Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Renaissance and Baroque Poetry of Spain, Ed. Elias L. Rivers

Renaissance and Baroque Poetry of Spain, Ed. Elias L. Rivers, Waveland Press, Long Grove, Illinois, 1988.

Garcilaso de la Vega (1503-1536) : Neither death nor prison nor obstacles can keep me from going to see you, one way or another, as a naked spirit or as a man of flesh and blood. (35)

Sonnet XI: Lovely nymphs who, deep in the river, live happily in mansions built of shining stones and upheld by crystal columns: where you are now busily embroidering or weaving fine fabrics, or whether in little groups you are telling one another of your loves and lives, lay aside your work for a moment, raising your golden heads to look at me, and it won’t take you long, in my sad state; for either you’ll be too sorry to listen, or else, changed into water by weeping here, you’ll have plenty of time to console me down there. [pure fancy…] (36)

Gutierre del Cetina (ca. 1516-1555) Sonnet VI: To the mountain where Carthage once stood: Lofty mountain, where Roman destruction will forever eternalize your memory; proud buildings, where the glory still gleams of great Carthage; deserted square, which once was a quiet lake full of triumphal victories; shattered marble, in which one can read the story of the world’s rewards; arches, amphitheaters, baths, temple, which once were famous buildings and of which we can now hardly detect the traces: your example is a great cure for my despair, for if by time you have been destroyed, time will be able to destroy my suffering. [by death. the unsaid.] (85-6)

Fray Luis de Leon (1527-1591) Ode I: What a restful life, that of him who flees from worldly noise and follows the hidden path down which have gone the few wise men who have existed in the world! For his heat is not darkened by the status of the great and proud, … (91)

Ode I: An unbroken sleep, a cloudless happy day of freedom are what I want; I don’t want to see the vainly severe frown of him who is exalted by family or wealth. Let the birds awaken me with their sweet unschooled singing, not the grave worries which always plague him who depends on another’s will. I want to live by myself; I want to enjoy the blessings that I owe to heaven, all alone, without a witness, free from love, from zeal, from hatred, from hope, from fear. On the slope of the hill, with my own hand I have planted an orchard, which in the springtime, covered with lovely blooms, is already giving hopeful signs of sure fruit. And as though desirous of seeing and increasing its beauty, form the airy hilltop a spring of pure water comes hastily running down; and then, more calmly, wending its way among the trees, as it passes, it gradually clothes the ground in green and sprinkles it with different flowers. The breeze flows through the orchard and offers many fragrances to one’s senses; it sways the trees with a gentle sound which makes one forget gold and scepters. (92-3)

Ode VIII, Still Night: When I regard the heavens adorned with innumerable lights, and I look toward the earth, surrounded by night, buried in sleep and oblivion, love and grief awaken within my breast an ardent yearning; my eyes, transformed into a spring, pour out an abundant stream; finally my tongues says, with woeful voice: “Dwelling place of grandeur, temple of brightness and beauty, what curse holds my soul, born for your heights, trapped in this low, dark prison? What mortal error so separates my senses form the truth that, forgetful of your divine treasure, lost, it pursues empty shadows and false treasures? … Alas, raise your eyes to this eternal, celestial sphere: you will thus escape the illusions of this seductive life and all that it hopes for and fears. Is the low and graceless earth more than a mere point when compared to this great transfiguration, … who is he that can look at this and still esteem the lowness of the earth, and not groan and sigh to destroy that which traps the soul and keeps it from these blessings? Here lives happiness, here reigns peace; here, seated on a rich and lofty seat, is sacred love, surrounded by glory and delight. Immense beauty is here fully revealed, and there gleams the brightest purest light, which never turns to night; eternal springtime flowers here. Oh, true fields! Oh, meadows pleasant and sweet with truth! Richest deposits of gold! Oh, hollows of delight! Hidden valleys full of countless blessings!” (99-101)

Baltasar del Alcazar (1530-1606) Song I: Three things have captured my heart with love: lovely Inez, and harm, and eggplant with cheese. A certain Inez, lovers, is the person who exerted upon me such power that she made me hate everything that wasn’t Inez. She kept me madly in love for a year, until one day she gave me, for lunch, ham and eggplant with cheese. (111-12)

Francisco de Aldana (1537-1578) Sonnet XVII: I say a thousand times, while held in Galatea’s arms, that she is more beautiful than the sun; then she, with a sweetly disdainful look, tells me, “Tyrsis mine, don’t say that.” I try to swear it, and she, suddenly inflamed with a rosy color, stops me with a kiss and hastily seeks to cover my mouth with her face. I struggle gently against her to free myself, and she holds me more tightly and then says, “Don’t swear, my love, for I believe you.” Thereupon she so entwines me that Cupid, witnessing our sweet game, causes my desires to be fulfilled. (127)

