Today we have a sonnet from Boscan, writing in the first half of the sixteenth century, at a time when he and his friend, Garcilaso, were revitalizing Spanish poetry, opening the way for the great Castilian poets of the next hundred years, such as Gongora and Fray Luis de Leon. I think Boscan was more prolific than Garcilaso, note the numbering of this sonnet.
The poem is about whether absence can diminish feelings of love.
Quien dice que la ausencia causa olvido
merece ser de todos olvidado.
El verdadero y firme enamorado
está, cuando está ausente, más perdido.
Aviva la memoria su sentido;
la soledad levanta su cuidado;
hallarse de su bien tan apartado
hace su desear más encendido.
No sanan las heridas en él dadas,
aunque cese el mirar que las causó,
si quedan en el alma confirmadas,
que si uno está con muchas cuchilladas,
porque huya de quien lo acuchilló
no por eso serán mejor curadas.
And the answer here is no, absence does not diminish feelings of love, it makes those feelings more intense by adding an element of suffering and anxiety. In fact the premise of the poem is as a riposte to someone who might claim that absence makes lovers forget each other. So, like many poems of this period, is it as much about intellectual argument as about real emotions or feelings. As if he were deploying the scientific method, Boscan begins with a hypothesis and sets out to see if he can disprove it.
Without the physical presence of the poet’s lover, his memory is heightened, solitude makes his cares more acute and inflames his desire even more. The wounds of love cannot be cured because they are deeply entrenched in the poet’s soul, just like when you have received knife wounds, they don’t heal because you flee your attacker.
The Poetry Dude