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The Translation of Verse Form. A Revision of Holmes' Model Based on the Spanish Translations of Shakespeare's Sonnets

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While an essential component of poetry, form has been frequently overlooked in research on poetry translation or has been addressed under rather prescriptivist approaches, with notable exceptions (Holmes 1994, Jones, 2011, among others). This paper deals with the translation of the poetic form from a descriptivist perspective from a corpus of 69 Spanish translations of Shakespeare's Sonnets published between 1877 and 2018. It addresses , particularly, the outer form or macrostructure of the poems using one sonnet of each translation as a prototype. This analysis will serve as a basis for classifying these translations according to James S. Holmes' metapoem forms and for proposing a revision of this model. While there are certain forms or patterns repeated throughout, the diverse solutions show that there is no single favoured way of rendering these sonnets, not even during a specific period (beyond the preference for verse over prose).
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The Translation of Verse Form. A
Revision of Holmes’ Model Based on the
Spanish Translations of Shakespeare’s
Sonnets
La traducción de la forma del verso. Una revisión del
modelo de Holmes basada en las traducciones al español
de los sonetos de Shakespeare
How to cite:
Escudero, T. (2021). The Translation of Verse Form. A Revision of Holmes’ Model Based on the Spanish Translations of
Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Sendebar, 32, 7-29.
https://doi.org/10.30827/sendebar.v32.16892
Corresponding author:
Tanya Escudero
escudero@tlu.ee
Publication history:
Received: 24.11.2020
Reviewed: 07.06.2021
Accepted: 08.07.2021
Tanya Escudero  0000-0001-9509-7439
Tallinn University
ABSTRACT
While an essential component of poetry, form has been frequently overlooked in research on poetry translation
or has been addressed under rather prescriptivist approaches, with notable exceptions (Holmes 1994, Jones,
2011, among others). This paper deals with the translation of the poetic form from a descriptivist perspective
from a corpus of 69 Spanish translations of Shakespeare’s Sonnets published between 1877 and 2018. It ad-
dresses, particularly, the outer form or macrostructure of the poems using one sonnet of each translation as a
prototype. This analysis will serve as a basis for classifying these translations according to James S. Holmes’
metapoem forms and for proposing a revision of this model. While there are certain forms or patterns repeated
throughout, the diverse solutions show that there is no single favoured way of rendering these sonnets, not even
during a specic period (beyond the preference for verse over prose).
Keywords: poetry translation, metapoem, rhythm, rhyme, poetic form
RESUMEN
Pese a ser un componente esencial de la poesía, la forma ha sido frecuentemente ignorada en la investigación
sobre traducción poética o ha sido abordada bajo enfoques más bien prescriptivistas, con destacables excepcio-
nes (Holmes 1994, Jones, 2011, entre otros). Este trabajo aborda la traducción de la forma poética desde una
perspectiva descriptivista a partir de un corpus de 69 traducciones al español de los Sonetos de Shakespeare
publicadas entre 1877 y 2018. Trata, en particular, la forma exterior o macroestructura de los poemas utilizando
un soneto de cada traducción como prototipo. Esto permitirá clasicar dichas traducciones según las formas
del metapoema de James S. Holmes y proponer una revisión de este modelo. Si bien ciertas formas o patrones
se repiten, las diversas soluciones demuestran que no hay una forma predilecta para traducir estos sonetos, ni
siquiera durante un período especíco (más allá de la preferencia por el verso sobre la prosa).
Palabras clave: traducción poética, metapoema, ritmo, rima, forma poética
Original Articles · Artículos originales
Article info
4.0 BY-NC
ISSN-e 2340-2415
Conict of interest:
None.
Funding:
The author received no nancial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
7
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https://revistaseug.ugr.es/index.php/sendebar
Publisher: Universidad de Granada
Escudero, T. The Translation of Verse Form. A Revision of Holmes’ Model Based on the Spanish Translations…
1. Introduction
The aim of this article is to shed light on the way formal poetry is translated into Spanish,
using a corpus of Shakespeare’s translations into this language and providing a descriptive
analysis of the form used in these translations. To classify the results, I will use Holmes’ me-
tapoem categories (Holmes 1994), in which the starting point is always the search for formal
versus semantic resemblance.
Much has been written about certain content-related aspects of poetry and their transla-
tion, such as metaphors or puns. However, although it is broadly accepted that a poem is an
indissoluble union of content and form, the latter is frequently overlooked, and it is more
common to nd insights into form in the prefaces or notes written by translators themselves
than in scholarly papers. However, such reections from translators are frequently charged
with great prescriptivism and scholarly papers on the matter are often written from the same
perspective and frequently substantially biased (e.g. Bly 1982; Etkind 1982; and, to some
extent, Lefevere 1975), especially until the last few decades, when some important work was
published (see, among others, Bassnett 1998b; Koster 2000; Boase-Beier 2006, 2015; Jones
2011a; Boase-Beier and Holman 2016), focusing not on revealing the correct way to translate
poetry, but on describing and interpreting various elements related to it, such as the style or
the agents involved.
Avoiding the prescriptive tradition typical of his time, James S. Holmes presented a paper
at the 1968 International Conference on Translation as an Art, held in Bratislava, on “Forms
of Verse Translation and the Translation of Verse Form”, in which he explained the potential
forms of a translated poem or ‘metapoem’. Barely a month earlier, Holmes had introduced
the notion of metapoem at the International Conference of General and Applied Linguistics,
in Antwerp. The revised text of this paper denes it as “the poem intended as a translation of
a poem into another language” (Holmes 1994: 10). Discussing this concept, he suggests that
“it might be helpful if for this specic literary form, with its double purpose as metaliterature
and as primary literature, we introduced the designation ‘metapoem’” (1994: 24). Although
the eld of Translation Studies has undergone major changes and grown exponentially since
1968, this concept has not had a signicant impact on research on poetic translation, despite
the advantages to be discussed in this article.
It is somewhat customary to begin an article on poetry translation with a question about the
plausibility of the act itself; the stiing idea of delity weighs heavily on the practice. Howev-
er, it is not the rendition of poetry into another language—doing so has been common practice
for centuries—but the use of the word ‘translation’ that still keeps scholars up at night. Al-
though the notion of metapoem could quieten the controversy to some extent, we might again
encounter the obstacle Holmes tried to overcome by dening the term as “the poem intended
as a translation” (Holmes 1994: 10, emphasis added). That solution was similar to the one lat-
er proposed by Gideon Toury under the guise of ‘assumed translations’—“all utterances in a
(target) culture which are presented or regarded as translations” (Toury 1995: 17)—a solution
not without critics (Halverson 1997: 224; Pym 2014). Rather than dening what is or is not
translation, Toury splits responsibility between the producers and the recipients of those texts;
for Holmes, only the producer is accountable. While the verdict for Toury arrives after the
product has been presented or regarded; for Holmes, intention is what matters.
