El Soneto Xxiii De Garcilaso Dela Vega Analysis Essay

Transcript of SONETO XXIII, Garcilaso de la Vega

Primer cuarteto
Descripción física: rostro


Segundo cuarteto
Descripción física: cabello,


cuello

Primer terceto


Segundo terceto
SONETO XXIII
, Garcilaso de la Vega

ARGUMENTO DEL POEMA
FIGURAS RETÓRICAS
TÓPICOS
SONETO XXIII

En/ tan/to /que/ de/ ro/sa
_
y/ de
_
a/zu/c
e/na/
11 = A
_
: Sinalefa
se/ mues/tra/ la/ co/lor/ en/ vues/tro/ g
es/to/
, 11 = B
y/ que/ vues/tro/ mi/rar/ ar/dien/te,_ho/n
es/to/
, 11 = B
con/ cla/ra/ luz/ la/ tem/pes/tad/ se/
re/na/
;11 = A

y en/ tan/to/ que el/ ca/be/llo/, que
_
en/ la/ v
e/na/
11 = A
del/ o/ro/ se
_
es/co/gió/, con/ vue/lo/ pr
es/to/
11 = B
por/ el/ her/mo/so/ cue/llo/ blan/co,
_
en/hi
es/to/
, 11 = B
el/ vien/to/ mue/ve,
_
es/par/ce
_
y/ de/sor/d
e/na/
: 11 = A

co/ged/ de/ vues/tra a/le/gre/ pri/ma/v
e/ra
11 = C
el/ dul/ce/ fru/to
_
an/tes/ que
_
el/ tiem/po
_
ai/r
a/do/
11 = D
cu/bra/ de/ nie/ve/ la /her/mo/sa/ c
um/bre/
. 11 = E

Mar/chi/ta/rá/ la/ ro/sa
_
el/ vien/to/he/l
a/do/
, 11 = D
to/do/ lo/ mu/da/rá/ la
_
e/dad/ li/g
e/ra/

11 = C
por/ no/ ha/cer/ mu/dan/za
_
en/ su/ cos/t
um/bre/
. 11 = E
Metáfora:
Verso 9, 10, 11
"coged de vuestra alegre
primavera
el
dulce fruto
antes que el
tiempo airado
cubra de
nieve
la
hermosa cumbre
."


Comparación:
Verso 5 y 6
"y en tanto que el
cabello
, que en la vena
del
oro
se escogió, con vuelo presto"

Personificación
: Verso 14
"por no hacer mudanza en
su costumbre
"
Hipérbaton:
Verso 12
"Marchitará la rosa el viento helado"
Enumeración:
Verso 8
"el viento
mueve, esparce y desordena
"
CONCLUSIONES
- Visión de la vida Importancia juventud
Belleza

- Características de le época

- Tópicos, figuras retóricas

- Visión mujer

- Forma de escribir
Aprovecha el tiempo


Paso del tiempo

FUNCIONES DEL LENGUAJE
- Poética

- Apelativa

- Expresiva
TEMA
- Paso del tiempo

- Importancia de la juventud
"Tempus fugit"
"Descriptio puellae"
"Collige, virgo, rosas"

Full transcript

Selected Poems of Garcilaso de la Vega

a bilingual edition

Selected Poems of Garcilaso de la Vega Edited and Translated by John Dent-Young

The University of Chicago Press : : Chicago and London

John Dent-Young is a freelance editor and translator who has also translated from Chinese and was a lecturer in English at the Chinese University of Hong Kong for nearly twenty years. His most recent book, Selected Poems of Luis de Góngora: A Bilingual Edition (2007), also published by the University of Chicago Press, won the Premio Valle Inclán Translation Prize of the Society of Authors (UK). The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 60637 The University of Chicago Press, Ltd., London © 2009 by The University of Chicago All rights reserved. Published 2009 Printed in the United States of America 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 09 ISBN-13: 978-0-226-14188-6 ISBN-10: 0-226-14188-8

1 2 3 4 5

(cloth) (cloth)

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Vega, Garcilaso de la, 1503–1536. [Poems. English & Spanish. Selections] Selected poems of Garcilaso de la Vega : a bilingual edition / edited and translated by John Dent-Young. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN-13: 978-0-226-14188-6 (cloth : alk. paper) ISBN-10: 0-226-14188-8 (cloth : alk. paper) 1. Spanish poetry—Classical period, 1500–1700. I. Dent-Young, John. II. Title. PQ6391.A5D45 2009 861 .3—dc22 2008053315 o The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.

Contents Introduction 1 Chronology 25

SONNETS Introduction

I V X XI XIII XVII XXIII XXV

27

Cuando me paro a contemplar mi estado :: When I stop to view my situation

30

Escrito está en mi alma vuestro gesto :: Your countenance is written in my soul

32

¡Oh dulces prendas, por mi mal halladas :: O sweet mementoes, unfortunately found

34

Hermosas ninfas, que en el río metidas :: Slender nymphs who dwell within the river

36

A Dafne ya los brazos le crecían :: Daphne’s arms were growing

38

Pensando que el camino iba derecho :: Thinking that the road I took was straight

40

En tanto que de rosa y azucena :: While colors of the lily and the rose

42

¡Oh hado esecutivo en mis dolores :: O fate, so active to promote my troubles

44

v

XXX XXXII XXXIII XXXV XXXVII

Sospechas, que en mi triste fantasía :: Suspicion, how you occupy my sad

46

Estoy contino en lágrimas bañado :: I am continually half drowned in tears

48

Mario, el ingrato amor, como testigo :: Mario, Love the ingrate having observed

50

Boscán, las armas y el furor de Marte :: Arms, Boscán, and the fury of rampant Mars

52

Mi lengua va por do el dolor la guía :: My tongue simply follows where pain leads

54

SONGS Introduction

III V

57

Con un manso ruido :: With the gentle lapping

60

Si de mi baja lira :: If the sound of my simple

66

ELEGIES AND EPISTLE TO BOSCÁN Introduction 75

I II Epistle

Aunque este grave caso haya tocado :: Although this dread event has touched my soul

78

Aquí, Boscán, donde del buen troyano :: Here, Boscán, where the great Mantuan locates

98

Señor Boscán, quien tanto gusto tiene :: Señor Boscán, for one who takes such pleasure

110

vi

ECLOGUES Introduction 117

I from II III

El dulce lamenter de dos pastores :: Of two shepherds’ melodious laments

120

En medio del invierno está templada :: Even in the depths of winter, the water

148

Aquella voluntad honesta y pura :: That pure and honorable sense of duty

180

Appendix A: Two Coplas 207 Appendix B: Letter (as a prologue to Boscán’s translation of Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier) 209 Notes 213 Selected Bibliography 237 Index of Titles and First Lines 239

vii

Title page of the first edition of the works of Boscán and Garcilaso (1543).

Introduction To anyone interested in Spanish literature, Garcilaso de la Vega needs little introducing. Ever since his poems were first published in 1543, seven years after his death, he has been one of Spain’s most popular and critically acclaimed poets. Given that his poetry is the reverse of popular, in the more technical sense of the word, being inspired by literary and foreign models, the popularity would seem surprising if we ignored his biography. He has all the attributes of a romantic hero: noble, brave, cultured, apparently modest and without affectation, the personification of the ideal courtier proposed by Castiglione in The Book of the Courtier, a book he was instrumental in getting translated into Spanish. He served the emperor Charles V well, fighting in at least four campaigns, in two of which he was wounded, and carrying out important diplomatic missions. He was present at some of the major political events of his time. He died at the age of thirty-six, or thereabouts, in a military action. He knew Latin and Greek, French and Italian, and met some of the most important contemporary writers and intellectuals. He had a number of love affairs but, in the popular conception, just one true love, the woman who inspired his best poetry and was, fortunately for Spanish literature, unattainable. He even suffered punishment for what might appear to be a minor indiscretion and accepted it stoically. And as if all this were not enough, he changed the course of Spanish literature. The chief innovation was the introduction into Spanish of the verse forms of the Italians, their sonnets and canzoni, their terza 1

rima and ottava rima and above all the hendecasyllable.1 Also some of the content comes from Italy, in the form of myths and rhetorical elements derived from Greek and Roman literature. It was a joint project in which Garcilaso’s friend Boscán took the lead, with some prompting from the Venetian ambassador to the Spanish court, Andrea Navagero. An idea of what they saw as a civilizing mission to redeem the barbarity of Spanish literature can be had from the Garcilaso letter that served as a preface to Boscán’s translation of The Book of the Courtier (see appendix B). Their poetry was first published posthumously by Boscán’s widow, as “The works of Boscán, and some by Garcilaso, in four volumes.” Although Garcilaso began as junior partner in the enterprise, his poetry outshone his friend’s, and some thirty years later began to be published on its own, with enthusiastic commentaries, in 1569 by the Salamancan scholar known as El Brocense and by the Seville poet Fernando de Herrera in 1580. If the traditional account is not completely satisfactory, it is not because facts are disputed, although some are. The problem, as with most heroic legends, is that it makes it all seem too easy. A modern reader may want to ask questions. How, for example, can a few love sonnets and some imitative pastoral verse qualify their author for such renown? Today, the Nobel prize committee would surely have reservations about so narrow an output. Or, how can there be such a gap between the different sides of Garcilaso’s life? It is not just a difficulty in understanding how someone can be poet, soldier, and courtier all at the same time, taking up, as Garcilaso himself put it, “now the pen and now the sword.” There is precedent for this, in Elizabethan England or Renaissance Italy; and Garcilaso, after all, was involved in his friend Boscán’s translation into Spanish of Castiglione’s book, which desires the courtier to be supremely versatile. What does 1. The introduction of Italian meters is not the only story to be told about Spanish poetry. As important and perhaps more unique is the survival and enduring prestige of popular forms like the romance or ballad. But that is not Garcilaso’s story.

