Lloraba la niña

This is a beautiful poem from Gongora telling of an inconsolable girl, crying because her lover has left and gone away. It looks a bit like a folk ballad, but there is a lot of poetic art which has gone into making it seem so simple and flowing. The short lines keep the reader moving through it and, unlike some of Gongora’s sonnets or his long-form poems, the syntax and word order is straightforward. An all round lovely poem.

Luis de Gongora (1590)

Lloraba la niña
(Y tenía razón)
La prolija ausencia
De su ingrato amor.
Dejóla tan niña,
Que apenas creo yo
Que tenía los años
Que ha que la dejó.
Llorando la ausencia
Del galán traidor,
La halla la Luna
Y la deja el Sol,
Añadiendo siempre
Pasión a pasión,
Memoria a memoria,
Dolor a dolor.
Llorad, corazón,
Que tenéis razón.

Dícele su madre:
«Hija, por mi amor,
Que se acabe el llanto,
O me acabe yo.»
Ella le responde:
«No podrá ser, no:
Las causas son muchas,
Los ojos son dos.
Satisfagan, madre,
Tanta sinrazón,
Y lágrimas lloren
En esta ocasión,
Tantas como dellos
Un tiempo tiró
Flechas amorosas
El arquero dios.
Ya no canto, madre,
Y si canto yo,
Muy tristes endechas
Mis canciones son;
Porque el que se fue,
Con lo que llevó,
Se dejó el silencio,
Y llevó la voz.»
Llorad, corazón,
Que tenéis razón.

From <http://www.poemas-del-alma.com/luis-de-gongora-lloraba-la-nina.htm&gt;

The Poetry Dude

Cosas, Celalba mía, he visto extrañas:

Here is a gloomy, even somewhat apocalyptic sonnet from Gongora, recounting strange and disturbing visions of the world at the time of the great flood linked to the legend of Noah’s Ark. And the payoff line is that, however weird and scary are the poet’s visions of the world, they are much less fearful than his own internal cares. A great reminder that we all carry our own outlook with us, which might be positive and optimistic or timorous and pessimistic.

The poem is addressed to one Celalba, the device being to let the reader know that here the poet is revealing his inner feelings to a lover, someone very close to him. The reader is thus eavesdropping on the poet’s true state of mind.

 
Soneto

 
Cosas, Celalba mía, he visto extrañas:
cascarse nubes, desbocarse vientos,
altas torres besar sus fundamentos,
y vomitar la tierra sus entrañas;

duras puentes romper, cual tiernas cañas,
arroyos prodigiosos, ríos violentos,
mal vadeados de los pensamientos,
y enfrenados peor de las montañas;

los días de Noé, gentes subidas
en los más altos pinos levantados,
en las robustas hayas más crecidas.

Pastores, perros, chozas y ganados
sobre las aguas vi, sin forma y vidas,
y nada temí más que mis cuidados.

 

From <http://ingber.spanish.sbc.edu/cgi-bin/sonnets.py?activity=get_poem&poem_id=gongora13&gt;

 

In the first line, the poet grabs Celalba’s attention, and the reader’s, with the line “I have seen strange things”. There follows a sequence of what we might call today extreme weather events – clouds bursting, winds whipping up, tall buildings brought down and volcanoes erupting. The sequence continues in the next four lines – solid bridges braking as if they were frail white hairs, prodigious and unstoppable streams and rivers.

Then in the ninth line, we get a reference to Noah and realise that this is the poet’s vision of the great storm that preceded the Ark. But the focus here is not on Noah rescuing the animals, two by two, but on the devastation caused by the storm and the rising waters. The poet sees people lifted up to the top of tall pine trees and great hedges. He sees shepherds with their dogs and their flocks floating in the water, probably drowned. It is a scene of destruction and hopelessness. But then in the last line comes the kicker – none of this was as fear-inducing to Gongora than his own cares.

Yet another wonderfully economical and evocative sonnet from one of the great masters of the form.

 

The Poetry Dude

Hurtas mi vulto y cuanto más le debe

This is a curiosity indeed. The poet Gongora seems to be the subject of preparatory sketches by a Flemish painter for a picture which will appear in Gongora’s book of poetry. So while the artist sketches, the poet writes, each trying to capture the essence of the other. Artistic competition or synergistic cooperation?

At this time of course Flanders was a Spanish province, known as the Spanish Netherlands. It became independent, as Belgium, in 1830. So there were plenty of Flemish artists at the Spanish court.

 
Luis de Góngora

A UN PINTOR FLAMENCO, HACIENDO EL RETRATO DE DONDE SE COPIÓ EL QUE VA AL PRINCIPIO DESTE LIBRO

 
Hurtas mi vulto y cuanto más le debe
A tu pincel, dos veces peregrino,
De espíritu vivaz el breve lino
En los colores que sediento bebe,

Vanas cenizas temo al lino breve,
Que émulo del barro le imagino,
A quien (ya etéreo fuese, ya divino)
Vida le fió muda esplendor leve.

Belga gentil, prosigue al hurto noble;
Que a su materia perdonará el fuego,
Y el tiempo ignorará su contextura.

