Title Page
 Table of Contents
 The image of The Lady
 The image of The Post
 Affects of the poet's relationship...
 The nature and course of love
 Biographical sketch

Title: Imagery in Quevedo's love poetry
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00098365/00001
 Material Information
Title: Imagery in Quevedo's love poetry
Physical Description: vii, 178 leaves. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Young, Gerald Paul, 1945-
Publication Date: 1974
Copyright Date: 1974
Subject: Romance Languages and Literatures thesis Ph. D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Romance Languages and Literatures -- UF   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis -- University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 175-177.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00098365
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000582368
oclc - 14102541
notis - ADB0743


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Table of Contents
    Title Page
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    Table of Contents
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    The image of The Lady
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    Affects of the poet's relationship to the lady
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    The nature and course of love
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    Biographical sketch
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Full Text







I ~

122 85 8395


I would like to express my sincere appreciation to

Drs. Allen, Lasley, and Abraham for their contributions of

time and effort in helping me to prepare this dissertation.

I must also thank my wife Mary for her help and encourage-



Acknowledgments ...................

Abstract .........................


Notes .... oo....oo .. .... ooo



Nature and the Lady's Beauty

The Lady and Her Admirers ...

Notes .......................


Metaphorical Relationships ..

"Masks" of the Poet .........

Notes ... ........ .................**


Complaints .......................

Seduction of the Lady .......

Notes .............. ................


The Nature of Love ..................

The Course of Love ........

Notes ........... .. .... ........
























@ .oee. 0a4 o0&4aa eee ee eeeeo oe e


Conclusions ..********************......... ... 166

Notes .....**************************** 172

Appendix ..........***** .....................* 173

Bibliography .**....*.......... ............. 175

Biographical Sketch ..*........*** ............ 178

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Gerald Paul Young

August, 1974

Chairman: John J. Allen
Major Department: Romance Languages and Literatures

The love poetry of Quevedo consists of 220 pieces,

70 of which comprise the collection "Canta sola a Lisi."

This study divides these works into four major categories,

depending on the type of image that predominates in

each work. In one group of poems, the imagery is devoted

principally to portraying the poet's beloved. A second

group presents the image of the poet himself. A third

group contains images which portray aspects of the poet's

relationship to his lady. A fourth group contains imagery

which deals with the nature and course of love.

In the first group of poems, the poet's beloved is

portrayed in two principal ways--by comparing her beauty

to nature and by showing how her beauty affects her

admirers. When the lady is compared to nature, her

beauty is sometimes presented as being equal to nature's,

but in most images she is portrayed as having beauty

superior to nature's. In both types of relationships,

Quevedo relies heavily on conventional Petrarchan meta-

phors, which he varies by using several different linguis-

tic and literary devices.

In poems depicting the lady's effect on her admirers,
the power of her features, rather than their beauty, is

stressed. This power is manifested in four main ways:

(1) the lady destroys her admirers; (2) she overpowers

them; (3) she grants them benefits; (4) she combines

beneficence with her destruction and power.

The emphasis in the second major group of poems,

which depict the poet himself, is on showing him suffering

from unrequited love. His suffering is described in two

different types of imagery. Some works employ metaphors

that compare the suffering poet to natural phenomena

and to mythological creatures and personages to illustrate

his torment. In other works the poet is portrayed in

various situations (lost, at war, sick, sleeping, dying,

etc.) that dramatize his suffering in love.

The third major group of poems contain images that

(1) show the poet complaining to his lady because of the
ways she affects him, both when he is absent from her,

and when he is in her presence and (2) describe attempts

by the poet to seduce the lady.

The fourth and final group of poems can also be

divided into two sections. In the first section some

works define the nature of love, whereas others portray

the poet angrily complaining to love about its cruelty.

In the second section the poems are devoted to dis-

cussing aspects of the course of love, especially how

it is communicated, love triangles, warnings to pros-

pective lovers, and love after death.

Throughout the collection of love poetry, certain

types of images are noticeable because of the frequency

with which they occur, especially (1) images of heat and

light, (2) the vehemence with which the suffering lover

is portrayed, and (3) the preoccupation with death and its

relationship to love.


_ ___~___~__


Although Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas (1580-1645)

has been acclaimed as an author since his own lifetime,

one important part of his literary production has been

neglected until this century his poetry. This neglect

is surprising in view of the fact that Quevedo was one

of the most prolific Spanish poets of the seventeenth

century--his total poetic production comes close to

900 works.

One can only speculate as to why Quevedo's poetry

remained to a large extent unstudied for so many years,

but one very likely reason is that until this century

editions of Quevedo's poetry were in an appalling state.

The poet himself never attempted any organization or

publication of his own poems (although a few were pub-

lished by others during his lifetime), and every edition

since his death has either been incomplete, or riddled

with works of wrong or doubtful attribution, or both.