2

not accord well with our modern desire for authenticity is that a man of action, engaged as Garcilaso was in important and dangerous activities, should write largely of the loves of shepherds. Reason tells us, though Garcilaso does not, that an important element in his life was the need to survive hazardous journeys by land and sea, hand-to-hand fighting in Spain, France, and North Africa, and probably also the jealousy of political rivals. Why does none of this appear in his poetry? From the point of view of literary history, such questions are naive. A word or two about genre conventions or what was expected of poetry at the time would probably make them go away. But for the translator, with a communication gap to bridge, between languages and between centuries, simple questions can be useful and it is best not to bury them prematurely under technical information. One aspect of Garcilaso’s poetry, however, may have to be taken on trust: the sound. Like Boscán, Garcilaso aimed to naturalize the smooth Italian forms in Spanish, and his success in doing so is confirmed by generations of readers and scholars who have delighted in the musicality of his verse. In poetry, sound trumps other arguments, but it is an element the translator cannot rest a case on. Translation by definition transfers the work into a language with a different sound system; whatever is put in its place may be justifiable but it cannot be the same. That aside, I hope that a closer look at the life and work may suggest answers (suggest, not give) to the simple questions. It was not simple to be Garcilaso and his poetry reflects more of his problems and is more directly relevant to his situation than the traditional account would lead us to believe. Undoubtedly, Garcilaso made an important decision early in life, one which lifted him clear of a purely local destiny. He was among those who rendered homage when the new king, Charles V, first arrived in Valladolid at the end of 1517, and he remained in the king’s service (later his viceroy’s) until his death in action in 1536. Garcilaso was a second son, and to seek a position at court was an obvious choice, but it was not an automatic one. 3

Charles V’s accession ended a long period of uncertainty that had lasted since the death of Isabel in 1505, a period in which even the union of Castile and Aragon had been threatened. 2 But Charles had never lived in Spain, did not speak Spanish, and brought with him a retinue of foreign advisers who filled the most lucrative posts, arousing great hostility, particularly in Castile. Many would have been reluctant to cooperate with a regime that appeared to be unfriendly to Spain’s interests. To make matters worse, the new king, instead of visiting Toledo, went off to Zaragoza and Barcelona, which belonged to Aragon, not Castile. During this journey, Charles received news of his election as emperor on the death of his uncle Maximilian, and it became necessary for him to visit his new dominions. As Charles headed north to embark for Germany, Spain might have seemed destined for a period of inefficient rule by an absentee king. Before he left, the Cortes were summoned to Santiago in Galicia to vote the king a subsidy. The protests began even before he sailed and Garcilaso’s elder brother, Pedro Laso, who represented their hometown of Toledo at the Cortes, was banished to Gibraltar for his part in the initial unrest. With Charles gone, what became known as the rebellion of the comuneros started in earnest. Toledo was one of the most disaffected towns and there matters were complicated by the traditional rivalry of two powerful families, who lined up for and against the king. The royal administration was replaced by a commune headed by Pedro Laso and Juan de Padilla, who was later executed. When Pedro Laso’s moderates were defeated by extremists in the rebel party, he fled to Portugal. Meanwhile Garcilaso and others loyal to the crown had been expelled from the town and for a time were besieged in the castillo del Águila just outside. Garcilaso, who around this time had been made a member of the king’s special guard, was wounded at the battle of Olías when

2. After Isabel’s death, Ferdinand was only regent in Castile.

4

the Toledo comuneros were defeated. On returning to Toledo, he found the house had been sacked. Considerable bitterness must have existed within the town between former neighbors and also, one would imagine, within Garcilaso’s own family, but there was no permanent rift because he subsequently spent much time trying to obtain a pardon for his brother, who remained under threat of execution on Charles’s return to Spain. Fortunately, Garcilaso had chosen the winning side, the one that represented Spain’s future. There were a number of reasons—beside financial gain—why he might have been attracted to it. Having Charles as king gave Spain a key political role in Europe and potentially an important cultural one as well. In addition to his unpopular foreign advisers, Charles brought to Spain the works of Erasmus, contributing to a heightened interest in humanism. His imperial title necessitated involvement with the rest of Europe, where his power was to become dominant, despite fierce competition from France. The Spanish possessions in Italy established Spanish power as chief defense against piracy and Turkish ambitions in the Mediterranean, and the first twenty years of the reign also brought a sudden expansion in the New World, with the adventures of Cortés in Mexico and Pizarro in Peru. It is worth noting that Charles was about the same age as Garcilaso, who continued to prosper in the king’s service, helped by the patronage of the house of Alba. He probably served in a successful campaign against the French in the Pyrenees and was present in 1525 when Charles first held his court in Toledo, having trumped the French king’s pretensions by defeating and capturing him at Pavia and holding him hostage. It was probably at this time that Garcilaso met Boscán, and he could also have met people like Andrea Navagero, the Venetian ambassador; Baltasar Castiglione, author and Pope’s ambassador; and Spanish writers like Diego López de Ayala, translator of Boccaccio and Sannazaro. An advantageous marriage was arranged for him by the king’s sister, Leonor, to one of her ladies-in-waiting. Later 5

he went with Charles to Italy and was present at the grand ceremony in Bologna where Charles was crowned as emperor by the Pope. When Leonor was married to the French king, he was sent on a diplomatic and spying mission to the French court (it seems there were suspicions about the treatment of Leonor). All went well until 1531, when family problems caught up with him. At this point, we should probably consider the Isabel affair, which still crops up frequently in commentaries on Garcilaso’s poetry. Isabel Freyre was a Portuguese gentlewoman in the service of Princess Isabel of Portugal. It is possible that Garcilaso met her on an earlier trip to Lisbon when he saw Pedro Laso, but the date usually suggested for his falling in love with her is 1526, when she accompanied the princess to Seville for her marriage to Charles V. This was about a year after Garcilaso’s marriage to Elena de Zúñiga. Later, in 1528, Isabel married and in 1531 she died in childbirth. There is a note appended to Garcilaso’s Copla II in one of the manuscripts that reads “Written for Isabel Freyre when she married a man who was beneath her in status” (see appendix A). Garcilaso never mentions her by name, but in the first eclogue one of his shepherd lovers complains of being abandoned for someone inferior and the other laments the death of the woman he loved in childbirth. Similar references can be found elsewhere in the poetry, and the spiritual presence, as it were, of Isabel has been used to distinguish and account for Garcilaso’s best work. Where Isabel is concerned, the argument tends to be circular: his best poetry is superior because it expresses an emotion that is strong and sincere, and that can only be his love for Isabel, Isabel therefore inspired his best poetry; or else, since we know the poem is addressed to Isabel, the feelings expressed are sincere and therefore the poem must be good. Not too long ago this romantic story received something of a blow from new information about Garcilaso’s relations with the mother of his illegitimate son, Lorenzo. In his will, Garcilaso made provision for Lorenzo to be given a university education, but did not name his mother, who was later discovered to be 6

Guiomar Carrillo.3 More recent research by María Carmen Vaquero has shown that Guiomar was from a good Toledo family and suggests that the relationship was more serious than had previously been thought. The family houses were in the same parish, so the two may have known each other from childhood. This set the scene for another romantic story of doomed love. Guiomar’s family, like Garcilaso’s elder brother, were probably on the wrong side in the comunero uprising. Suppose now Garcilaso had wanted to marry her and legitimize his son? As a servant of the emperor, he would certainly not have been allowed to. We can see the effect of unauthorized marriages from the event of 1531. Garcilaso was in Ávila in 1531, preparing to depart for Germany to join the emperor’s forces on a campaign against the Turks, when he was asked to witness the wedding of his nephew, Pedro Laso’s son, also named Garcilaso, in the cathedral. The boy was fourteen and the bride, Isabel de la Cueva, eleven, so obviously this was not a romantic elopement but an arrangement favorable to family prestige and fortune. It appears to have been promoted by the girl’s mother and maternal grandmother, distantly related to Garcilaso’s family; the rest of the de la Cueva family were unhappy with it because the family name would be lost, the girl being heir to the family’s head, the duke of Albuquerque. A letter from Carlos V in Brussels to the empress in Spain, dated September 4, 1531, enjoins her to prevent it. But arrangements for the wedding had been made in the spring and it went ahead without royal consent. Afterward, Garcilaso left with the Duke of Alba for Germany, but he was stopped in Tolosa and questioned, and when his answers were unsatisfactory he was banned from the court. When they caught up with the main army in Germany, despite the intercession of the Duke of Alba the emperor had him detained on an island in the Danube; he 3. A university education was not quite what it is nowadays, but would have prepared Lorenzo for a church position (not like his father as a courtier, or for a military career).

7

writes of this in Song III. This punishment ended quite soon, but the order banning him from court was not rescinded and he was sent to serve under Don Pedro de Toledo, the duke of Alba’s uncle, who was the new viceroy of Naples. Opinions differ as to how far the posting to Naples reflects the emperor’s continued displeasure. There are cases where Garcilaso was refused advantages solicited for him by the powerful Alba family, suggesting that he was still in disgrace, and he never returned to live in Spain. However, it did not prevent his being used to carry important messages to the emperor in Spain, or his fighting with the emperor’s forces in the capture of Tunis, which we learn of in Sonnet XXXV and in the second elegy. However it may be, the posting to Italy gave him a huge opportunity to develop his poetic talents and assimilate Renaissance culture in its most dynamic environment. In Naples, he met Italian and Spanish humanists and came into contact with the new, post-Petrarchan generation of Italian poets: Pietro Bembo, Sannazaro, Tansillo, and Bernardo Tasso. Most of his poetic output dates from this period. Three of his works in particular seem to say rather more than the rest about Garcilaso’s own thoughts and feelings: the two elegies and the epistle to Boscán. Indeed they are so different from his sonnets, songs, and eclogues that one is reminded of Coleridge’s conversation poems, written nearly three centuries later. Two of them provoked an interesting comment from Blanco White, a Spanish liberal living in self-imposed exile in nineteenth-century England. Writing to congratulate J. H. Wiffen on his recent translation of Garcilaso, Blanco White says, “I cannot help regretting that you have extended your labors to all Garcilasso’s poems. The second elegy and the Epistle to Boscan [sic] are so perfectly devoid of merit that they stand like a dark spot, a perfect eyesore in the book. They should not, I conceive be presented to the public without a kind of apology. I do not like either the Flor de Gnido half so much as I used in my youth. The first part of the 3d Eclogue is very beautiful and you 8

have done it full justice.”4 Blanco White’s animosity toward the second elegy and the epistle is surprising, but his disapproval also of the ode and implied slight to the last part of the third eclogue almost certainly align him with the romanticizers who want the best poetry to be that which describes the poet’s supposed real-life love for Isabel Freyre. Garcilaso’s “Epístola a Boscán,” derived from the epistles of Horace, is the first poem to be written in Spanish in unrhyming hendecasyllables. For me, this simple poem addressed to a friend does almost more than the more ambitious and metrically complex eclogues to confirm that Garcilaso’s true vocation was literature. Its main declared topic is friendship, but the poem is also a demonstration of the act of writing and the art of composition. It begins with some remarks on the topic of writing to a friend. Garcilaso says he takes pleasure in telling his friend whatever he is thinking, so there is never any problem finding a subject. Nor is there any need to strive for an elaborate style: one of the advantages of friendship is that it allows you in writing to use a “relaxed and unpretentious carelessness.” This carelessness, or descuido, recalls Castiglione’s precept for courtiers that they should have sprezzatura, or nonchalance, in all they do, since Boscán had used the same word, descuido, to translate sprezzatura in his Spanish version, El Cortesano. Castiglione’s idea is not that the courtier should actually do things carelessly but that he should make it appear that way. You may have to work or practice as hard as anyone else, but the effort should not show. And this is exactly what happens in this poem, which appears to be a series of random thoughts precisely because it is organized to give that impression. After discussing the theory of how to write to a friend, Garcilaso now has to get on with it, and he makes the transition in a manner that is anything but random with “and so . . . I shall 4. Robert Johnson, “Letters of Blanco White to J. H. Wiffen and Samuel Rogers,” Neophilologus (Amsterdam: Springer) 52 (1968): 142.