Los siglos que en sus hojas cuenta un roble,
Árbol los cuenta sordo, tronco ciego;
Quien más ve, quien más oye, menos dura.

 
From <http://www.poemas-del-alma.com/luis-de-gongora-a-un-pintor-flamenco.htm&gt;

And here is a picture of Gongora from Velasquez, so not the Flemish painter, but it gives an idea of what he might have been looking at.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=imgres&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CAkQjRwwAGoVChMI58-V5sn4xgIVhJaICh0c9gBI&url=https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FLuis_de_G%25C3%25B3ngora&ei=3bS0VaftEIStogSc7IPABA&psig=AFQjCNG075T4-bLhQsjkGn81jtOGX1JHyw&ust=1437992541362557

 

 

 
The Poetry Dude

Hermosas damas, si la pasión ciega

Gongora, the poet from the south of Spain, Andalucia, with hot blood in his veins, maybe likes a bit of flamenco, but here he is at the royal court in Madrid – how does he get the ladies to pay attention to him? Well, how about writing a poem to tell them what great lovers are the men from Andalucia. No Facebook or Instagram or eHarmony in those days…

A LAS DAMAS DE LA CORTE, PIDIÉNDOLES FAVOR PARA LOS GALANES ANDALUCES

Luis de Góngora

 
Hermosas damas, si la pasión ciega
No os arma de desdén, no os arma de ira,
¿Quién con piedad al andaluz no mira,
Y quien al andaluz su favor niega?

En el terrero, ¿quién humilde ruega,
Fiel adora, idólatra suspira?
¿Quién en la plaza los bohordos tira,
Mata los toros, y las cañas juega?

En los saraos, ¿quién lleva las más veces
Los dulcísimos ojos de la sala,
Sino galanes del Andalucía?

A ellos les dan siempre los jüeces,
En la sortija, el premio de la gala,
En el torneo, de la valentía.

 
From <http://www.poemas-del-alma.com/luis-de-gongora-a-las-damas-de-la-corte.htm&gt;

So ladies, don’t be scornful, don’t be mad, check out these Andalusian dudes. Look who is polite and respectful to you, but kills the bulls in the ring, attracts all the eyes at the dance, and wins all the prizes for bravery at the fair. Not the stiff-necked courtiers from Madrid, for sure…

Has anything changed?

The Poetry Dude

Dineros son calidad

A poem of truth and lies from Gongora, or at least what he maintains to be truth and lies. I’m not sure many people would disagree though. There is a nice symmetry to the poem, with alternating stanzas giving an example of a truth, then a lie, after the introductory four lines do this in a summary fashion, introducing both the form and the content.

Money gives social standing is a truth, he who sighs most loves most is a lie… The poem explores each of these statements with a dazzling succession on puns, intricate rhymes within lines, arcane references, and clever metaphors. This is Gongora on his best form.

 
Luis de Góngora

Dineros son calidad

 
Dineros son calidad
¡Verdad!
Más ama quien más suspira
¡Mentira!

Cruzados hacen cruzados,
Escudos pintan escudos,
Y tahúres muy desnudos
Con dados ganan condados;
Ducados dejan ducados,
Y coronas majestad,
¡Verdad!

Pensar que uno sólo es dueño
De puerta de muchas llaves,
Y afirmar que penas graves
Las paga un mirar risueño,
Y entender que no son sueño
Las promesas de Marfira,
¡Mentira!

Todo se vende este día,
Todo el dinero lo iguala;
La corte vende su gala,
La guerra su valentía;
Hasta la sabiduría
Vende la Universidad,
¡Verdad!

En Valencia muy preñada
Y muy doncella en Madrid,
Cebolla en Valladolid
Y en Toledo mermelada,
Puerta de Elvira en Granada
Y en Sevilla doña Elvira,
¡Mentira!

No hay persona que hablar deje
Al necesitado en plaza;
Todo el mundo le es mordaza,
Aunque él por señas se queje;
Que tiene cara de hereje
Y aun fe la necesidad,
¡Verdad!

Siendo como un algodón,
Nos jura que es como un hueso,
Y quiere probarnos eso
Con que es su cuello almidón,
Goma su copete, y son
Sus bigotes alquitira
¡Mentira!

Cualquiera que pleitos trata,
Aunque sean sin razón,
Deje el río Marañón,
Y entre el río de la Plata;
Que hallará corriente grata
Y puerto de claridad
¡Verdad!

Siembra en una artesa berros
La madre, y sus hijas todas
Son perras de muchas bodas
Y bodas de muchos perros;
Y sus yernos rompen hierros
En la toma de Algecira,
¡Mentira!

 
From <http://www.poemas-del-alma.com/luis-de-gongora-dineros-son-calidad.htm&gt;

To me this poem is a great demonstration of Gongora’s mastery of different forms and different tones. Very often he is rich and sensual, like a fruit cake made with rum, or subtlely ironic, like a Mario Balotelli attempt on goal, but here he is rollickingly, rhythmically polemical and in your face. Great stuff.

