Como aquel que en soñar gusto recibe,
su gusto procediendo de locura,
así el imaginar con su figura
vanamente su gozo en mí concibe.
Otro bien en mí, triste, no se escribe,
si no es aquel que en mi pensar procura;
de cuanto ha sido hecho en mi ventura
lo sólo imaginado es lo que vive.
Teme mi corazón de ir adelante,
viendo estar su dolor puesto en celada;
y así revuelve atrás en un instante
a contemplar su gloria ya pasada.
¡Oh sombra de remedio inconstante,
ser en mí lo mejor lo que no es nada
Like one receiving pleasure from a dream,
his pleasure thus proceeding from delusion,
so does imagination with illusions
conceive in vain its happiness in me.
No other good’s inscribed on my sad heart,
except what in my thoughts I might procure;
of all the good I ever have endured,
what lives is only the imagined part.
My heart is frightened to proceed ahead,
seeing that its pain in ambush lies;
and so after a moment it turns back
to contemplate those glories that have fled.
Oh, shadow of relief, that fickle flies,
to make what’s best in me be what I lack!
© 1995 Alix Ingber
Soy como aquel que vive en el desierto,
del mundo y de sus cosas olvidado,
y a descuido veis donde le ha llegado
un gran amigo, al cual tuvo por muerto.
Teme luego de un caso tan incierto;
pero, después que bien se ha asegurado,
comienza a holgar pensando en lo pasado,
con nuevos sentimientos muy despierto.
con las yerbas del monte no se aviene,
para el yermo le falta toda el arte,
y tiembla cada vez que entra en su cueva.
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
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 Dia Tsung
I wonder if Juan Boscán, who together with his close friend Garcilaso de la Vega, (their poems were jointly published) initiated the the Siglo de Oro in Spain, might be surprised to find his poem resurrected and set to music under the title “O Sombra” by the British all woman group Electrelane.
Chance couplings such as this never cease to astonish me.
It happened like this: I had been looking on the internet for a copy of the original (unnamed and unnumbered) Boscán sonnet in order to post it in this blog along with my translation, when I stumbled upon the text with the title “Oh Sombra.” – which turned out to be a song.
I listened to the song, and found the music unusual and engaging.
I soon discovered that the lyrics to the song were the identical with the text of Boscán’s sonnet, and that Spanish text/lyric came accompanied by an extraordinarily literate (and uncredited) translation, which showed up in site after site where song lyrics are posted.
As soon as I read this translation I gave up the idea of doing my own, since it was abundantly clear to me that I could by no means improve upon it. I was wondering how to credit the work, in the absence of a translator’s name, and decided I must continue searching, and so came across a site containing Spanish poems with English Translations.
There I found that the translation had been made by Alix Ingber, who is Professor Emerita of Spanish at Sweet Briar College.
I respectfully credit professor Engber for her inspired translation of Boscán’s sonnet.
I retained Electrelane’s title “Oh Sombra” because in seemed to me to fit the poem well.
More from Electrelane.