9

say, as to the first . . .” (my italics). The first of the two advantages of writing to a friend he mentions is the ease of finding a subject. So in order to begin he chooses the subject with which such a letter might be expected to begin, the journey and his own health—like a modern postcard saying “arrived safely.” He does not say how far he has traveled, but promises this information for the end of the letter, where the address he is writing from will conventionally appear. The letter now becomes the journey, the journey the letter: he allows his thoughts to wander as he allows his horse to wander, and eventually he starts to consider the subject of friendship and “the one who taught us friendship’s proper path.” I believe this refers to a specific person and most editors tell us it was Aristotle. But although Garcilaso makes some show of analyzing friendship, presumably in the manner of Aristotle or whichever authority he is referring to, what he really wants to do is to explain something that happens to him when he thinks of Boscán, “something great and seemingly strange,” “una gran cosa, al parecer estraña” (“Epistle to Boscán,” line 34). This, he says, is the delight that results from the disinterested love he gives Boscán, unilaterally and not for his own profit, something that is quite real and not (as love is often said to be) a madness. Having reached this peak of intimacy (and perhaps selfexposure), Garcilaso covers the possible embarrassment with humor. He is embarrassed and ashamed, he says, to have praised the roads of France in a previous letter, because now he thinks nothing in France worth praising. To say he is embarrassed and ashamed about this is such an exaggeration that we know he cannot mean it; if there is embarrassment, it stems from the previous comments on friendship and love. He follows up with another joke about a fat friend in Barcelona and he ends with his present address, announced with an elegantly indirect allusion to Petrarch’s Laura that presupposes his and Boscán’s common interest in literature. The composition is a poem masquerading as a casual letter and has proceeded in the very writerly fashion of pretending to think aloud. 10

There is some of the same artful carelessness in the second elegy. Once again it begins like a letter, quite lightheartedly, telling where he is and what is going on there. Then comes the confession of having accidentally slipped into writing satire when his intention is to write an elegy, and we are made aware of the writer’s controlling hand. This is followed by an apparently careless reference to the writing of poetry (“the muses”) as a source of pleasure and an escape from serious business. Then the thought of returning to Naples brings thoughts of the mistress he left there and his jealous suspicion that she will have betrayed him leads to generalizations about the torture of uncertainty and the thought that it is perhaps less than the pain of knowing what one fears is true. This is followed by complaints about his military service: although he has just participated in a great victory, he does not remind us of this and evidently finds nothing in it to boast of. All he does is revert to the subject of jealousy and compare himself to a dying man who continues to hope for life because his wife cannot bear to tell him the worst. Such a man, in Christian homiletics, goes to hell because he dies unprepared, without repenting of his sins. Garcilaso says he too deceives himself with hopes he knows to be false, and this is no better than a form of suicide. These self-pitying thoughts are broken into abruptly by a vision of his friend, Boscán, at home, surrounded by those who love him, lulled by the sound of waves on the beautiful seashore, gazing at the woman he loves and who inspires his poetry. By contrast, Garcilaso sees himself as a “driven mercenary”; looking into the future he can see no escape, no relief except death, and he ends with one of his gloomiest lines: “así diverso entre contrarios muero,” “thus divided between contraries I die” (line 193). So much for sprezzatura and the ideal of the carelessly versatile courtier! But the poem has demonstrated some of Garcilaso’s typical skills: his ability to convey changing moods and to create contrasting images. Gloomy pronouncements are frequent in Garcilaso’s poetry, but it is often not easy to say what specifically gives rise to them. 11

The problem is that Garcilaso cultivates a kind of vagueness in relation to his feelings and his religious or philosophical views. In Song III, for example, he tells us that “a single hour undid / the long years of work / to gain what my whole life passed in pursuit of” (lines 43–45); or, more literally, “in a single hour / all that has been undone / on which I spent my whole life” (my italics). However you translate it, there is no clear referent for “all that . . . on which . . .” We do not know what he has spent his whole life on, what has been undone. We only know for sure that it is something that makes his need very pressing (“que es mi necesidad muy apretada,” line 42) and that as a result nothing else now can scare him. Given the context, we assume that it has something to do with love, just as in the preceding stanza we assume that “something else, harder than death” (line 37), refers to unhappy love. Yet the knowing, allusive tone draws us on to look for more and in the “undone” we may seem to glimpse a whole life unraveling. A similar ambivalence in Garcilaso’s poetry stems from his deliberate use of a language that will apply equally to Christian and classical worldviews. Notably in the first elegy, many expressions support either a stoic or a Christian account of life and death. The current situation, in which Don Fernando and his family mourn the death of Fernando’s younger brother, is placed in a classical landscape. Fernando is compared to the sister of Phaeton, mourning her brother, burnt to death when he was allowed to drive the chariot of his father, the sun god Apollo; the mother and sisters are accompanied in their grieving by the river Tormes, portrayed as an old man leaning on an urn, and by nymphs and satyrs and suchlike classical paraphernalia. As models for Fernando’s need to overcome his grief, Garcilaso cites the Trojans calling a halt to their tears after the death of Hector, and Venus “moving on” after the death of Adonis. In view of your position, he says to Don Fernando, it is your duty to meet adversity “with resolute countenance and valiant heart” (“con 12

firme rostro y corazón valiente,” line 189), for this is the hard road that must be traveled to reach “the high throne of immortality; one who strays will not arrive there” (“de la inmortalidad el alto asiento, / do nunca arriba quien d’aquí declina,” lines 202–4). The difficult path of virtue is a concept that fits either Christian doctrine or classical ethics. In Garcilaso’s fusion of the two, only the goal presents a slight problem. “The high throne of immortality” is clearly the temple of fame, rather than Christian heaven. But a little later he advises Don Fernando to turn his eyes to the quarter “where the supreme hope beckons” (“donde al fin te llama / la suprema esperanza,” line 250), to which the soul ascends perfected and purged in a pure flame. This certainly sounds like purgatory and heaven, but as if to forestall too narrow an interpretation, Garcilaso suggests the flame is identical to the pyre of Hercules, when the hero’s spirit flew up to “the high goal” (“la alta meta,” line 255). Thus he equates the classical and Christian accounts of the afterlife. Later, he assures Don Fernando that his brother, by climbing the difficult high path, has reached “the sweet region of joy” (“la dulce región del alegría,” line 261), which is clearly heaven, whether in a classical or a Christian mode. Such ambivalence is, of course, a general feature of Renaissance poetry, but in Garcilaso it contributes to the uncertainty, the mixture of resolution and skepticism, which is part of his poetic persona. The dark language of despair, so typical of Garcilaso’s poetry, is also nonspecific. Love and the lover’s jealousy may be a starting point, as in Sonnets XXX and XXXII, or the second elegy, but Garcilaso’s real topic is not love but loss, a universal experience and one that does not demand any single biographical explanation. When in the first eclogue Nemoroso contemplates a world without Elisa, he expresses his total disorientation: a tide of darkness rises to shroud the earth in black and brings

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terrors of the night that freeze our senses, and the horrifying forms that things assume. when night conceals their usual shape from us . . . ::: se levanta la negra escuridad que’l mundo cubre, de do viene el temor que nos espanta y la medrosa forma en que s’ofrece aquella, que la noche nos encubre . . .

In the celebrated Sonnet X, “O sweet mementoes, unfortunately found” (“Oh dulces prendas, por mi mal halladas”), a series of contrasting terms expresses the difference between the happy past and present misery, justifying the speaker’s linking of memory and death (words that in Spanish are strongly alliterative). But while happiness accumulates over time, loss is immediate: Since in one moment you took it all away, the happiness you’d given over time. ::: Pues en una hora junto me llevastes todo el bien que por términos me distes. (lines 9–10)

The carpe diem theme is always ambivalent, like a half-full, halfempty glass, but in Sonnet XXIII the emphasis is less on seizing the moment than on the inevitability of change and the loss of youth and beauty. Sonnet XXV laments that fate “with destroying hands” (“con manos dañosas”) has felled the tree and scattered the fruit and flowers, leaving the speaker with nothing to do but weep over the grave, “until by the dark of that eternal night / these eyes of mine that saw you shall be closed” (“hasta que aquella eterna noche escura / me cierre aquestos ojos que te vieron,” lines 12–13). Although the sonnet does not end here but 14

concludes with “leaving me with other eyes to see you” (“dejándome con otros que te vean,” line 14), it does not sound much like a message of hope. Sonnet XXXII finds him entirely deprived of hope, though here, ostensibly, the sonnet deals with a pilgrimage of love and there is no explicit reference to literal death: And most of all what I lack now’s the light of hope, that used to guide me as I strayed through the dark and lonely land of your disdain. ::: sobre todo, me falta ya la lumbre de la esperanza, con que andar solía por la oscura región de vuestro olvido. (lines 12–14)