And there are some wonderful lines and juxtapositions of ideas – how about ” Con dados ganan condados; ducados dejan ducados”; or “prenada.., doncella.. Cebolla…mermelada”; or “Son perras de muchas bodas Y bodas de muchos perros.’ Great stuff.

The Poetry Dude

Las flores del romero

Today’s poem is by Luis de Gongora, and it displays verbal dexterity and wit almost as much as some of his longer and more complex poems. It is rich and satisfying and, in the title and imagery, very evocative of the poet’s native Andalucia in southern Spain. Romero is, I believe, the herb rosemary, whose sweet scent you may smell when wandering in and around Cordoba, signifying spring and the season of love.

The poem is about a young girl, ready for her first experiences of love, with the sweet smell of rosemary stimulating her senses.

 
Luis de Góngora

Las flores del romero

 
Las flores del romero,
Niña Isabel,
Hoy son flores azules,
Mañana serán miel

Celosa estás, la niña,
Celosa estás de aquel
Dichoso, pues le buscas,
Ciego, pues no te ve,
Ingrato, pues te enoja,
Y confiado, pues
No se disculpa hoy
De lo que hizo ayer.
Enjuguen esperanzas
Lo que lloras por él,
Que celos entre aquéllos
Que se han querido bien,

Hoy son flores azules,
Mañana serán miel.

Aurora de ti misma,
Que cuando a amanecer
A tu placer empiezas,
Te eclipsan tu placer,
Serénense tus ojos,
Y más perlas no des,
Porque al Sol le está mal
Lo que a la Aurora bien.
Desata como nieblas
Todo lo que no ves,
Que sospechas de amantes
Y querellas después,

Hoy son flores azules,
Mañana serán miel.

 
From <http://www.poemas-del-alma.com/luis-de-gongora-las-flores-del-romero.htm&gt;

The poem opens with the image of the girl Isabel, becoming aware of the rosemary flowers – today they are blue, on the plant, tomorrow they will be honey, through the bees having drunk their nectar or through the girl having made love, of course.

The second stanza sees the girl seeking out Cupid. There is a wonderful sequence of allusive adjectives referring either to the girl, to Cupid or to their interaction, which is very illustrative of Gongora’s talent with words and poetic structure. Each time I read this, I appreciate more how the maximum of meaning is squeezed out of an extreme economy of words. And the sequence of meaning is evocative of a young girl’s state of mind as she fearfully, but with great excitement and anticipation approaches the realm of love for the first time.

After the repetition of the two-line refrain, the next main stanza renews the imagery of beginnings or awakening with the notion of the girls as a dawn with the sun about to emerge and reveal the pleasures of love. Not all is sweetness and light however, the final two lines of the stanza remind us that love is usually followed by lovers’ quarrels and jealousy.

This is a lovely poem which I greatly enjoy, because it is a simple idea but constructed with great skill, wonderful succinctness of language with layers of meaning for each word – a rich experience indeed and a very good example of Gongora at his best.

The Poetry Dude

Da bienes Fortuna

Usually, Gongora’s poems are most remarkable for their very rich language and complicated, allusive sentence structures, which make them very interesting to read. But today’s poem is much simpler and more straightforward. It consists of a set of reflections on what I take to be a popular saying or proverb, “Cuando pitos flautas, cuando flautas pitos”, which I interpret as an example of the vagaries of life, such as the Rolling Stones later took up in their song “You can’t always get what you want”, from the Let it Bleed Album. In how many other ways was Gongora like Mick Jagger? Answers welcome in the comment box.

Da bienes Fortuna
que no están escritos:
cuando pitos flautas,
cuando flautas pitos.

¡Cuán diversas sendas
Se suelen seguir
En el repartir
Honras y haciendas!
A unos da encomiendas,
A otros sambenitos.
Cuando pitos flautas,
cuando flautas pitos.

A veces despoja
De choza y apero
Al mayor cabrero,
Y a quien se le antoja;
La cabra más coja
Pare dos cabritos.
Cuando pitos flautas,
cuando flautas pitos.

Porque en una aldea
Un pobre mancebo
Hurtó sólo un huevo,
Al sol bambolea,
Y otro se pasea
Con cien mil delitos.
Cuando pitos flautas,
cuando flautas pitos.

From <http://www.poesi.as/index6.htm&gt;

The first four line stanza sets out the premise, that Fortune doesn’t always turn out the way you expect, and quotes the proverb, which will be repeated for emphasis at the end of each of the following stanzas.

The first stanza gives the example of the randomness of distribution of honours and punishments, with some getting commendations and others getting penitential gowns (worn by prisoners on their way to prison or execution), seemingly at random.

The next stanza takes a bucolic turn saying the best and worst goatherds can often equally be deprived of the best grazing ground; while, among the goats, it can be the lame goat which is rewarded by giving birth to twin kids.

Finally, the randomness of justice is illustrated in the final stanza with the poor villager who only stole an egg ending up swinging on the gibbet, while the fellow who committed lots of serious crimes take a carefree stroll down the main street.

Popular proverbs were widespread and well known in Spain. It is a running joke in Don Quijote that Sancho Panza never stops speaking in proverbs, to the exasperation of Don Q. Here, Gongora makes a nice poem with the same idea.

The Poetry Dude