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Still, how can we be sure of a translator’s intentions? Although sometimes statements on
the matter are found in the paratexts, this is not always the case. Moreover, even for trans-
lators, the line between translation and interpretation can be blurred (Escudero 2021). Since
the aim of this paper is not just rescuing the term metapoem but also categorising the ways in
which it has been cast in this corpus, it being dened by the translator as translation, adaptation
or imitation is futile. As Susan Bassnett recognises, the category of translation is “vague and
unhelpful”; she regrets “all the quibbling about determining the difference between ‘adapta-
tions’ and ‘versions’ and ‘imitations’, all the arguing about degrees of faithfulness or unfaith-
fulness and the obsessive concern with the idea of an ‘original’” (1998c: 38), which acts as a
burden in poetic translation.
As such, considering a translator’s intention does not sidestep the problem and I have,
hence, excluded intention in favour of an alternative which can help delimit the scope of the
metapoem, proposing a denition which simultaneously frees us from the constraints of del-
ity and allows for intralingual possibilities. Metapoem is, in this sense, a poem that, taking
another poem as a point of departure, creates a new piece of poetry in which some semantic
and/or formal features resemble those of the source text.
In his paper, Holmes describes a range of possibilities for approaching a poem, with meta-
poem being just one of seven meta-literary forms. Among the other six, three are within the
scope of ‘interpretation’ (in an analytic rather than creative sense): critical essay in the lan-
guage of the poem, critical essay in another language, and prose translation (which Holmes
does not integrate within the metapoem, as he considers it a ‘nil-form solution’). The other
three forms interpret “by enactment” (1994: 11, 24), and, therefore are considered by Holmes
as poetry; these are imitation, poem about poem, and poem inspired by poem (being the degree
of correspondence with the source text their main difference).
Following the denition introduced before, this new notion of metapoem would include
all four forms that Holmes regards as poetry, that is, those which interpret by enactment. Giv-
en that my main interest lies in establishing a classication of metapoetic forms, the degree
of correspondence with the source text is of little importance. Moreover, dening the border
between translation and interpretation would be a futile task; as Koster observes, “there is not
one specic way to characterize the relationship between these two concepts” considering that
“any such characterization would depend on the point of view from which they are related”
(2000: 35); hence the difculty of drawing a line between the two.
2. Holmes’ Metapoem and Other Classications of Poetry
Translation
Upon delimiting the concept of metapoem—as verse translation—Holmes classies it establi-
shing four categories divisible into three main groups: the rst derives from form (comprising
mimetic and analogical forms); the second derives from content (organic form); and the third
does not derive from either content or form (extraneous form):
The mimetic form allows the translator to “imitate the form of the original as best as he
can” (1994: 26).
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The analogical form enables the translator to cast the poem in a form that lls a parallel
function within their “poetic tradition” (1994: 26).
The organic form begins with the content, meaning the translator builds a new shape as
they manipulate the poem (1994: 27).
The extraneous form does not derive from either the content or form of the original poem;
accordingly, the translator creates a mould which is unrelated to the primary text (1994: 27).
Although this is not the only extant attempt at classifying poetry translations, most divi-
sions have focused on the dichotomy between delity and creativity. For Jorge Luis Borges,
a translation may be either literal or paraphrased, with the rst being typical of romantic
thinking (which venerates the artist) and the second constituting a more classical mentality,
for which the priority is the work of art (1997: 257-258). According to Jiří Levý, “two norms
apply in the evolution of reproductive art—the reproduction norm (i.e., the requirement to
capture the original faithfully) and the ‘artistic’ norm (i.e. the requirement of beauty)” (2011:
60). Similarly, Em Etkind proposes classifying translations into four groups: two focusing on
the semantic material—either in prose (‘traduction en prose d’information’) or verse (‘traduc-
tion versiée d’information’) —and the other two focusing on the artistic qualities of the text,
also through either prose (‘traduction en prose artistique’) or verse (‘traduction artistique en
vers’) (Etkind 1982: 211-212).
However, the most notable classication of poetry forms is probably André Lefevere’s
(1975), who—based on comparisons of Catullus’ 64th poem and its English translations—de-
lineated seven strategies used by translators: phonemic translation, literal translation, metrical
translation, poetry into prose, rhyme, blank verse and interpretation. He also described two
modes of interpretation: version and imitation. Thus, his categorisation is descriptive—unlike
that of Holmes, which was not based on any particular corpus—and deals with ‘strategies’, as
some of them can be applied simultaneously. For example, a translation can be both metrical
and rhymed, or it can imitate the original while using blank verse. Following Toury, Lefevere
demonstrated what a translation “is” while Holmes showed what it “can be” (Toury 1995: 19).
Although Holmes’ classication is more theoretical than descriptive and based not on a
specic corpus but on his experience as a researcher of poetic translation and as a poet and
poetry translator, I believe his model’s strength is its being derived from a content/form du-
alism. Although, as mentioned, these two elements are bound together—and even more so in
poetry—it seems clear that translators often begin with this dichotomy (albeit possibly in an
illusory manner for they are indissoluble). Thus, their decisions are often based on the search
for semantic or formal similarity, or a combination of both, and Holmes’ model could prove
useful for the analysis of this corpus’ translations. As such, this paper analyses the formal
structure of these sonnets—according to syllable count, rhythm and rhyme, as well as some
visual aspects—to recognise and understand how the prototypical form of the Shakespearian
sonnet has been translated into Spanish; in the process, I will demonstrate (where appropri-
ate) how the approaches taken t into the categorisation of the metapoem forms proposed by
Holmes (when an overlap is indeed possible).
