Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Quote for 8 September 2004

Today's quote is in honor of a professor for whom I was fortunate to work as an undergraduate (in the event that she or any of her colleagues are reading this blog, they'll know exactly who she is by today's selection). Due to the fact that this quote is from a poet writing in 16th to early 17th century Spain, I'll post both the original and the translation. It's a fantastic poem.

Tres cosas me tienen preso
de amores el corazón:
la bella Inés, el jamón
y berengenas con queso.

Esta Inés, amantes, es
quien tuvo en mí tal poder,
que me hizo aborrecer
todo lo que no era Inés.

Trájome un año sin seso,
hasta que en una ocasión
me dio a merendar jamón
y berengenas con queso.

Fue Inés la primer palma,
pero ya júzgase mal
entre todos ellos cuál
tiene más parte de mi alma.

En gusto, medida y peso
no le hallo distinción;
ya quiero Inés, ya jamón,
ya berengenas con queso.

Alega Inés su beldad,
el jamón que es de Aracena,
el queso y la berengena
la española antigüedad.

Ya está tan en fiel el peso
que, juzgado sin pasión,
todo es uno: Inés, jamón
y berengenas con queso.

A lo menos este trato
destos mis nuevos amores
hará que Inés sus favores
me los venda más barato,

pues tendrá por contrapeso
si no hiciere la razón,
una lonja de jamón
y berengenas con queso.


—"Tres cosas me tienen preso" por Baltasar del Alcázar en The Penguin Book of Spanish Verse. Traducido al inglés por J.M. Cohen:

Three things keep my heart the prisoner of love, the fair Inés, smoked ham and aubergines in (melted) cheese.

It is this Inés, lovers, who had such power over me as to make me hate all that was not Inés.

She kept me out of my senses for a year, until on one occasion she gave me for lunch smoked ham and aubergines in cheese.

Inés had the first triumph, but now it is difficult to judge which of all the three has the greatest share in my soul.

In taste, measure, and weight, I can see no distinction between them: now I love Inés, now smoked ham, and now aubergines in cheese.

Inés boasts her beauty, the ham that it is from Aracena, and the cheese and the aubergine their ancient Spanish extraction.

And the weight is so equally balanced that, judged dispassionately, all are alike: Inés, smoked ham, and aubergines in cheese.

At least this matter of these new loves of mine will make Inés sell me her favours more cheaply,

for, if reason does not move her, she will have as counterweight, a slice of ham and aubergines in cheese.