Selected Poetry of Francisco de Quevedo: A Bilingual Edition

Overview

Francisco de Quevedo (1580–1645), one of the greatest poets of the Spanish Golden Age, was the master of the baroque style known as “conceptismo,” a complex form of expression fueled by elaborate conceits and constant wordplay as well as ethical and philosophical concerns. Although scattered translations of his works have appeared in English, there is currently no comprehensive collection available that samples each of the genres in which Quevedo excelled—metaphysical and moral poetry, grave elegies and moving ...

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Selected Poetry of Francisco de Quevedo: A Bilingual Edition

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Overview

Francisco de Quevedo (1580–1645), one of the greatest poets of the Spanish Golden Age, was the master of the baroque style known as “conceptismo,” a complex form of expression fueled by elaborate conceits and constant wordplay as well as ethical and philosophical concerns. Although scattered translations of his works have appeared in English, there is currently no comprehensive collection available that samples each of the genres in which Quevedo excelled—metaphysical and moral poetry, grave elegies and moving epitaphs, amorous sonnets and melancholic psalms, playful romances and profane burlesques.

            In this book, Christopher Johnson gathers together a generous selection of forty-six poems—in bilingual Spanish-English format on facing pages—that highlights the range of Quevedo’s technical expertise and themes. Johnson’s ingenious solutions to rendering the difficult seventeenth-century Spanish into poetic English will be invaluable to students and scholars of European history, literature, and translation, as well as poetry lovers wishing to reacquaint themselves with an old master.

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Editorial Reviews

Christopher Maurer
“This is a thoughtful introduction to a major Baroque poet little known to English readers, one whom Borges called the greatest artificer in all of Hispanic letters. Christopher Johnson’s attentive selection and translation hit the high and low notes in Quevedo’s register, from scurrilous to near sublime, from ‘love that reaches beyond death’ to stoical sonnets about time, which ‘neither stumbles nor returns.’”
Mary Malcolm Gaylord
“In translations which capture the startling metaphors, contrived symmetries and disarming directness of the original texts, Christopher Johnson offers fresh access in English to a selection of Quevedo’s finest poems.  His insight-filled introduction and notes guide the modern reader skillfully through the complexity and diversity of Spanish Baroque poetry.  This volume promises a new life in translation to some of the most emotionally and intellectually intense poems ever written in Spanish.”
Choice

"Johnson has captured Quevedo's essence--his contradictory and conflictive nature, his emphasis on the incongruities of existence. The reader who expects a collection containing mostly sonnets . . . will be surprised to find a good number of silvas, romances, and letrillas (many of them vicious and scatological) on the thems of love, the brevity of life, morality, mythology, and satire,.'"
Choice
"Johnson has captured Quevedo's essence—his contradictory and conflictive nature, his emphasis on the incongruities of existence. The reader who expects a collection containing mostly sonnets . . . will be surprised to find a good number of silvas, romances, and letrillas (many of them vicious and scatological) on the thems of love, the brevity of life, morality, mythology, and satire,.'"
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226698892
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 8/31/2009
  • Edition description: Bilingual
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Johnson is associate professor of comparative literature at Harvard University.

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SELECTED POETRY OF Francisco de Quevedo


THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS

Copyright © 2009 The University of Chicago
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-226-69889-2


Chapter One

    Represéntase la brevedad de lo que se vive y cuán
    nada parece lo que se vivió


          "¡Ah de la vida!" ... ¿Nadie me responde?
    ¡Aquí de los antaños que he vivido!
    La Fortuna mis tiempos ha mordido;
    las Horas mi locura las esconde.

          ¡Que sin poder saber cómo ni adónde
    la salud y la edad se hayan huido!
    Falta la vida, asiste lo vivido,
    y no hay calamidad que no me ronde.

          Ayer se fue; mañana no ha llegado;
    hoy se está yendo sin parar un punto:
    soy un fue, y un será, y un es cansado.

          En el hoy y mañana y ayer, junto
    pañales y mortaja, y he quedado
    presentes sucesiones de difunto.


