…antes de tiempo y casi en flor cortada

Another poem by Rafael Alberti to pay tribute to one of his illustrious predecessors in Spanish poetry, this is a lament on the death of Garcilaso de la Vega, killed from injuries sustained in battle four hundred years previously in 1536. Compare with this other Alberti poem posted on this blog, “Si Garcilaso volviera”, posted on May 16th 2015.

An elegy, of course, is usually a poem of mourning for the dead, and this is no exception.

Alberti evokes all of nature grieving around the lifeless body and now pointless armour of the soldier/poet Garcilaso, cut down before his time, like a flower, as it says at the beginning of the poem. Very moving.

 

 

Elegia a Garcilaso

 

Rafael Alberti

 

… antes de tiempo y casi en flor cortada.

 

G.DE LA V.

 

Hubierais visto llorar a las yedras cuando el agua más triste se pasó toda una noche velando a un yelmo ya sin alma,

a un yelmo moribundo sobre una rosa nacida en el vaho que duerme los espejos de los castillos

a esa hora en que los nardos más secos se acuerdan de su vida al ver que las violetas difuntas abandonan sus cajas

y los laúdes se ahogan por arrollarse a sí mismos.

Es verdad que los fosos inventaron el sueño y los fantasmas.

Yo no sé lo que mira en las almenas esa inmóvil armarnadura vacía.

¿Cómo hay luces que decretan tan pronto la agonía de las espadas

si piensan en que un lirio es vigilado por hojas que duran mucho más tiempo?

Vivir poco y llorando es el sino de la nieve que equivoca su ruta.

En el sur siempre es cortada casi en flor el ave fría.

 

 

 

From <http://www.poemas-del-alma.com/rafael-alberti-elegia-a-garcilaso.htm>

 

After the dedication to G. de la V., the first line of the poem proper kicks off with an imperfect subjunctive, which simultaneously sends a tingle down my spine and transports me to the far off place and time where Garcilaso met his untimely death (in the south of France, while an officer in Charles V’s army. ) The ivy is weeping over a lifeless helmet, and all around there is a symphony of loss and death from the roses, the thistles, the violets as the sound of lutes fades away. Alberti creates an atmospheric portrait of nature mourning the loss of Garcilaso.

 

As the poem progresses, Alberti introduces elements of the battle and its lugubrious outcome – pits, presumably mass graves from which nightmares and ghosts come forth; the battlements toward which Garcilaso’s lifeless armour is turned; the swords which bring death, while the lily-leaves go on living. The last two lines are haunting images of the brevity and sadness of life, leaving us with a deep sense of loss and  despair.

 

The Poetry Dude

Advertisements
Standard

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s