Finally in 1963, Jose Manuel Blecua published an

edition of Quevedo's complete poetic works (excluding,

however, his translations of foreign poetry), which metic-

ulously collates the most important early editions and

manuscripts and convincingly discards poems of mistaken


attribution.1 This work greatly facilitates any study

of Quevedo's poetry.

Even before Blecua's invaluable edition, however,

Quevedo's poetry was beginning to draw favorable critical

attention earlier in this century. His love poetry, in

particular, has undergone a most dramatic revaluation.

Celina Sabor de Cortizar, in La poesia de Quevedo,

traces the history of the changing critical attitudes

toward his amorous verse.2 She mentions that before 1930

such names as Ernest M6rim6e and Ludwig Pfandl were among

those who found Quevedo's love poetry lacking in quality.

Mrs. Cortazar marks 1930 as the turning point in the

critical appraisals of his amorous verse. Beginning with

Luis Astrana Marin's El cortejo de Minerva in that year,

Quevedo's love poems were regarded with steadily increas-

ing fervor, until in 1957 D&maso Alonso proclaimed Quevedo

to be "el mis alto poeta de amor de la literature espa-


My own interest in Quevedo's love poetry was first

aroused by Damaso Alonso's chapter on certain aspects of

Quevedo's poetry in his Poesia espanola: ensayo de meto-

dos y limits estilisticos.4 Like him, I was fascinated

by the seeming paradox of an author who could produce both

the bitter satire and scatology of the Buscon or the

Sueos, and the gayly colorful imagery and deeply moving

sentiments of his love poetry. I was inspired also by

Dfmaso Alonso to study Quevedo's imagery, although in this

case my interest was aroused mainly by Alonso's various

studies of this aspect of G6ngora's poetry.

Finally, I was encouraged by the fact that Alonso

and other commentators on Quevedo's love poetry often

mention the scarcity of critical works devoted to these

poems. At the present time only four works, besides

Alonso's, have dealt extensively with Quevedo's love

poetry. The most complete of these is Otis H. Green's

Courtly Love In Quevedo, which analyzes in detail the

tremendous debt which Quevedo's love poetry owes to the

tradition of courtly love.5 Joseph Fucilla and Carlo Con-

siglio have concentrated on the Petrarchan influences on

the love poetry. Fucilla, in his Estudios sobre el

petrarquismo en Espana, has done much to trace the sources

of several of Quevedo's love poems either directly to

Petrarch, or to imitators of Petrarch, such as Lulgi

Grotto. Consiglio's study, "El 'Poema a Lisi' y su

petrarquismo," provides a suitable complement to Fucilla's

work.7 In his article he investigates the question of

whether Quevedo's "Lisi" poems are an imitation of

Petrarch's Canzoniere. He concludes that although a few

works are direct imitations of poems from the Canzoniere,

the Petrarchan influence is for the most part indirect,

and no more prevalent than that found in the works of

Quevedo's contemporaries.

Emilia N. Kelley's book, La poesia metaflsica de

Quevedo, analyzes many of Quevedo's love poems, but is


concerned with them to the extent that they are "meta-

physical poetry," a category which includes many works

which are not love poems. She is interested especially

in those love poems which express Quevedo's feelings about

the great perplexities of life life, death, God, time,

love, etc.

These four works, then, approach Quevedo's love poetry

from the point of view either of textual criticism or of

the history of ideas. There are, to be sure, other works

which study love poems by Quevedo, and many of them will

be mentioned throughout this study. But the four works

mentioned above seem to contain the most extensive treat-

ments of the subject.

My study will be limited to the 220 poems that

Blecua places under the headings "Poemas amorosos" and

"Canta sola a Lisi."9 These two sections include all of

Quevedo's serious love poetry, and exclude the occasional

satirical love poems found elsewhere. The predominant

verse form in both sections is the sonnet, which accounts

for 156 pieces. The remaining works consist of various

other verse forms, the most numerous of which are roman-

ces (18), madrigals (11), canciones (9), and silvas (8).

The section entitled "Canta sola a Lisi y la amorosa

pasi6n de su amante" calls for special comment. It

includes the seventy poems that Quevedo addresses to the

fictitious name "Lisi." Whether "Lisi" represents a

real or an ideal woman, or a combination of the two, is

impossible to assess at this point. Neither Quevedo nor

his contemporaries have left any evidence that would give

us a definitive answer to the question.

Such collections of love poems dedicated to one

woman are not unusual, however, in poetry of the Petrar-

chan tradition. Petrarch himself dedicated the poems of

his Canzoniere to "Laura," and Fernando de Herrera

addressed a series of poems in the sixteenth century to

"Luz" (the Countess of Gelves). Apart from the fact that

they are all addressed to Lisi, the poems of this section

differ little, if at all, from the rest of Quevedo's love

poetry; therefore, no distinction will be made between

works of the two sections in the following chapters.