    Describing the brevity of life and how past life seems
    to be nothing

          "Is any life home?" Nobody answers?
    Help, here are the years I have lived!
    Fortune has gnawed away my days;
    madness absconded with my hours.

          Powerless to know how or where
    my health and years have fled.
    Missing is life, existence remains;
    and everywhere calamity awaits.

          Yesterday's gone, tomorrow's late,
    today wastes not an instant leaving:
    I am a was, a will be, a weary is.

          Today, tomorrow, and yesterday
    I sew shroud to swaddling clothes,
    And so succeed my dead self again.


    Signifícase la propria brevedad de la vida, sin pensar,
    y con padecer, salteada de la muerte

          ¡Fue sueño ayer; mañana será tierra!
    Poco antes, nada; y poco después, humo!
    ¡Y destino ambiciones, y presumo
    apenas punto al cerco que me cierra!

          Breve combate de importuna guerra,
    en mi defensa, soy peligro sumo;
    y mientras con mis armas me consumo,
    menos me hospeda el cuerpo, que me entierra.

          Ya no es ayer; mañana no ha llegado;
    hoy pasa, y es, y fue, con movimiento
    que a la muerte me lleva despeñado.

          Azadas son la hora y el momento
    que, a jornal de mi pena y mi cuidado,
    cavan en mi vivir mi monumento.


    Expressing the essential brevity of life, unexpectedly,
    miserably assaulted by death

          A dream yesterday, tomorrow dust;
    nothing just before, smoke just after.
    Though ambitious, I'm barely a point
    on the circle closing about me.

          A brief battle in importunate war,
    in my defense, I'm danger itself;
    and while my weapons destroy me
    my body, once my host, buries me.

          Yesterday's gone, tomorrow's late
    today passes, is, was, dragging
    me precipitously toward death.

          The hours and seconds are spades,
    by pain and grief well paid, digging
    my grave in the midst of my days.


    El escarmiento

          ¡Oh tú, que, inadvertido, peregrinas
    de osado monte cumbres desdeñosas,
    que igualmente vecinas
    tienen a las estrellas sospechosas,
    o ya confuso vayas,
    buscando el cielo, que robustas hayas
    te esconden en las hojas,
    o la alma aprisionada de congojas
    alivies y consueles,
    o con el vario pensamiento vueles,
    delante desta peña tosca y dura,
    que, de naturaleza aborrecida
    invidia de aquel prado la hermosura,
    detén el paso y tu camino olvida,
    y el duro intento que te arrastra deja,
    mientras vivo escarmiento te aconseja!

          En la que escura ves, cueva espantosa,
    sepulcro de los tiempos que han pasado,
    mi espíritu reposa,
    dentro en mi propio cuerpo sepultado,
    pues mis bienes perdidos
    sólo han dejado en mí fuego y gemidos,
    vitorias de aquel ceño,
    que, con la muerte, me libró del sueño
    de bienes de la tierra,
    y gozo blanda paz tras dura guerra,
    hurtado para siempre a la grandeza,
    al envidioso polvo cortesano,
    al inicuo poder de la riqueza,
    al lisonjero adulador tirano.
    ¡Dichoso yo, que fuera deste abismo,
    vivo, me soy sepulcro de mí mismo!

          Estas mojadas, nunca enjutas, ropas,
    estas no escarmentadas y deshechas
    velas, proas y popas,
    estos hierros molestos, estas flechas,
    estos lazos y redes
    que me visten de miedo las paredes,
    lamentables despojos,
    desprecio del naufragio de mis ojos,
    recuerdos despreciados,
    son, para más dolor, bienes pasados.
    Fue tiempo que me vio quien hoy me llora,
    burlar de la verdad y de escarmiento,
    y ya, quiérelo Dios, llegó la hora
    que debo mi discurso a mi tormento.
    Ved cómo y cuán en breve el gusto acaba,
    pues suspira por mí quien me envidiaba.

