Garcilaso, que al bien siempre aspiraste

Juan Boscan was a great friend of Garcilaso de la Vega, and there are a number of poems from both poets dedicated to or adressed to the other. This one is particularly moving as it is a tribute to Garcilaso after he was killed in battle while campaigning in Italy, while still a relatively young man. Boscan uses this sonnet to express his grief at the loss and his admiration for this friend and fellow-poet.


Garcilaso, que al bien siempre aspiraste
y siempre con tal fuerza le seguiste,
que a pocos pasos que tras él corriste,
en todo enteramente le alcanzaste,

dime: ¿por qué tras ti no me llevaste
cuando de esta mortal tierra partiste?,
¿por qué, al subir a lo alto que subiste,
acá en esta bajeza me dejaste?

Bien pienso yo que, si poder tuvieras
de mudar algo lo que está ordenado,
en tal caso de mí no te olvidaras:

que o quisieras honrarme con tu lado
o a lo menos de mí te despidieras;
o, si esto no, después por mí tornaras.

Juan Boscán

From <>

The first four lines extol the aspirations and achievement of Garcilaso in striving for and achieving the best in all his endeavours (and Garcilaso was indeed a fine poet). The second four lines lament that Garcilaso has died leaving his friend Boscan alive behind him, expressing a sense of loss and longing to continue to accompany him, even in death.

The final six lines try to bring consolation and closure to the loss with Boscan expressing the thought that surely Garcilaso would not forget him, and would come back to give a proper farewell or even to take Boscan with him.

But despite the inevitability of physical death, even untimely in the case of Garcilaso, both poets have left a rich legacy in the body of their poetry, which set the scene for the many poets that followed them in Spain over the next 50 to 100 years (Fray Luis, Quevedo, Gongora and many others).

The Poetry Dude

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