Sonnet XXXIV, Recognition of the World’s Vanity: At last, at last, after so long a time suffering, after so many changes of life and career, after so many attempts between one madness and another, to seize everything, but catching nothing, after so much coming and going hither and yon like a breathless, useless pilgrim, oh God!, after wandering so often from the right road, I myself being the executor of my own evil, at last I find that to be dead in the world’s memory is the best thing the world has to offer, … (128)

San Juan de la Cruz (1542-1591) : Song I: Spiritual Canticle, Songs of the Soul and the Bridegroom: Bride: 1. Where have you hidden yourself, my love, and left me moaning? Like the stag you have fled, having wounded me; I came out, crying, after you, and you had gone away. … Bridegroom: Come back, dove, for the wounded stag shows himself on the hill, in the breeze of your flight, and cools himself. (130-3)

Bride: Following your footsteps the young maidens run wildly out to the road; at the touch of the spark and the taste of the spiced wine, there are waves of divine balm. 17. In my beloved’s inner wine cellar I drank, and when I came out, all the way down the meadow I was no longer aware of anything, and I lost the sheep that I had been following before. 18. There he gave me his breast, there he taught me very pleasant knowledge, and I gave him myself indeed, holding nothing back; there I promised him to be his wife. 19. My soul and all my possessions have been used in his service; I no longer herd sheep or have any other job, for my only occupation now is love. (133-4)

Bride: 22. with only that hair which you watched being wafted on my neck; you looked at it on my neck, and you became imprisoned in it, and you were wounded by one of my eyes. (135)

Bridegroom: The little white dove has come back to the ark with the branch, and now the little turtledove has found her longed-for mate on the green river banks. 34. In solitude she lived, and in solitude she has laid her nest, and in solitude she is guided all alone by her lover, who was also wounded in solitude by love. (137)

Song II, The Dark Night: Songs of the soul rejoicing at having reached the highest state of perfection, which is union with God, by means of spiritual self-denial. 1. On a dark night, inflamed with the passions of love, oh favoring fortune!, I went out unnoticed, after my house had been set to rest: 2. In the dark and safely sure, … in secret, for no one saw me, nor did I see anything, with no other light or guide than that which was burning in my heart. 4. This light guided me more surely than that of noonday to where he was waiting for me, I know well who, in a place where no one was to be seen. … On my flowery breast, kept wholly for himself alone, there he went to sleep, and I caressed him, and the fanning of the cedars made a breeze. … I stood still and forgot myself, I leaned my face over the lover, everything stopped and I abandoned myself, leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies. (138-9)

Verse I, Verses upon a highly contemplative ecstasy: … I was left without knowing, transcending all knowledge. It was the perfect knowledge of peace and piety, a straight road well understood in deep solitude; it was something so secret that I was left babbling, transcending all knowledge. I was so drawn into it, so absorbed and taken out of myself, that my feeling was left devoid of all feeling, and my mind was endured with an understanding by not understanding, transcending all knowledge. He who really reaches that point faints away from himself; he scorns all that he formerly knew; and his knowledge increases so much that he is left without knowing, transcending all knowledge. … And this highest way of knowing is so completely superior that there is no university or science that can attempt it; … And if you want to listen, this highest knowledge consists of a heightened perception of the Divine Essence; it is a result of His mercy to leave one not understanding, transcending all knowledge. (141-3)

Song, Although It Is Night, Song of the soul which rejoices in knowing God by faith: For I well know the fountain that wells up and flows, although it is night. That eternal fountain is hidden, for I well know where it has its source, although it is night. I don’t know its origin, for it doesn’t have one, but I know that every origin comes from it, although it is night. I know that nothing can be so beautiful, and that heaven and earth drink from it, although it is night. [night ~ faith] (148)

Bartolome L. de Argensola (1562-1631) : Sonnet VI: To a gentleman and a lady who had been raised together since childhood and , being now older, persisted in the same casual relationship: Firmio, at your age no danger is a slight one, for you speak to us now in a husky voice and, although almost invisible, a fuzz breaks the smoothness of your upper lip. And in your case, Drusila, your breast is suddenly revealing the subtle outline of two curves, and on the white summit of each one a living ruby marks a tiny center. Let your friendship be restrained by stricter rules, for Love’s first poison needs only the simplest carelessness. If the sly snake has hidden himself in the pleasantest part of a fertile field, who can be surprised that flowers have lost their good reputation? (156-7)

Luis de Gongora (1561-1627) : Sonnet LIII (Moral), He infers, from the ailments of old age, that death is near, and as a Catholic takes courage (157)

Sonnet LXXXVI (Love): Sacred temple of pure chastity, whose beautiful foundation and refined wall were built, by a divine hand, of white nacre and hard alabaster; small door of precious coral, bright windows of steady gaze, … superb roof, whose golden moldings, while the bright sun revolves around, adorn it with light, crown it with beauty; (160)

