Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Spanish Poets’

Luis de Carrillo y Sotomayor (circa 1582 – January 22, 1610).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A la ligereza y pérdida del tiempo

¡Con qué ligeros pasos vas corriendo!
¡Oh cómo te me ausentas, tiempo vano!
¡Ay, de mi bien, y de mi ser tirano,
cómo tu altivo brazo voy siguiendo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detenerte pensé, pasaste huyendo;
seguíte, y ausentástete liviano;
gastéte a ti en buscarte, ¡oh inhumano!: 
mientras más te busqué, te fui perdiendo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ya conozco tu furia, ya, humillado,
de tu guadaña pueblo los despojos;
¡oh amargo desengaño no admitido! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ciego viví, y al fin, desengañado,
hecho Argos de mi mal con tristes ojos
huir te veo, y veo te he perdido.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On how time flees and is lost

With what light steps I see you running by!
Oh how you forsake and leave me, Time so vain!
Aye, tyrant of all my goods, and of my self,
Oh how your high-handedness now makes me feel!

 

 

 

I thought to detain you, but you fled away,
To follow you, but blithely you went speeding.
In seeking I squandered you, Oh inhuman one!
The more I sought you, the more of you I lost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I know your fury, now admit I’m humbled,
By your scythe’s sweep is made a town of the despoiled,
Oh harsh disappointment, I still cannot accept!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Blind did I live, now at last being undeceived,
An Argus made of my ills, with saddened eyes
I see you flee, see now that you are lost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Translation Dia Tsung

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luis de Carrillo y Sotomayor, who wrote this sonnet, has been associated with the style referred to as Culteranismo, which in turn is classed as a development of the style called Góngorismo, after Luis de Góngora, one of the foremost poets of the Siglo de Oro, the golden age of Spanish literature.

Comparing de Carrillo y Sotmayor to Góngora seems to me inept and unfair, since Góngora’s style is overly-embellished, wordy, windy and bloated. It is replete with worthless classical conceits, and quiet bereft of real emotion and real meaning. De Carrillo’s is decidedly not.

I have not, by any means, read all of Luis de Carrillo y Sotomayor’s work, but the poems I have read do not reveal any of the vanity and prolixity so typical of Góngora, so I am left figuratively scratching my head, and wondering why I am unable to see what common characteristics (besides language) are to be found in the work of these two men.

The genuine sense of distress, and regret and frustration in this poem, which sounds and feels as if it had been written by a much older man and not one in his twenties, seems difficult to fathom. Francisco Quevedo y Villegas gives the year of Carrillo’s birth as 1582, which means de Carrillo was only about 28 years old when died, and a young man by any account.Though I could find no mention of any physical infirmity in any of the biographical material about him I came across on line, I wondered if de Carrillo might have had a premonition of his early death. Why else would he feel so acutely the sense of being imposed upon and cheated by time?

Did this man feel he had arrived at the end of his life without having achieved his goals and ambitions? Or was there some other cause for great unhappiness?

There is insufficient information in the historical record to answer these questions, and precious little personal information. So it seems, we must satisfy ourselves by trying to understand the state of mind in which this poem was composed and written.

These seem to me to be the words of a man who is unable to see himself in time’s reflection. There is a sense of something more than loss, which to me resembles rejection and erasure. He is absented – he cannot move out of time – yet time speeds away without him. He seems to be in a state of shock, as he realises that there is no temporal fixity. He on the other hand has been fixed by time, in such a wise, that the distance between him and that fast receding figure of Time grows ever longer.

Time is forever, and he is made of the mortal stuff which soon returns to dust. There is a real sense of mortality, and of desperation, and of a painful realisation, which seems likely to have been based on an event, about which we have not been given any hints.

Nor is there any hint of him reaching reflexively for the religious consolations normally resorted to in such moments of exigency. One gets the feeling that he knows it would do him no good to reflect on the fact that he is made in God’s image, if that image is only too susceptible to decay. It would seem that when Time disappeared into the unfathomable distance, de Carrillo found himself staring into the void.

Time is a thing that clocks measure, but we ourselves are clocks – we are the measure of time, even though our parts, unlike the works of clocks, wear out much sooner. We are the battleground of flux and fixity,  and even as we try to hold our place in space and time, they recede and leave us behind. Flux always wins. The question which seems to be asked in this poem, though it is not made explicit, is, “if matter does not matter, what is left that does matter?”

And if the answer is “nothing”, then what is there left to do but despair?

Read Full Post »

Juana Inés de la Cruz (November 12 1651 – April 17 1695)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only with acute and ingenious effort could the proposition

be verified  that absence could be a worse ill than jealousy.

 

Version 1

 

The absent one provokes her jealous lover
to indulge by turn in sentiment and rage
To here suspect her of unseen offenses
And disregard the evidence of the senses.

Here furious madness finds its moderation
Discoursing even as delirium raves
And when she with ceaseless sighing is afflicted
No earthly force this sorrow can assuage.

 

 

 

 

Unquiet doubts whereby patience is resisted
Offer weak opposition to these woes
And agonies by which sleep is disrupted.

Disconsolate, then you here repine without her,
And in the final damage her absence on you imposes
Is much finer torment than jealousy could devise.

 

 

 

 

Juana Inés de la Cruz.