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3. Corpus and Method
My analysis includes sixty-nine Spanish translations of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, published in
Spain and Latin America between 1877 and 2018 (listed in the References section under “Pri-
mary Sources”). One poem from each translation has been used as a prototype. As most of
these translations are partial and do not include the 154 sonnets of Shakespeare’s sonnet se-
quence, the criterion for choosing a prototype has been the recurrence of the sonnets in the
whole corpus, being Sonnet 18 the most recurrent. Considering some translators did not render
this sonnet into Spanish, I have used alternatives, based once again on their recurrence. The
translators who did not translate Sonnet 18 are listed below with the number of the sonnet used
as a prototype in its place:
Matías de Velasco y Rojas, 1877: Sonnet 2
José Pablo Rivas, 1916: Sonnet 2
Rafael Pombo, 1917: Sonnet 2
Ángel Johan, 1945: Sonnet 2
Juan Rodolfo Wilcock, 1949: Sonnet 73
Alfredo Rodríguez López, 1997: Sonnet 2
Demetrio Fábrega, 2004: Sonnet 73
José Siles Artés, 2006: Sonnet 116
Pablo Ingberg, 2007: Sonnet 73
Gabriel Jiménez Emán, 2016: Sonnet 2
Considering this article focuses on the translation of the outer form, the fact that the analy-
sis is based on different sonnets is not a concern, as in Shakespeare’s work, each of these four
sonnets (18, 2, 73 and 116) feature the same macrostructure or outer form. They all comprise
three quatrains (with an alternate rhyme scheme which is different in each stanza) and a cou-
plet (ABAB CDCD EFEF GG). The verses use iambic pentameters. Additionally, as indicated
below, almost all of the sonnets use masculine rhymes1 (with the exceptions of verses 5 and 8
in Sonnet 116, where ‘shaken’ is rhymed with ‘taken’). Nonetheless, this tendency is of limited
relevance to Spanish poetry because most words in Spanish are polysyllabic, with the stress
rarely falling on the last syllable. Therefore, in translation, masculine and feminine rhymes can
be combined (See Annex).
To conduct the analysis, I have considered the following parameters, which congure the
outer form to which Holmes refers:
use of prose or verse;
syllabic count;
regular rhythm (stress pattern);
rhyme type (consonant, assonant or hybrid), and
rhyme scheme.
First, I will provide a quantitative analysis in table form allowing observation of these
parameters for each of the translations. Then, a qualitative analysis using different examples
from this corpus illustrates the translators’ solutions; here, I also refer, where relevant, to the
arrangement of the poem on the page (i.e., the visual division into stanzas).
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4. Results
According to the parameters mentioned above, the formal decisions made by the translators of
this corpus can be seen in Table 1 below:
Table 1. Analysis outer form
Translator, year Prose/
verse
Syllable
count
Rhythm Rhyme type Rhyme scheme
(stanzas)
M. de Velasco y Rojas, 1877 Prose N/A N/A N/A N/A
J. de Armas y Cárdenas, 1915 Verse 11 x.6.10 consonant ABAB CDCD EFE FGG
J. Pablo Rivas, 1916 Verse 11 Variable consonant ABABCDCDEFEFGG
R. Pombo, 1917 Verse 11 Variable consonant ABBA CDDC EFE FGG
F. Maristany, 1918 Verse 11 x.6.10 consonant ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
M. de Vedia y Mitre, 1929 Verse 14 Variable consonant ABAB CDCD EFEFGG
L. Astrana Marín, 1929 Prose N/A N/A N/A N/A
P. Gannon, 1940 Verse 11 Variable consonant ABAB CDCD EFG EFG
E. Dieste, 1944 Verse Free Variable N/A N/A
A. Damians de Bulart, 1944 Verse 11 Variable consonant ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
Á. Johan, 1945 Verse 11 x.6.10 consonant ABABCDCDEFEFGG
M. Manent, 1947 Verse 14 Variable N/A N/A
J. R. Wilcock, 1949 Prose N/A N/A N/A N/A
M. de Vedia y Mitre, 1954 Verse 11 Variable consonant ABABCDCDEFEFGG
A. Martínez Howard & M. Howard,
1961
Verse 11 Variable consonant ABBA CDDC EFF EEF
M. Mujica Lainez, 1963 Verse 11 Variable N/A N/A
O. de Bingham Powell, 1964 Verse Free Variable N/A N/A
A. García Calvo, 1974 Verse 13 Variable consonant ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
F. Auad & Pablo Mañé, 1975 Verse Free Variable N/A N/A
J. Méndez Herrera, 1976 Verse 11 Variable consonant ABBA ABBA CDC DEE
J.F. Elvira-Hernández, 1977 Verse Free Variable consonant ABABCDCDEFEFGG
E. Sordo, 1982 Verse Free Variable N/A N/A
P. Vives Heredia, 1985 Verse 11 Variable consonant ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
C. Pérez Romero, 1987 Verse 14 Variable assonant ABABCDCDEFEFGG
M. Bros, 1987 Verse 14 Variable assonant ─A─A ─B─B ─C─C DD
C. Pujol, 1990 Verse 14 3.6/3.6 N/A N/A
G. Falaquera, 1993 Verse 14 Variable N/A N/A
J. Arecha, 1997 Verse Free Variable N/A N/A
A. Rodríguez López, 1997 Verse 11 Variable N/A N/A
M. Jofré, 1997 Verse 11 Variable consonant ABABABABCDDCEE
M. Reyes Suárez, 1998 Verse 11 Variable consonant ABBA ABBA CCDEED
J. Capriata, 1999 Verse Free Variable N/A N/A
J. M. Álvarez, 1999 Verse Free Variable N/A N/A
J. R. Blanco & G. Freijo, 1999 Verse Free Variable N/A N/A
A. Carugati, 1999 Verse Free Variable N/A N/A
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J. Basileo Acuña, 1999 Verse 11 Variable consonant ABABCDCDEFEFGG
A. Gómez Gil, 2000 Verse Free Variable N/A N/A
J. Adúriz & A. Adúriz Bravo, 2000 Verse Free Variable N/A N/A
A. Rupérez, 2000 Verse Free Variable N/A N/A
T. Gray, 2002 Verse 11 Variable consonant ABBAABBAABBACC
L. Rutiaga, 2002 Verse 11 x.6.10 N/A N/A
F. Marrufo, 2002 Verse 11/14 Variable consonant ABABCDCDEFEFGG
G. Vives, 2003 Verse 11 x.6.10 assonant ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
M. A. Montezanti, 2003 Verse 11 x.6.10 consonant ABABCDCDEFEFGG
D. Fábrega, 2004 Verse 11 x.6.10 consonant ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
A. Rivero Taravillo, 2004 Verse 11 x.6.10 consonant ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
C. Gardini, 2004 Verse 11 Variable N/A N/A
A. L. Tacoronte, 2005 Verse 11 Variable assonant ABABCDCDEFEFGG
M. Pellegrini, 2006 Verse 11 Variable Hybrid ABABCDCDEFEFGG
J. Siles Artés, 2006 Verse Free Variable Hybrid ─A─ABCBCA─A─DD
E. Gallardo Ruiz, 2007 Prose N/A N/A N/A N/A
P. Ingberg, 2007 Verse 14 variable N/A N/A
P. Pérez Prieto, 2007 Verse 11 Variable consonant ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