Generally speaking, this study will attempt to

categorize and explain the various types of images used

in Quevedo's love poetry with an eye to clarifying the

meaning of the poetry on three different levels

(1) the individual poem, (2) groups of similar poems, and

(3) the collection of love poetry as a whole (especially
as it compares to other collections in the Petrarchan


The most convenient way of organizing the 220 love

poems is according to subject matter, since most poems

dealing with the same subject contain similar imagery.

The first chapter includes the fifty-two poems which

are devoted to describing the poet's beloved. The

fifty-seven poems of the second chapter describe the poet

5 '

himself. The sixty-seven works of Chapter III deal with

relationships between the poet and his beloved. And the

fourth chapter includes forty-nine poems which deal with

the emotion of love itself. The aforementioned figures

refer to the number of poems considered in each chapter;

the number actually quoted will be smaller. In addition,

although the imagery of most poems is predominantly of

one category or another, five poems contain sufficient

imagery of other categories to be considered in more than

one chapter (accounting for the total of 225 in the above

figures). An appendix at the end of this study will

include a list of the poems considered, compared to a

list of the ones actually quoted.

Throughout the four chapters an attempt has been made

to keep individual poems intact, although this is not

always possible, In fact, in the first chapter almost

no poems are analyzed as complete entities, because of

the peculiar nature of the images of feminine beauty.

These display such close similarity from poem to poem,

that they are almost like component parts which the poet

puts together in different ways to achieve varying end

products. In this one case, then, it seems more revealing

to study images isolated from their poems, and organized

into categories of similarity.

Finally, some of the more important terms to be used

throughout this study need to be discussed. This work

deals with "imagery," which is merely "images" taken

collectively. An image, according to Northrop Frye, is

"a formal unit of art with a natural content."10 That

is, images are the elements in a work of literature that

represent entities found in the natural world, whether

these be people, places, objects, events, emotions,

thoughts, etc.

There are two kinds of images--literal and figura-

tive. In literal imagery the author describes exactly

what he means: in figurative imagery, he says one thing

but means another. That is, if the author describes a

beautiful woman, that is literal imagery. But if he

speaks of "gold," but actually means "hair," he is using

figurative imagery.1

When an author uses figurative imagery, he usually

expresses both the figurative term and the literal term

to which it refers. This relationship between two images

is metaphor. The relationship itself can take on many

forms, including "comparison, contrast, analogy, simi-

larity, juxtaposition, identity, tension, collision,

fusion."12 Whenever the term "metaphor" is used in the

following chapters, an attempt will be made to clarify

which of the above-mentioned relationships is being

referred to at that point. In keeping with the usage

of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics,

the terms "subject" and "analogue" will be used to refer

respectively to the two basic parts of a metaphor--the

literal and the figurative image.13


7 '

The last three terms to be discussed concern the

three literary traditions from which Quevedo draws most

of his imagery courtly love, Petrarchism, and Neo-

Platonism. These will be only briefly discussed here,

since numerous references and explanations of them occur

throughout this study.

In Quevedo's love poetry courtly love and Petrarchism

are closely related. As explained by Bruce Wardropper,

the tradition of courtly love poetry dates back to medieval

Provence, where, while the lord of a castle was away on

the Crusades, his wife was in charge.14 The resident

poet of the household would address love poems to the

lady as a form of flattery. Since the lady was married,

the poetry had a hint of naughtiness or adultery about

it. And since the poet's love would never be returned,

his poems expressed the anguish of unrequited love.

The tradition of courtly love came to the Spanish

Renaissance and Baroque poets mainly through the Italian

poet Petrarch, who canonized and codified a system of

images to express the various aspects of courtly love

(e.g., the lady's beauty or the poet's suffering).

Quevedo's love poetry shows a strong Petrarchan influence

in its imagery.

In the sixteenth century another philosophy of love,

called either Platonism or Neo-Platonism, began challeng-

ing courtly love. Quevedo includes a few Neo-Platonic

poems among his amorous verse. Wardropper explains that

Neo-Platonic theories are inseparable from thought about

the cosmos; therefore, Neo-Platonic poems contain imagery

based on the Ptolemaic cosmology.15 These images will be

studied in greater detail later in this work.


Francisco de Quevedo, Obras completes I: Poesla
original (Barcelona: Planeta, 1963). Blecua has pub-
lished two later editions--the second of these (1968) is
used as the basis for this study, and will be referred
to as "Blecua" in subsequent notes. This edition is
smaller and more manageable than the three-volume third
edition (1969), which makes no changes from the second
concerning the texts or numbering of the poems. The
third edition differs mainly in that it presents addi-
tional bibliographical data about each poem, information
not pertinent to this study.
2La poesia de Quevedo (Buenos Aires: Centro Editor
de America Latina, 1968), pp. 39-40.

