Rio de cristal, dormido

Today’s poem is from the early 20th century Spanish poet, Juan Ramon Jiménez, who was one of the really fine poets who emerged and flourished in the pre-Franco era, partly through mutual emulation. This is a poem describing a scene of natural beauty, perhaps a bit like a Microsoft wallpaper setting before its time. A crystalline river gurgling through a peaceful valley, a fitting background for restful meditation. It is indeed a magical place, full of enchantment, but at the end the poet introduces a note of wistful longing which brings a note of sadness.

Río de cristal, dormido
y encantado; dulce valle,
dulces riberas de álamos
blancos y de verdes sauces…
El valle tiene un ensueño
y un corazón sueña y sabe
dar con su sueño un son triste
de flautas y de cantares.
Río encantado; las ramas
soñolientas de los sauces,
en los remansos dormidos
besan los claros cristales.
Y el cielo es plácido y dulce,
un cielo bajo y flotante
que con su bruma de plata
va acariciando los árboles.
Mi corazón ha soñado
con la ribera y el valle,
y ha llegado hasta la orilla
dormida para embarcarse;
pero al pasar por la senda,
lloró de amor, con un aire
viejo, que estaba cantando
no sé quién por otro valle.

Juan Ramón Jiménez 
De Arias Tristes (1903)

From <;

So at the end this is something of a sad poem. The first half describes the river, winding through the valley with beautiful willow trees along its banks, and a sky filled with a silvery mist caressing the trees. An idyllic scene indeed. But then the poet appears in the line beginning “Mi corazon…”, seeking out the river and its banks. But his heart is weeping for a lost love, and his love is in some other valley. The idyll is therefore incomplete, and external natural beauty cannot compensate for the poet’s aching heart.

The Poetry Dude


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