DE LA BREVEDAD ENGAÑOSA
DE LA VIDA
OF THE DECEPTIVE BREVITY
OF LIFE
Luis de Góngoraprose tr. J.M.Cohen
Menos solicitó veloz saeta
destinada señal, que mordió aguda;
agonal carro por la arena muda
no coronó con más silencio meta,

que presurosa corre, que secreta 
a su fin nuestra edad. A quien lo duda,
fiera que sea de razón desnuda,
cada sol repetido es un cometa.

¿Confiésalo Cartago, y tú lo ignoras?  
Peligro corres, Licio, si porfias
en seguir sombras y abrazar engaños.

Mal te perdonarán a ti las horas; 
las horas que limando están los días,
los días que royendo están los años.
The swift arrow sought less eagerly
its assigned target, into which it sharply bit,
the festal Roman chariot over the dumb sand
did not crown the winning-post more silently

than precipitately, silently, our age 
runs to its end. Even for one who doubts it,
beast that he is and naked of reason,
each sun as it is repeated is (as fatal as) a comet.

Does Carthage confess it and you not know it?  
You are running into danger, Licio, if you persist
in following shadows and embracing deceptions.

The hours will hardly forgive you, 
those hours that are wearing away the days,
those days that are gnawing away the years.

Click here 2 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. copyright © J.M.Cohen 1956, 1960, 1988 - publ. Penguin Books


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