That “used to” (“andar solía”) is typical: what used to be is always better than what is now; everything good is now lacking or lost. But loss is not absolute if it can be compensated. The stories depicted in the third eclogue—Orpheus and Eurydice, Apollo and Daphne, Venus and Adonis, and the dead nymph Elisa— are stories about loss, but in each one loss is transmuted into art. This is realized within the fiction, because each story is depicted in a beautiful tapestry one of the nymphs is making; it is enhanced by the association with the art of Greece and Rome; and, above all, it is owing to the power of Garcilaso’s verse. Art may be invoked even in less benign circumstances: the nymphs in Sonnet XI belong to a beautiful underwater dreamworld, even if for the speaker to join them implies drowning. In the first elegy, mourning is relieved by a vision of Venus that makes the whole world rejoice (lines 223–40); art generates the energy that can dispel the gloom. Both Eclogues I and III, which are the culmination of Garcilaso’s poetry, present idealized pastoral worlds in which suffering has been transmuted into art and at each poem’s ending tranquility prevails. 15

Though Eclogues I and III have virtually no action, they move with the emotion that drives them, their changing moods. In the first, for example, Salicio’s “song” of jealousy fluctuates between pain, indignation, and regret and ends in self-pitying resignation. The idyllic opening of Nemoroso’s “song” concentrates on the happy time and his unawareness then of the pain he feels now. After the terrors of the night, to which Elisa’s death condemns him, the nightingale’s song conveys the message that suffering may be turned into beauty. A lock of Elisa’s hair brings momentary relief, but this is immediately followed by the tormenting vision of her on her deathbed. The penultimate stanza contemplates a future in which the “veil of the body” is broken and they will wander hand in hand among other mountains, rivers, and valleys, and he will have no further fear of losing her. The last stanza announces the peaceful end of day and the two shepherds return home “as if / awakening from a dream” (“recordando / ambos como de sueño,” lines 17–18). This ending distances the poem from reality, emphasizing the work of imagination. Eclogue III is emotionally even more distanced. The sad stories are represented in tapestries, not as experiences of the speaker. The two shepherds’ paired songs at the end, a device borrowed from Virgil, cannot possibly be taken as an expression of the poet’s real-life feelings for anyone, which possibly explains why Blanco White endorsed only the first part of this eclogue. The opening, with its articulate flattery, elegant hyperbole, and gentle humor, suggests a writer secure in his powers and confident that he is loved and appreciated by his peers (as indeed he was, according to what we know of Garcilaso’s intimacy with humanist and literary circles in Naples). The tone is reminiscent of the kind of subtle, open-minded conversation Castiglione records in his book. The setting for what follows could be an idealization of real childhood memories of the river outside Toledo: a hidden paradise on the banks of the Tagus, to which nymphs of the classical world might well return. Both this and the view of Toledo depicted in the fourth nymph’s tapestry 16

are described with enthusiasm and there is no reason to doubt Garcilaso’s sincerity in commending the countryside bathed by the river’s waters as “the happiest region of the whole of Spain” (line 200). Garcilaso’s melancholy is a distinctive quality of his poetry, but it cannot be attributed to a single fulminating passion. The sense of loss can be aroused by contemplation of many things besides a lover’s betrayal: time, change, failure, death, even the withdrawal of favor by a friend, an employer, or Fate. The references in Eclogue I that fit the case of Isabel Freyre, the marriage to someone considered inferior, the death in childbirth, only establish that Garcilaso could have had her in mind, but do not prove that Salicio or Nemoroso speak directly for him. On the contrary, the self-pitying tone of Salicio’s complaints is a little too much like examples in The Book of the Courtier, which show that a lover’s overinsistence is more likely to alienate the woman than gain her sympathy. Castiglione, in fact, provides an antidote to tears in the good humor and wit with which his assembly of male and female aristocrats and intellectuals discuss the psychology of love toward the end of that book, a book which we know Garcilaso had read. In Eclogue III, the dead nymph of Nise’s tapestry, whose name is to be carried down to the Lusitanian sea, may in some sense be inspired by Isabel Freyre. But we should note that the indirection is extreme, a recession from an imagined “real” situation, in which the poet is addressing his patron, the “illustrious and most beautiful Maria,” deep into the imaginary world of art: the supposed words of the dead nymph tell how her name, Elisa, uttered by Nemoroso in his grief, is picked up and carried to Portugal by the river Tagus, but these words are in fact imagined by one of the goddesses mourning Elisa’s death who is carving them on a tree; and this goddess is portrayed in Nise’s tapestry, and Nise is one of the four nymphs in the story the poet has offered to tell his patron. There is no doubt that Garcilaso’s choice of the pastoral is deliberate. He makes it clear in Song V that he has no intention 17

of writing an epic: if like Orpheus he could control the world with his poetry, he would not sing of “angry Mars / dedicated to death, / his countenance stained with powder, blood and sweat” (lines 13–15), but only of the power of beauty. In the dedicatory stanzas of the first eclogue, Garcilaso excuses himself for not recording the viceroy in his martial or hunting role and begs a hearing for his shepherds until he has time to write something more suitable. Instead of the laurel of victory, he says, let it be the turn of the ivy. Ivy represents the pastoral as well as the humility of the poet, climbing in the shadow of his patron’s fame. Apart from the last section of the second eclogue (not included here), which proclaims the military exploits of the Albas, Garcilaso shows no inclination for the epic. Elsewhere in the poetry, Mars is “bloodthirsty Mars” (Eclogue III, line 37) “cruel, fearsome and relentless Mars” (Elegy II, line 94), and is generally associated with the word furor, fury or madness. There is an extended expression of antiwar sentiment in Elegy I (lines 82–92): Which of us now’s not hurt by the excess of wars, of danger and of banishment? Who is not weary of the endless process? Who has not seen his blood spill on the blade of his enemy? Who has not thought to die a thousand times, and escaped by accident? How many have lost, will lose, their wife, their house and their good name and how many others will see their fortune plundered or dispersed? And for all this, what do we get? A little glory? A prize, a word of gratitude? ::: ¿A quién ya de nosotros el eceso de guerras, de peligros y destierro no toca, y no ha cansado el gran proceso? ¿Quién no vio desparcir su sangre al hierro del enemigo? ¿Quién no vio su vida 18

perder mil veces y escapar por yerro? ¡De cuantos queda y quedará perdida la casa, la mujer y la memoria, y d’otros la hacienda desperdida! ¿Qué se saca d’aquesto? ¿Alguna gloria? ¿Algunos premios o agradecimiento?

And as Richard Helgerson points out, the sonnet from La Goleta (Sonnet XXXV) moves away from the idea of military conquest with which it begins to end in identification with the tragic fate of Dido, putting individual suffering and the destruction of Tunis or Carthage in the balance against imperial ambition. What Garcilaso explicitly complains about, however, is not warfare but the duties that leave him too little time for poetry. The famous line about taking up “now the pen and now the sword” in the fifth stanza of the third eclogue has often been taken as evidence that Garcilaso was the perfect Renaissance man, turning effortlessly from one activity to the other. The modern statue erected to him in a small square of his native Toledo near where the family house once stood shows him in a heroic posture brandishing a quill in one hand, with the other resting on the pommel of his sword. Yet the words in the poem can just as well be taken as a complaint about how difficult it is to maintain the balance. In the second elegy, Garcilaso tells us that he sustains himself on diversity, but “not without difficulty” (line 30), though he assures us he has no intention of giving up the muses. Garcilaso’s sense of being divided and at war with himself must surely be related to his being pulled in different directions. In a sense, like the metamorphosis of Daphne into a tree, which becomes both cause and effect of Apollo’s tears, poetry for Garcilaso was both problem and solution. It made demands on his time, but offered the only chance of redeeming time. Probably one reason why Garcilaso does not write about war is that it was part of what he calls work, or “business” (“negocios”), and he wanted his poetry to be different, separate from 19

that part of his life. When Garcilaso presents himself in a poem, he is holding the pen, not the sword, and in the second elegy, written just after a famous victory in which he was wounded, he speaks not of the action but of the rewards people expect to get from it. Yet although he does not beat the imperial drum, there is no suggestion that Garcilaso would have dismissed the concept of duty or disowned the military enterprises of Charles V. His attitude might be compared to the British war poets of World War I: Wilfred Owen abhorred the suffering and waste of life in the trenches but remained strongly loyal to those he fought alongside. Siegfried Sassoon, who made a serious protest against the war, was brave in battle to the point of recklessness. So too was Garcilaso, if we believe the story of his death, which has him leading an advance patrol to capture a tower in which some peasants were holding up the army’s progress. He was first up the ladder and they dropped a stone on him, knocking him off and fatally injuring him. If he did not write of war it was not for lack of military experience or valor, or lack of ambition, but because pastoral or lyric poetry was in tune with his temperament, alert to the vagaries of human psychology and the more subtle power of language.5 Still more important is the fact that the making of verse in the Italian mode was in itself a serious affair. We should not be fooled by the apparent nonchalance with which Boscán and Garcilaso sometimes refer to poetry. To both men, the new poetry was not an escape into unreality but an enterprise involving 5. Sir Thomas Wyatt, a contemporary of Garcilaso’s, had similar experiences, but they affected his poetry quite differently. Spenser, though much later, makes a more interesting comparison. In Garcilaso’s case, however, we have no evidence of literature and political ambition mingling as they did at Elizabeth’s court, according to Stephen Greenblatt’s account in chapter four of Renaissance Self-Fashioning (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980; rev. 2005). Charles V does not seem to have been particularly interested in poetry or to have been aware of Garcilaso’s budding reputation as a poet. Similarly, Garcilaso himself never addressed the emperor in his poetry or sought to influence him by literary means (if one excludes the rather defiant complaint at his punishment in the third song, which would surely have been counterproductive in any case).

