Here is a sonnet of love from the early twentieth century Spanish poet, Miguel Hernandez, following a long, and, I suspect never-ending, tradition of creating poems to explore the condition of being in love, and using the sonnet form where the poet’s ideas can be condensed and focussed to their essential core. I find this is indeed a worthy addition to the collection.
Here the poem is an expression of rebellion against the power of love which has deprived the poet of his free will, his independence of action and his freedom. In love, yes, but trapped… The poem is the lament of a prisoner in a gilded cage.
NO ME CONFORMO, NO : ME DESESPERO
No me conformo, no: me desespero
como si fuera un huracán de lava
en el presidio de una almendra esclava
o en el penal colgante de un jilguero.
Besarte fue besar un avispero
que me clama al tormento y me desclava
y cava un hoyo fúnebre y lo cava
dentro del corazón donde me muero.
No me conformo, no: ya es tanto y tanto
idolatrar la imagen de tu beso
y perseguir el curso de tu aroma.
Un enterrado vivo por el llanto,
una revolución dentro de un hueso,
un rayo soy sujeto a una redoma.
The first line of the poem is a cry of pain and frustration at the poet’s state of being in love, “I don’t agree, I am in despair”, and there follow a series of powerful images of his experience – the hot stream of lava in the fortress of a dusky slave girl, or in the hanging cage of a singing bird. Kissing his lover is like kissing a wasp’s nest, leading the poet to a place of torture, digging a deep hole in his heart in which to die. This love is strong indeed, but the paradox is that it is involuntary and thus a source of suffering.
The poet does not agree; and cries enough of worshipping her kisses and pursuing her accursed scent. In the final three lines the poet compares himself to someone buried alive, to a force of revolution contained in a shell, and a ray of light shut in a jar (like a genie in a bottle).
Someone in love is no longer themselves, and no longer is master of his/her destiny. Many lovers are blindsided to this, or choose to ignore it. The strength of this poem is to bring the limitations of being in love into the open. Its not all wine and roses…
The Poetry Dude