The Dusky Swallows Will Return

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

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer
Spanish
1836 – 1870

 

The dusky swallows will return
To hang their nests beneath thy eaves,
And playing to their nestlings call
As once they called of old.

But those who checked their flight
To gaze upon the beauty and my joy,
Who learnt our names—Ah Love!
They—will return no more!

The twining honeysuckles once again
Shall scale thy garden walls;
And once again at eve, more beautiful,
Their flowers will unfold.

But those of yore, begemmed with dews
Whose drops we watched together
Tremble and fall like tears of bright day,
They—will return no more!

Once more within thine ears, the words
Of burning love shall sound,
And from its slumber deep, perchance
Thy heart will wake.

But spellbound, speechless, kneeling low,
As saints before their altars are adored,
As I have loved thee—oh! deceive thee not!
Thus shall none love thee more!

Eternal Love

We present this work in honor of the 150th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer
Spanish
1836 – 1870

 

The face of the sun may darken forever;
The oceans may run dry in an instant;
The axis spinning our planet may shatter;
Like a brittle crystal.
Yes, all of that may happen! At the end, Death
May cover my flesh with his funeral shroud;
But none of it will reach within my soul and extinguish
The bright flame of your love.

The Bull-Fight

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 200th birthday.

Carolina Coronado
Spanish
1820 – 1911

 

Bravo! thou nation of a noble line!
Thou mean’st to fashion after beasts thy men.
How well thy mission thou dost now divine,
Escaping from the Latin Church’s shrine
To intrench thyself around the fighters’ pen!

New Plazas for the bull-figlit let there be;
Build them, Country! pour thy treasures free!
Ah! stranger lands are wiser far than we, —
For here we are but cowherds, we are fools:
Which do we value most, the laws or bulls?

Who cares for liberty, while he doth roar,
The hunted bull, along the spacious plain.
Or tear the arena, and his victim gore?
When swells his passion with the pricking pain,
Who sees the vision of our mournful Spain?

And when he draws his breath with hoarsest sigh,
And from his pierced heart come out the groans,
And men fall down to earth, and horses die,
How sweet to hear the rosy children nigh
Break out in merry laughter’s silvery tones!

But hark! I see before my vision rise,
Brave to uphold the war of beasts and men,
Some spirited hidalgo, listening wise.
“I glory in the speetaele,” he cries;
“The thing is Spanish, — it has always been!”

O patriotie ardor! Lot them bind
A starry crown upon the learned brow
Of every noble knight, who thinks to find
Our highest strength within the bull enshrined,
Our Spanish glory in the Picador’s bow!

With all the fairest ladies of repute
The love of country so refined has grown
They look with rapture even on this brute;
For tenderness is here a foreign shoot,
And cruelty is Spanish-born alone!

Song of the Beautiful Trust

Clementina Arderiu
Spanish
1889 – 1976

 

I’ve given my lover
all my keys,
and I have got his
and we are at peace.
But there’s one room left
in the deepest lair,
and not for one second
can we enter there.
So many a heavy thought
and secret power
flees into it every
passing hour!
It isn’t worth it
to pry at the lock:
the uproar would blast you
harder than rock.
The echoes and shadows
will do just fine.
Let him keep his accounts
and I’ll keep mine.

Against an Avaricious Judge

Fray Luis de Leon
Spanish
1527 – 1591

 

Even if in copious mountains you lift the attained, useless gold;
and even if your possessions you improve with the hurt and tears of others;

And even if, cruel tyrant, you oppress the truth,
and your avarice, dressed in a false name, converts justice to buying and selling;

Even if you fool the eyes of the world that you adore,
it will nonetheless not stop sharp thistles to be born in your heart;

Nor will fear stop sleeping in your bed;
nor will you escape worries and agony, the ultimate spite;

Nor will good hope in pleasure ever cross your threshold;

Nor will la Meguera, with infernal flames, and serpentine whip
in a raised and ferocious skilled arm, leave your bedchamber for a moment;

Nor will you stop the wheel of fortune, despite all you can do,
the hungry and cruel consumer of time is coming with death as a co-conspirator,
to leave you naked of the gold and all that you love most;

And you will be left immersed in interminable harm and oblivion.

Surrender of an Exiled Lover to the Power of His Own Sadness

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

Francisco de Quevedo
Spanish
1580 – 1645

 

These are now and will be the very last
tears that, with all the strength of living voice,
I shall lose in this fountain’s fleeting stream,
which carries them to slake the thirst of brutes.

I’m fortunate if, on some far-off shore,
while nourishing so much elusive pain,
I find a death that’s merciful, and fells
such flimsy structures built on weakened roots!

A spirit thus stripped bare a lover pure,
upon the sun I’ll burn, and my cold flesh
in dust and earth will keep Love’s memory.

to travellers I’ll be an epitaph,
since my face, lifeless, will declare to them:
“It was Love’s triumph to make war on me.”

To the Sun Because it Rose When He Was With a Woman and He Had to Leave Her

Luis de Góngora
Spanish
1561 – 1627

 

Already kissing two crystalline hands,
Already clinging to a white, smooth neck,
Already scattering ‘round it all that hair,
which Love from the gold in its mines had torn;

already breaking on those precious pearls
a thousand sweet words, not deserving it,
already plucking from each lovely lip
crimson roses with no fear of thorns,

was I, oh shimmering and jealous Sun,
when your light, shattering my eyes,
killed my delight and stopped what I’d begun.

If heaven has not yet become too weak,
in order that yours cease to give me pain,
may its rays kill you as they did your son.

The Arrival

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 175th birthday.

Dolors Monserdà
Spanish
1845 – 1919

 

Even here from the foot of the rise
I see those stand-out roses all
embroidering with tender branch
along the faces of the wall.
Already I feel those scents of yours
of jasmine and of lemon trees,
the unmistakable scent of home;
confused with another it cannot be.
Now I see my room beloved…
the windows there are open wide
just like dear friends that offer me
a safe and sheltered sleep inside.
I reach the top! And now, I am home
and all around I feel at ease.
Oh, the dear beloved plants
of my garden evergreen!
What splendid bounty of new leaves
the acacias and the almond trees!
And the branches of the pear
above the bench have spread their boughs
and the jasmine with its white flowers
infuse incense into the air.
Worthy of God! And the mimosa?
With what a bloom itself has dressed!
How lovely! there, at the crest of the tree
what seems like a crib yet must be a nest!
And high up in the canopy
a flock of little birds find rest!
Welcome all! for where they nest
is a home, they say, that God will bless.