C. Law Palacín, 2009 Verse 11 x.6.10 N/A N/A
A. Ehrenhaus, 2009 Verse 11 Variable assonant ABABCDCDEFEFGG
I. Gamen, 2009 Verse 14 Variable assonant ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
J. M. Santamaría López, 2010 Verse Free Variable N/A N/A
R. Gutiérrez Izquierdo, 2011 Verse 14 Variable Hybrid ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
M. A. Montezanti, 2011 Verse 11 Variable consonant ABABCDCDEFEF GG
L. García García, 2013 Verse 14/15 Variable consonant ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
B. Santano Moreno, 2013 Verse 11 x.6.10 consonant ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
J. Talens, 2014 Verse 14 Variable N/A N/A
A. García, 2014 Verse 11 Variable assonant ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
W. Ospina, 2016 Verse 14 Variable consonant ABABCDCDEFEFGG
S. D. Insa, 2016 Verse Free Variable consonant ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
G. Jiménez Emán, 2016 Verse Free Variable N/A N/A
M. Casillas de Alba, 2017 Prose N/A N/A N/A N/A
E. Scott, 2018 Verse Free Variable N/A N/A
A. Ehrenhaus, 2018 Verse 5-7-5 N/A N/A N/A
Despite the wide variety of forms used by the translators, there is a clear tendency to use
verse to translate the sonnets; more than 90% of the metapoets that comprise this corpus have
opted for a verse translation. Having presented this quantitative overview, I now turn to the
decisions taken regarding different formal aspects in relation to the poem’s macro-structure:
namely, syllable count, rhyme scheme and stress pattern. Additionally, I refer to certain as-
pects related to the textual arrangement, which often depend on the rhyme pattern chosen.
Although these translations clearly diverge with regard to verse length, it is possible to
observe four main approaches, with some variations. First, free verse, which, although not
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the most frequent approach, was chosen by eighteen translators. Although there was rarely an
explanation for this decision in the prefaces, those justifying it—such as Enrique Sordo (1982:
10) and Ángel Rupérez (2000: 52)—usually argue that they have given priority to transferring
the content, thus complying with metre restrictions would have prevented the transfer of the
meaning present in the original poems; others are likely to state, plainly, that it is impossible
to transfer the phonic dimension. For example, Jorge Capriata claims that “the music of that
text is unrecoverable in a translation” (1999) and Edgardo Scott defends having tried with his
translations to recreate “the spiritual breath of its creator” (2018: 9). Whatever the argument,
it seems clear that, for the translators who chose free verse, the content of the original poem is
more important than the form.
Among those who have chosen a xed syllable count for their verses, the hendecasyllable
seems to be the obvious winner. According to the translators, this decision was based not only
on the search for ‘delity’ (see, for example, Rivas 1916: 262, and García García 2013: 37)—
but also on the desire to present the sonnets in a form as similar as possible to the original.
This is certainly the Spanish verse most closely resembling the English pentameter, despite
the differences between the two metres. In fact, many translators allude to this afnity in their
prefaces, including Luis Rutiaga (2002: 11), Ariel Laurencio Tacoronte (2005: 13) and Pedro
Pérez Prieto (2007: 14); they sometimes refer to this as ‘equivalence’. As explored in greater
detail later in this paper, this formal similarity is achieved using different rhyme patterns,
which arise for different reasons.
Although the hendecasyllabic verse was most widely used, thirteen translators preferred a
longer verse, usually a fourteen-syllable alejandrino (with the exceptions of García Calvo and
Insa, who used thirteen syllables). The reason generally given is that, because the English lan-
guage is highly monosyllabic and Spanish is mostly polysyllabic, adjusting to a lower number
of syllables would imply synthesising the message of the source text and, therefore, neglecting
some of the original content (see, among others, García Calvo 1974: 26-27; Ramón Gutiérrez
Izquierdo 2011: 22; and Talens 2014: 41-42). Sometimes, even those translators who chose the
alejandrino maintain that they would have preferred to stick to an eleven-syllable line because
of its similarity to the pentameter (see, for example, Ingberg 2007: 37-39 and Ospina 2016:
13). For Ignacio Gamen, for instance, this decision “was a pity” because he appreciates “the
sonority and elegance of the hendecasyllable” (2009: 29).
In only one case none of these was used as a xed metre: the translation by Andrés Ehr-
enhaus published in 2018, in which he translates Shakespeare’s sonnets into haikus. In doing
so, he applies the most frequent structure for the translation of this Japanese composition into
Spanish, a poem comprising three lines of, respectively, ve, seven and ve syllables.
However, the length of the line is not always obvious. Sometimes, translators rely on ex-
cessively forced hiatuses or diaereses to achieve the desired number of syllables. Although
natural practice when reading a verse, as in the oral language, demands joining the nal vowel
of one word with the initial vowel of the next, this behaviour can be reversed. To do so, the
poet (or metapoet) must provide the reader clues, such that their ear makes the division un-
consciously; this is generally achieved through the mechanism of regularity. For example, if
the reader has previously read six lines of eleven syllables, it is more likely that, in a line that
could be interpreted as a decasyllable or hendecasyllable, they unconsciously break one of the
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synalephas of that line to produce a result similar to the previous lines, a result which sounds
pleasant to the ear. In the same way that, when encountering a poem that always uses the same
rhythmic pattern, the brain makes the necessary adjustments (such as stressing unstressed
vowels and creating diaeresis) so that a verse follows the same pattern even if, in theory, it
does not. As suggested, this is achieved by creating a regularity or consistency that implants
the pattern in the reader’s mind. Still, this requirement is not always met.