          Aun a la muerte vine por rodeos;
    que se hace de rogar, o da sus veces
    a mis propios deseos;
    mas, ya que son mis desengaños jueces,
    aquí, solo conmigo,
    la angosta senda de los sabios sigo,
    donde gloriosamente
    desprecio la ambición de lo presente.
    No lloro lo pasado,
    ni lo que ha de venir me da cuidado;
    y mi loca esperanza, siempre verde,
    que sobre el pensamiento voló ufana,
    de puro vieja aquí su color pierde,
    y blanca puede estar de puro cana.
    Aquí, del primer hombre despojado,
    descanso ya de andar de mí cargado.

          Estos que han de beber, fresnos hojosos,
    la roja sangre de la dura guerra;
    estos olmos hermosos,
    a quien esposa vid abraza y cierra,
    de la sed de los días
    guardan con sombras las corrientes frías;
    y en esta dura sierra,
    los agradecimientos de la tierra,
    con mi labor cansada,
    me entretienen la vida fatigada.
    Orfeo del aire el ruiseñor parece,
    y ramillete músico el jilguero;
    consuelo aquél en su dolor me ofrece;
    éste, a mi mal, se muestra lisonjero;
    duermo, por cama, en este suelo duro,
    si menos blando sueño, más seguro.

          No solicito el mar con remo y vela,
    ni temo al Turco la ambición armada;
    no en larga centinela
    al sueño inobediente, con pagada
    sangre y salud vendida,
    soy, por un pobre sueldo, mi homicida;
    ni a Fortuna me entrego,
    con la codicia y la esperanza ciego,
    por cavar, diligente,
    los peligros precisos del Oriente;
    no de mi gula amenazada vive
    la fénix en Arabia, temorosa,
    ni a ultraje de mis leños apercibe
    el mar su inobediencia peligrosa:
    vivo como hombre que viviendo muero,
    por desembarazar el día postrero.

          Llenos de paz serena mis sentidos,
    y la corte del alma sosegada,
    sujetos y vencidos
    apetitos de ley desordenada,
    por límite a mis penas
    aguardo que desate de mis venas
    la muerte prevenida
    la alma, que anudada está en la vida,
    disimulando horrores
    a esta prisión de miedos y dolores,
    a este polvo soberbio y presumido,
    ambiciosa ceniza, sepultura
    portátil, que conmigo la he traído,
    sin dejarme contar hora segura.
    Nací muriendo y he vivido ciego,
    y nunca al cabo de mi muerte llego.

          Tú, pues, ¡oh caminante!, que me escuchas,
    si pretendes salir con la victoria
    del monstro con quien luchas,
    harás que se adelante tu memoria
    a recibir la muerte,
    que, obscura y muda, viene a deshacerte.
    No hagas de otro caso,
    pues se huye la vida paso a paso,
    y, en mentidos placeres,
    muriendo naces y viviendo mueres.
    Cánsate ya, ¡oh mortal!, de fatigarte
    en adquirir riquezas y tesoro;
    que últimamente el tiempo ha de heredarte,
    y al fin te dejarán la plata y oro.
    Vive para ti sólo, si pudieres;
    pues sólo para ti, si mueres, mueres.


    The warning

          O you, who wander carelessly
    through bold mountains with scornful summits,
    who likewise neighbor
    circumspect stars;
    or if you go confusedly
    seeking Heaven, hid from you
    by the leaves of thriving beeches;
    or if you console and solace
    your soul imprisoned by distress;
    or with different thoughts
    fly from this unforgiving peak,
    by nature abhorred
    and envying the meadow's beauty:
    halt your step and forget your path,
    and forego the grim goal driving you,
    while a living lesson councils you.

          In the dark you see, a terrible cave,
    a tomb of times past,
    there my spirit reposes,
    entombed within my body,
    for with my goods lost,
    alone my fury and groans were left me,
    trophies of jealousy's glare;
    but with death I am freed
    from dreaming of earthly goods,
    and after grim war I enjoy tranquil peace,
    stolen forever from greatness,
    from courtly, envious dust,
    from wealth's iniquitous power,
    from the flattering, tyrannical sycophant.
    Lucky me! Beyond this abyss,
    I live, I am my own sepulchre!