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national pride. Spain, like Italy, could emulate the cultural glories of ancient Greece and Rome. Such a vision had inspired the Gramática Castellana of Antonio de Nebrija published in 1492 (that grandly significant date in Spanish history), the first grammar of a modern Romance language. It was as much political as cultural and affected even Charles V, who delighted in playing the part of Caesar. Culturally, there was a line from Petrarch to Dante and the Provençal poets, including the Valencian, Ausías March, and reaching back to Rome and, before that, to Greece, as Boscán spells out in a letter to the duchess of Soma that he used as preface to the second book of his and Garcilaso’s poetry. The same tradition unfolds in England, with Wyatt and Surrey, Spenser and Sidney, as well as continuing later in Spain through Lope de Vega and Luis de Góngora, and the other poets of the Golden Age. It is important to grasp the nature of this enterprise and its seriousness, because it helps us also to understand the continual imitation and borrowing that goes on among the poets of this period. This was not reprehensible plagiarism; quite the reverse, in fact. To borrow as Garcilaso does from Virgil and Horace, from Ovid, Petrarch, Sannazaro, and Tasso, or from Ausías March, was proof of modernity, of being up-to-date with the latest trends, at home in the contemporary language of the arts. It was thus that Garcilaso formed the language that enabled Spanish literature to achieve its most glorious manifestation in the golden age, at just the moment when the political drive was beginning to falter. His success can be measured by the continual echoes of his poetry in Spanish literature and by the fact that his name and influence have long outlived the empire. References to Garcilaso’s poetry and even whole lines of his verse crop up everywhere. To some contemporaries, like Cristóbal de Castillejo, Garcilaso and Boscán produced something that sounded like gibberish, but not long after their deaths it had become the characteristic poetic sound of the Spanish Renaissance. When the eponymous glass graduate of Cervantes’s story sets out on 21

his travels, he takes only two of his many books: a devotional work and “a Garcilaso without commentary.” There is scarcely a page of Góngora that does not contain some borrowing from Garcilaso; in two different sonnets he uses verbatim a line from the opening of Garcilaso’s third eclogue, “Illustrious and most beautiful Maria.” Clearly this is not because Góngora needs to enhance his own work by purloining some striking image, but because it was natural to demonstrate his familiarity with the founder of modern Spanish poetic style. Finally, despite its pastoral themes, Garcilaso’s poetry cannot be viewed as an escape from the harsher side of life. Death is always present. Ignacio Navarrete has drawn attention to the increasing violence and sexuality in the four tapestries of the third eclogue, generally considered Garcilaso’s masterpiece. Certainly the stories themselves are at odds with the innocent beauty of the setting: Orpheus and Eurydice, a tale of longing and despair; Daphne and Apollo, a picture of frustrated desire; Venus and Adonis, full of blood and bereavement; and, finally, the dead nymph—undoubtedly dead, even if it is not clear how and why. There is controversy as to whether or not Garcilaso actually wrote “degollada” to describe her, and if he did, what it might mean. But whether we take its most literal sense, “with her throat cut,” or see her as simply lying dead in the grass, she must represent the destruction of beauty and innocence. In this poem, there is as great a division between contraries as within the poet himself, and there can be no release into tranquility until the dreadful pictures have been painted and the two shepherds have sung their songs relating love’s joy and pain to nature. Garcilaso refers to the story of Orpheus and Eurydice again in one of his sonnets (XV, not included here), in which he claims that he is more deserving of sympathy than Orpheus, because what he mourns is the loss of himself, not of something external to himself (as Eurydice is to Orpheus). On the face of it, this is a rather selfish and ungallant view, but if we relate it to the poetry as a whole, it may be illuminating. Garcilaso’s con22

cern is not a personal love affair with some unattainable lady, real or symbolic, but a search for identity. And what his poetry expresses is a sense of life as a continuing encounter with loss, an ill for which art is the only cure. The problems of translating Garcilaso do not arise from complications of vocabulary or syntax. What is challenging is the very simplicity of his style, its apparent ease and directness. The primary concern must be to convey something of the music of his verse, which has been admired in all ages and is agreed to be his important contribution to Spanish literature. Unfortunately, nowadays this carries the risk of making him sound old-fashioned, when to his contemporaries he was startlingly modern. It is not helped either by the fact that his epithets are mainly conventional: grass is green and swans are white, water is pure and crystalline and pleasure sweet. Modern taste likes more surprises and spikier rhythms. To Garcilaso’s contemporaries, on the other hand, it was exactly the smoothness that made his poetry sound so right in Spanish, despite its Italian roots. At the level of interpretation, there is also a problem of balance: one wants to preserve the underlying mystery of his poetry, its suggestive ambivalence, without giving an impression of uncertainty or fuzziness, which would belie Garcilaso’s mastery of the medium. I owe very special thanks to my generous helpers: MariaElena Pickett for her advice on meanings (and for memorably describing Garcilaso as “slippery” when I was struggling with his difficult simplicity); Simon Ellis for his close attention to the poetry; and likewise Martin Murphy, who also drew my attention to Blanco White’s views on Wiffen’s nineteenth-century translation. I am also especially grateful to Randolph Petilos of the University of Chicago Press who initiated the project, and to the Press’s two anonymous readers who gave me great encouragement and valuable advice. I must also record a serious debt to Richard Helgerson’s A Sonnet from Carthage, which reached me not long after I had decided 23

various difficulties in Garcilaso’s second elegy were something I must attempt to unravel if I were to proceed. Here and there, my translations may differ from his, but the general direction of his book gave me invaluable help. The text is taken from T. Navarro Tomás, without the accents that are not used in modern Spanish. There are also a few changes that affect meaning and these are pointed out in the notes.

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Chronology 1492

Conquest of Granada First voyage of Columbus to the New World Antonio de Nebrija, Gramática Castellana, first grammar of a Romance language 1500 Birth of Charles V ca. 1501 Birth of Garcilaso 1504 Death of Queen Isabel of Castille 1516 Death of Ferdinand of Aragon 1517 Charles V arrives in Spain 1519–20 Cortés’s campaign in Mexico 1521 Garcilaso wounded in battle of Olías near Toledo 1525 Battle of Pavia: defeat and capture of Francis I Garcilaso’s marriage to Elena de Zúñiga 1526 Charles V marries Isabel of Portugal Andrea Navagero talks to Boscán in Granada and urges him to try writing Spanish poetry in Italian meter 1527 Sack of Rome by Charles V’s troops 1528 Castiglione’s The Courtier 1530 Charles V crowned emperor in Bologna by the pope 1531–41 The Pizarros’ campaigns in Peru 1531 Garcilaso acts as witness at his nephew’s wedding in Ávila 1532 Garcilaso banished from court 1534 El Cortesano, Boscán’s translation of Castiglione 1535 Charles V’s campaign in Tunis 1536 Garcilaso wounded in military action near Nice in the south of France and dies shortly after 1543 Posthumous publication of the poems of Boscán and Garcilaso

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Anonymous portrait assumed to be Garcilaso de la Vega (sixteenth century).

Sonnets There are around forty sonnets, give or take a few of doubtful authenticity. There is a slight variation in the numbering of them in different editions, but so far as I know there is not an edition that reflects a supposed order of composition, so I have simply followed the numbering in the 1911 edition of Navarro Tomás, which was to hand. A few can be dated from their relation to events. Otherwise style is the clue to differentiate between earlier poems, which show the influence of traditional Spanish poetry, and those that are more mature and more completely Italianate. But considering Garcilaso’s life was short, his writing career even shorter, and his output small and not especially varied, the question of dating seems less important than it might with a more prolific poet. His best poetry was written in a period of about four years, between 1532, when he was banished from the Spanish court, and his death in 1536. A comparison with his two coplas in appendix A can indicate what the Renaissance sonnet form gave Garcilaso: the sense of a forward movement, of an unfolding argument that culminates in a neat conclusion, building on what went before rather than just repeating it. His coplas seem to achieve unity only by shuffling a limited pack of words, rather than developing ideas, and give us more the sense of a game than an expression of thought or emotion. Of course the effect of the sonnets is greatly assisted by the hendecasyllable, the longer line which when well used is flowing and musical and much better adapted to conveying mood or emotion. 27

I have included Sonnet X and Sonnet XXIII, which often appear in anthologies as examples of Garcilaso’s most accomplished poetry. The rest I selected either because I found some particular interest in them or because I felt the translation remained reasonably close to the original in sound and sense. Other sonnets known or thought to be from the later period are Sonnets XI, XIII, XXV, XXX, XXXIII, and XXXV. As far as I could manage I have followed the rhyme scheme of the original.

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Soneto I

Cuando me paro a contemplar mi estado, y a ver los pasos por do me han traído, hallo, según por do anduve perdido, que a mayor mal pudiera haber llegado; mas cuando del camino estó olvidado, a tanto mal no sé por dó he venido; sé que me acabo, y más he yo sentido ver acabar comigo mi cuidado. Yo acabaré, que me entregué sin arte a quien sabrá perderme y acabarme, si ella quisiere, y aun sabrá querello; que pues mi voluntad puede matarme, la suya, que no es tanto de mi parte, pudiendo, ¿qué hará sino hacello?

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5

10

Sonnet I

When I stop to view my situation and contemplate the steps that brought me here, seeing the dangers of the way, I feel I might have reached a far worse destination; but when I cease to think about the journey, I wonder that my state should be so bad; I know I’m finished, and what most makes me sad is thinking how this love of mine ends with me. I’m finished, through my innocent surrender to one able to end me, able to kill if so she wishes . . . and able too to wish it; for if I can be killed by my own will, then her will, so much less in my favor, being able, what will it do but do it?

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Soneto V

Escrito está en mi alma vuestro gesto, y cuanto yo escrebir de vos deseo; vos sola lo escrebistes, yo lo leo tan solo, que aun de vos me guardo en esto. En esto estoy y estaré siempre puesto; que aunque no cabe en mí cuanto en vos veo, de tanto bien lo que no entiendo creo, tomando ya la fe por presupuesto. Yo no nací sino para quereros; mi alma os ha cortado a su medida; por hábito del alma misma os quiero. Cuanto tengo confieso yo deberos; por vos nací, por vos tengo la vida, por vos he de morir y por vos muero.

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Sonnet V

Your countenance is written in my soul, and everything I’d wish to write about you; you wrote it there yourself, while all I do is read—still with an attitude that’s fearful. This is, and will always be, my occupation; and though for all I see my soul lacks space, I still believe in a good beyond my grasp, given that faith’s the primary assumption. I was only born so I could love you: my soul has cut you to its own dimensions, as my soul’s own habit I must have you; everything I have I know I owe you; for you was I born, for you I hold my life; for you I will die, am dying, here and now.