For example, although Carlos Gardini (2004) claims to have used the hendecasyllable in
his translations, the number of hiatuses or diaereses that the reader has to make for this is so
extreme that perception of this length is easily lost. Certain lines of his translation are present-
ed below, including the caesuras that would be necessary to perceive such a verse (where there
is only one possible alternative, it is indicated with two slashes [//]; where there are several
possibilities, just one slash is used [/]):
y / el verano tiene / un plazo corto
en que el ojo del cielo arde en exceso
o bi/en su tez á/urea palidece,
y toda // hermosura se marchita
por azar o designio de Natura.
Mas no tendrá n tu / estío / eterno,
ni la posesi//ón de tu belleza:
Meanwhile, Alvaro García’s translation (2014) requires a syneresis in the rst line to pro-
duce the hendecasyllable:
¿Te comparo con un día de verano?
Here, the ‘í’ and ‘a’ should be pronounced on the same syllable to produce eleven syllables.
Elsewhere, the twelfth verse of the same poem requires several vowels to be almost impossi-
bly joined together:
Cuando alcanzas al tiempo_en poesía_eterna
Occasionally, even these mechanisms do not allow the metapoet to maintain the desired
metre. In his preface, Luciano García García states that he used the alejandrino, although he
had made it ‘more exible’ to avoid it dividing into hemistiches, which would have made it
too rigid (36). However, the sixth verse of his translation of Sonnet 18 (Y otras veces su com-
plexión dorada se oscurece) exceeds fourteen syllables, even when possible synalephas are
considered:
Y_o/tras / ve/ces / su / com/ple/xión / do/ra/da / se_os/cu/re/ce
Furthermore, despite García García’s attempt to avoid the caesura in his fourteen-syllable
lines, some scholars, such as Antonio Quilis—who is both a philologist and, more importantly,
a phonetician—claim that this is not possible. Quilis states that all verses in Spanish of twelve
or more syllables are compound lines (versos compuestos)—that is, they comprise two simple
verses—and defends this division as not “arbitrary nor capricious” but as responding to certain
phonetic tendencies. He goes on to note that, “when we speak or read, the number of syllables
that we utter between two pauses, or phonic group, normally oscillates between eight and
eleven”, with eleven being the maximum average phonic group (grupo fónico medio máximo)
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(Quilis 2013: 46). If this is true, what is achieved by varying the rhythm of the alejandrino is
that the rupture is not produced in the middle of the verse (hemistich). However, it would not
be possible to avoid the caesura, considering the maximum number of syllables that can be
produced between two pauses is only eleven.
While most translators follow a specic syllable count, the rhythm—based on a combi-
nation of stressed and unstressed syllables—is often varied. Only Carlos Pujol (1990) uses
the same metre throughout the whole poem. His translation is written in alejandrinos which
are clearly divided into hemistiches with anapaestic rhythm; that is, two unstressed syllables
followed by one stressed syllable (3.6/3.6). A transcription of Pujol’s translation of Sonnet 18
follows (the separation into hemistiches is marked with two slashes and the stressed syllables
are highlighted using bold font):
¿QUIZÁ puede que seas // como un a de eso?
No, hay en ti más belleza // y también más templanza;
broncos vientos sacuden // los capullos de mayo
y es muy breve ese tiempo // concedido al verano
Brilla el ojo del cielo // con un fuego excesivo
cuando no se ensombrece // su semblante dorado,
lo que es bello algún a // mengua su hermosura
por el curso cambiante // del azar o del tiempo.
Mas tu eso perenne// no podrá marchitarse,
ni perder la belleza // que ahora tienes, y nunca
va a jactarse la muerte // de que estás a su sombra
cuando en versos eternos // con el tiempo perdures.
Mientras alguien aliente // y haya luz en sus ojos
vivirán mis palabras // para hacerte inmortal.
Although only Pujol uses a xed metre, other translators regularly stress the sixth and tenth
syllables. The length of the verse—in this case, hendecasyllabic—demands the latter. Spanish
poetry dictates that the penultimate syllable is always stressed in simple verses; if the line ends
with an acute word (verso agudo or verso oxítono), one more syllable is added to the nal count,
while if the last word is proparoxytone (verso esdrújulo or verso proparoxítono), one syllable
is subtracted from the nal count. Therefore, the last stress on the tenth syllable, called acento
estróco (Quilis 2013: 26) or acento nal (Domínguez Caparrós 2016: 19-20), is shared by all
hendecasyllabic verses. What may differ, therefore, are the rst and second stressed syllables
of the line. For example, translators such as Miguel Ángel Montezanti (2003), Luis Rutiaga
(2002), Gema Vives (2003) and Christian Law Palacín (2009) always stress the sixth and tenth
syllables with a varying rst stress. This translation by Montezanti serves as a useful example:
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Si a un a de verano te comparo
eres más templado y placentero:
deja el viento al capullo sin amparo
y el plazo del verano es pasajero;
el sol del cielo alguna vez calcina
y otras veces ocase su oro,
toda belleza alguna vez declina:
o natura o azar causan desdoro.
Mas tu eterno verano no ha de ajarse
ni perderás dominio en tu hermosura;
de sombras no podrá muerte jactarse
cuando en neas te guarde edad futura.
Mientras que el ojo vea, y hombre aliente.
esto pervivi y te hará viviente.
2.6.10
2.6.10
3.6.10
2.6.10
4.6.10
3.6.10
4.6.10
3.6.10
3.6.10
4.6.10
2.6.10
3.6.10
4.6.10
1.6.10
Note that, while the stress on the sixth syllable is obvious to the reader, implying a regular-
ity throughout the poem, some lines could be read with the stress on a different syllable from
the one I have highlighted here, with the exception of certain cases—such as in the second
line—where it is necessary to stress the rst syllable of eres so that the synalepha between this
word and is broken and a regular length is preserved2.
It is also common for the second stressed syllable to be either the sixth or eighth. Antonio
Rivero Taravillo explains this approach: “when one is about to read a cultured 16th centu-
ry poem, one expects only eleven syllables with either the sixth or eighth syllable stressed”
(2004: 17). Pérez Prieto (2008: 16) also defends this practice, common to multiple other trans-
lators—such as José Basileo Acuña, Mario Reyes Suárez, Tomás Gray and Pérez Prieto—and
exemplied here by Manuel Mujica Lainez:
¿A un a de verano compararte?
Más hermosura y suavidad posees.
Tiembla el brote de mayo bajo el viento
y el eso no dura casi nada.
A veces demasiado brilla el ojo
solar, y otras su tez de oro se apaga;
toda belleza alguna vez declina,
ajada por la suerte o por el tiempo.
