1. Mientras por competir con tu cabello,oro bruñido al solar relumbra en vano; mientras con menosprecio en medio el llano mira tu blanca frente el lilio bello; 5. Mientras a cada labio, por cogello, siguen más ojos que al clavel temprano; y mientras triunfa con desdén Lozano del luciente cristal tu gentil cuello: 9. Goza cuello, cabello, labio y frente, antes que lo que fue en tu edad dorada oro, lilio, clavel, cristal luciente, 12. No sólo en plata o viola troncada se vuelva, mas tu y ello juntamente en tierra, en humo, en polvo, en sombra, en nada.

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Prose Translation:While burnished gold gleams in vain in the sunlight to contend with her hair;/ while in the center of the level your white brow gazes ~ above the same lily with disdain;/ while an ext eyes follow each lip come kiss them 보다 follow the at an early stage carnation;/ and while her slender neck triumphs over gleaming crystal through self-assured scorn: reap your neck, hair, lips and also brow, before what was in your golden youth, gold, lily, carnation, gleaming decision not only turns to silver or come drooping violet however you and all of it together into earth, smoke, dust, shadow, nothing.

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Portrait of Góngora by Diego de Velázquez

Commentary.This city is a sonnet, i.e. 14 hendecasyllabic lines (i.e. 11 syllables every line). It has two quatrains, (each quatrain consists of four lines), and two tercets (each comprised of 3 lines). Occasionally we talk of the 2 quatrains together as one octave, and also the two tercets with each other as a sestet. The rhyme plan is ABBA, ABBA, CDC, DCD.


Mientras por competir… is just one of Góngora’s most renowned sonnets and also appears in practically all anthologies the Spanish poetry. Although the layout is usual (the urgent appeal come a young mrs to gain her youth prior to time destroys it), the poem’s significance is based on the art v which it is written.


The resource is classical: the Carpe diem (“Enjoy the day”) of Horace, and the Collige, virgo, rosas (“Gather, maiden, the roses”) indigenous Ausonius. We can see how Garcilaso de la Vega handled the subject in his En tanto que de rosa y de azucena… and also it is this city that Góngora had actually in mind as soon as he penned Mientras por competir…

The subject similarity invites united state to to compare both sonnets in what we call intertextuality. Garcilaso’s sonnet is the “pre”text or implied message for Góngora and also the context in ~ which the writes his own sonnet. This raises the question: to what degree does Góngora imitate Garcilaso and in what means is that different?

One of the attributes of Renaissance poetry was imitation, and the poet’s “originality” was measured by his capacity to select good models for inspiration. No tengo por buen poeta al que no imita los excelentes antiguos, (“I don’t take into consideration anyone that does no imitate the excellent ancients to be a good poet”), stated Francisco Sánchez de ras Brozas (better known as El Brocense), the first to write a commentary on Garcilaso’s city (1574).

El Brocense’s comment was recognition of Garcilaso’s stature as a version worthy to it is in imitated, same to the good Latin and also Italian poets (e.g. Virgil, Horace, Petrarch). In another commentary, released in 1580, the Andalusian poet, Fernando de Herrera, go a step further, urging poets not just to choose great models but additionally to aspire come surpass lock in the search of poetic excellence.

It remained in this vein of imitating and striving come exceed what Garcilaso had written in En tanto que… that Góngora composed his sonnet. He does this in 2 ways: 1) in his therapy of the theme, and 2) in his taking care of of the imagery and also rhetoric that he employs.

Theme: Time and beauty.In Garcilaso’s sonnet, the lady’s beauty beauty is compared to that of nature (“rose,” “lily,” “gold”) and also her youthful characteristics evoked by metaphors that “fruit” and also “spring” (lines 9-10). There is a blending of nature and feminine beauty, v each equal to the other.

Góngora, top top the other hand, emphasize the superiority that the lady’s beauty, beauty over that of nature (lines 1-8). We read that burnished yellow can’t “compete” through the lady’s hair (lines 1-2); she white brow “looks down” ~ above the lily (lines 3-4); “more” eyes are addressed on her lips than on the carnation (lines 5-6; and also her neck “triumphs” over the gleaming decision (lines 7-8). Together a result, Góngora’s lady appears much more vibrant, and her beauty an ext intense and colourful, much more in maintaining with baroque aesthetics of marked contrasts..

Time is a constant in both sonnets, its devastating force becoming more evident v the ladies’ lose of beauty. Indeed, in the last 6 lines the Garcilaso’s sonnet, the city becomes progressively an ext a meditation ~ above time itself, and the lady –the “you” whom the poet (or poetic voice) addresses– disappears totally in the 2nd tercet (lines 12-14).