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Soneto X

¡Oh dulces prendas, por mi mal halladas, dulces y alegres cuando Dios quería! Juntas estáis en la memoria mía, y con ella en mi muerte conjuradas. ¿Quién me dijera, cuando en las pasadas horas en tanto bien por vos me vía, que me habíades de ser en algún día con tan grave dolor representadas? Pues en un hora junto me llevastes todo el bien que por términos me distes, llevadme junto el mal que me dejastes. Si no, sospecharé que me pusistes en tantos bienes, porque deseastes verme morir entre memorias tristes.

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Sonnet X

O sweet mementoes, unfortunately found, sweet and also, when God willed it, happy! You live together in my memory and, with memory conspiring, plot my end. When in those times, now forever fled, your presence was such happiness to me, how could I imagine you would be with such a pain as this revisited? Since in one moment you took it all away, the happiness you’d given over time, take away too this pain that you have left me; or else I shall suppose you only showed me such happiness because it was your aim among sad memories to see me die.

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Soneto XI

Hermosas ninfas, que en el río metidas, contentas habitáis en las moradas de relucientes piedras fabricadas y en colunas de vidrio sostenidas; agora estéis labrando embebecidas, o tejiendo las telas delicadas; agora unas con otras apartadas, contándoos los amores y las vidas; dejad un rato la labor, alzando vuestras rubias cabezas a mirarme, y no os dentendréis mucho según ando; que o no podréis de lástima escucharme, o convertido en agua aquí llorando, podréis allá de espacio consolarme.

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Sonnet XI

Slender nymphs who dwell within the river, contentedly inhabiting those halls that are constructed out of shining jewels and underset by colonnades of crystal, whether bowed over your embroidery, or toiling at the weaver’s delicate art, or whether sitting in little groups apart making your loves and lives into a story, for a moment set aside what you are doing and raise your lovely heads to view my plight; you won’t spend long, for such is my present state either for pity you will shrink from listening or, when weeping turns me into water here, there’ll be time enough to comfort me down there.

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Soneto XIII

A Dafne ya los brazos le crecían, y en luengos ramos vueltos se mostraban; en verdes hojas vi que se tornaban los cabellos que al oro escurecían. De áspera corteza se cubrían los tiernos miembros, que aún bullendo estaban; los blancos pies en tierra se hincaban, y en torcidas raíces se volvían. Aquel que fué la causa de tal daño, a fuerza de llorar, crecer hacía este árbol que con lágrimas regaba. ¡Oh miserable estado, oh mal tamaño! ¡Que con lloralla cresca cada día la causa y la razón por que lloraba!

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Sonnet XIII

Daphne’s arms were growing: now they were seen taking on the appearance of slim branches; those tresses, which discountenanced gold’s brightness, were, as I watched, turning to leaves of green; the delicate limbs still quivering with life became scarfed over with a rough skin of bark, the white feet to the ground were firmly stuck, changed into twisted roots, which gripped the earth. He who was the cause of this great evil so wildly wept the tree began to grow, because with his tears he watered it himself. O wretched state, o monumental ill, that the tears he weeps should cause each day to grow that which is cause and motive for his grief.

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Soneto XVII

Pensando que el camino iba derecho, vine a parar en tanta desventura, que imaginar no puedo, aun con locura, algo de que esté un rato satisfecho. El ancho campo me parece estrecho; la noche clara para mí es escura; la dulce compañía, amarga y dura, y duro campo de batalla el lecho. Del sueño, si hay alguno, aquella parte sola que es ser imagen de la muerte se aviene con el alma fatigada. En fin, que como quiera, estoy de arte, que juzgo ya por hora menos fuerte, aunque en ella me vi, la que es pasada.

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Sonnet XVII

Thinking that the road I took was straight, I landed in such misery it seems that now I cannot conceive, in wildest dreams, anything that would content me for a moment. The open countryside’s a narrow cage, the beauty of moonlight is dark night to me, while hard and bitter is sweet company and my bed hard as the ground where battles rage; of sleep, if it comes, I welcome only the part that is an aspect of death’s gloomy image, for that alone accords with my weary soul. And, say what you will, I’m now in such a state I hold this present pain to be more savage than anything in the past, though its pain was real.

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Soneto XXIII

En tanto que de rosa y azucena se muestra la color en vuestro gesto, y que vuestro mirar ardiente, honesto, con clara luz la tempestad serena; y en tanto que el cabello, que en la vena del oro se escogió, con vuelo presto, por el hermoso cuello blanco, enhiesto, el viento mueve, esparce y desordena; coged de vuestra alegre primavera el dulce fruto, antes que el tiempo airado cubra de nieve la hermosa cumbre, Marchitará la rosa el viento helado, todo lo mudará la edad ligera, por no hacer mudanza en su costumbre.

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Sonnet XXIII

While colors of the lily and the rose are displayed within the outline of your face, and with that look, both passionate and chaste, storms grow still in the clear light of your eyes; and while your hair that seems to have been mined from seams of gold, and seeming too in flight about that neck, so white, so bravely upright, is moved and spread and scattered by the wind, seize the sweet fruits of your joyous spring, now, before angry time creates a waste, summoning snow to hide the glorious summit: the rose will wither in the icy blast and fickle time will alter everything, if only to be constant in its habit.

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Soneto XXV

¡Oh hado esecutivo en mis dolores, cómo sentí tus leyes rigurosas! Cortaste el árbol con manos dañosas, y esparciste por tierra fruta y flores. En poco espacio yacen mis amores y toda la esperanza de mis cosas, tornadas en cenizas desdeñosas, y sordas a mis quejas y clamores. Las lágrimas que en esta sepultura se vierten hoy en día y se vertieron recibe, aunque sin fruto allá te sean, hasta que aquella eterna noche escura me cierre aquestos ojos que te vieron, dejándome con otros que te vean.

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Sonnet XXV

O fate, so active to promote my troubles, how hard I find your laws have been to me; with your destroying hands you felled the tree and scattered on the ground the fruits and flowers. In a narrow space my unbounded love now lies together with all the hopes I ever had; all are turned to ashes, disdainful, cold and deaf to my complaints and to my cries. Accept the tears that on this grave are spilt today, and those that in the past you caused, albeit there they have no value to you, until by the dark of that eternal night these eyes of mine that saw you shall be closed, leaving me with other eyes to see you.

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Soneto XXX

Sospechas, que en mi triste fantasía puestas, hacéis la guerra a mi sentido, volviendo y revolviendo el afligido pecho, con dura mano, noche y día; ya se acabó la resistencia mía y la fuerza del alma; ya rendido vencer de vos me dejo, arrepentido de haberos contrastado en tal porfía. Llevadme a aquel lugar tan espantable, do por no ver mi muerte allí esculpida, cerrados hasta aquí tuve los ojos. Las armas pongo ya; que concedida no es tan larga defensa al miserable; colgad en vuestro carro mis despojos.

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Sonnet XXX

Suspicion, how you occupy my sad imagination and on my senses prey when with rough hands you are busy night and day, poking and probing inside my ruined head; it’s done, I’m finished, my opposition’s ended, you win, I have no further will to fight, I surrender to you and what’s more regret that in the past so bitterly I contended. Lead me, then, to the place where fear prevails: until now, I shut my eyes and would not see, not daring to confront my imaged death; I lay my arms aside, to a wretch like me it’s not given to resist you at such length; now on your chariot you may hang the spoils.

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Soneto XXXII

Estoy contino en lágrimas bañado, rompiendo el aire siempre con sospiros; y más me duele nunca osar deciros que he llegado por vos a tal estado, que viéndome do estoy y en lo que he andado por el camino estrecho de seguiros, si me quiero tornar para huiros, desmayo viendo atrás lo que he dejado; si a subir pruebo, en la difícil cumbre, a cada paso espántanme en la vía ejemplos tristes de los que han caído. Y sobre todo, fáltame la lumbre de la esperanza, con que andar solía por la escura región de vuestro olvido.

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Sonnet XXXII

I am continually half drowned in tears, my sighs mounting to heaven every day, and what most hurts me is I dare not say that, of this state I’m in, you are the cause; and when I see what distance I have done along the narrow road I tread to serve you, and think how I might turn around and leave you, I tremble, seeing all that must be foregone; but climbing on toward the distant summit, at every step I take I am dismayed by the grim example of all those who’ve fallen. And most of all what I lack now’s the light of hope, that used to guide me as I strayed through the dark and lonely land of your disdain.

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Soneto XXXIII

Mario, el ingrato amor, como testigo de mi fe pura y de mi gran firmeza, usando en mí su vil naturaleza, que es hacer más ofensa al más amigo; teniendo miedo que si escribo o digo su condición, abajo su grandeza, no bastando su fuerza a su crueza, ha esforzado la mano a su enemigo. Y así, en la parte que la diestra mano gobierna, y en aquella que declara los concetos del alma, fuí herido. Mas yo haré que aquesta ofensa, cara le cueste al ofensor, que ya estoy sano, libre, desesperado y ofendido.

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Sonnet XXXIII To Mario at a time when according to some the poet was wounded in the tongue and the arm Mario, Love the ingrate having observed the purity of my faith, my constancy, resolved to use on me the baseness he reserves for those by whom he best is served; and fearing to lose face if men understand his true nature from what I write or say, yet lacking strength of his own to satisfy his cruelty, he annexed my enemy’s hand; and so, in the part which manages my right hand and in that which clothes in speaking sense the concepts of the soul, I have been wounded. But I will make sure this cowardly offence costs the offender dear, for now I’m fit and free and desperate and offended.

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Soneto XXXV A Boscán desde La Goleta

Boscán, las armas y el furor de Marte, que con su propia sangre el africano suelo regando, hacen que el romano imperio reverdesca en esta parte, han reducido a la memoria el arte y el antiguo valor italiano, por cuya fuerza y valerosa mano Africa se aterró de parte a parte. Aquí donde el romano encendimiento, donde el fuego y la llama licenciosa sólo el nombre dejaron a Cartago, vuelve y revuelve amor mi pensamiento, hiere y enciende el alma temerosa, y en llanto y en ceniza me deshago.

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Sonnet XXXV To Boscán from La Goleta

Arms, Boscán, and the fury of rampant Mars, that, cultivating with their modern power the soil of Africa, persuade the empire of Rome to burgeon in these parts once more, have reawakened, brought again to mind, Italy’s art, Italy’s ancient valor by means of which, with gallant deeds and power, Africa was laid low from end to end. Here, where once the Romans, looting and burning, kindled profligate flames that left the whole of Carthage nothing but a name alone, love invades my thoughts, turning and returning, to torture and set fire to the anxious soul, and I in tears and ashes am undone.

