Las flores del romero

Today’s poem is by Luis de Gongora, and it displays verbal dexterity and wit almost as much as some of his longer and more complex poems. It is rich and satisfying and, in the title and imagery, very evocative of the poet’s native Andalucia in southern Spain. Romero is, I believe, the herb rosemary, whose sweet scent you may smell when wandering in and around Cordoba, signifying spring and the season of love.

The poem is about a young girl, ready for her first experiences of love, with the sweet smell of rosemary stimulating her senses.

Luis de Góngora

Las flores del romero

Las flores del romero,
Niña Isabel,
Hoy son flores azules,
Mañana serán miel

Celosa estás, la niña,
Celosa estás de aquel
Dichoso, pues le buscas,
Ciego, pues no te ve,
Ingrato, pues te enoja,
Y confiado, pues
No se disculpa hoy
De lo que hizo ayer.
Enjuguen esperanzas
Lo que lloras por él,
Que celos entre aquéllos
Que se han querido bien,

Hoy son flores azules,
Mañana serán miel.

Aurora de ti misma,
Que cuando a amanecer
A tu placer empiezas,
Te eclipsan tu placer,
Serénense tus ojos,
Y más perlas no des,
Porque al Sol le está mal
Lo que a la Aurora bien.
Desata como nieblas
Todo lo que no ves,
Que sospechas de amantes
Y querellas después,

Hoy son flores azules,
Mañana serán miel.

From <;

The poem opens with the image of the girl Isabel, becoming aware of the rosemary flowers – today they are blue, on the plant, tomorrow they will be honey, through the bees having drunk their nectar or through the girl having made love, of course.

The second stanza sees the girl seeking out Cupid. There is a wonderful sequence of allusive adjectives referring either to the girl, to Cupid or to their interaction, which is very illustrative of Gongora’s talent with words and poetic structure. Each time I read this, I appreciate more how the maximum of meaning is squeezed out of an extreme economy of words. And the sequence of meaning is evocative of a young girl’s state of mind as she fearfully, but with great excitement and anticipation approaches the realm of love for the first time.

After the repetition of the two-line refrain, the next main stanza renews the imagery of beginnings or awakening with the notion of the girls as a dawn with the sun about to emerge and reveal the pleasures of love. Not all is sweetness and light however, the final two lines of the stanza remind us that love is usually followed by lovers’ quarrels and jealousy.

This is a lovely poem which I greatly enjoy, because it is a simple idea but constructed with great skill, wonderful succinctness of language with layers of meaning for each word – a rich experience indeed and a very good example of Gongora at his best.

The Poetry Dude


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