          These wet clothes, never wrung,
    these destroyed sails, prows,
    and keels, which failed to warn,
    these ropes and nets on the walls,
    glancing so terrifyingly at me,
    lamentable spoils,
    scorning the shipwrecked in my eyes,
    these souvenirs scorned,
    are, to my greater grief, lost goods.
    Who saw me long ago mock the truth
    and warnings, now sees me weep,
    and now, if God wills, the hour has come,
    when reason must tally my torments.
    See how and when brief pleasures end,
    for those who envied me, now sigh for me.

          Roundabout I came even to death,
    which has to be coaxed, which takes
    its turns with my desires:
    since now my lost illusions are judges,
    here, alone with myself
    I follow the narrow path of wisdom,
    where gloriously
    I scorn present ambition.
    I do not mourn the past,
    nor does what will come worry me;
    and my crazy hope, always green,
    which flew eagerly above thought,
    here old and feeble loses its color,
    turned white as an old man's hair.
    Here, a relic of the first man,
    I rest now from shirking my burden.

          These ash trees that must drink
    the red blood of harsh war;
    these beautiful oaks,
    whom the vine weds and embraces,
    forstalling thirsty days,
    protecting cold currents with shade,
    and in these harsh mountains
    the fruits of the earth,
    fatigued by my labor:
    all these soothe my weary life.
    An Orfeo aloft the nightingale seems;
    the warbler a musical bouquet;
    the former's sorrow gives me counsel,
    the latter tries to flatter my misfortune.
    I sleep, this hard ground as my bed,
    where dreams are less gentle, but safer.

          I do not court the sea with sail and oar,
    nor do I fear the Turk's armed ambition;
    I am not—in the long night watch,
    disloyal to sleep, with blood
    paid for and health sold—
    for a meager wage, my murderer;
    nor do I deliver myself to fortune
    with greed and blinkered hope,
    diligently to dig
    the precious dangers of the East.
    Unthreatened by my belly,
    the Arabian Phoenix fears not,
    nor does the sea admonish the dangerous
    disobedience of my outrageous planks:
    I live like a man, who dies living
    to unload himself of his final day.

          My senses plush with serene peace,
    and the court of my soul tranquil;
    desires ruled by disorder
    now subjected and defeated;
    to reach the limit of my pains
    I expect my death foretold
    to free from my veins
    the soul that is
    knotted up in life,
    concealing horrors,
    from this prison of fears and sorrows,
    from this haughty, conceited dust,
    ambitious ash, portable tomb,
    which I have carried with me,
    never telling me that certain hour.
    I was born dying and have lived blindly,
    and I shall never reach my death's end.

          You, wanderer, may you heed me,
    if you hope for victory over
    the monster with whom you strive;
    make your memory ready
    to receive death,
    which darkly, silently, comes to undo you.
    Pay no heed to anything else,
    for life flees step by step;
    and in lying pleasures
    you are born dying and die living.
    Rest now, o mortal, from wearying
    yourself in getting wealth and treasure,
    for ultimately time shall inherit you,
    and in the end silver and gold will leave you.
    Live for yourself alone, if you can,
    for when you die, you die alone!


    "Un nuevo corazón, un hombre nuevo"

          Un nuevo corazón, un hombre nuevo
    ha menester, Señor, el Alma mía:
    desnúdame de mí, que ser podría
    que a tu piedad pagase lo que debo.

          Dudosos pies por ciega noche llevo,
    que ya he llegado a aborrecer el día,
    y temo que he de hallar la muerte fría
    envuelta en (bien que dulce) mortal cebo.

          Tu imagen soy, tu hacienda propria he sido,
    y si no es tu interés en mí, no creo
    que otra cosa defiende mi partido.

          Haz lo que pide el verme cual me veo,
    no lo que pido yo, que de perdido,
    aún no fío mi salud a mi deseo.


    "A new heart, Lord, a new man"

          A new heart, Lord, a new man
    my soul requires: undress me
    of myself, that I might be
    what I owe your piety.

          My doubting feet walk the blind nights,
    for I have come to abhor the day,
    and I fear I'll find cold death
    wrapped in sweet, lethal bait.