Pero eterno será el verano tuyo.
No perderás la gracia, ni la Muerte
se jacta de ensombrecer tus pasos
cuando crezcas en versos inmortales.
Vivirás mientras alguien vea y sienta
y esto pueda vivir y te dé vida.
2.6.10
4.8.10
3.6.10
3.6.10
2.6.10
2.6.10
4.6.10
2.6.10
3.6.10
4.6.10
4.8.10
3.6.10
3.6.10
3.6.10
Whereas more than half of this corpus’ translators (38) use rhyme in their poems, transla-
tion into rhymed verses has often been seen as an obstacle to poetic translation. For example,
Lefevere suggests that if the demands of metre and rhyme already interfere with the task of
constructing a poem for the source poet, when translators impose rhyme and metre restrictions
on themselves, “the search for a satisfactory solution is doomed to failure from the start” (1975:
49). This is why Lefevere, like Robert Bly (1982: 87), is determined to not reproduce rhymes
in translated poems. Considering rhyme is, in many literatures, an intrinsic part of poetry, not
all translators agree. For instance, Judith Moffett criticises Bly’s disdain for certain formal
mechanisms, defending such devices by stating that “nobody’s arguing that poets are willing
to see their images and meaning sacriced in translation for the sake of keeping rhyme and
metre. Where Bly goes astray is in assuming that keeping rhyme and metre invariably results
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in a massacre” (Moffett 1999: 84). Levý (2011) describes rhyme as—rather than an isolated
feature—“a component in the complex interplay between the acoustic and the semantic values
of a poem”, stating that this nature fulls three functions in a poem: semantic (serving as a
link between rhymed words and between corresponding verses), rhythmic (“highlight[ing] the
conclusion of the line”), and euphonic (being based on a repetition of sounds pleasing to the
ear) (Levý 2011: 232). Perhaps it is these qualities that led Willis Barnstone to categorically
state that “if one disapproves of rhyme in poetry, as many do, one should not translate poems
that rhyme” (1984: 50). Although rhyme is seen as a constriction by some scholars and practi-
tioners, Barnstone recognises it as a mechanism for freeing oneself “from dull literalness, from
the tyranny of the obvious” (1984: 51) and a way of forcing the translator “into the obligatory
freedom of imaginative leaps” (1993: 50).
As mentioned, rhyme has been frequently favoured in this corpus. Although most cases use
a consonant rhyme, some poems chose an assonant or even hybrid (combining the other two
forms) rhyme. For example, throughout his translations Gutiérrez Izquierdo (2011) follows the
principle of alternating the assonant and consonant rhyme in the quatrains and joining the nal
couplet with a consonant rhyme:
¿Podría compararte a una primavera
si en ti es más constante y grácil la hermosura?
En mayo rudos vientos agitan tiernas yemas,
y el plazo de ese tiempo un breve instante dura.
El ojo de los cielos a veces se ilumina,
y a veces se oscurece su gran fulgor dorado,
y aún lo más hermoso algún día declina,
por la naturaleza, o el puro azar, ajado.
Mas no verás marchita tu eterna primavera,
ni perderás tampoco lo bello que en ti crezca,
ni alardeará la muerte de que una sombra seas,
cuando en eternos versos tu nombre prevalezca.
Mientras respire un hombre y el ojo no lo impida,
tendrán vida estos versos, y te darán más vida.
Regarding the rhyme scheme, we may speak of three main groups: translators who follow
the Elizabethan sonnet rhyme scheme (three quatrains and a couplet), those who use the Span-
ish or Petrarchan sonnet (two quatrains—typically rhymed as ABBA—and two tercets with
varying rhyme patterns) and those translators who have not employed rhymes. Nonetheless,
members of the latter group (Mujica Lainez, 1963, Rutiaga, 2002, Gardini, 2004, and Law
Palacín, 2009) divide their poems (visually) into three stanzas of four lines and one of two
lines (4/4/4/2), which might lead to their structure being identied with the Elizabethan sonnet.
Although, in most cases, there is a straightforward correspondence between the form of
these poems and that of the English or Spanish sonnet, Mario Jofré (1997) uses a somewhat
peculiar rhyme scheme:
¿A un día de estío te compararía? A
- Mejor índole tienes, más amable; B
- Cuando en cólera él monta, al suelo envía A
Los capullos que acuna; es irritable. B
- Brilla en su cielo el sol con gran porfía, A
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Y pronto apaga su oro: es inestable. B
Y es lo mismo que or que dura un día: A
Su belleza es caduca y vulnerable. B
Pero tu estío sin que desfallezca C
Su esplendor nunca, vencerá la muerte, D
Que no podrá alardear de ser tan fuerte D
Que estos eternos rasgos desvanezca. C
Que en tanto en forma humana alma resida E
Habrán de perdurar dándote vida E
As can be observed, Jofré uses the alternate rhyme for the rst two quatrains, but an en-
closed rhyme for the third quatrain. Nonetheless, the poem ends with an indented couplet,
which visually connects it to the Shakespearean sonnet. As such, I have considered him to
have used this form for his translation.
This analysis has been conducted using a single sonnet because, as stated, most of the
translators follow the same metre and rhyme scheme in all of their poems. However, some,
including Marcelo Pellegrini (2006) and Jofré (1997), alternate forms across their translations.
Fernando Marrufo is also unusual in that the last verse of some of his poems exceeds eleven
syllables; he acknowledges this in his preface. In contrast, Rivero Taravillo suggests that only
in Sonnet 18 he has used the rhyme “to experiment” and because he believed that the original
allowed it (2004: 16); his other translations use blank verse.
5. Classifying Translations According to Holmes’ Typology
On the basis of the analyses of the poems and the divisions demonstrated—in addition to the
translators’ statements regarding their reasons for choosing a particular formal approach—it
is now possible to recognise overlap with the divisions Holmes proposes as metapoem forms.
Following Holmes, ‘form’ describes “only the surface framework […], the outward or mecha-
nical form of rhyme, metre (and/or rhythm), verse length, stanzaic patterning and division,
and the like” (Holmes 1994: 31). Therefore, I am not addressing syntactic or morphological
features which do not affect these elements. Having observed Holmes’ dividing of metapoem
forms into four categories—one derived from the source poem’s content, two derived from
its form, and one not derived from either element—I now identify how the forms used by the
translators comprising this corpus could be grouped according to these categories:
Organic form: For Holmes, “the translator pursuing this approach does not take the form
of the original as his starting point […], but starts from the semantic material, allowing it to
take on its own unique poetic shape as the translation develops” (1994: 27). This is clearly
the case with the translations in blank free verse, which would have been assembled while
the poem is being created from the poem’s meaning; that is, they contain no pre-existing
structure in terms of line length, rhythm or rhyme.
