9 Beguiling Famous Spanish Poems Translated to English
Read nine beguiling famous Spanish poems translated to English and get to know the most important Spanish poets who will show you a whole new side of Spain.
We already wrote about some of our favorite Spanish travel destinations, our favorite books about Spain, the best Spanish board games, and our favorite Spanish snacks and now we want to introduce some of the most popular and most famous Spanish poets to you.
Spain is an enchanting country filled with history, culture, and passion, and getting to know its poets is one of the best ways to get a deeper understanding of it all.
While there are plenty of Spanish writers who are well known internationally but there are only a handful of Spanish poets who have been introduced thoroughly around the globe.
These talented Spanish poets cover all kinds of topics from melancholy and death to passion and love that can evoke long-forgotten memories and emotions.
You can also try reading these out loud alone or with friends and family to experience not only Spain but the poems as well in a new way.
Read beguiling famous Spanish Poems translated to English & get to know a whole new side of Spain
9| Night Piece by Juan Ramón Jiménez
Christmas day in 1881 has brought a present to humanity and the world of poetry.
Spanish poet Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881-1958) was born on that day and became a well respected and beloved poet who was also awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1956.
His poor mental health reflects on his works that offer tremendous help to those who are suffering from depression or anxiety. He was and still is among the most celebrated Spanish poets.
After leaving Spain amid the Spanish Civil War, Jiménez was living and creating in Puerto Rico for over two decades.
And one of our favorite poems by him is ‘Night Piece’ which is a lovely short poem that can be found in Lorca and Jiménez: Selected Poems. This captivating poem is going to be a caring companion to travelers while awakening your senses to appreciate our home; Earth.
Night Piece is one of the most beautiful Spanish poems to take with you everywhere, especially on a trip around Spain.
If you want to read more poems by Juan Ramón Jiménez you should pick up ‘Lorca & Jimenez: Selected Poems’. Check prices on Amazon.
Night Piece by Juan Ramón Jiménez
The sea with no waves we recognize,
with no stations on its route,
only water and moon, night after night!
My thought goes back to the land,
someone else’s land, belonging to the one
going through it on trains at night,
through the same place at the same hour
as before . . .
powerful and faithful arms,
the same quiet lap for all
—tomb of eternal life
with the same decorations freshened—
earth, mother, always
true to yourself, waiting for
the sad gaze
of the wandering eyes!
My thought goes back to the land,
—the olive groves at sunrise—
outlined sharply in the white
or golden or yellow moonlight,
that look forward to the coming back
of those humans who are neither its slaves nor its masters,
but who love it anyway . . .
8| Death in the Afternoon by Ángel González
Ángel González (1925-2008) is another one of the extraordinary contemporary Spanish poets, who has contributed to literature with a number of moving poems.
He was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1944 at the age of 19 forcing him to spend some time in a sanatorium found in León. He used this time wisely and buried himself in studying poetry, which then paid off reading his outstanding works.
Growing up in the Franco regime, his works often involved politics and got fairly high spirited which can be inspirational for everyone.
Death in the Afternoon is without a doubt among the most interesting Spanish poems about death.
Ángel González’ piece about death is an eye-opening Spanish poem that will help everyone worry less about death.
If you want to read more poems by Ángel González and other famous Spanish poets you should pick up Roots & Wings: Poetry From Spain 1900-1975 (Bilingual English/Spanish Edition). Check prices on Amazon.
Death in the Afternoon by Ángel González
Of the hundreds of deaths that inhabit me,
this one today bleeds the least.
It’s the death that comes with the afternoons,
when the pale shadows grow longer,
and contours collapse
and the mountains show themselves.
Then someone passes hawking
his merchandise under my window,
where I lean out to see
those streetlamps that are still unlit.
Shadows cross the ashes of the streets
without leaving tracks, men that pass
who do not come to me and do not stay
with their lonely soul on their backs.
The daylight escapes toward the west.
The night air comes in before time,
and a bitter, confused fear, almost
pain, hardly hope, reaches me.
Everything that tied me to life
becomes untied, becomes distance,
goes farther off, disappears at last,
and I’m a dead man,
…and no one raises me.
7| My roe deer by Rafael Alberti
As many of this generation, Rafael Alberti (1902-1999) had to flee the country for his political views in the wake of the Francoist dictatorship.
He lived in Paris for a while with no other with Chilean Nobel prize winner poet Pablo Neruda.
Alberti’s peace did not last long in the French capital as the German occupation forced him to move once again, this time to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
When things calmed down in Europe, he lived in Rome, then returned to Spain upon the death of Franco.
He was known to be a patriot with very strong feelings about the injustice Spain suffered during the 20th century. Though he was slightly influenced by every stop of his journey around Europe and in South America, he is still considered to be one of the most patriotic Spanish poets.
My Roe Deer is a very short poem that would make a great prompt in everyone’s journal.
If you want to read more poems by Rafael Alberti you should pick up ‘To Painting: Poems’ (English and Spanish Edition). Check prices on Amazon.
My roe deer by Rafael Alberti
My roe deer, dear friend,
My white roe deer.
The wolves slew her
In the depths of the water.
The wolves, dear friend,
That fled across the river.
The wolves slew her deep in the water.
6| The Viewless Atoms of The Air by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer
Seville born Spanish Romanticist poet Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (1836-1870) had a magical way of bringing love into everyone’s life. His poems are all filled with love and express the poet’s feelings clearly.
Bécquer was a well-respected figure of the Spanish Romanticism and despite his short life that was ended by tuberculosis, he was productive enough to make us all fall in love. If there is no one to love for the moment, then love itself.
The Viewless Atoms of The Air is the perfect example of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer’s poetry. This short, but vivid poem is without a doubt an extraordinary one that perfectly describes the magic of love.
If you love Spanish poems about love, then The Viewless Atoms of The Air is going to be your new favorite.
If you would like to read more from poems by Gustavo Adolfo Becquer you should start with ‘Legends, Tales and Poems’ – check prices on Amazon.
The Viewless Atoms of The Air by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer
The viewless atoms of the air
Around me palpitate and burn,
All heaven dissolves in gold, and earth
Quivers with new-found joy.
Floating on waves of harmony I hear
A stir of kisses, and a sweep of wings;
Mine eyelids close–“What pageant nears?”
“‘Tis Love that passes by!”
5| Has my heart gone to sleep? by Antonio Machado
Antonio Machado (1875-1939) was a lead poet of the literary movement of the generation of ‘98 (that collected active Spanish writers during the Spanish-American war in 1898).
His works represent symbolism, romanticism and he felt really close to Taoism, which was represented in his later works.
Unfortunately, his life was turned upside down by the Spanish Civil war which had torn that beautiful nation apart and eventually bringing a rather dark period in its history.
Has my heart gone to sleep? is among the touching Spanish poems that make you think for sure. The crushing lines that were fit into this short poem are going to leave a mark on everyone’s heart.
Machado is surely one of the greatest Spanish poets from the Generation of ‘98 movement.
You can get to know Antonio Machado’s beautiful poems if you read ‘Border of a Dream’. Check prices on Amazon.
Has my heart gone to sleep? by Antonio Machado
Has my heart gone to sleep?
Have the beehives of my dreams
stopped working, the waterwheel
of the mind run dry,
scoops turning empty,
only shadow inside?
No, my heart is not asleep.
It is awake, wide awake.
Not asleep, not dreaming—
its eyes are opened wide
watching distant signals, listening
on the rim of vast silence.
4| O NAVIS by Lope de Vega
Lope de Vega (1562-1635) was a remarkable polyhistor of the Baroque movement. The 16th-century artist had been a great poet, playwright, and marine.
His works were very popular in Spain and thankfully he was a very productive poet. As far as historians can tell, he has written about 500 plays and 3000 sonnets so if you get hooked and can speak Spanish, there is something to read for the next weeks.
Being a marine significantly influenced his art, and ‘O Navis’ is an ode to the large waters out there. Reading this baroque poem you get a clearer picture of how fragile life was on the waters in the 16th and 17th centuries.
‘O Navis’ is among the most encouraging Spanish Baroque poems because we get to appreciate our lives more after reading it.
There are mainly Spanish language poetry books with Lope de Vega’s works however you can read more poems by him on PoemHunter.
In case you haven’t read anything from him yet you should also pick up ‘Three Spanish Golden Age Plays: The Duchess of Amalfi’s Steward; The Capulets and Montagues; Cleopatra’ you can check prices on Amazon.
O NAVIS by Lope de Vega
Poor bark of Life, upon the billows hoarse
Assailed by storms of envy and deceit,
Across what cruel seas in passage fleet
My and sword alone direct thy course!
My pen is dull; my sword of little force;
Thy side lies open to the wild waves’ beat
As out from Favor’s harbors we retreat,
Pursued by hopes deceived and vain remorse.
Let heaven by star to guide thee! here below
How vain the joys that foolish hearts desire!
