Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer in the translation of Glenn Hubbard

Rhyme XXV

At night when you are wrapped 

in the tulle wings of sleep

and your resting eyelashes 

are like arcs of ebony,

to hear the beating 

of your unquiet heart

and rest your sleeping

head upon my breast,

I would give, my darling, 

everything that I possess,

light, air

and thought!

When your eyes are fixed

on an invisible object

and your lips shine

with the reflection of a smile,

to read from your brow

the silent thought 

that passes like a cloud above

the wide mirror of the sea,

I would give, my darling,

everything that I possess,

fame, gold,

glory, invention!

When your tongue thickens

and your breath quickens

and your cheeks mantle with blushes

and you half-close your dark eyes,

to see between your eyelashes

the glowing spark that rises

from the volcano of your desire

shine with humid fire,

I would give, my darling,

everything I hope for,

faith, spirit,

heaven and earth.

Rhyme LIII

They will return, the dark swallows, 

to build their nests on your balcony 

and once again they will call playfully 

at your window pane with their wings.

But those that slowed when flying

to contemplate your beauty and my bliss,

those that learnt our names…

those … will not return!

It will return, the lush woodbine,

to climb the walls of your garden,

and again, yet more beautiful flowers 

will open in the evening.

But those flowers on which the dew

settled, those whose drops 

we saw tremble and fall like the day’s tears…

those …will not return.

They will return, the ardent words of love,

to ring in your ear;

your heart will perhaps wake

from its profound sleep.

But silent and wrapped and kneeling,

as when one worships God at his altar, …

as I have worshipped you…; be in no doubt,

thus…they will not love you!

Rima XXV

Cuando en la noche te envuelven

las alas de tul del sueño

y tus tendidas pestañas

semejan arcos de ébano,

por escuchar los latidos

de tu corazón inquieto

y reclinar tu dormida

cabeza sobre mi pecho,

diera, alma mía,

cuanto posea:

¡la luz, el aire

y el pensamiento!

Cuando se clavan tus ojos

en un invisible objeto

y tus labios ilumina

de una sonrisa el reflejo,

por leer sobre tu frente

el callado pensamiento

que pasa como la nube

del mar sobre el ancho espejo,

diera, alma mía,

cuanto deseo:

¡la fama, el oro,

la gloria, el genio!

Cuando enmudece tu lengua

y se apresura tu aliento

y tus mejillas se encienden

y entornas tus ojos negros,

por ver entre sus pestañas

brillar con húmedo fuego

la ardiente chispa que brota

del volcán de los deseos,

diera, alma mía,

por cuanto espero,

la fe, el espíritu,

la tierra, el cielo.

Rima LIII

Volverán las oscuras golondrinas

en tu balcón sus nidos a colgar,

y otra vez con el ala a sus cristales

jugando llamarán.

Pero aquellas que el vuelo refrenaban

tu hermosura y mi dicha a contemplar,

aquellas que aprendieron nuestros nombres…

¡esas… no volverán!

Volverán las tupidas madreselvas

de tu jardín las tapias a escalar,

y otra vez a la tarde aún más hermosas

sus flores se abrirán.

Pero aquellas, cuajadas de rocío

cuyas gotas mirábamos temblar

y caer como lágrimas del día…

¡esas… no volverán!

Volverán del amor en tus oídos

las palabras ardientes a sonar;

tu corazón de su profundo sueño

tal vez despertará.

Pero mudo y absorto y de rodillas

como se adora a Dios ante su altar, …

como yo te he querido…; desengáñate,

¡así… no te querrán!

Glenn Hubbard

Glenn Hubbard began writing his own poems in 2013. Having lived in Madrid since 1987, he finally feels sufficiently confident to translate Spanish poets into English. He has recently also translated poems by Machado and Lorca

Spanish Romantic poet and writer, Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer died young from tuberculosis, the ‘romantic illness ‘ with most of his work still unpublished. His legend The White Roe Deer is particularly well known and his poems (rimas) and legends are normally published together as Rimas y leyenda

About the contributor

Related Articles

Poetry by Rodica Draghincescu, Translated from the Romanian by Diana Manole

Diana Manole translates the work of important European poet Rodica Draghincescu

In Between by Clelia Albano, translated by Peter O’Neill

In Between    Sebbene la forza gravitazionale  tenga i miei piedi per terra ed io viva lo stesso tempo  nel buio e nella luce, senza accorgermi della rivoluzione  del pianeta più...

Poetry by Alexandre Ferrere

Alexandre Ferrere’s essays, fiction, interviews and poems appeared in dozens of magazines. His first chapbook, mono/stitches will be published by Ethel in 2020.


More Like This

2 poems by Roy Liran

2 Poems from Roy Liran

2 Poems by John Casquarelli translated from Turkish by Sevda Akyuz

John Casquarelli’s poems exult in vividness and engage the body of the reader in unexpected ways.

Featured Poet Edvin Subašić

Migrations  A boy in the darkness burning candles, shadows on the ceiling so playful so yellow, reads Crime and Punishment, follows furious light inside the sullen...

Poetry by Nina Kossman

A potent, bilingual artist, Nina Kossman endows her poems with a vividness of language that equally seduces and puzzles.

Three poems by Astrid Cabral, translated by Alexis Levitin

Astrid Cabral’s poems are visually musical and the rich vein of her native language, Portuguese, is beautifully captured in Alexis Levitin’s translation.