          Your image I am, your own estate I
    have been; if not for your stake in me,
    nothing, I think, would have taken my side.

          Do with me what seeing my plight
    demands, not what I demand; lost,
    my hopes distrust even my desires.


    "Trabajos dulces, dulces penas mías"

          Trabajos dulces, dulces penas mías;
    pasadas alegriás
    que atormentáis ahora mi memoria,
    dulce en un tiempo, sí, mas breve gloria,
    gozada en años y perdida en días;
    tarde y sin fruto derramados llantos,
    si sois castigo de los cielos santos,
    con vosotros me alegro y me enriquezco,
    porque sé de mí mismo que os merezco,
    y me consuelo más que me lastimo;
    mas, si regalos sois, más os estimo,
    mirando que en el suelo
    sin merecerlo, me regala el cielo.
    Perdí mi libertad, mi bien con ella:
    no dejó en todo el cielo alguna estrella
    que no solicitase,
    entre llantos, la voz de mi querella:
    ¡tanto sentí mirar que me dejase!
    Mas ya, ved mi dolor, me he consolado
    de ver mi bien perdido,
    y, en parte, de perderle me he holgado,
    por interés de haberle conocido.


    "My sweet labors, my sweet pains"

          My sweet labors, my sweet pains,
    my past happiness,
    how now you torment my memory;
    sweet once, yes, but a brief bliss
    enjoyed for years and lost in days;
    tears spilt belatedly, fruitlessly,
    if you are Heaven's punishment,
    I rejoice and by you I am enriched,
    and since I know in my heart I merit you,
    I find more solace than regret;
    but, if you are gifts, I esteem you more,
    seeing how, without earning it,
    Heaven regales me on earth.
    I lost my liberty and with it, my felicity:
    in all the heavens not a single star exists
    that the voice of my laments
    did not invoke amid tears;
    so keenly I felt your leaving!
    But already—see my sorrow—
    I have consoled myself for losing my felicity;
    and, in part, I delight in having lost it,
    for the sake of knowing sorrow.


    Enseña cómo todas las cosas avisan de la muerte

          Miré los muros de la patria mía,
    si un tiempo fuertes, ya desmoronados,
    de la carrera de la edad cansados,
    por quien caduca ya su valentía.

          Salíme al campo, vi que el sol bebía
    los arroyos del yelo desatados,
    y del monte quejosos los ganados,
    que con sombras hurtó su luz al día.

          Entré en mi casa; vi que, amancillada,
    de anciana habitación era despojos;
    mi báculo, más corvo y menos fuerte;

          vencida de la edad sentí mi espada.
    Y no hallé cosa en que poner los ojos
    que no fuese recuerdo de la muerte.


    He teaches how everything warns of death

          I gazed upon my country's walls
    strong once, but crumbling now;
    wearied by the race of years,
    which has wasted all their valor.

          Walking the fields, I saw the sun
    drink streams of dissolving ice,
    and sheep plaintive that the peak
    had stolen the day with shadows.

          Coming home, I saw the old rooms,
    stained by age, were time's spoils;
    my staff less strong, and more bent;

          I felt my sword, conquered by years,
    and my eyes found no place
    to rest save on death's souvenirs.


    Conoce las fuerzas del tiempo y el ser ejecutivo
    cobrador de la muerte

          ¡Cómo de entre mis manos te resbalas!
    ¡Oh, cómo te deslizas, edad mía!
    ¡Qué mudos pasos traes, oh muerte fría,
    pues con callado pie todo lo igualas!

          Feroz, de tierra el débil muro escalas,
    en quien lozana juventud se fía;
    mas ya mi corazón del postrer día
    atiende el vuelo, sin mirar las alas.

          ¡Oh condición mortal! ¡Oh dura suerte!
    ¡Que no puedo querer vivir mañana
    sin la pensión de procurar mi muerte!

          Cualquier instante de la vida humana
    es nueva ejecución, con que me advierte
    cuán frágil es, cuán mísera, cuán vana.


