Thursday, February 5, 2015

SONNET XXIII By Garcilaso de la Vega

By Garcilaso de la Vega
Translated by John Dent- Young

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.
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.
He has all the attributes of a romantic hero: noble, brave, cultured, apparently modest and without affectation. He served the emperor Charles V well, fighting in at least four campaigns, in two of which he was wounded. He died at the age of thirty- six in a military action. 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. I loved the third stanza in particular.
PS: Painting by Titian
Source : Selected Poems of Garcilaso de la Vega : Edited and Translated by John Dent- Young

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