowledge as my Master
And whose troubadour I’d gladly be,
If I could in any way possess her love,
I’d give up all my other lovers.
Rose of roses and flower of flowers,
Lady of ladies, Lord of lords.

 

Translation by James J. Wilhelm

One Night

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 140th birthday.

12-24 Jimenez
Juan Ramón Jiménez
Spanish
1881 – 1958

 

The ancient spiders with a flutter spread
Their misty marvels through the withered flowers,
The windows, by the moonlight pierced, would shed
Their trembling garlands pale across the bowers.

The balconies looked over to the South;
The night was one immortal and serene;
From fields afar the newborn springtime’s mouth
Wafted a breath of sweetness o’er the scene.

How silent! Grief had hushed its spectral moan
Among the shadowy roses of the sward;
Love was a fable—shadows overthrown
Trooped back in myriads from oblivion’s ward.

The garden’s voice was all—empires had died—
The azure stars in languor having known
The sorrows all the centuries provide,
With silver crowned me there, remote and lone.

 

Translation by Thomas Walsh

Song of the Soul that Delights in Reaching the Supreme State of Perfection, that is, the Union with God, by the Path of Spiritual Negation

We present this work in honor of All Saints’ Day.

11-01 De La Cruz
Juan de la Cruz
Spanish
1542 – 1591

 

Upon a darkened night
on fire with all love’s longing
– O joyful flight! –
I left, none noticing,
my house, in silence, resting.

Secure, devoid of light,
by secret stairway, stealing
– O joyful flight! –
in darkness self-concealing,
my house, in silence, resting.

In the joy of night,
in secret so none saw me,
no object in my sight
no other light to guide me,
but what burned here inside me.

Which solely was my guide,
more surely than noon-glow,
to where he does abide,
one whom I deeply know,
a place where none did show.

O night, my guide!
O night, far kinder than the dawn!
O night that tied
the lover to the loved,
the loved in the lover there transformed!

On my flowering breast,
that breast I kept for him alone,
there he took his rest
while I regaled my own,
in lulling breezes from the cedars blown.

The breeze, from off the tower,
as I sieved through its windings
with calm hands, that hour,
my neck, in wounding,
left all my senses hanging.

Self abandoned, self forgot,
my face inclined to the beloved one:
all ceased, and I was not,
my cares now left behind, and gone:
there among the lilies all forgotten.

 

Translation by A.S. Kline

To the Flower of Gnido

We present this work in honor of the 485th anniversary of the poet’s death.

10-14 De La Vega
Garcilaso de la Vega
Spanish
1501 – 1536

 

I
Had I the sweet resounding lyre
Whose voice could in a moment chain
The howling wind’s ungoverned ire,
And movement of the raging main;
On savage hills the leopard rein,

II
The lion’s fiery soul entrance,
And lead along with golden tones
The fascinated trees and stones
In voluntary dance,
Think not, think not, fair Flower of Gnide,

III
It e’er should celebrate the scars,
Dust raised, bloodshed, or laurels dyed
Beneath the gonfalon of Mars;
Or borne sublime on festal cars,
The chiefs who to submission sank

IV
The rebel German’s soul of soul,
And forged the chains that now control
The frenzy of the Frank.
No, no! its harmonies should ring
In vaunt of glories all thine own,

V
A discord sometimes from the string
Struck forth to make thy harshness known;
The fingered chords should speak alone
Of Beauty’s triumphs, Love’s alarms,
And one who, made by thy disdain

VI
Pale as a lily dipt in twain,
Bewails thy fatal charms.
Of that poor captive, too, contemned,
I speak, his doom you might deploreIn
Venus’ galliot-shell condemned

VII
To strain for life the heavy oar.
Through thee no longer as of yore
He tames the unmanageable steed,
With curb of gold his pride restrains,
Or with pressed spurs and shaken reins

VIII
Torments him into speed.
Not now he wields for thy sweet sake
The sword in his accomplished hand,
Nor grapples like a poisonous snake,
The wrestler on the yellow sand;

IX
The old heroic harp his hand
Consults not now, it can but kiss
The amorous lute’s dissolving strings,
Which murmur forth a thousand things
Of banishment from bliss.

X
Through thee, my dearest friend and best
Grows harsh, importunate, and grave;
Myself have been his port of rest
From shipwreck and the yawning wave;
Yet now so high his passions rave

XI
Above lost reason ‘s conquered laws,
That not the traveller ere he slays
The asp, its sting, as he my face
So dreads, or so abhors.
In snows on rocks, sweet Flower of Gnide,

XII
Thou wert not cradled, wert not born,
She who has no fault beside
Should ne’er be signalized for scorn;
Else, tremble at the fate forlorn
Of Anaxarete, who spurned

XIII
The weeping Iphis from her gate,
Who, scoffing long, relenting late,
Was to a statue turned.
Whilst yet soft pity she repelled,
Whilst yet she steeled her heart in pride,

XIV
From her friezed window she beheld
Aghast, the lifeless suicide;
Around his lily neck was tied
What freed his spirit from her chains,
And purchased with a few short sighs

XV
For her immortal agonies,
Imperishable pains.
Then first she felt her bosom bleed
With love and pity; vain distress!
Oh what deep rigors must succeed

XVI
This first sole touch of tenderness!
Her eyes grow glazed and motionless,
Nailed on his wavering corse, each bone
Hardening in growth, invades her flesh,
Which, late so rosy, warm, and fresh,

XVII
Now stagnates into stone.
From limb to limb the frost aspire,
Her vitals curdle with the cold;
The blood forgets its crimson fire,
The veins that e’er its motion rolled;

XVIII
Till now the virgin’s glorious mould
Was wholly into marble changed,
On which the Salaminians gazed,
Less at the prodigy amazed,
Than of the crime avenged.

XIX
Then tempt not thou Fate’s angry arms,
By cruel frown or icy taunt;
But let thy perfect deeds and charms
To poets’ harps, Divinest, grant
Themes worthy their immortal vaunt;

XX
Else must our weeping strings presume
To celebrate in strains of woe,
The justice of some signal blow
That strikes thee to the tomb.