another addendum to the Spanish poet

wikipedia cites on Carl Gebhardt’s authority that the Spanish poet whom Spinoza cites is Luis de Góngora, who feuded with Quevado.

the last sonnet included in his selected poems, translated by John Dent-Young is “of human ambition,” from 1623

De la ambición humana
Mariposa, no sólo no cobarde,
mas temeraria, fatalmente ciega,
lo que la llama al Fénix aun le niega,
quiere obstinada que a sus alas guarde,
pues en su daño arrepentida tarde,
del esplandor solicitada, llega
a lo que luce, y ambiciosa entrega
su mal vestida pluma a lo que arde.
Yace gloriosa en la que dulcemente
huesa le ha prevenido abeja breve,
¡suma felicidad a yerro sumo!
No a mi ambición contrario tan luciente,
menos activo sí, cuanto más leve,
cenizas la hará, si abrasa el humo.

their translation reads:

Far from being a coward, the moth chooses
—rashly bold, endowed with fatal blindness—
obstinately to claim for its wings a kindness
which even to the phoenix fl ame refuses;
too late aware to save itself, it turns
toward a splendor, enchanted by the blaze
of that which shines; ambition thus betrays
the ill-assembled plumes to that which burns.
In glory now it lies in the tomb most sweetly
which in advance a little bee had fashioned.
The greatest bliss rewards a fault that’s great!
But my ambition does not need this enemy:
it can by smoke alone be turned to ashes,
which has no burning power, no shine, no weight.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *