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A mis soledades voy,

de mis soledades vengo,

porque para andar conmigo

me bastan mis pensamientos.

No sé qué tiene el aldea

donde vivo y donde muero,

que con venir de mí mismo

no puedo venir más lejos.

Ni estoy bien ni mal conmigo,

mas dice mi entendimiento

que un hombre que todo es alma

está cautivo en su cuerpo.

Entiendo lo que me basta

y solamente no entiendo

cómo se sufre a sí mismo

un ignorante soberbio.

De cuantas cosas me cansan

fácilmente me defiendo,

pero no puedo guardarme

de los peligros de un necio.

Él dirá que yo lo soy,

pero con falso argumento,

que humildad y necedad

no caben en un sujeto.

La diferencia conozco

porque en él y en mí contemplo

su locura en su arrogancia,

mi humildad en mi desprecio.

O sabe naturaleza

más que supo en este tiempo,

o tantos que naces sabios

es porque lo dicen ellos.

"Sólo sé que no sé nada",

dijo un filósofo haciendo

la cuenta con su humildad,

adonde lo más es menos.

No me precio de entendido,

de desdichado me precio,

que los que no son dichosos

¿cómo pueden ser discretos?

No puede durar el mundo,

porque dicen, y lo creo,

que suena a vidrio quebrado

y que ha de romperse presto.

Señales son del juicio

ver que todos le perdemos,

unos por carta de más,

otros por carta de menos.

Dijeron que antiguamente

se fue la verdad al cielo;

tal la pusieron los hombres

que desde entonces no ha vuelto..

En dos edades vivimos

los propios y los ajenos;

la de plata los extraños

y la de cobre los nuestros.

¿A quién no dará cuidado,

si es español verdadero,

ver los hombres a lo antiguo

y el valor a lo moderno?

Todos andan bien vestidos,

y quéjanse de los precios,

de medio arriba, romanos;

de medio abajo, romeros.

Dijo Dios que comería

su pan el hombre primero

con el sudor de su cara

por quebrar su mandamiento.

Y algunos, inobedientes

a la vergüenza y al miedo,

con las prendas de su honor

han trocado los efetos.

Virtud y filosofía

peregrinan como ciegos;

el uno se lleva al otro,

llorando van y pidiendo.

Dos polos tiene la tierra,

universal movimiento;

la mejor vida, el favor;

la mejor sangre, el dinero.

Oigo tañer las campanas

y no me espanto, aunque puedo,

que en lugar de tantas cruces

haya tantos hombres muertos.

Mirando estoy los sepulcros,

cuyos mármoles eternos

están diciendo sin lengua

que no lo fueron sus dueños.

¡Oh bien haya quien los hizo,

porque solamente en ellos

de los poderosos grandes

se vengaron los pequeños!

Fea pintan la envidia,

yo confieso que la tengo,

de unos hombres que no saben

quién vive pared en medio.

Sin libros y sin papeles,

sin tratos, cuentas ni cuentos,

cuando quieren escribir

piden prestado el tintero.

Sin ser pobres ni ser ricos

tienen chimenea y huerto;

no los despiertan cuidados,

ni pretensiones, ni pleitos;

ni murmuraron del grande,

ni ofendieron al pequeño;

nunca, como yo, firmaron

parabién ni pascua dieron.

Con esta envidia que digo

y lo que paso en silencio,

a mis soledades voy,

de mis soledades vengo.


I go to and from

my solitudes.

And walking off by myself

My thoughts are enough for me.

I don’t know what the village has

where I live and where I die

But I can’t go any further

Than from myself.

As for me, I am neither good or bad

But something tells me

That he who is all soul

Is still trapped in his body.

I understand what is enough for me

But what I don’t understand

Is how an ignorant prideful man

Can stand himself.

Of all the things that tire me

I can easily defend myself

Yet I can’t guard myself

From the dangers of the fool.

He will say that I am one too

But with false arguments

For humility and foolishness

Cannot fit together in one man.

I know the difference

For in him I see

His madness and arrogance

My humility in my self-hatred

Nature knows more than

Is found out in this time

For many who are born wise

It’s only because they say it’s so.

“I only know that I no nothing”

a philosopher said,

making known his humility

where more is less.

I do not esteem myself as wise

But as unfortunate

For those who are not fortunate

How can they be discrete?

The world cannot last long

For as they say and I believe it to be so-

it is like a cracked glass

That will soon shatter.

These are signs of judgment-

Seeing that we are all losing this game

Some for too many cards

And others for not having enough.

They say that long ago

the Truth left for the heavens

Thus had man placed her in his esteem

And she has not returned since.

We live in two ages

Our own and someone else’s

Silver is ours

And copper that of our neighbor.

Who would not be worried

If he be a good Spaniard-

Seeing men in olden times

And valor in a modern state?

Everyone goes around well dressed

And complains about prices-

Romans from the waist up

And Pilgrims from the waist down.

God said that man

would first eat his bread

By the sweat of his brow

For breaking His commandment.

And some inobedient

Out of shame and fear

Have switched the effects

for the articles of their honor.

Virtue and philosophy

wander like blind men

One after the other

They go along crying and begging.

The world has two poles,

One single movement,

Favor for the best life

And money for the best blood.

I hear the bells ring

And it doesn’t surprise me though it could

That in place of so many crosses

There be so many dead men.

I am peering at the graves

Whose marble works though eternal

Are saying without tongues

That their owners were indeed not.

Blessed be he who made them!

For only through them

Did the lowly have vengeance

On the great and the powerful.

They paint Envy as ugly

I confess that I feel it

For some people who don’t know

Anyone who lives amongst walls.

Without book and papers

Treaties, accounts, or stories

When they wish to write

They borrow an inkwell.

Without being rich or poor

They have a chimney and garden

Worries don’t wake them

Or wranglings and pretensions.

Nor do they murmur against the great

Or offend the lowly

Nor do they ever – unlike me-

Sign a promissory note or holiday cards.

So with this envy of which I speak

And what I pass over in silence

I go to and from my solitudes




You’re right, Laurencia! It’s no joke!

Once men are sated, they grow rude

And show us more ingratitude

Than sparrows do to villagefolk.

In winter, when the weather keeps

Our snowy fields devoid of crops,

These birds swoop down from off the tops

Of houses, all sweet coos and cheeps,

But indoors, head straight for the room

Where they can feed upon our crumbs.

Then, once the warm spring weather comes

And sparrows see the fields in bloom,

We hear the last of all their coos.

Interrogating us for proof

That we’re true Spaniards, from each roof

They chirp accusingly: ‘‘Jews? Jews?’’

Yes, men are like that, too. As long

As they desire us, we’re their soul,

Their heart, their everything, their whole

Life’s being, and can do no wrong,

But once the fire of passion’s spent,

They start to treat us worse than Jews

And what were once seductive coo

Now chastise us for our consent


The Cretan Labyrinth


Well, my sweet, they will say that the remora Fedra stopped you from going to this challenge, because I have embraced you like ivy, like an elm is without arms when they are tied in affectionate knots. Hercules occupies the dais of Iole, that beautiful queen, where they say he is spinning like a timid maid. If they know love, they will see that this is love, not cowardice. Jason left to go to war more than once; and in the same way angry Mars loved, and dropped down to the ground; he put his diamond weapons aside, and the boy Love, naked, played with his helmet and shield. Taken in a steel net, Vulcan showed the conclave of the Gods his fierce appearance, and they mocked his strong hand, although well the most honest would also have been caught in such nets. You have made exploits that can excuse any cowardly suspicions regarding this journey; knowing who you are, hang the sword, for a lion never showed his fangs to tender lambs.