Dormido Manzanares discurría

Here is a sonnet from Lope de Vega, the Spanish Shakespeare, if it is possible to make such a comparison. The title is a great explanation of the theme of the poem – the poet is confused and embarrassed (in a good way) on being noticed by a pretty girl. I have to agree with him that it can be an intimidating, but enjoyable sensation.

Lope de Vega


Dormido Manzanares discurría
en blanda cama de menuda arena,
coronado de juncia y de verbena,
que entre las verdes alamedas cría;

cuando la bella pastorcilla mía,
tan sirena de Amor como serena,
sentada y sola en la ribera amena,
tanto cuanto lavaba nieve hacía.

Pedíle yo que el cuello me lavase,
y ella sacando el rostro del cabello,
me dijo que uno de otro me quitase;

pero turbado de su rostro bello,
al pedirme que el cuello le arrojase,
así del alma, por asir del cuello.

From <;

The scene is Madrid, by the river Manzanares – and the first four lines set the scene of the river calmly flowing over a sandy bed and lined with trees giving off their shade and scents. A romantic setting indeed.

The second four lines brings on the girl – a beautiful shepherdess, a messenger of love, sitting on the river bank washing clothes. And everything she washes turns to snow, meaning she makes everything white, and is perfect in every way.

So then the poet asks her to wash his collar. The girl lifts her face out from her hair and says she will take the collar off. You can almost feel the moment of eye contact, flirtation and promise in that line. No wonder the poet felt discombobulated. The final three lines return to the poet’s reaction – flustered by looking at the girl’s beautiful face, he makes the act of handing over his collar the same as handing over his soul. Love at first sight, I guess.

A fine poem, for a very human, universal situation.

The Poetry Dude


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