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A New and Complete Translation

Essay 63

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 [†] 8 December 1767[63.1]

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 The Queen has returned from the country estate; Essex has as well.[63.2] As soon as he arrives in London he rushes to the court so as not to waste a moment. He and Cosme open the second act, which takes place in the royal palace. On the Earl’s orders Cosme has furnished himself with pistols; the Earl has secret enemies; he worries about being attacked when he leaves the palace late at night. He tells Cosme to take the pistols to Blanca’s room in the meanwhile and have Flora keep them. At the same time he unties the sash because he wants to go to Blanca. Blanca is jealous, the sash could give her ideas, she could want to have it, and he would have to deny it to her. While he is handing it to Cosme for safekeeping, Blanca comes in. Cosme wants to hide it quickly, but he cannot do it quickly enough to keep Blanca from noticing it. Blanca takes the Earl with her to the Queen, and as he goes Essex cautions Cosme to keep absolutely mum about the sash and not show it to anyone.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Among his other good qualities, Cosme has this one: he is an arch-chatterbox. He cannot keep a secret for an hour, he is afraid of getting an ulcer from it, and the Earl’s prohibition has reminded him just in time that he has exposed himself to this danger for the last thirty-six hours.[*][63.3] He gives the pistols to Flora, and has opened his mouth to tell her the whole story of the masked lady and the sash when he reconsiders: the first person with whom he shares his secret should be much more worthy. It would not be proper if Flora could boast that she had deflowered him of it.[†][63.4] (I am trying to insert a hint of the great range of Spanish humor.)

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Cosme need not wait long for this more worthy person. Blanca is so tormented by her curiosity that she disengages herself from the Earl as soon as possible to find out what Cosme had earlier tried to hide from her so hastily. She thus returns immediately, and after she first asks why he has not already left for Scotland, where the Earl was to send him, and he answers that he will depart at the break of dawn, she demands to know what he is keeping hidden? She presses him; but Cosme does not let himself be pressed for long. He tells her everything he knows about the sash, and Blanca takes it from him. The way he divests himself of his secret is extremely disgusting. His stomach will no longer keep it down; he feels a rising and a churning in his belly; he sticks his finger down his throat; he vomits; and to get a better taste in his mouth again he rushes out to chew a quince or an olive.[‡][63.5] Blanca cannot fully make sense of his confusing prattle, but she does understand this much: that the sash was the gift from a lady with whom Essex could fall in love if he were not already in love. “For he is, after all, just a man,” she says. “And woe to her who has entrusted her honor to a man! Even the best is still bad!”[§] – To preempt his unfaithfulness, she determines to marry him, the sooner the better.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 The Queen enters and is extremely downhearted. Blanca asks if she should call the other ladies-in-waiting, but the Queen prefers to be alone; only Irene should come and sing outside the room.[63.6] Blanca exits on one side, and the Earl enters from the other.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Essex loves Blanca, but he is ambitious enough to want to be the Queen’s lover as well. He reproaches himself for this ambition, he punishes himself for it, his heart belongs to Blanca, self-serving intentions must not rob her of it, false-hearted expediency must not conquer true feelings.[**][63.7] Thus when he becomes aware of the Queen, he wants to depart; and when the Queen sees him, she also wants to avoid him. But they both stay. Meanwhile Irene begins to sing outside the room. She sings a redondilla, a short song four lines long, whose meaning is: “If my lovestruck lamentations come to your attention, then oh, let the pity they deserve overpower the displeasure you feel that it is I who convey them.”[63.8] The Queen likes the song, and Essex finds it easy to declare his love through it in an oblique manner. He says that he has glossed it, and asks permission to tell her his gloss.[††][63.9] In this gloss he describes himself as the most tender lover, who is forbidden by his reverence from revealing himself to the object of his love. The Queen praises his poetry, but she disapproves of his manner of loving. “A love that is silenced cannot be great,” she says among other things, “for love only grows through being requited, and by remaining silent, one deliberately forfeits requited love.”[63.10]