Mimetic form: The rst of the form-derivative categories imitates the form of the source
poem with the highest level of similarity possible. The poem, then, is created within these
formal constraints. To achieve this, “the translator […] looks squarely at the original poem
when making his choice of verse form, to the exclusion of all other considerations”. Holmes
prefers to avoid the term “identical form”, as “no verse form in any one language can be
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entirely identical with a verse form in any other, however similar their nomenclatures and
however cognate the languages” (1994: 26). In this category, I have included those transla-
tions that make use of the hendecasyllable (that which bears the closest formal resemblance
to the pentameter, including for our translators according to their prefaces) following the
rhyme pattern of the Elizabethan sonnet; that is, ABAB CDCD EFEF GG (both assonant
and consonant).
Analogical form: Translators taking this approach have “traditionally looked beyond the
original poem itself to the function of its form within its poetic tradition, then sought a form
that lled a parallel function within the poetic tradition of the target language” (1994: 26).
There seems to be a clear correspondence between the Elizabethan and the Spanish sonnet.
Although both forms originate from the Petrarchan sonnet, they have followed different
paths and had major impact on their own literatures, with inuence that is sustained in the
present day. While the English or Elizabethan sonnet consists of three quartets with alternate
rhymes (ABAB CDCD EFEF) and a nal couplet (GG), the Spanish or Castilian sonnet
includes two quatrains with enclosed rhyme (ABBA ABBA) and two chained tercets (CDC
DCD), although other combinations were used for the tercets, such as CDE CDE, CDD
CDD, and CDE DCE (López Hernández 1998: 9-12). Therefore, I must include in this cat-
egory those translations that use different schemes, given that the Spanish sonnet is written
following various patterns. Here, I again consider the arrangement of text on the page and
include—as analogical forms—not only the sonnets of Rafael Pombo, Maggie Howard de
Martínez and Alfredo Martínez Howard, José Méndez Herrera and Reyes Suárez, written
in two enclosed-rhyme quatrains and two tercets, but also those of Patricio Gannon, which,
despite starting with two quatrains featuring alternate rhymes, ends with two tercets and
complies with the traditional arrangement of the Spanish sonnet (4/4/3/3).
Extraneous form: According to Holmes, “this form does not derive from the original poem
at all”; to produce it, the translator “casts the metapoem into a form that is in no way implicit
in either the form or the content of the original” (27). This is undoubtedly the least frequent
form in this corpus; furthermore, it is probably the least common for poetic translation into
Spanish in general. However, we have one distinct example, that of Ehrenhaus’ translation,
which was published in 2018 and renders the sonnets as haikus. This translation obviously
does not begin only from the content—of which it encapsulates as much as possible—yet
nor does it choose a form resembling the original or which fulls the same function in the
target literature, given that the haiku is not even a composition traditionally used in Spanish
or Latin-American literature, but rather a fairly recent import from Japanese poetry.
There remain translations of the sonnets into non-hendecasyllabic verses, mainly alejandri-
nos. Despite many of them featuring a close formal similarity to the source poems, the reason
for not having included them in any of the previous groups can be found in Holmes’ denition
of the mimetic and analogical forms. In them, the starting point is clear: the greatest formal
similarity is sought, either with the original poem or with its historical or functional ‘equiv-
alent’ in the target literature. However, many of the translators choosing a longer line admit
that the hendecasyllable—which is also used by Spanish and Latin-American sonneteers—
would have been most similar to the source text. They confess that, despite this preference,
they chose the alejandrino to better accommodate the semantic component of the source text,
in the belief that tting the content into an eleven-syllable line would greatly complicate the
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task of transferring the sense of the original poem (given Spanish words are generally longer
than English words). Nonetheless, they do not abandon rhyme or a xed metrical pattern. This
attitude, halfway between the form-derivative form and the content-derivative form, clearly
indicates a desire to compromise by seeking a balance between preferences for either element,
for form or content. It could be argued that this conciliatory translation is contained within
Holmes’ organic form. However, in this case, the metapoet does not start “from the semantic
material” (ibid.), as would do when opting for an organic form, but from the features of his
own language, choosing a form that—while not being what he or she considers ‘equivalent’
to the one of the original poem (or a mimetic form)—is better able to represent the original
content while resembling the original shape. The form provides room for the content, and the
content creates space for form, producing a result between the form-derivative and content-de-
rivative forms.
It might be possible to include these forms within Holmes’s typology by broadening the
denition of one or more of his categories. However, just as Holmes proposes a category for
those poems written following a structure not derived from either form or content, this clas-
sication allows for a new category which can accommodate an intention to combine the two
of them, where this implies yielding to both the formal and semantic dimensions. Moreover,
considerations of both content and form and of the need to a balance the two are recurrent in
the metatranslational discourse of the prefaces preceding this corpus (Escudero 2021). This
hybrid solution is referred to in this article as the ‘conciliatory form’ (Table 2).
Table 2. Revision of Holmes’ model
Form-derivative forms Hybrid form Content-derivative form Extraneous
form
Mimetic
form
Analogical form3 Conciliatory form Organic form
Although, as Jones states, “the risks and merits of recreating formal metre are less often
debated [than those of recreating rhymes]—perhaps because they are less likely to cause se-
mantic shifts” (2011: 170), in two languages as different in terms of syllabic count as English
and Spanish, the metre can indeed produce signicant semantic shifts, as some translators
have explained. Similarly, Levý recognises that “a discrepancy in semantic density between
source and target language forces the translator either to compact the semantic meaning into
a concise expression or, in contrast, to resort to padding, with implications for the overall
interpretation of the poem” (2011: 196). Since this is undoubtedly the case for both of the
languages involved, I also consider those translations making use of rhymed free verse fol-
lowing the Elizabethan rhyme scheme to be conciliatory forms. As is the case with translations
using alejandrinos, these are not constrained by the chosen metre (nor by a rhythmic pattern).
Therefore, they aim for formal resemblance but adapt the form to the demands of the content.
