Soneto Amoroso

Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas
(1580 - 1645)

Es hielo abrasador, es fuego helado,  
es herida que duele y no se siente,  
es un soñado bien, un mal presente,  
es un breve descanso muy cansado;

es un descuido que nos da cuidado, 
un cobarde, con nombre de valiente,  
un andar solitario entre la gente,  
un amar solamente ser amado;

es una libertad encarcelada,  
que dura hasta el postrero parasismo; 
enfermedad que crece si es curada.

Éste es el niño Amor, éste es su abismo.  
¡Mirad cual amistad tendrá con nada  
el que en todo es contrario de sí mismo!

It’s burning ice and it’s frozen fire,
A hurting wound that’s devoid of feeling,
A blissful dream and a wakeup reeling,
A respite leaving one deathly tired.

It’s cruel neglect that care inspires,
A coward, uncommon valor revealing,
A walk in the crowd, lonely heart concealing,
To be desired is its sole desire.

It is a liberty incarcerated
Enduring to the last convulsion
A cured plague that to kill is fated.

Such is child Cupid in his damnation.
No tender friendship for him is slated,
The most conflicted in all creation.


When the eminent hispanist Pablo (Pavel) Grushko mentioned Quevedo in one of his talks, I decided to learn more about the Spanish classic. By accident, I found this sonnet in a small book of Piropos, artful Argentinian amorous pick up lines and poems, which I bought in Buenos Aires. Several years after I translated this sonnet, I also translated a sonnet by Camões. I had a vague feeling that it sounded familiar. I put the two sonnets together and found that many lines matched, subject to the difference between Spanish and Portuguese. The difference in time between the two pieces was at least 60 years. I could not find any references to what happened here. Only when I read both of them at a foreign poetry event at Leslie University, I was told by philology experts that this is a well known at some point practice of “homage” of a younger master to an older one, in this case interlingual.