7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 [*]     – yo no me acordaba
de decirlo, y lo callaba,
y como me lo encargó,
ya por decirlo rebiento,
que tengo tal propiedad,
que en un hora, ó la mitad,
se me hace postema un cuento.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 [†]     Allá va, Flora: mas no,
será á persona mas grave;
no es bien que Flora se alabe,
que el cuento me desfloró.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 [‡]     […] ya se me viene á la boca
la purga. […]
Qué regüeldos tan reveses
me vienen! terrible aprieto! […]
mi estómago no lo lleva.
Protesto – qué gran trabajo!
meto los dedos. […]
Y pues la purga he trocado,
y el secreto he vomitado
desde el principio hasta el fin,
y sin dexar cosa alguna,
tal asco me dió al decillo,
voy á probar de un membrillo,
ó á morder de una aceytuna.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 [§]     Es hombre, al fin, y ay de aquella
que á un hombre fió su honor,
siendo tan malo el mejor.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 [**]    […] abate, abate las alas,
no subas tanto, busquemos
mas proporcionada esfera
á tan limitado vuelo.
Blanca me quiere, y á Blanca
adoro yo: ya en mi dueño:
pues cómo de amor tan noble
por una ambicion me alejo?
No conveniencia bastarda
venza un legítimo afecto;

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 [††] The Spanish have a form of poetry that they call glosas. They take one or several lines as the text, so to speak, and explain or rewrite this text in such a way that the lines themselves are once again interwoven into this explanation or revision. They call the text mote [“motto”] or letra, and they call each particular exposition glosa, which is then also the name of the whole poem. Here, the poet has Essex make Irene’s song into a mote consisting of four lines, each of which he rewrites into its own individual stanza, which he then ends with the line he has rewritten. The whole looks like this:

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 MOTE.
Si acaso mis desvaríos
llegaren á tus umbrales,
la lástima de ser males
quite el horror de ser mios.

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 GLOSA.
Aunque el dolor me provoca
decir mis quejas no puedo,
que es mi osadía tan poca,
que entre el respeto y el miedo,
se me mueren en la boca:
Y así, no llegan tan mios
mis males á tus orejas,
perdiendo en la voz los brios,
si acaso digo mis quejas,
si acaso mis desvaríos.
El ser tan mal explicados
sea su mayor indicio,
que trocando en mis cuidados
el silencio, y voz su oficio,
quedarán mas ponderados:
Desde hoy por estas señales
sean de ti conocidos,
que sin duda son mis males,
si algunos mal repetidos
llegaren á tus umbrales.
Mas, ay Dios! que mis cuidados,
de tu crueldad conocidos,
aunque mas acreditados,
serán ménos admitidos,
que con los otros mezclados!
Porque no sabiendo á quales
mas tu ingratitud se deba,
viéndolos todos iguales
fuerza es que en comun te mueva
la lástima de ser males.
En mí este efecto violento
tu hermoso desden le causa:
tuyo y mio es mi tormento;
tuyo, porque eres la causa;
mio, porque yo lo siento:
Sepan, Laura, tus desvíos,
que mis males son tan suyos,
y en mis cuerdos desvaríos,
esto que tienen de tuyos,
quite el horror de ser mios.

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 All glosas do not have to be as symmetrical as this one. One has full freedom to make the stanzas that conclude with the lines of the mote as uneven as one wants. One does not even need to weave in all the lines; one can limit oneself to just one, and repeat this more than one time. Incidentally, these glosas belong to the older genres of Spanish poetry that pretty much fell out of fashion after Boscán and Garcilaso.

  • 16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0
  • [†] Text in blue indicates passages ommitted by Zimmern in her 1890 translation.
  • [63.1] Actually published winter of 1768.
  • [63.2] In [54], Lessing begins his analysis of The Unhappy Favourite: or, The Earl of Essex (1682) by John Banks; here Lessing continues, from [60], his extended synopsis and discussion of a “Spanish Essex” (Antonio Coello’s Dar la vida por su Dama, 1633). See [60.2].
  • [63.3] For the quotation in Lessing’s footnote, see Coello 13.
  • [63.4] Ibid.
  • [63.5] Ibid.
  • [63.6] Irene: a musician; the character never appears onstage.
  • [63.7] Coello 14.
  • [63.8] Redondilla: Spanish four-line octosyllabic stanza with the rhyme scheme ABBA. Lessing provides the Spanish in his footnote below.
  • [63.9] For the song (the mote) quoted by Lessing in his footnote, see Coello 14; for the larger quotation (the glosa), see pages 14–15. Boscán and Garcilaso: Juan Boscán (Joan Boscà i Almogàver) (c.1490–1542) and Garcilaso de la Vega (1503–36), poets (Catalan and Spanish, respectively) whose works were published together posthumously in 1543; their naturalization of Italian verse forms had a lasting influence on Spanish Golden Age poetry.
  • [63.10] Coello 15.
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Source: http://mcpress.media-commons.org/hamburg/essay-63/