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Soneto XXXVII

Mi lengua va por do el dolor la guía; ya yo con mi dolor sin guía camino; entrambos hemos de ir con puro tino; cada uno va a parar do no querría, yo, porque voy sin otra compañía, sino la que me hace el desatino; ella, porque la lleve aquel que vino a hacella decir más que querría. Y es para mí la ley tan desigual, que aunque inocencia siempre en mí conoce, siempre yo pago el yerro ajeno y mío. ¿Qué culpa tengo yo del desvarío de mi lengua, si estoy en tanto mal, que el sufrimiento ya me desconoce?

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Sonnet XXXVII

My tongue simply follows where pain leads, while I with my pain am travelling in the dark; both of us must find our way by guesswork, both will arrive where we’ve no wish to be: I, because there’s none to guide my thought but this foolishness that keeps me company, she, because she’s guided on her way by one who made her say more than she ought. And the law requires that I should come off worst, for though my innocence is plain to see, I pay for another’s error and my own. Why am I blamed when by my tongue alone the fault’s committed, being as I am so cursed that suffering itself is loath to know me?

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Anonymous engraving of the Danube, the site of Garcilaso’s exile.

Songs There are five canciones or songs (the Spanish equivalent of the Italian “canzoni”). I have included the third and the fifth, both more thoroughly Italianate than the others. Song III can be clearly dated to around 1532, the year of Garcilaso’s imprisonment on the island in the Danube that he describes. It emphasizes the contrast between the beauty and tranquillity of the speaker’s surroundings and his actual mood and situation. His special sadness may have various causes. Perhaps it is unhappiness in love, something for which he expects to die, “something that’s like death only much more harsh” (line 37). This is the conventional reason, laid down by the poetic tradition Garcilaso is following. Or perhaps it is the punishment he is undergoing, his confinement on the island in the Danube. But he appears both resigned to this and defiant: he can suffer no serious harm from one who has power over his body but none over his soul. He also implies that he is one who can bear it and who condemns himself, though in what way he condemns himself and exactly what for is not made clear. An overall cause for pessimism may be the collapse of his ambition to obtain advancement in the service of the emperor. Whatever the main cause of Garcilaso’s melancholy, he refers to it here in typically vague and indirect fashion, leaving us perhaps with a sense of something bigger that is not fully articulated. It is true that the speaker in the poem says that, if he dies, he does not want his death to be attributed to all his troubles together (“juntos tantos males,” line 24), implying that this is 57

what people may well think. In this he seems to be announcing his adherence to the literary convention of the lover dying for love. We may perhaps take it as a gesture of devotion not just to love, but to the poetic ideal he will follow and the new Italian style. The image of flowing water accompanies the poem, both as an aspect of pastoral tranquillity and for its association with drowning and death; perhaps also the search for perfection in art is involved (compare the nymphs in Sonnet XI). Like the other songs (but not Song V, the ode), he ends with an address to the song itself. The effect of personifying the song in this way may seem a little strange, but it is a convention, with precedent in Petrarch and followed later by Góngora in his Second Solitude. The rhyme scheme is complex: abcabccdeedff. I have tried to give an idea of it with sound links (occasionally rhyme, but often very tenuous) in appropriate positions. Song V, which Garcilaso wrote on behalf of his friend, the Italian poet Mario Galeota, is different from the others. It is really an ode, and has always been given the Latin title Ode ad florem Gnidi. Apparently Violante, Mario Galeota’s love, was known in Naples as “the lily of Knidos or Nidos.” Nidos was a district of Naples; spelt Gnido or Cnidos it recalls the shrine of Venus at Knidos. The name lira, taken from Garcilaso’s opening line, was given to the poem’s form, which was adopted by other golden age poets, most famously Luis de León and San Juan de la Cruz. The poem’s tone is also different: it is less personal, obviously, since there is no pretence that the poet is speaking for himself about his own love. This has led some readers to find it relatively cold and unemotional, but there are compensations, for example in the poem’s greater clarity and its slight suggestion of humor. By comparison with Song III it seems like a step toward the more precise imagery of the eclogues. The poem starts by explicitly stating Garcilaso’s intention not to write about war, but 58

demonstrates that love too can be a source of conflict, violence, and tragedy. Seriousness however is dissipated by the humor and the use of expressions like “la concha de Venus,” “Venus’s shell,” which have sexual connotations. In terms of ideas the poem could be read as arguing the claims of lyric over epic poetry, and pointing toward the antimilitaristic theme Garcilaso develops in the elegies. He directly states his interest in beauty over political power and military conquest, though expressing it in terms of power and relating it to the myth of Orpheus, symbolizing the power of art.

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Canción III

Con un manso ruido de agua corriente y clara, cerca el Danubio una isla, que pudiera ser lugar escogido para que descansara quien como yo estó agora, no estuviera; do siempre primavera parece en la verdura sembrada de las flores; hacen los ruiseñores renovar el placer o la tristura con sus blandas querellas, que nunca día ni noche cesan dellas. Aquí estuve yo puesto, o por mejor decillo, preso y forzado y solo en tierra ajena; bien pueden hacer esto en quien puede sufrillo y en quien él a sí mismo se condena. Tengo solo una pena, Si muero desterrado y en tanta desventura, que piensen por ventura que juntos tantos males me han llevado; y sé yo bien que muero por sólo aquello que morir espero.

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Song III

With the gentle lapping of limpid running water the Danube surrounds an isle which surely would be a perfect location for someone (who was not as I am now) to rest and restore his mood; where eternal Spring’s imbued with an opulence of green and profusion of flowers, and every joy or sorrow’s reawakened by the nightingale’s refrain, repeating its soft complaint day and night without ceasing for a moment. Here I was posted, or to speak more directly, was held, imprisoned, alone on alien soil, something easily foisted on one able to bear it, and who is first to put himself on trial. I have one regret only: if I die here, an exile, and under an evil star, they may think my troubles are all of them together the cause, whereas I’ll know, as I take my last breath, I die just for that from which I expect death.

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El cuerpo está en poder y en manos de quien puede hacer a su placer lo que quisiere; mas no podrá hacer que mal librado quede, mientras de mí otra prenda no tuviere. Cuando ya el mal viniere y la postrera suerte, aquí me ha de hallar, en el mismo lugar; que otra cosa más dura que la muerte me halla y ha hallado; y esto sabe muy bien quien lo ha probado. No es necesario agora hablar más sin provecho, que es mi necesidad muy apretada; pues ha sido en un hora todo aquello deshecho en que toda mi vida fué gastada. Y al fin de tal jornada ¿presumen espantarme? Sepan que ya no puedo morir sino sin miedo; que aun nunca qué temer quiso dejarme la desventura mía, que el bien y el miedo me quitó en un día. Danubio, río divino, que por fieras naciones vas con tus claras ondas discurriendo, pues no hay otro camino por donde mis razones vayan fuera de aquí, sino corriendo por tus aguas y siendo 62

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My body is at the mercy and in the possession of one who can do whatever moves his heart; but he will not have a way to bring about my ruin whose power has no hold on my other part. And if the worst comes to pass, the final throw of the dice, it will find me as I am, still here, just the same, for something that’s like death only much more harsh has put me under its spell; he who has had the experience knows it well. So now there’s no further need for unprofitable talk; the situation’s too desperate, too fraught since a single hour undid the long years of work to gain what my whole life passed in pursuit of. After such a fight do they think to scare me? Know that I’ll only be able to die fearlessly, for misfortune has left me nothing to fear: it took all fear away when it stole my happiness on the same day. Sacred river Danube, you who go among savage nations, the flow of your clear waters guiding, since there is no other route by which my thoughts and my words can go from this place, except by riding your stream, or immersed in it 63

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en ellas anegadas; si en tierra tan ajena en la desierta arena fueren de alguno acaso en fin halladas, entiérrelas, siquiera, porque su error se acabe en tu ribera. Aunque en el agua mueras, canción, no has de quejarte; que yo he mirado bien lo que te toca. Menos vida tuvieras si hubieras de igualarte con otras que se me han muerto en la boca. Quién tiene culpa desto, allá lo entenderás de mí muy presto.

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and lost and drowned, if in a foreign land on the deserted strand by some stranger they should finally be found, let them be buried at least and on your banks may their foolish wandering cease. And if, my song, you die, on flood waters, you’ve no cause for complaint, I’ve looked after your needs; you would have less life if I had used you like others that died without passing my lips. For this who is to blame you will hear soon when we meet beyond the stream.

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Canción V Ode ad florem Gnidi

Si de mi baja lira tanto pudiese el son, que un momento aplacase la ira del animoso viento, y la furia del mar y el movimiento;

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y en ásperas montañas con el suave canto enterneciese las fieras alimañas, los árboles moviese, y al son confusamente los trajese;

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no pienses que cantado sería de mí, hermosa flor de Nido, el fiero Marte airado, a muerte convertido, de polvo y sangre y de sudor teñido;

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ni aquellos capitanes en las sublimes ruedas colocados, por quien los alemanes el fiero cuello atados, y los franceses van domesticados.

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Mas solamente aquella fuerza de tu beldad sería cantada, y alguna vez con ella también sería notada el aspereza de que estás armada;

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Song V Ode ad florem Gnidi

If the sound of my simple lyre had such power that in one moment it could calm the anger of the violent wind and the fury of the sea, the sea’s turbulence,

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and if in the wilderness with sweet singing I could melt the savage hearts of the fiercest animals, and so move the trees that they approach, stirred and bewildered by the sound,

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do not suppose, beautiful lily of Knidos, that I would sing of the deeds of angry Mars, dedicated to death, his countenance stained with powder, blood and sweat,

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nor of the captains would I sing, who ride in state, seated in high chariots, by whom the German princes, their proud necks tied to the yoke, and French ones too, are tamed and put on show.

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No, for I would sing of nothing but the power of your beauty, though occasionally too I might put on record the cold-heartedness which is your dread weapon,

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y cómo por ti sola, y por tu gran valor y hermosura, convertida en viola, llora su desventura el miserable amante en su figura.

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Hablo de aquel cativo, de quien tener se debe más cuidado, que está muriendo vivo, al remo condenado, en la concha de Venus amarrado.

