A Salute To Spanish Poetry: 100 Masterpieces from Spain & Latin America rendered into English verse
A Salute to Spanish Poetry presents 100 works of art originally written by leading poets, and those little known in their time, from the 13th to mid 20th century in Spain and Latin America, now painstakingly translated by John Howard Reid.
Choosing the right pieces can make or break any anthology. Mr Reid has succeeded here as there isn't a weak selection in the group. Covered is a varied assortment of topics as diverse as the poets themselves. It would seem as though these titles were meant to be together despite the fact the creators worked continents and often hundreds of years apart. There are themes of love and broken hearts, sadness, longing, the beauty of women, and quirky humor as well.
A few favourites: Mountain Song by Marqués de Santillana is one of several where it appears the author has fallen under the spell of women. "I forced myself not to look too long at her great beauty, for fear of losing my freedom and becoming her prisoner."
Timid Love by Amado Nervo about a pain not yet healed. "But to fall madly in love was something I feared. I'd no desire to open old wounds that were still prone to bleed."
Those who enjoy rhyme in their poetry will enjoy For the Love and Praise of a Lady by Alfonso Álvarez de Villasandino. "Lady of gladness take pity on me, for I live in Sadness desiring thee."
An intriguing look at love by Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas in Defining Love. "Burning ice. A fire that chills the soul. Sanity. Madness. A freedom in chains."
After so many serious pieces, an amusing look at thoughts on marriage by Gil Vicente in They Tell Me I Must Marry. "I'm a choice flower, of maidenhood, that's true ! But should a flower marry a weed?"
The majority of the poets in the collection are men. However, no fewer than six of Rosalía de Castro's best showcase one of Spain's greatest female poets. I found that her works stood out throughout the book. In Hour After Hour Day After Day. "Who can call back the waves that caress the beach and then die in that embrace?"
Translating poetry is no easy task. Too literal a translation and the rhyme and rhythm are lost. Too much embellishing and the meaning and emotional impact are altered forever. I believe Mr Reid has done an outstanding job in both regards, successfully breathing new life into these timeless gems. These artists and their masterpieces would have remained unknown to most English-speaking poetry enthusiasts if not for Reid's diligent work.
If you enjoy great verse then treat yourself to A Salute to Spanish Poetry. You won't be disappointed. Highly Recommended.
Written by William R. Potter for Reader's Choice Book Reviews