20 mar. 2004

After Lope de Vega

("Un soneto me manda hacer Violante")

Violante's wish is that I write a sonnet.
Well begun is half-way done; I think I'll do it.
Femine rhymes? Ten minutes? Sure, I'm on it.
Once I get started rhyme will push me through it.
(The second quatrain usually develops
Ideas presented in the first. It's easy:
Once you get started, confidence envelops
Your poem, written in a style so breezy).
Where was I? Yes, line nine, where arguments can falter.
An extra foot? It's here I get myself in trouble.
My inability to count, to ride a horse without a halter,
Makes five feet turn to six, then, seven, or eight, or almost double.
I'm done, but for a modest couplet
Short by a foot, or long by a quintuplet.

I know, I know, I have a faulty catalytic converter in the first foot of line 2, a doctorseussism in line 8 (that's the technical term for it, I believe :). But since I love Dr. Seuss, I'll let it stand. I can see how writing sonnets can be addictive. If you don't know Lope's poem, I recommend that you learn Spanish to read it in the original. I didn't have it in front of me, so only the first line is really a translation.

Un soneto me manda hacer Violante
que en mi vida me he visto en tanto aprieto;
catorce versos dicen que es soneto;
burla burlando van los tres delante.

Yo pensé que no hallara consonante,
y estoy a la mitad de otro cuarteto;
mas si me veo en el primer terceto,
no hay cosa en los cuartetos que me espante.

Por el primer terceto voy entrando,
y parece que entré con pie derecho,
pues fin con este verso le voy dando.

Ya estoy en el segundo, y aun sospecho
que voy los trece versos acabando;
contad si son catorce, y está hecho.

[Violante orders me to write a sonnet;
I've never seen myself in such a fix.
They say a sonnet's fourteen lines.
Fooling the fool, the first three are already written.

I thought I wouldn't find a rhyme.
And already I'm in the middle of the second quatrain.
But once I reach the first tercet,
Nothing in the quatrains will frighten me.

I'm entering into the first tercet.
And it seems I've entered there on a good "foot,"
and now I'm ending it with this line.

Now I'm in the second, and I even suspect
That I'm now concluding the thirteenth line.
Count if there are fourteen, and I'll be done]