To the sonnet with all my heart

One of my favorite poets is Juan Ramon Jimenez (1881-1958), who was awarded the 1956 Nobel Prize. His imaginative leaps remind me of Rilke: his work has the same insistence on confronting existence with open eyes and on finding fresh ways to express its mysteries.

 "Al soneto con mi alma" (To the sonnet with all my heart) is at once Jimenez's tribute to the formal structures that make poetry possible and a celebration of the sensual world from which they spring. It appeared at the head of Jimenez's 1916 collection, Sonetos Espirituales (Spiritual Sonnets).

Just as one wing suggests infinite flight
and every flower has an essence we miss,
a darting radiance calls out in you
as from the blue of an unbroken sky.

As every melody has its consolation,
each jetting stream its penetrating chill,
and diamonds in the rough their cherished gleam,
some yearning within me is never-ending.

In your shape, sonnet, this pure anguish
traces, as in clear, unshaken water,
all its undying wonders.

Like the sky reflected in a fountain,
the endless clarity of your beauty is
unbounded by the limits of your borders.

"Al soneto con mi alma" by Juan Ramon Jimenez
Translation by Frank Beck

The same year Sonetos Espirituales was published, Ramon Jimenez married the Barcelona-born writer Zenobia Camprubi, and the two collaborated on many writing projects over the next 40 years. A museum in Moguer, near Huelva in southwestern Andalusia, is dedicated to the couple; there's a link to its website below.

 Zenobia: Juan Ramon Jimenez House Museum in Moguer

1 comment:

  1. Hi Frank, by happy chance I've just come across your blog. I just wrote a short blog post about a poem by Elgar that I think has an uncanny resemblance with one by Juan Ramón. I was doing a search on Google to see if there was anything at all pointing to about any possible connection between these two very different artists, which lead me to come across your blog, as it seems that you are one of the very few people who includes both of them among their interests. Just in case you do have a chance to look at it, I'm including below the link to my blog post. Any thoughts are welcome.

    Best wishes,