Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Poetry Week Two, Day Three: Gongora

We continue our poetry journey with a poem from Luis de Góngora y Argote, the sixteenth-century Spanish poet, whose work Pablo Picasso transcribed and illustrated in the late 1940s. This centuries-spanning collaboration between artist and poet was presented in Gongora, first published in Paris in 1948. The English translation is by Alan S. Trueblood.

The Poet
On the Most Critical Year of His Life

Lycius, in this, the westernmost,
the span most critical of all your life,
any unsteady footing is a fall,
any slippery fall a precipice.

Your gait is faltering? Shore your mind up then.
Finding that solid earth is giving way,
would any prudent man, forewarned by dust,
stay on to see the edifice collapse?

Not just its skin, but with the skin, its years
the venemous snake shall cast away.
Mankind, not so. Oh blindness of man's thought!

How happy he, who having laid away
the burdensome part of self in silent stone,
consigns the weightless to the sapphire sphere.

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