3Mrs. Cort&zar quotes from the third edition of
Alonso's Poesia esDanola: ensayo de metodos ~ limits
estillsticos. In the fifth and latest edition (Madrid:
Gredos, 1966), used in this study, the statement occurs
on p. 519.

"El desgarr6n afectivo en la poesla de Quevedo,"
pp. 497-580.

5Courtly Love in Quevedo, Univ. of Colorado Studies:
Series in Language and Literature, No. 3 (Boulder:
Univ. of Colorado Press, 1952).

6Estudios sobre el petrarquismo en Espana, Revista
de Filologia Espanola, Anejo 72 (Madrids Consejo
Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, 1950).
7"El 'Poema a Lisi' y su petrarquismo," Mediterraneo,
13-15 (1946), 76-93.
La poesia metaflsica de Quevedo (Madrid: Guadarrama,

9pp. 335-487 and 491-541, respectively.



10Anatomy of Criticism (Princeton: Princeton Univ.
Press, 1957), 36.
11See "Imagery," Princeton EncycloDedia of Poetry
and Poetics, ed. Alex Preminger (Princeton: Princeton
Univ. Press, 1965), PP. 363-70.

12"Metaphor," ibid., p. 490.

13See note 11.

(Z S-anish Poetry of the Golden Ae (New York:
AppIeton-Century-Crofts, 1971), P. 8-9.

15Ibid., p. 366.


In The Icy Fire Leonard Forster has pointed out

that praise of the lady is one of the foremost topics

of Petrarchan poetry.1 Therefore, it is not surprising

that Quevedo, whose love poetry falls well within

the Petrarchan tradition, should devote almost one-

fourth of his poems to praising his lady's beauty.

The great majority of the images in these poems

can be organized into two categories based on the func-

tion that they perform. In the first category, the

images praise the lady's beauty by showing that it is

either equal or superior to the beauty of nature.

In the second category, the images praise her beauty

by demonstrating the devastating effect it has on her


Nature and the Lady's Beauty

Nature, as used in this section, refers to every-

thing in the universe except for divine and human beings,

and man-made creations such as portraits and statues.

This is in keeping with the. Renaissance idea that man,

although physically a part of nature, was spiritually

separated from it by the fact that he alone, of all

creatures, possessed a soul. In spite of man's spir-

itual superiority, in the physical realm nature was

considered the standard of perfect order and beauty.2

For a poet, then, to claim that his lady's beauty was

either equal or superior to natural beauty was great

praise indeed.

The specific type of imagery to be studied in

this section is metaphor, in the sense that a subject,

the lady, is compared to an analogue, nature. The

metaphors will be studied from two points of view.

First, an attempt will be made to classify the various

types of subjects and analogues that Quevedo uses.

Then, the different kinds of relationships that he

sets up between the lady and nature will be analyzed.

In praising the lady's beauty, Quevedo usually

concentrates on specific parts of her body, although

in some metaphors he treats her general beauty, without

mentioning any particular part of the body. The areas

most often favored with praise are the eyes, hair,

cheeks, and lips. Other areas mentioned less often

are the face (whose images are related to those used

for the eyes), the teeth and mouth, and the hands and

neck. The metaphors describing the lady's general

beauty are obviously referring to her facial beauty,

since the analogues are usually closely related either

to those used with the eyes, or to those used with

the cheeks. The lady's laughter is another feature

which is subject to praise. The metaphors dealing

with it are especially interesting, because they have

an auditory, as well as a visual, basis of comparison.

Before studying the types of subjects and analogues

favored by Quevedo, it seems appropriate at this point

to discuss an important aspect of the metaphorical

process--the attributes which may form the bases of

metaphorical comparisons. This is a subject that will

play an important part in several of the following

sections. When Quevedo compares his lady's features

to natural phenomena, he implies that the two have

something in common. This something may be some phys-

ical, concrete attribute that they share, or it may

be a similar attitude which both subject and analogue

evoke in the reader. For example, if he compares his

lady's hair to gold, he may be emphasizing that both

share certain physical characteristics, such as color

and shininess; but he may also wish to evoke from the

reader the same attitude toward the lady's hair that

the latter would have toward golds a sense of admira-

tion for its beauty, its value, its desirability, etc.

In the present section, one of the principal goals

will be to isolate some of the ways in which Quevedo

achieves variety in his systems of subjects and ana-

logues. As far as the subjects are concerned, they

_ _

13 '

are varied less frequently and in fewer different ways

than the analogues. Of the individual features that

are used as subjects, the eyes seem to come in for

more variation than the other features. For instance,

poems #315, 316, 317, 428, and 436 are based on meta-

phors in which the respective subjects are the lady's

crossed eyes, her one eye, her blind eyes, her dis-

guised eyes, and her sleeping eyes.3 When the lady's

general beauty is the subject, Quevedo sometimes praises

the lady indirectly by praising portraits of her (#364,

465) or a statue of her (#507). Showing a similarity

to this technique of indirect praise are poems which

represent the lady as a mythological figures for example,

as Eurydice (#407), or as Juno and Venus (#352).

