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Soneto de Repente

Today, a treat for poetry lovers: the results of a translation challenge between Colin (polymath polyglot and QuickSilver President) and Estrella Whiteley.

The idea was for Colin to render a Spanish poem into English and Estrella an English poem into Spanish. Bonus marks, of course, were awarded for the complexity and specificity of the original.

Colin chose the tightly-structured but playful Soneto de repente by Lope de Vega (1562 1635): why do you think he translated Violante as Volante?

Un soneto me manda hacer Violante

que en mi vida me he visto en tanto aprieto;

catorce versos dicen que es soneto;

burla burlando van los tres delante.

Yo pense que no hallara consonante,

y estoy a la mitad de otro cuarteto;

mas si me veo en el primer terceto,

no hay cosa en los cuartetos que me espante.

Por el primer terceto voy entrando,

y parece que entre con pie derecho,

pues fin con este verso le voy dando.

Ya estoy en el segundo, y aun sospecho

que voy los trece versos acabando;

contad si son catorce, y esta hecho.

Instant Sonnet

My friend Volante tells me to write

A sonnet. I don’t know where to begin.

Fourteen lines must be put in,

Well… four have already seen the light.

I thought I’d never have the time;

Now half the second quatrain’s done.

The last six lines will be quite fun

If I can make this eighth line rhyme!

The first triplet begins right here.

I don’t think it will go awry,

For this line brings the end quite near.

Just three lines left to go, so try

The thirteenth; now it’s done. No fear.

Is this fourteen? We’re home and dry.

Although many poets and translators have had a stab at this famous sonnet, we’re sure you’ll agree that Colin’s version is superior.

Next week we will have a look at Estrella Whiteley’s response, but in the meantime why not have a go at Soneto de repente yourself; if you think you can do better, we’d love to hear about it…

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