Spanish Poetry

By Elizabeth Gregory

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (1836-1870) is my favorite Spanish poet. Although he was born in Sevilla, he spent much of his life in Madrid. Many of his shorter Rimas are professions of love, and are so romantic. I swear, the first time I read some of these for homework in Spanish Literature class in college I nearly fainted. Then, when my professor read them out loud the next day with such emotion and drama, the entire class (including the guys) was left speechless and on the verge of swooning. OK, I'm exaggerating slightly, but I think we were all so caught up in them, and almost believed that these poems had been written for each of us individually. They're that amazing.

I have picked 3 of my favorite Rimas (a tough decision to make) to share with you. The first 2, I also gave English translations, but since translations often don't do justice to the words, meter, and structure of the poem, I have left the last one without an English translation.

¿Qué es poesía?, dices mientras clavas
en mi pupila tu pupila azul;
¡qué es poesía! Y tú me lo preguntas?
Poesía…eres tu.

What is poetry? You say while you fix
on my eyes your blue eyes
what is poetry! And you ask me?
Poetry…is you.

Por una mirada, un mundo;
por una sonrisa, un cielo;
por un beso…yo no sé
que te diera por un beso

For a look, a world;
for a smile, a heaven;
for a kiss…I don't know
what I would give you for a kiss.

Hoy la tierra y los cielos me sonríen,
hoy llega al fondo de mi alma el sol,
hoy la he visto…la he visto y me ha mirado…
¡hoy creo en Dios!

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