The two types of attributes that the subject and

analogue share--physical, concrete attributes as opposed

to attributes that evoke certain subjective attitudes--

might also be respectively called the denotative and

connotative meanings of imagery. The burden of convey-

ing these two kinds of meaning in a metaphor lies

mainly on the analogue, and this probably explains

why Quevedo's analogue system displays a much greater

variety than his system of subjects. In the following

discussion, while cataloguing the images that comprise

Quevedo's analogue system, it will also be demonstrated

how he varies his analogues by shifting their focus

from one to another of the possible denotations and

__ _ _ ___

15 '

connotations that form the bases of his comparisons.

The first analogues to be discussed are those

that describe the eyes. Throughout Quevedo's love

poetry, the lady's eyes receive far more attention

than any of her other features. This is probably due

to the fact that, as Otis H. Green has pointed out

concerning the courtly love tradition, love is trans-

mitted through the lady's eyes; in addition, the lady's

eyes are the principal source of her beauty.4 The

physical characteristic of the eyes which seems to attract

Quevedo's attention is their twinkle. This attribute

is translated into images of light such as dia, sol,

aurora, rayos, esfera, luz, lumbre, fuego, estrellas,

and planets. All the images that describe the lady's face,

and many of them that describe her general beauty, are

identical or closely related to those used with the eyes.

Dealing with the face are such images as sol, cielo, and

esfera. The lady's general beauty is described as cielo,

luz, cerco de luz, aurora, dia, and esfera.

As noted above, the physical quality of the lady's

eyes which probably provided the original basis for all

these images of light was their brightness, the way they

twinkled. What is fascinating, however, is the way in

which Quevedo, by concentrating on the various denotations

and connotations of these images, moves away from the

original comparison into all sorts of new areas of


For instance, the idea of twinkling eyes might

have led to their being compared to estrellas. Build-

ing on this idea, and to exaggerate their brilliance

even more, the eyes are then compared to all the stars--

firmamento, esfera, clelo--or they are compared to the

brightest stars: Sirio, the brightest star in the

constellation Canis Major, and sol, the brightest star

of all (from an earthly point of view). These heav-

enly bodies, including planets, are also nearer to

God and his perfection, and their images connote a

relationship between the lady's eyes and that divine


Building now on the image of the sun, the eyes

are further compared to dia, rayos (here "rays," and

not "lightning"), and aurora. Dia, besides denoting

a vast amount of light, connotes the idea of goodness

(as opposed to evil darkness). Aurora, which provides

the most beautiful display of light (as do the lady's

eyes), also connotes the joy of a new day, the end

of darkness--these are also qualities that would become

the lady's eyes.

Another physical characteristic connected with

most images of light is that of heat. Heat, as well

as the lady's eyes, can either be a source of good,

or a source of destruction: whence, images of fuego

and rayos (here "lightning"). This destructive capa-

_ __

ability of the eyes (and of the other features of the

lady) will be discussed at length in the second half

of this chapter.

Some generalizations can be made concerning the

way in which Quevedo plays up different attributes

of his images in order to achieve variety in his ana-

logue system. Leonard Forster has explained that in

the poetry of the Petrarchan tradition, the lady rep-

resents physical and spiritual perfection, and must

be described in superlative, hyperbolical terms.5

Based on what has just been seen concerning the images

that describe the lady's eyes, Quevedo follows several

trends in hyperbolizing his lady's beauty. He some-

times exaggerates by suggesting spatial vastness:

dia or aurora. On other occasions he evokes the image

of great numbers: estrellas become firmamento, esfera,

or cielo. (These images also connote spatial vastness.)

Moving in the opposite direction, he sometimes suggests

the concentration of great power into small spaces,

as, for example, when he compares the lady's eyes to

sol or Sirio. These same hyperbolical techniques will

be seen to function in the analogue systems that des-

cribe other of the lady's beautiful features.

The lady's hair, for instance, is another one

of her features which merits a great deal of atten-

tion. The physical characteristics of the hair which

seem to attract Quevedo's attention the most are its

_ __ ~

18 /

golden color (the Petrarchan lady is usually blond),

its sheen, its waviness, and its fine texture. From

the golden color come such images as oro, minas, teso-

ros, Indias, and moneda en coronas. It is clear from

these images, however, that the material value of gold,

rather than its color, is the attribute upon which

Quevedo expands the basic idea of gold. Minas and

Indias show the idea of spatial expansion applied to

golds tesoros and moneda en coronas represent an increase

in number.