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Por ti, como solía, del áspero caballo no corrige la furia y gallardía, ni con freno le rige, ni con vivas espuelas ya le aflige.

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Por ti, con diestra mano no revuelve la espada presurosa, y en el dudoso llano huye la polvorosa palestra como sierpe ponzoñosa.

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Por ti, su blanda musa, en lugar de la cítara sonante, tristes querellas usa, que con llanto abundante hacen bañar el rostro del amante.

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Por ti, el mayor amigo le es importuno, grave y enojoso; yo puedo ser testigo, que ya del peligroso naufragio fuí su puerto y su reposo.

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and tell how only through you, for the sake of your quality, your beauty, the wretched lover is turned into a pale violet your namesake, and weeps for his ill fortune.

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It is of that captive I speak who deserves more consideration, for his is a living death, sentenced and chained to the oar, a slave caught and bound to the shell of Venus;

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because of you, no longer does he correct the fierce rebellion of the restless stallion or control him with the rein or harry him with sharply pricking spurs;

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because of you, he does not brandish with expert skill the hasty sword, and on the training ground he flees the dusty lists as if anxious to avoid a poisonous snake;

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because of you, his gentle muse abandons her sonorous lyre for melancholy complaints, which cause the lover’s face to be inundated with copious tears;

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because of you, he finds his best friend importunate, a bore, a burden; as I can testify, who once was in time of peril and shipwreck his refuge and safe haven,

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Y agora en tal manera vence el dolor a la razón perdida, que ponzoñosa fiera nunca fué aborrecida tanto como yo dél, ni tan temida.

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No fuiste tú engendrada ni producida de la dura tierra; no debe ser notada que ingratamente yerra quien todo el otro error de sí destierra.

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Hágate temerosa el caso de Anajerete, y cobarde, que de ser desdeñosa se arrepintió muy tarde; y así, su alma con su mármol arde.

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Estábase alegrando del mal ajeno el pecho empedernido, cuando abajo mirando, el cuerpo muerto vido del miserable amante, allí tendido.

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Y al cuello el lazo atado, con que desenlazó de la cadena el corazón cuitado, que con su breve pena compró la eterna punición ajena.

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Sintió allí convertirse en piedad amorosa el aspereza. ¡Oh tarde arrepentirse! ¡Oh última terneza! ¿Cómo te sucedió mayor dureza?

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and now to such degree is his lost reason overcome by grief that no poisonous beast was ever so much hated as I by him, nor ever so much shunned.

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You were not engendered from, nor fashioned out of the hard earth; it is not right that one should be known for the sin of ingratitude, who has banished from herself all other faults.

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It were better you should fear Anaxarete’s outcome and avoid it, who of her disdainfulness too late repented and whose soul therefore is burning with her marble flesh.

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Her flinty heart exulted, taking its pleasure in another’s pain, till chancing to turn her eyes downward she saw the corpse of the wretched lover stretched upon the ground,

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and tied about his neck the noose, by means of which he had released the pained heart from its chains and with this brief suffering purchased another’s lasting punishment.

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Right there she felt her harshness converted into tender loving pity. O repentance come too late! O tenderness at the last! What then of the greater hardness soon to come?

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Los ojos se enclavaron en el tendido cuerpo que allí vieron, los huesos se tornaron más duros y crecieron, y en sí toda la carne convirtieron;

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las entrañas heladas tornaron poco a poco en piedra dura; por las venas cuitadas la sangre su figura iba desconociendo y su natura;

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hasta que, finalmente, en duro mármol vuelta y trasformada, hizo de sí la gente no tan maravillada cuanto de aquella ingratitud vengada.

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No quieras tú, señora, de Némesis airada las saetas probar, por Dios, agora; baste que tus perfetas obras y hermosura a los poetas

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den inmortal materia, sin que también en verso lamentable celebren la miseria de algún caso notable que por ti pase triste y miserable.

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Her eyes became fixed on the lifeless body that they saw; then her bones still further hardened and grew, until they engrossed all the flesh, taking it into themselves,

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her frozen organs little by little converted into solid stone; in the anguished veins the blood was beginning to forget its proper form and function, its true nature;

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until at the end she was nothing but hard marble, metamorphosed, and to the people less a wonder to behold than welcome proof of ingratitude avenged.

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Do not you then, my lady, tempt the arrows of angry Nemesis! Avoid them for God’s sake, and let it be enough that your perfect deeds, your beauty, should supply

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the poets with immortal inspiration, without their being obliged in sad verses to record some horrible disaster laid at your door, some wretched tragedy.

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The tomb of Garcilaso and his father at St. Peter the Martyr in Toledo, Spain.

Elegies and Epistle to Boscán The two elegies, in tercetos, were written some time in 1535, after the Tunis campaign (see Sonnet XXXIII). The Epistle to Boscán is a little earlier, written most likely in the summer of 1534, when Garcilaso was returning to Naples after a mission to the court in Spain—probably to report the capture of Tunis by Barbarossa. All three poems are formally freer than Garcilaso’s best-known work and in some sense more personal: they offer interesting insights into his situation and state of mind. Elegy I commemorates Don Bernaldino, the duke of Alba’s younger brother, who died of an illness at Trapani in Sicily. It can be a little confusing because it addresses different people at different times. I have supplied some breaks in the layout that are not present in the original, mainly to help identify the changes in the person addressed. Briefly, the opening addresses don Fernando, the present duke of Alba; lines 76–96 are a meditation on war; line 101 (English 102) shows that the poet has switched to addressing don Bernaldino, the dead brother; lines 130–80 speak of the mother and sisters, and then the river Tormes (personified) and nymphs and satyrs of the region, eventually urging the latter to stop mourning and try to console the family; line 181 returns to don Fernando, giving him reasons why he too should stop grieving. The end, from line 289, addresses don Bernaldino in heaven, promising that he will not be forgotten on earth (if heaven is kind enough to preserve the poet’s work). It may also be worth noting that the duke was a young man, 75

a little younger than Garcilaso, whose older friend Boscán had been his ayo, or “tutor,” for manners and worldly accomplishments. It is written in terza rima, known in Spanish as tercetos encadenados, or “linked tercets.” In my translation I have only sporadically attempted to reflect the rhyming, which in the Spanish gives to the form a certain tightness and unity that may seem lacking in the subject matter. Elegy II, which is more of an epistle than an elegy and describes the poet’s feelings about various aspects of his situation, refers explicitly to the period just after the North African campaign when the emperor’s army was resting in Sicily before the return to Naples. It is also in written in tercets, and I have made a more sustained effort to follow the rhyme scheme in my translation. The Epistle to Boscán follows the epistles of Horace and is the first poem in Spanish written in endecasílabos sueltos, or “blank verse” (though this equates it with the Latin hexameter rather than Elizabethan blank verse).

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Elegía I Al duque d’Alba en la muerte de don Bernaldino de Toledo

Aunque este grave caso haya tocado con tanto sentimiento el alma mía, que de consuelo estoy necesitado, con que de su dolor mi fantasía se descargase un poco, y se acabase de mi continuo llanto la porfía, quise, pero, probar si me bastase el ingenio a escribirte algún consuelo, estando cual estoy, que aprovechase para que tu reciente desconsuelo la furia mitigase, si las musas pueden un corazón alzar del suelo y poner fin a las querellas que usas, con que de Pindo ya las moradoras se muestran lastimadas y confusas; que, según he sabido, ni a las horas que el sol se muestra ni en el mar se esconde, de tu lloroso estado no mejoras; antes en él permaneciendo, donde quiera que estás tus ojos siempre bañas, y el llanto a tu dolor así responde, que temo ver deshechas tus entrañas en lágrimas, como al lluvioso viento se derrite la nieve en las montañas. Si acaso el trabajado pensamiento en el común reposo se adormece, por tornar al dolor con nuevo aliento, en aquel breve sueño te aparece la imagen amarilla del hermano, 78

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Elegy I To the duke of Alba on the death of don Bernaldino de Toledo

Although this dread event has touched my soul with so deep a sadness that I feel I myself have need of being consoled, in order to relieve my mind a little of its burden and to stem the constant flowing of my tears, I wanted still to write to you and try if I had the wit to find for you some words of consolation, something to help, despite my present state, calm the fury of your late affliction, and see if the muses might be able to raise a heart that’s fallen to the ground and to those lamentations put a stop which to the dwellers on Mount Pindos now have become so painful, so disconcerting; for from what I’ve heard, neither when the sun rises nor when it hides itself in the sea do you manage to throw off your weeping fit but rather persist in it no matter where you are, with eyes forever wet, with tears responding so readily to grief I fear to see you internally dissolve in floods, as when in Spring the mountain snows are melted by the onset of the rainy warm west wind. Maybe it happens that the troubled mind falls into a customary sleep before returning with new energy to grieving and during that brief slumber the sallow image of your brother appears to you, 79

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que de la dulce vida desfallece; y tú, tendiendo la piadosa mano, probando a levantar el cuerpo amado, levantas solamente el aire vano; y del dolor el sueño desterrado con ansia vas buscando, el que partido era ya con el sueño y alongado. Así desfalleciendo en tu sentido, como fuera de ti, por la ribera de Trápana con llanto y con gemido el caro hermano buscas, que sola era la mitad de tu alma, el cual muriendo, no quedará ya tu alma entera. Y no de otra manera repitiendo vas el amado nombre, en desusada figura a todas partes revolviendo, que cerca del Erídano aquejada, lloró y llamó Lampecia el nombre en vano, con la fraterna muerte lastimada: “Ondas, tornadme ya mi dulce hermano Faetón; si no, aquí veréis mi muerte, regando con mis ojos este llano.” ¡Oh cuántas veces, con el dolor fuerte avivadas las fuerzas, renovaba las quejas de su cruda y dura suerte! ¡Y cuántas otras, cuando se acababa aquel furor, en la ribera umbrosa, muerta, cansada, el cuerpo reclinaba! Bien te confieso que si alguna cosa entre la humana puede y mortal gente entristecer un alma generosa, con gran razón podrá ser la presente, pues te ha privado de un tan dulce amigo, no solamente hermano, un acidente; 80

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Selected Poems of Garcilaso de la Vega a bilingual edition Selected Poems of Garcilaso de la Vega Edited and Transla...

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