Six Masters of the Spanish Sonnet : Francisco De Quevedo, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Antonia MacHado, Federico Garcia Lorca, Jorge Luis Borges, Miguel Hernandez. Essays and translations by Willis Barnstone. Published by Southern Illinois University Press in 1993.




With poems selected and translated by one of the preeminent translators of our day, this bilingual collection of 112 sonnets by six Spanish-language masters of the form ranges in time from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries and includes the works of poets from Spanish America as well as poets native to Spain.

Willis Barnstone has for decades been known as perhaps America's most gifted translator of Spanish poetry. A splendid poet himself, Barnstone has always been commended for the empathy, accuracy, and musicality of his translations. Yet Six Masters of the Spanish Sonnet is his most remarkable translation thus far; it is, in fact, more an act of wizardry than translation. Barnstone not only offers compact but comprehensive essays on each of his six chosen masters but alsoover one hundred bedazzling translations--all strictly rhymed and metered, and yet amazingly free of the awkwardness we have come to expect from such attempts at equivalent renderings. Here, perhaps for the first time, English-speaking readers can appreciate something of the mastery of poetic form that characterizes the work of these great Spanish-language poets: the Catullan vigor and bawdiness of Quevedo, the austere gravities of Machado's late sonnets, the implosive surrealist fury of Hernandez, and the wry eloquence of Borges, who in a poem on the dying Heine refers to the 'exquisite melodies / Whose instrument he was.' Willis Barnstone allows us to hear the exquisite melodies of each of his masters.

--David Wojahn, author of Mystery Train and A Profile of Twentieth-Century Poetry

Willis Barnstone is a magnificient reader of poetry (critical interpreter, translator) and author. Hispanist and poet, he has given us, beside the fluid rendition of their poems, a series of lucid and elegant essays on Quevedo, Sor Juana, Machado, Lorca, Borges, and Miguel Hernandez. His deft versions are in the highest sense acts of rereading and invitations to recollected rereading. In a collaboration of poets, we hear the earlier Spanish and fresh unheard sounds in original poems in English.

--Matei Calinescu, author of Rereading and Five Faces of Modernity

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