The shininess of the hair gives rise to many of

the same images of light and heat that describe the

eyes: rayos, cielo, hoguera, dia, aurora, cometas,

and estrellas. Here the Idea of spatial expansiveness

is represented by clelo, dia, and aurora. Hoguera

is an example of an image which shows the concentration

of much heat and light into a small space. And cometas

and estrellas also connote the proximity of the hair

to divine perfection.

The lady's wavy hair is often metaphorized in

water images, which are more often than not combined

with images of light. Pi6lago de luz and golfos de

luz hyperbolize the wavy expanse of the lady's shiny


The fineness of the lady's hair is usually inter-

preted by one word: hebras. Two images, "oro en

hebras proceloso" (#349) and "hebra sutil en ondas

fulminante" (#445) introduce the idea of the danger

lurking in her hair for those who admire her.

The lady's cheeks are usually portrayed in images

which suggest their rosy glow against the creamy white-

ness of her skins nieve y rosa or jazmin y rosa.

(Some of the analogues quoted in this section are in

metaphors whose subjects are the lady's general beauty.)

Quevedo also applies his favorite methods of

hyperbole to the analogues that describe the cheeks.

By using the term flores, suggesting all flowers,

rather than just jasmines and roses, he evokes the idea

of great numerical quantity. Large spaces filled with

flowers are suggested by prados floridos, Jardin, and

sardines de Hibla (a mountain in Sicily known for its

flower-covered slopes). One technique of hyperbole

that Quevedo applies to images of the cheeks that he

does not use elsewhere is hyperbole by temporal expan-

sion. The time of the year most closely associated

with flowers is spring--hence, images which compare the

cheeks to mayo, mayo y abril, and primavera.

The analogues that describe the lady's cheeks

include an entire gamut of images, progressing from

a single flower, rosas, to two flowers, jazmIn y rosas;

then to a field full of flowers, prados floridos.

From there the progression proceeds to one month, mayo,

to two months, mayo y abril, then to the entire spring,


Probably the most intensely colorful images in

Quevedo's metaphors of feminine beauty are those that

deal with the lips. The physical characteristic of

the lips that seems to appeal most to Quevedo is their

redness. The most common images associated with the

lips are grana, rubi, pfrpura, clavel, coral, rosas,

and carmest. The hyperbolical devices used with images

of other parts of the body seem to be missing here.

Perhaps bright redness needs no exaggeration: it draws

enough attention as it is. At any rate, there is

another metaphorical device working here that should

be commented on. The connotation underlying all of

the above images (except perhaps for rosas and clavel)

is that they all represent something precious and L

rare. Grana and purpura were red dyes that were hard

to come by, and carmesi was silk dyed with grana.

Rubi was a precious stone, and coral had to be brought

from tropical seas. Even rosas and clavel, although

of no great material value, are precious in the sense

that all of nature's beautiful creations are match-

less. All of these connotations, of course, apply as

well to the lady's lips.

The lady's teeth in Quevedo's love poetry are

always brilliantly white. Perlas connotes that they

are not only white, but of great value. Indias exag-

gerates the idea of pearls to include all the treasures

of the East. The shininess of the teeth leads to their

being hyperbolically compared to auroras. And an

analogue such as Oriente might refer either to the

Indies or to the dawn.

The lady's hands and neck are always snowy white,

leading logically to an analogue such as nieve, which

is often hyperbolized spatially as Alpes.

The analogues used to describe the lady's laughter

are unique in that they include an auditory as well

as visual element. The two images in question are

"relampagos de risa carmesies" (#465) and "relampagos

* / de pfrpura" (#339). The interplay of attributes

here is unusual. For visual effects, relimpagos suggests

the lady's flashing white teeth, and carmesies and pfr-

pura suggest her brilliant red lips. The auditory

effects arise synesthetically from relimpagos: her

laughter bursts forth suddenly like the thunder accom-

panying lightning. Another connotation that relimpagos

may imply is the idea that the lady's laughter mortally

"strikes" her admirers.

The two images which have just been noted are, gram-

matically speaking, the combination of a noun plus an

adjective (the nouns: relampagos; the adjectives: car-

mesles and de pfrpura). This leads to the consideration

of another aspect of Quevedo's metaphors: the adjec-

tivization of the analogues. (In the following dis-

cussion single-word adjectives, adjectival phrases, and

adjectival clauses are all referred to as "adjectives.")