Sonnet CIX (Love), Concerning a lady who, taking off a ring, pricked herself with a pin: A shackle for the jointed mother-of-pearl (a gleaming competitor of my own constancy) was a diamond, itself also ingeniously shackled in gold. Clori, then, who does not consent that her finger be oppressed by metal, however precious, one day elegantly, as well as impatiently, redeemed it from the golden bond. But, alas, a little piece of insidious brass among the crystals of her lovely hand sacrilegiously drinks divine blood: purple dye was less brilliant upon Indian ivory; enviously, upon snow the Dawn shattered carnations in vain. [Cf. Crashaw] (162)

Sonnet CLXV: Illustrations and most beautiful Maria, while one may still see at any time in your cheeks and rosy Dawn, Phoebus [the sun] in your eyes and on your forehead the day, and while with gentle discourtesy the wind blows the flying threads which Arabia treasures in its veins and the rich Tagus produces in its sands; before, Phoebus being eclipsed by time and the bright day changed into dark night, the Dawn flees form the deadly cloud; before that which is a golden treasure today vanquishes white snow with its whiteness: enjoy, enjoy, the color, the light, the gold. (163)

Sonnet CLXVI: While, to compete with your hair, gold burnished in the sun gleams in vain; while with scorn, in the midst of the plain, your white brow regards the lily fair; while each lip is pursued by more eyes than follow the early carnation; and while with proud disdain your neck triumphs over bright crystal: enjoy beck, hair, lips and brow, before what was in your golden youth gold, lily, carnation, crystal bright, not only turns into silver or a crushed violet, but you and all of it together into earth, smoke, dust, shadow, nothingness. (163)

Fable of Polyphemus and Galatea, To the Count of Niebla: 1. These resounding rhymes which were dictated to me by the cultured, yet bucolic, Thalia, [the Muse of pastoral poetry]—oh, excellent Count!--, during the purple hours when … 2. Well conditioned, let the noble bird [falcon] preen his feathers upon the master’s hand, or upon his perch, so quietly that he may try, in vain, to belie the bell [tied to his foot] ; by champing, let the Andalusian horse make hoary his golden bit with his idle foam; let the hound whine upon his silken hoary his golden bit with his idle foam; let the hound whine upon his silken leash. And, finally, let the hunter’s horn yield to the poet’s harp. 3. Respite from that robust exercise be your attentive leisure and sweet silence while under august canopy you listen to the brutish song of the musical giant. … that the obscure recess is black night’s caliginous bed is demonstrated to us by an infamous mob of nocturnal fowls, moaning sadly and flying heavily. (165)

Song XLVIII (Burlesque) : Let me be wildly enthusiastic, and let the people laugh. Let others deal with governing the world and its monarchies, while my time is spent on butter and soft bread, and on winter mornings, orangeade and brandy, and let the people laugh. Let the Prince eat on golden plate a thousand cares, like gilded pills; for I at my poor table prefer a black sausage bursting on a spit, and let the people laugh. When January covers the mountains with white snow, let me have my brasier full of acorns and chestnuts, and someone to tell me the old stories of the king who went mad, and let the people laugh. (188)

Ballad XVII (Love), Angelica and Medoro: … His veins almost empty of blood, his eyes full of night, he was found on the field by that life and death of men [a beautiful woman]. 5. She gets down from her palfrey, not because she knows the Moor, but because she sees the grass paying for so much blood with flowers. (190)

A wanton swarm of little Cupids encircle the hut, just as bees do the hollow trunk of the cork-oak (192)

Lope de Vega (1562-1635) : Early Ballads, To Phyllis … Out of the silk clothes that he had once worn at Court [in Madrid] he made for the birds a figtree scarecrow: the big ruffed collar, starched and stiff, and the round hat, that adorn one’s neck and head, and upon a satin blouse the fanciest leather jacket, without forgetting his tights, both Spanish-style and German. One day as he was watering, he saw it in the middle of the figtree, and laughing at the sight, he speaks to it as follows: “Oh rich spoils of my youth, … One holiday I wore you to my village as a display of wealth and the latest fashion. From her balcony a maiden [“Belisa,” Isabel de Urbina] saw me, with her white breast and black eyebrows. She let me seduce her; I married her, for it is well to pay such debts of honor. (200-1)

Sonnets, CXXXVII, To the Night: Oh night, fabricator of deceptions, mad, fantastic, chimeric, causing him who delights in you to see the mountains as flat and the seas as dry; dweller in empty brains, low engineer, natural philosopher, alchemist, foul accomplice, sightless lynx, scared of your own echoes: may you be considered responsible for darkness, fear and evil, your solicitor, poetess, sick and frigid woman, with ruffian’s hands and fugitive’s feet. Whether awake or asleep, half my life belongs to you: if I stay awake, I repay you the following day, and if I sleep, I’m not aware that I am alive. (217)


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