Miguel Hernandez

Miguel Hernandez


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Miguel Hernandez by Miguel Hernandez

Miguel Hernández is, along with Antonio Machado, Juan Ramón Jiménez, and Federico García Lorca, one of the greatest Spanish poets of the twentieth century. This volume spans the whole of Hernández’s brief writing life, and includes his most celebrated poems, from the early lyrics written in traditional forms, such as the moving elegy Hernández wrote to his friend and mentor Ramon Sijé (one of the most famous elegies ever written in the Spanish language), to the spiritual eroticism of his love poems, and the heart-wrenching, luminous lines written in the trenches of war. Also included in this edition are tributes to Hernández by Federico García Lorca, Pablo Neruda (interviewed by Robert Bly), Rafael Alberti, and Vicente Aleixandre. Pastoral nature, love, and war are recurring themes in Hernández’s poetry, his words a dazzling reminder that force can never defeat spirit, that courage is its own reward.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590176290
Publisher: New York Review Books
Publication date: 04/02/2013
Edition description: Translatio
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 1,296,013
Product dimensions: 6.80(w) x 4.50(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Miguel Hernández Gilabert (1910–1942) was born into a poor family in the city of Orihuela in southern Spain. His father raised goats and sheep, and Hernández was brought up to be a shepherd. At age eleven, he entered the Jesuit Colegio de Santo Domingo, where he learned to read and write, and started to compose poems whose uncanny virtuosity and wild inspiration earned the admiration of Pablo Neruda and Federico García Lorca. With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, his poetry took on a new public dimension, and Hernández would soon enlist in the Republican Army. In 1937, he married Josefina Manresa Marhuenda, the love of his life. The couple lost their first son to malnutrition; a second, Manuel Miguel, was born in 1939. After the defeat of the Republic, Hernández was condemned to death for his poetry by Francisco Franco, who called him “an extremely dangerous man,” a sentence that was subsequently reduced lest he become a martyr like Lorca. Hernández, imprisoned under brutal conditions and suffering from an advanced case of tuberculosis, continued to write until his death on March 28, 1942; he was thirty-one years old.

Don Share is the senior editor of Poetry magazine. His books of poetry include Squandermania, Union, and most recently, Wishbone. He is the editor of Seneca in English, Bunting’s Persia, and with Christian Wiman, The Open Door: One Hundred Poems, One Hundred Years of Poetry Magazine. His translations of Miguel Hernández were awarded the Times Literary Supplement Translation Prize and the Premio Valle

Read an Excerpt

A man-eating knife
A man-eating knife with a sweet, murdering wing keeps up its flight and gleams all around my life.
A twitching metal glint flashes quickly down,
pricks into my side,
and makes a sad nest in it.
My temples, flowery balcony of a younger day,
are black, and my heart,
my heart is turning grey.
Such is the evil ability of this enveloping beam that I go back to my youth like the moon goes to a city.
I gather with my eyelashes salt from my soul, salt from my eye,
and gather blossoming spiderwebs of all my sadnesses.
Where can I be that I will not find loss?
Your destiny is the beach,
my calling is the sea.
To rest from this hurricane work of love or hell is impossible, and the pain makes sorrow last and last.
But at last I will win out,
worldly bird and ray,
heart, because in death there is no doubt.
So go on, knife, and slash and fly: and then one day time will yellow on my photograph.
Lightning that never ends
Will this lightning never end, that fills my heart with exasperated wild beasts and furious forges and anvils where even the freshest metal shrivels?
Will it never quit, this stubborn stalactite,
tending its stiff tufts of hair like swords and harsh bonfires inside my heart, which bellows and cries out?
This lightning never ends, or drains away: from me alone it sprang, it trains on me alone its madness.
This obstinate rock sprouts from me, and turns on me the insistence of its rainy, shattering bolts.
Your heart is a frozen orange
Your heart is a frozen orange.
No light gets in; it is resinous, porous,
golden: the skin promises good things to the eye.
My heart is a feverish pomegranate of clustered crimson, its wax opened,
which could offer you its tender pendants lovingly, persistently.
But how crushing it is to go to your heart and find it frosted with sheer, terrifying snow!
On the fringes of my grief a thirsty handkerchief hovers, hoping to drink down my tears.
You threw me a bitter lemon
You threw me a bitter lemon from a hand so warm and pure that I tasted the bitterness without spoiling its architecture.
With a yellow jolt, my sweet and lazy blood turned hot, possessed,
and so I felt the bite of the tip of that long, firm teat.
But glancing at you and seeing the smile that this lemon condition produced
(so at odds with my greed and guile),
my blood blacked out inside my shirt,
and through that porous golden breast
I felt a pointed, dazzling hurt.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“He is a great master of language…a wonderful poet.” —Pablo Neruda
“One is rarely excited by translation, but in Don Share’s case there is a sense of shared elation between reader and translator that confirms the delight of exact sensation when a poem feels transmitted by that cautious and subtle alchemy that is the translator’s skill. I have felt with Don Share’s versions of Miguel Hernandez: but this is also because he is a fine poet in his own right, one who surrenders his sensibilities to the task of transference.” —Derek Walcott
“The consumate poet of light, darkness, soul, time, death.” —Willis Barnstone
“The apparent simplicity of his poems, which speak eloquently of love, poverty and hope, turned Hernández into a popular figure who was elevated to cult status.” —El Pais
“Raw, passionate, despairing and celebratory.” —Publisher’s Weekly
“What a victory it is to watch springing forth from our murky thicket of half-commercialized poetry the silver boar of Hernández's words—to see the world of paper part so as to allow the language tusks and shoulders to emerge, shining, pressed forward by his genius.” —Robert Bly
“One of the great talents of the century.” —Philip Levine, The Kenyon Review
“ A cherished example of why great poetry is timeless." —Ray Gonzalez, Bloomsbury Review

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