When Quevedo's analogues are modified, the adjec-

tives act like signposts to the reader to fill in

extra information about the metaphors in which they

occur. In a few metaphors the adjectives define or

emphasize certain characteristics that the subject and

analogue share. Three analogues that describe the

lady's hair will serve as examples of the technique:

"Crespas hebras, sin ley desenlazadas" (#443); "hebra

sutil en ondas fulminante" (#445); and "oro en hebras

proceloso" (#349). Most of these adjectives define

physical characteristics. The "threads" in the first

two examples are curly, wavy, and hanging free; the

gold in the third quotation is in threads. The adjec-

tives fulminante and proceloso imply both physical and

affective characteristics: they may refer respectively

to the shininess and disarrayed state of the hair,

or they may suggest the idea that danger lurks in the

lady's hairs her admirers may be "struck" by its

lightning, or "drown" in its stormy waves.

Most of the adjectives used in Quevedo's analogue

system have a somewhat different purpose from that just

cited. These other adjectives seem to be designed

to help the reader determine the subjects that the

analogues are describing. Most of these adjectives

refer to particularly human traits that the analogues,

if taken literally, could not have. For example, if

the lady is metaphorized as Mayoo en zapatillos" (#428)

or "firmamento que vives en el suelo" (#407), it is

quite clear to the reader that mayo and firmamento

are being used figuratively to describe someone who

wears shoes or lives on the ground. When encountering

the images "elocuente rubi," "sonoro clavel," and

"coral sabio" (#501), the reader knows on several accounts

that they refer to the lady's lips. First of all,

if he has read Quevedo's other love poems, and the

love poetry of other Golden Age poets, he recognizes

these terms as standard analogues for the lips. If

there is any doubt, however, as to the reference of

the analogues, the adjectives remove it. Only images

describing the lady's lips could be described as elo-

quent, sonorous, or wise.

The subjects of the metaphors just studied were

explicitly stated in the poems; the adjectives acted

merely as guideposts to help the reader find the cor-

rect subject. In some metaphors, however, the subjects

are not explicitly stated; consequently, the adjectives

take on an extra dimensions they help reveal the

nature of the "hidden" subject. This particular tech-

nique is common to most Spanish Baroque love poets,

and has been termed by Damaso Alonso as methfora im-

pura--an analogue, the subject of which is not expressed,

but is implied by other evidence, such as the adjec-


The adjectives used in these metaforas impuras

take several forms. Sometimes they describe the color

of the subject--the lady's shiny blond hair is "bionde

stelle" (#326, written in Italian) and her dark eyes

are "estrellas negras" (#4431 note that this image is

an oxymoron). Sometimes the adjectives refer to human

traits--the lady's face is an "animado cielo" and an

"esfera raclonal"; her eyes are "vivos planets" (all

three examples from #443). Finally, the hidden subject

"eyes" is often revealed by adjectives that refer to

their duality: "duplicado Sirio" (#482), "dos soles"

(#482), and "diviso il sole" (#326).

Another rhetorical device used by Quevedo in his

analogue system moves in the opposite direction from

the clarifying effect of the adjectivization toward

a more oblique expression of the analogues. The device

referred to here is periphrastic allusion. This is a

technique in which the poet avoids mentioning the con-

ventional Petrarchan analogues--oro, rosa, nieve, estre-

llas, etc.--by using geographical, mythological, or

astronomical allusions which will call the more con-

ventional images to the reader's mind without explic-

itly mentioning them.
In the realm of geographical allusions, Quevedo

25 '

usually chooses the names of places (continents, cities,

rivers, and mountains) that are famous for a certain

item produced there, or for some other characteris-

tic. For instance, probably the most commonly used

geographical allusion in his love poetry is to the

Indies (or to the Orient). Since Quevedo's love poetry

often compares the lady's features to precious stones

or metals (rubi, diamante, perlas, oro, etc.), and

since the Indies were the reputed source of fabulous

treasure, any mention of them or the Orient would con-

jure up visions of great riches in the reader's mind.

The lady's general beauty is frequently compared to

the Indiess "Traigo todas las Indias en mi mano"

(#465, which describes a portrait of his lady that the

poet carries in his ring); "Desde la plant al cabello /

es hecha de las dos Indias" (#429: here she is equal

to the East and West Indies); and in #428:

A la feria va Floris,
porque tenga la feria
mAs joyas que el Oriente.

The lady's hair is conventionally compared to

gold; therefore, allusions to places that are famous

for producing gold can be expected. The Tagus River,

for example, was noted for containing gold; hence,

such an image as "junto la pena al Tajo con el Nilo"

(#349, which describes the lady's hair and tears).
The Indies appear as a prime source of gold in "Indias

son tus sienes" (#431). And in a combined Biblical

26 '

and geographical reference, the lady parting her hair

is portrayed thus: "Dividio mano nevada / tanto Ofir

y tanto Tibar" (#429).7

The cheeks, because of their rosy blush and fair

skin, are conventionally compared to roses and jas-

mines, or just flowers in general. Mt. Hibla in Sicily

was noted for the flowery display on its slopes hence,

"abriendo paso los Alpes / a los sardines de Hibla"

(#429). This image refers to the lady's hands, "Alpes,"

brushing away her hair and revealing her cheeks.

