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The Poems of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer 

Translated and reprinted with permission of Henry W. Sullivan.


Cuando sobre el pecho inclinas
la melancólica frente,
una azucena tronchada
me pareces.

Porque al darte la pureza
de que es símbolo celeste,
como a ella te hizo Dios
de oro y nieve.


When upon your breast you bend
Your melancholy brow,
A lily snapped off at the stem
You seem to me.

For when He gave you purity,
Of which it's Heaven's sign,
Like lilies, God made you
Of gold and snow.


A Elisa
Para que los leas con tus ojo grises,
para que los cantes con tu clara voz,
para que llenen de emoción tu pecho,
hice mis versos yo.

Para que encuentren en tu pecho asilo
y les des juventud, vida y calor,
tres cosas que yo no puedo darles,
hice mis versos yo.

Para hacerte gozar con mi alegría,
para que sufras tú con mi dolor,
para que sientas palpitar mi vida,
hice mis versos yo.

Para poder poner ante tus plantas
la ofrenda de mi vida y de mi amor,
con alma, sueño rotos, risas, lágrimas,
hice mis versos yo.


To Elisa
So you may read them with your eyes of grey,
So your clear voice may make them sound,
So they may swell your bosom with emotion,
I wrote my verses down.

So they may find a refuge in your breast,
In you, with ardor, life and youth abound:
Three things that I cannot impart to them,
I wrote my verses down.

To make you happy in my exultation,
To make you suffer with me as I drown. ...
And feel the palpitations of my life. ...
I wrote my verses down.

So I might place the offering of my life
And love before your feet, in solemn vow,
With soul and shattered dreams, and laughter, tears,
I wrote my verses down.


Hoy la tierra y los cielos me sonríen,
hoy llega al fondo de mi alma el sol,
hoy le he visto ... la he visto y me ha mirado ...
&161;Hoy creo en Dios!


Today the earth and heavens smiled on me;
Today the sun has reached my soul's dull sod;
Today I've seen her ... seen her and she looked my way ...
Today I believe in God!


Volverán las oscuras golondrinas
en tu balcón sus nidos a colgar,
y otra vez con el ala a sus cristales
jugando llamarán.

Pero aquéllas que el vuelo refrenaban
tu hermosura y mi dicha a contemplar,
aquéllas que aprendieron nuestros nombres ...
ésas ... &161;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 goats mirábamos temblar
y caer como lágrimas del día ...
ésas ... &161;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,
&161;así ... no te querrán!  


The sooty swallows shall return, again
To hang their nests above your balcony,
And once more chirrup, fluttering their wings
Against your window pane.

But those that slowed their wheeling flight
To contemplate your beauty and my bliss,
The ones who memorized our names,
They ... shall not come again!

The billowing honeysuckle shall return
Once more to climb about your garden walls,
And once more in the gloaming, gorgeous still,
Its flowers shall open forth;

But those blooms laden down with dew
Which shivered, as we watched their tiny rain
Cone tumbling, like teardrops of the day,
They ... shall not come again!

And words of love, they shall return, to sound
Of burning passion in your ears;
Your heart, perchance, shall stir itself awake

From slumbering of years;

But mute, absorbed, and on his knees,
As one who worships God before an altar,
As I have loved you ... have no false hopes,
Such love ... shall not come again!


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