Needless to say, I have also included blank verse translations with a xed syllabic count in this
category, even when their arrangement resembles the structure of the Shakespearean sonnet;
that is, where the poem is visually divided into three stanzas of four lines and a nal stanza
of two lines. After all, the rhyme scheme is precisely what allows a sonnet to be identied as
such.
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Table 3. Classication of verse translations as metapoem forms
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Therefore, if we do not consider prose translations, of which there are only ve in this
69-translation corpus, the forms most commonly used by translators are, according to this
typology, the mimetic form (20 cases), which seeks the greatest formal resemblance to the
original by using a rhymed eleven-syllable verse, and the conciliatory form (21 cases), which,
despite reproducing certain formal regularities (such as a xed syllable count, rhyme scheme,
a particular rhythm or a combination of several of these factors), does not fully comply with
the formal requirements for being considered most similar to the source poem. The analogical
form (7 cases)—in this case, the Spanish sonnet—was less frequently observed, especially in
recent decades, and only one of the translations used the extraneous form. The organic form
—the free-verse translations—has been frequently used to render the Shakespearean sonnet
(15 cases), and most of these translators not only recreate a new poem, but sometimes they
do so in accordance with certain formal patterns such as a rhyme scheme. Table 3 details the
categorisation of the forms chosen by the translators of this corpus according to my (revised)
Holmes model, including, as does Holmes, only verse translations.
6. Conclusions
The translators of this corpus have addressed the formal structure of these sonnets deciding
upon a wide variety of solutions, as we have seen. And these solutions seem to respond to their
preferences, objectives and particular visions of poetic translation, in addition to a series of
external factors (such as poetics, but also other resources such as time and skills). While cer-
tain forms appear more frequently than others during certain periods, it is difcult to describe
trends or conventions for translation norms; although a widely used notion, especially within
literary translation, such a notion does not seem adequate for explaining the variety of possibi-
lities over more than a century of translations of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Toury states that “it is
not all that rare to nd side by side in a society three types of competing norms” and that these
can operate at different levels, in the centre or on the periphery. He also recognises that “norms
are also unstable, changing entities” (Toury 1995: 62). Thus, although such traits might serve
as a basis for explaining the use of one form or another, the variety of solutions applied over
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different periods in different countries (more or less frequently) would make interpreting the
results in terms of translation norms more confusing than enlightening. Perhaps the only clear
regularity in this corpus is the use of verse rather than prose for the translation of poetry; it
might also be possible to talk about the use of rhyme as a trend. Still, it would remain to be
seen how the use of the different forms outlined could be explained.
For Holmes, the mimetic form is the choice to be expected when “genre concepts are
weak” and the target culture is more open to imports from external literatures, while the ana-
logical form is more typical of literatures with highly developed genre concepts for which the
only acceptable alternative is using a form already established within its system (1994: 27).
Itamar Even-Zohar took a similar approach when discussing the role of translation in the liter-
ary system; that is, the weaker, the younger or the more peripheral the literary polysystem, the
more esteemed the position of translation will be inside it (1990: 47). Without getting deeper
into discussion about the appropriateness of terms like ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ being applied to
literatures or cultures (see Bassnett 1998a: 127), I will expound on the idea behind it.
For some time, this approach has been customary for literary translation research. While
it is commonly agreed that poetics is a central factor in literary translation, descriptive trans-
lation studies have traditionally focused on the target system, so, when referring to concepts
such as ‘dominant poetics’ and the ‘norms of the literary system’, scholars in this eld usually
refer to the poetics and norms within the target culture. Nonetheless, although Spanish liter-
ature features a widely spread and established sonnet form, successfully developed over the
last ve centuries, many of this corpus’ translators have chosen a form more reminiscent of the
English sonnet—a mimetic form—in spite of the lack of popularity garnered by the latter in
Spanish-speaking literatures, with the exception of several isolated cases mostly constituting
poetic experiments conducted by major poets (e.g., Jorge Luis Borges, Antonio Machado and
Juan Ramón Jiménez). That is, despite translated literature having often been used to ll a void
in some cultures (e.g., certain minoritized languages, such as Galician, have tried using trans-
lated literature to ll the gaps generated by political restraints; see Figueroa 2001), that does
not mean that the arrival of some new form, genre or trend is always deliberate. Are metapoets
quasi-economists who, before introducing an external inuence, value the gain their target
literature can achieve? Or are they artists who, out of a desire to create, take all the elements
they have within reach? If we consider metapoets as creators, we must also acknowledge that
the craving for experimentation is an important part of their motivation, a motivation more
frequent during periods of literary ourishing, where contact between different cultures and
literatures is regarded as enrichment. In fact, the mimetic form is not necessarily the one to be
used when there is a ‘gap’ in the target literature, but as Bassnett explains “for a translation to
have an impact upon the literary system, there has to be a gap in that system which reects a
particular need” (1998b: 60). The ‘needs’ of the recipient literature, therefore, are not decisive
for translators to choose one form or another in which to recreate their poems, but for this
form to be accepted in that literature. Notably, Holmes himself recognises metapoem forms as
not only period forms but also literary constants that have inuenced translators throughout
history (1994: 28), and this constant is more than visible from the results of the corpus studied
in this work.
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Notes
1. Referring to a rhyme that occurs only in stressed nal syllables (Levý 2011: 238-239).
2. Verse can have several readings in terms of the stress pattern, given prosodic stress does not necessarily co-
incide with the stressed syllables in a line (Domínguez Caparrós 2016: 29). Therefore, for those verses in which
there were multiple possibilities, I have interpreted a stress pattern that better matched the regular rhythm of the
poem (provided one existed).
3. I consider analogical form to be a form with a similar value in the target tradition, whether this is due to their
common origins, to their signicance within their respective systems or to their common function in those re-
spective systems.
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Annex. Shakespeare’s sonnets. Prototypes for analysis.
The source poems provided below are derived from the 1609 Quarto Sonnets, modernised
by Helen Vendler (1999).
Sonnet 2
When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s eld,
Thy youth’s proud livery so gazed on now
Will be a tottered weed of small worth held:
Then being asked, where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days,
To say within thine own deep-sunken eyes
Were an all-eating shame, and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserved thy beauty’s use,
If thou couldst answer, “This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse,”
Proving his beauty by succession thine.
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel’st it cold.
Sonnet 18
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimmed:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall Death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st.
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
Sonnet 73
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self that seals up all in rest.
In me thou seest the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
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This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
Sonnet 116
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments; love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever-xèd mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his heighth be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
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