Canción del pirata

José de Espronceda was a romantic era Spanish poet.  I’ll admit right now that this is not my favorite historical moment for poetry.  There is something magical about Espronceda’s overtly romanticized tribute to pirates, though.  Here is a portion of his Canción del pirata:

¡Sentenciado estoy a muerte!            70
Yo me río;
no me abandone la suerte,
y al mismo que me condena,
colgaré de alguna entena,
quizá en su propio navío. 75

Y si caigo,
¿qué es la vida?
Por perdida
ya la di,
cuando el yugo 80
del esclavo,
como un bravo,

Que es mi barco mi tesoro,
que es mi dios la libertad, 85
mi ley, la fuerza y el viento,
mi única patria, la mar.
Here is an English translation:

“I am condemned to die !—I laugh;
For, if my fates are kindly sped,
My doomer from his own ship’s staff
Perhaps I’ll hang instead.
And if I fall, why what is life?
For lost I gave it then as due,
When from slavery’s yoke in strife
A rover! I withdrew.
My treasure is my gallant bark;
My only God is liberty;
My law is might, the wind my mark,
My country is the sea.

As is usually the case, the English translation doesn’t exactly match the original Spanish version, and this is due to the attempt to preserve the form and rhyme. This causes me frustration and makes me want to rewrite it as a literal translation. However, a literal translation always loses some of the art, unless I spend much time with it. I am, essentially, the laziest blogger around. And, so, I leave you with this version as done by James Kennedy. Both full versions of this poem can be found here.

p.s. As a connoisseur of noses, I find Jose’s to be particularly attractive.


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