Here is a sonnet, a tribute from a fine poet of the twentieth century to one of the finest poets of the mid-sixteenth century, a recognition of the continuity of Hispanic poetic tradition, and a reminder of the way in which poets see their work as developing out of that whole tradition, not just as personal endeavour. Vicente Aleixandre was a Nobel prize winner in literature for his poems, but Fray Luis de Leon’s poems have been read and appreciated for 450 years. A winning combination, indeed.
A Fray Luis de Leon
¿Qué linfa esbelta, de los altos hielos
hija y sepulcro, sobre el haz silente
rompe sus fríos, vierte su corriente,
luces llevando, derramando cielos?
¿Qué agua orquestas bajo los mansos celos
del aire, muda, funde su crujiente
espuma en anchas copias y consiente,
terso el diálogo, signo y luz gemelos?
La alta noche su copa sustantiva
árbol ilustre yergue a la bonanza,
total su crecimiento y ramas bellas.
Brisa joven de cielo, persuasiva,
su pompa abierta, desplegada, alcanza
largamente, y resuenan las estrellas.
The poem depicts the great Fray Luis as a force of nature, a clear stream running down the mountain, bringing light and changing the world; water pouring from the heavens, transforming its energy into verse, bringing both meaning and light. And the trees flourish and grow on this sustenance, which is then carried forth by the wind and resonates as far as the stars. Indeed this poem conveys the transcendent, uplifting quality of Fray Luis’s best poems, such as La Vida Retirada and Oda a Francisco de Salinas and Al Apartamiento.
A very nice tribute indeed
The Poetry Dude