This sonnet from Garcilaso is about that typical theme of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries of the suffering of the poet in love, because his lover scorns him. There are numerous variations of this topic, from Garcilaso to Shakespeare and many in between. Although a bit convoluted, there is a lot to admire in the clever sequencing, language and ultimately impeccable logic of these pieces.
Cuando me paro a contemplar mi estado
y a ver los pasos por dó me ha traído,
hallo, según por do anduve perdido,
que a mayor mal pudiera haber llegado;
mas cuando del camino estoy olvidado,
a tanto mal no sé por dó he venido:
sé que me acabo, y mas he yo sentido
ver acabar conmigo mi cuidado.
Yo acabaré, que me entregué sin arte
a quien sabrá perderme y acabarme,
si quisiere, y aun sabrá querello:
que pues mi voluntad puede matarme,
la suya, que no es tanto de mi parte,
pudiendo, ¿qué hará sino hacello?
The first four lines put the poets own state of mind at the centre of the poem, saying basically that he was heading for ruin, but things haven’t got as bad as they could be. But the second four lines are in direct contrast with the opening of the poem, saying that the poet is on the path to ruin and nothing he can do will stop it. Note that at this point the poet’s lover has not yet entered the picture as the explanatory variable. She comes in the first group of three lines when the poet admits he fell for one who could lead to his ruin if she wanted to, and she will surely want to. And the poem ends with a Baroque paradox – if he can end his own life through his own will, how much more likely is it that his lover will end it for him?
It quite makes your head swim, but that’s OK, the poem does a good job of retaining your interest.
The Poetry Dude