Translation Dia Tsung

 

 

 
Version 2

 

By her absence is one’s jealousy provoked
There to sentiment, and here to helpless rage
Here it presumes hidden and unseen offenses
And relives the reality of distant senses

Though perhaps one’s furious madness can be tempered
When its delirium is moderated by discourse
And without relief sigh the unrelenting sighs
That puissant sorrow nothing can oppose

 

 

 

Here by doubts is patience oft afflicted
There by certain pain it will arouse
Here to you grief offers its sole resistance.

And without her, inconsolable and bearing
In the end the damage wrought by absence
Will  be eclipsed by  the torment caused by jealousy.

 

 

 

 

Juana Inés de la Cruz.

Translation Dia Tsung.

 

 

 

 
SÓLO CON AGUDA INGENIOSIDAD ESFUERZA EL DICTAMEN

DE QUE SEA LA AUSENCIA MAYOR MAL QUE LOS CELOS.

 

 

El ausente, el celoso, se provoca,
aquél con sentimiento, éste con ira;
presume éste la ofensa que no mira,
y siente aquél la realidad que toca.

Éste templa, tal vez, su furia loca,
cuando el discurso en su favor delira,
y sin intermisión aquél suspira
pues nada a su dolor la fuerza apoca

 

 

Éste aflige dudoso su paciencia,
y aquél padece ciertos sus desvelos:
éste al dolor opone resistencia,

aquél, sin ella, sufre desconsuelos;
y si es pena de daño, al fin, la ausencia,
luego es mayor tormento que los celos.

 

 

 

 

Juana Inés de la Cruz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Translating the work of a genuine poet such as  Juana Inés Asbaje is always a tremendous challenge, because of the  tightly wrought perfection of her work. Her intense play of words and ideas, and the games of disputation and logic which find their way into her poems  can at times make  the translator’s job very nearly impossible.

I chose this poem because I could not find an English translation of it anywhere, and I loved it so much that I couldn’t resist the fool-hardy temptation to attempt take a stab at it.  Even after working on two different versions I still am not entirely convinced I have done a creditable job.

I took one revisionist liberty here, in the manner of the pronouns, which the original Spanish with its gendered nouns permits me to do. I know that with this poem of  Juana Inés, both Muse and poet are female, so that, to my mind made both the jealous one and the absent one female as well. Therefore I saw no need for engaging in the practice of pronoun dissimulation which many lesbians in the past have been forced to adopt.

Juana Inés  sometimes treats playful subjects seriously, and serious subjects playfully, but one thing is always true of her poems – form and substance are both brilliantly in evidence.

Since the late ’50’s a kind of rot began to find its way into the manner in which poetry was read and written and appreciated. A kind of empty technicality came to be admired and exemplified, and a certain heartlessness as well.

The ego of the poet came to take centre stage but in a way that was indirect and  horrible to contemplate. One of the greatest anti-poets of the last century, Sylvia Plath, was a masterful exponent of this genre.  While there are few personal pronouns in her poems, the Huge ‘I’ hovers over the hopeless grandeur of bleak  and ugly landscapes  of her poems.  I sometimes wonder if her suicidal impulses  were not the result of a lifetime given to offending the Muse.

While I am obviously not an admirer of Plath – I can see the essence of her poetic predicament. Heterosexual women do not have either a natural or a genuine Muse. The male muse is poetic distortion, and very few poets are able benefit from his inspiration. If they do, they are usually homosexual males like  Jacques Prévert and  Constantine Cavafy, or  poor Gerard Manley Hopkins with his clattering rhythms and his crucified saviour – the Muse’s midsummer sacrifice.

Even the male muse of St.John of the Cross has his origins in the old Caananite songs of the sacred marriage, so ancient and well established that the Hebrew compilers of the old testament could not bring themselves to exclude  even such a purely humanistic chapter of their cultural history.

True and genuine poets are exponents of an ancient art. Their work can stand up to the most rigorous scrutiny and withstand the abrasive inquiry of the touchstone, and the corrosive kiss of Acqua regia.  While meaning may be encoded – even hidden – in their poems, diligent effort can extract it whole. The sense in a true poem is unassailable, and  it contains no false logic, no lies, or mistakes of language. The etymology of all words found in true poems is apt and apposite, and  as for its emotional content, the presence of the Muse will always be felt.

Even a poem of the intellect – which has Apollo as its patron finds Juana Inés paying tribute to the Muse by stating clearly one or another of the themes which are part of the poetic cycle. Absence – when the Muse leaves the poet in order to perform her sinister offices, and the jealously which comes in its wake  – is a genuine poetic theme.

Juana Inés is free of all the detriments and defects of false poets. Her poetic technique is impeccable, and her  brilliant intellect is always placed exactly where it belongs, at the feet, and in the service of her Muse. She is a rarity; and someone like her comes along only about once in a thousand years.

When she bends her constellation of poetic talents towards elucidating a philosophical proposition, she does so not in the dry and emotionless way of a logical proof, but with images and words and phrases which show a deep insight into matters of the heart, and of its secret ways.

Her logic here in which she weighs jealousy and absence in the balance and  concludes that absence is worse, is enormously convincing. It is better, she seems to say, to endure the pangs of jealousy – to see it for what it is  – a fabrication of the mind when the heart is troubled, rather than risk a total estrangement, when,  with the beloved’s  absence, the poet’s  heart mind and senses are painfully separated from their chosen object.

Absence then, is  hererin asserted to be the more onerous of the two evils, and the more difficult to endure.

 

 
http://myhero.com/go/hero.asp?hero=CRUZ_Fredericksburg_Academy

http://www.latin-american.cam.ac.uk/culture/SorJuana/

Read Full Post »