Such is not the case in Góngora’s sonnet. The lady (the “you”) remains integral come the end, wherein the impacts of time on she reach your logical conclusion: time spend her and everything (tú y ello) leave behind just “earth,” “smoke,” “dust,” “shadow” and “nothingness” (line 14).

Garcilaso takes us no more than old age; Góngora carries us to extinction. Whereby Garcilaso tasks us right into the future in the second tercet (marchitará, mudará), Góngora stays clear of the future tense, producing thereby a much much more intense method of conveying the urgency of the appeal to the lady to gain her youth if she can. This dramatic run from beauty come decay/extinction, life’s pleasures come death, appearance to truth belongs come the baroque sensibility of illusion and also disillusion, and also is a characteristic of the good literature in ~ the rotate of the 17th century.

Imagery and also Rhetoric:The structure of Góngora’s sonnet parallels the of Garcilaso’s: the angaphoric conjunctions of time (en tanto que in Garcilaso, mientras in Góngora), the appeal to reap youthful days, adhered to by one more conjunction of time (antes que in both poems) which climate leads united state to the conclusion. However that’s wherein the similarity ends. Garcilaso’s conclusion is a resigned recognition of the changes wrought by time: you’ll thrive old; Góngora’s ending is much much more hard hitting: you’re walking to end up together nothing!

The two-fold function of the anaphora, i.e. The recurring conjunction the time, is similar in both poems: it creates suspense together we await the main verb, and also it is a continuous unifying harmoniously the ladies’ hair, brow, eyes, lips and also neck right into an impressionistic, beautiful image.

The structure of Góngora’s sonnet, however, is more highly-crafted and also complex. Because that example, the usage of anaphora is more an extensive with mientras being used 4 times if Garcilaso uses en tanto que twice and an abbreviated form que once. This raised repetition of the anaphora (in present 1, 3, 5, 7) intensifies our expectation and underlines, more than in Garcilaso’s sonnet, time’s omnipresence.

Associated with each usage of mientras and following in continuous order from optimal down are: “hair,” “brow,” “lips” and also “neck.” The point here is the logical order (something not adhered to by Garcilaso: “brow,” “eyes,” “hair,” “neck”), which boosts the emotion of harmony and, by extension, beauty.

Two more devices add to the emotion of harmony: 1. every body component is evoked over 2 lines (couplets) and also 2. each has a corresponding element drawn indigenous nature: “hair/gold”, “brow/lily,” “lip/carnation,” and “neck/crystal.” So, by the finish of the octet (lines 1-8), we have a harmonious, colourfully impressionistic image of feminine beauty, fastened in a structural symmetry of 4 parallel and also counterbalancing couplets, each beginning with mientras.

Then us finally come to what shows up to it is in the main verb and also its message: “enjoy” (goza heat 9). Yet we have scarcely soaked up that exhortation once we are quickly whisked front by one more conjunction of time, “before,” (antes que). The very same is provided by Garcilaso, however in Góngora’s sonnet the is an ext emphatically placed at the beginning of the line. Wherein does this critical conjunction the time lead us to? to the sobering reality that we all confront decay and also extinction (line 14).

The very first tercet (lines 9-11) is very clever, condensing within its three lines the human body parts and also their matching natural elements, expanded over the octet. The enumeration of previously mentioned elements right into one line (as in currently 9 and also 11 here) is referred to as correlation or recapitulation and was a an equipment much favoured by baroque writers usually to convey order/ symmetry.

But Góngora overturns the principle here, due to the fact that the symmetrical correspondence of lines 1 come 8 is ruptured in two ways. First, the lady’s beauty is no much longer evoked in one orderly fashion from “hair” to “neck,” however is currently “neck,” “hair,” “lip” and “brow,” i.e. The picture is no longer harmonious, but broken like a Picasso face. Second, although the natural elements correlated in heat 11 execute follow your order in the octet, lock no longer correspond to the components enumerated in heat 9.

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This now asymmetrical picture prepares united state for old age (second tercet), metaphorically portrayed as “silver” and “drooping violet.” yet as the “Not only” (No sólo) at the beginning of line 9 suggests, over there is an ext to come. By now Garcilaso has actually arrived at the main message (“you’ll flourish old”), but Góngora dead the suspense right to the last line, and also what a heat it is! it looks longer than all the other lines, yet thanks to synalepha** it is in fact a hendecasyllable favor the others. Thus: e(1)n ti ͜(2)erra, ͜(3) en hu(4)mo, ͜(5) en po(6)lvo, ͜(7) en so(8)mbra, ͜(9) en na(10)d(11)a.