Sonnet of the Sweet Complaint

Never let me lose the marvel 
of your statue-like eyes, or the accent 
the solitary rose of your breath 
places on my cheek at night.
I am afraid of being, on this shore, 
a branchless trunk, and what I most regret 
is having no flower, pulp, or clay 
for the worm of my despair.
If you are my hidden treasure, 
if you are my cross, my dampened pain, 
if I am a dog, and you alone my master,
never let me lose what I have gained, 
and adorn the branches of your river 
with leaves of my estranged Autumn.

by Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936).

This poem is from a collection called Sonetos del amor oscuro (“Sonnets of Dark Love”), which contains the last verses ever written by Lorca. They were written to a young man, with whom the poet had a secret love affair, whose identity remained unknown until earlier this year (2012) when letters and other documents were found which revealed him to be the (then) 19-year old Juan Ramírez de Lucas.

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3 Responses to “Sonnet of the Sweet Complaint”

  1. If I may nitpick, it’s “sonetos”, not “sonetas”. Also, in Spanish title words other than the first (or proper names) are not capitalized, so the idiomatic title would be “Sonetos del amor oscuro”.

    • telescoper Says:

      My mistake(s).

      May I also ask if “oscuro” has to be translated as “dark”, or does it also in Spanish have the sense of the English “obscure”, i.e. as “hidden” or “secret”?

  2. “Oscuro” means “dark”, and in a somewhat more literary sense could also mean “hidden”, etc. (quite similar to English “obscure”).
    As a translation, “hidden love” or “secret love” would be acceptable, though perhaps less poetic.

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