Here friendship dies and enmity keeps true;
Here happy days have left thee long ago!
But seek not port, brave thou the tempest’s ire;
Until the end thy fated course pursue!
3| From The Cadenced Roar Of The Waves Rosalía de Castro
One of the most beloved Spanish female writers is Rosalía de Castro (1837-1885) who has lived a considerably short life filled with obstacles throughout.
She was unquestionably outstanding with her deeply emotional pieces, and the way she always stood up against abuse and oppression.
Rosalía de Castro supported the poor despite herself having difficulties financially. Her poems are rather melancholic, nostalgic yet hopeful about the future. To this day Galicia proudly calls her their own.
From The Cadenced Roar Of The Waves represents Castro’s poetry perfectly; the dark, grim present will be taken over by a brighter future that is giving us all a reason to keep on going with chins up.
Nothing is more important especially during these uncertain times than being able to look at the bright side.
If you want to read more poems by Rosalia de Castro you should pick up her ‘Selected Poems’ collection. Check prices on Amazon.
From The Cadenced Roar Of The Waves Rosalía de Castro
From the cadenced roar of the waves
and the wail of the wind,
from the shimmering light
flecked over woodland and cloud,
from the cries of passing birds
and the wild unknown perfumes
stolen by zephyrs
from mountaintops and valleys,
there are realms where souls
crushed by the weight of the world
2| Sonnet by Miguel de Cervantes
Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) may not need an introduction as Don Quixote of La Mancha has been praised all over the world.
Probably especially because of that success, it is not a very well known fact that he had more talents than just novel writing.
Throughout his life he was not able to fully concentrate on his art because of financial difficulties, so for most of his life, he was working hard to make a living as a soldier.
Few know, he was even captured by pirates and held captive for five years. Following that trauma, he went on to find a less demanding profession, and only at the age of 58 (11 years before his passing) was he able to fully commit to writing. All thanks to Don Quixote’s success.
Cervantes’ Sonnet does have a very important message about friendship, that is of course up to the reader what they read into the lines.
If you haven’t already you should read Don Quixote – check prices on Amazon.
Sonnet by Miguel de Cervantes
When heavenward, holy Friendship, thou didst go
Soaring to seek thy home beyond the sky,
And take thy seat among the saints on high,
It was thy will to leave on earth below
Thy semblance, and upon it to bestow
Thy veil, wherewith at times hypocrisy,
Parading in thy shape, deceives the eye,
And makes its vileness bright as virtue show.
Friendship, return to us, or force the cheat
That wears it now, thy livery to restore,
By aid whereof sincerity is slain.
If thou wilt not unmask thy counterfeit,
This earth will be the prey of strife once more,
As when primaeval discord held its reign.
– from The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, 1605 –
1| Ballad of The Moon by Federico Garcia Lorca
Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936) was another one of the remarkable Spanish poets with multiple talents. He was a leading figure of Spanish theater (playwright, director) and literature as well.
He was among the modern Spanish authors who has brought a number of major movements into the country. Lorca was openly gay, which partly was the reason for being banned in the Franco regime.
During his short life, which was ended by assassination in 1938, Lorca was astonishingly productive and worked tirelessly to move the country forward culturally. Unfortunately, the whereabouts of his remains is still unknown.
‘Ballad of The Moon’ is a beautiful but gloomy piece that is surely among the greatest Spanish poems to read when you are feeling down.
We recommend reading The Collected Poems: A Bilingual Edition (Revised) by Federico García Lorca if you’re craving more of his poetry. Check prices on Amazon.
Ballad of The Moon by Federico Garcia Lorca
in her petticoat of nard
The boy looks and looks
the boy looks at the Moon
In the turbulent air
Moon lifts up her arms
showing — pure and sexy —
her beaten-tin breasts
Run Moon run Moon Moon
If the gypsies came
white rings and white necklaces
they would beat from your heart
Boy will you let me dance —
when the gypsies come
they’ll find you on the anvil
with your little eyes shut
Run Moon run Moon Moon
I hear the horses’ hoofs
Leave me boy! Don’t walk
on my lane of white starch
the drum of the plains
The boy at the forge
has his little eyes shut
Through the olive groves
in bronze and in dreams
here the gypsies come
their heads riding high
their eyelids hanging low
How the night heron sings
how it sings in the tree
Moon crosses the sky
with a boy by the hand
At the forge the gypsies
cry and then scream
The wind watches watches
the wind watches the Moon
Thank you for reading!