    He acquaints himself with the forces of time and
    death's debt collector

          How you slip between my fingers!
    O life, how you slide swiftly by!
    Cold death, what muted steps you take;
    you level all things with silent feet.

          Ferocious, you scale the weak walls,
    where brave youth fixes its trust;
    but already my heart, heedless
    of wings, awaits my last day's flight.

          O mortality! O cruel fate!
    I disdain to live another day
    without laboring to win my death.

          Each moment liquidates human life
    anew, warning me how vain, how
    fragile, how impoverished, it is.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from SELECTED POETRY OF Francisco de Quevedo Copyright © 2009 by The University of Chicago. Excerpted by permission of THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations             Acknowledgments               Introduction   
 
Metaphysical Poems
1. Represéntase la brevedad de lo que se vive y cuán nada parece lo que se vivió / Describing the brevity of life and how past life seems to be nothing / Sonnet  
 
2. Signifícase la propria brevedad de la vida, sin pensar, y con padecer, salteada de la muerte / Expressing the essential brevity of life, unexpectedly, miserably assaulted by death / Sonnet  
 
3. El escarmiento / The Warning / Silva  
 

Poems from Christian Heraclitus
4. “Un nuevo corazón, un hombre nuevo” / “A new heart, Lord, a new man” / Sonnet  
 
5. “Trabajos dulces, dulces penas mías” / “My sweet labors, my sweet pains” / Psalm  
 
6. Enseña cómo todas las cosas avisan de la muerte / He teaches how everything warns of death / Sonnet  
 
7. Conoce las fuerzas del tiempo y el ser ejecutivo cobrador de la muerte / He acquaints himself with the forces of time and death’s debt collector / Sonnet  
 
 
Moral Poems
8. Desde La Torre / From La Torre / Sonnet  
 
9. Don Francisco de Quevedo / Don Francisco de Quevedo / Sonnet  
 
10. A una mina / To a mine / Silva 
 
11. El reloj de arena / The hourglass / Silva   
 
12. Juicio moral de las cometas / Moral verdict on comets / Quintillas  
 
 
Lyric Poems on Diverse Subjects
13. Túmulo de la mariposa / The butterfly’s tomb / Sextilla  
 
14. A una fuente / To a spring / Silva  
 
15. Al pincel / To a paintbrush / Silva  
 
 
Elegies and Epitaphs
16. A Roma sepultada en sus ruinas / To Rome entombed in its ruins / Sonnet  
 
17. Memoria inmortal de Don Pedro Girón, Duque de Osuna, muerto en la prisión / Immortal memory of Don Pedro Girón, Duke of Osuna, dead in prison / Sonnet  
 
18. Inscripción en el túmulo de Don Pedro Girón, Duque de Osuna, Virrey y Capitán General de las dos Sicilias / Inscription on the tomb of Don Pedro Girón, Duke of Osuna, Viceroy and Captain General of the Two Sicilies / Sonnet  
 
19. Túmulo a Colón habla un pedazo de la nave en que descubrió el nuevo mundo / At Christopher Columbus’s tomb, a piece of the ship that discovered the New World speaks / Sonnet  
 
 
Love Poems
20. Compara con el Etna las propriedades de su amor / He compares aspects of his love with Etna / Sonnet  
 
21. Exagaraciones de su fuego, de su llanto, de sus suspiros y de sus penas / Exaggerations of his fire, grief, sighs, and pains / Sonnet  
 
22. Describe a Leandro fluctuante en el mar / He describes Leander floating in the sea / Sonnet  
 
23. Encareciendo las adversidades de los Troyanos, exagera más la hermosura de Aminta / Exaggerating the adversities of the Trojans, he exaggerates more Aminta’s beauty / Sonnet  
 
24. A una dama bizca y hermosa / To a cross-eyed, beautiful woman / Sonnet  
 
25. Soneto amoroso difiniendo el Amor / An amorous sonnet defining Love / Sonnet  
 
26. Himno a las estrellas / Hymn to the stars / Silva  
 
27. Un galán preso y desterrado y ausente de su dama, lament

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