(The hands were most commonly compared to snow; there-

fore, the allusion to the Alps, famous for their snow-

covered loftiness.) The reference to Mt. Hibla is

combined with an allusion to the island of Paros in

this image: "cuando Hibla matiza el mArmol paro"

(#501). Paros was celebrated for its marble; conse-
quently, the rosiness of the lady's cheeks against

the whiteness of her complexion is strikingly portrayed

as the flowers of Mt. Hibla reflected in Parian marble.

The final geographical allusion to be discussed

here concerns the lips. The lips are usually compared

to red objects. In ancient times Tyre was the source

of the finest quality pirpura and grana, expensive

red dyes. Therefore, an image such as "a Tiro dan

sus labios grana" (#445) calls to mind the rich redness

of the lady's lips. (This type of metaphor, in which

the subject is viewed as superior, rather than equal,

to the analogue, will be discussed later.)

27 '

Mythological allusions occur frequently through-

out Quevedo's love poetry their use as a periphrasis

for conventional analogues is only one of various parts

that they play throughout these works. In sonnet

#305 the uniqueness of the lady's beauty is likened
to the uniqueness of the phoenix (i.e., there was only

one phoenix)s

Aminta, si a tu pecho y a tu cuello
esa f6nix preciosa a olvidar viene
la presunci6n de Gnica que tiene,
en tu rara belleza podrA hacello.

(The phoenix in this poem is actually a diamond pen-

dant around Aminta's neck.) In another image, the

metaphorical brightness of the lady's beauty likens

her to the driver of Phoebus's chariot (a periphrasis,

then, for the sun)i "la Caballera del Febo, / toda

rayos y celajes" (#427).

The hair is another feature that acts as a subject

in metaphors whose analogues are periphrased by mytho-

logical allusions. In this case, the gold of the hair is

referred to as objects touched or owned by King Midass

"ondas ricas del rey Midas" (#501) or "Crespas hebras

. .. / que un tempo tuvo entire las manos Midas" (#443).

Periphrastic allusions from the realm of astro-

nomy are infrequent but interesting. In sonnet #465

the analogy of the lady's beauty to heavenly bodies

is treated: "Traigo el campo que pacen estrellado /

las fieras altas de la piel luciente." Here, in an

image of glittering loveliness, the allusion is to the

constellation Taurus.9

Since the eyes are so often compared to stars,

astronomical allusions are to be expected in metaphors

involving them. For example, in "Siempre con duplicado

Sirio cueces / las entranas" (#482), the lady's eyes

are likened to the brightest star in the constellation

Canis Major, Sirius.

In the following section the stress will be on

studying the types of relationships that the poet estab-

lishes between the lady and nature. It has been stated

that a metaphor is a comparison between a subject and an

analogue. It is important to remember here that the term

"compare" means more than just "to regard as similar";

it also implies "the weighing of parallel features for

relative values." This latter definition is especially

noteworthy, because, as will be seen, Quevedo's metaphors

often do go further than merely finding similarities

between the lady and nature.

Nature was considered the supreme source of beauty

during the Renaissance and Baroque. Even in metaphors

that equate the lady's beauty to nature, the fact that

nature is being used as the standard of beauty establishes

it as, in fact, superior. Nevertheless, Baroque poets,

including Quevedo, developed a series of metaphorical

relationships which reverse this fundamental order, and

emphasize the superiority of the lady's beauty. The

-- -- I

effect of these metaphors is to increase the praise of

the lady's beauty to a great extent. In Quevedo's love

poetry there are four basic types of metaphorical rela-

tionships that stress the superiority of the lady over

natures (1) competitive and related images, (2) images in

which the lady is mistaken for nature, (3) images in

which nature imitates the lady, and (4) images in which

the lady suspends natural laws. It is interesting to

note how these four categories follow a pattern of ascen-

ding supremacy of the lady over nature.10

The first category consists of a frequently used type

of metaphor in which the poet weighs the respective beauty

of the lady and nature, and finds nature inferior. This

type of metaphor has been called "competitive imagery" by

Arnold G. Reichenberger, because many of the metaphors

in this group portray the lady and nature in some kind

of active--even warlike--competition.11

For instance, one verb that frequently appears in

these images is vencer--the lady "conquers" nature. In

poem #445 the poet, addressing a sailor in search of

treasure, states "Si buscas flores, sus mejillas bellas /

vencen la primavera y la manana." From one of the basic

metaphors listed in the first part of this chapter--

cheeks=flowers--a new metaphor is formed that states that

the lady's cheeks are more beautiful than flowers. In

this metaphor, then, the word "conquer" is merely a sub-

stitute for "are more beautiful than."

There are other images, however, in which the term

veneer is used in a more literal sense. Although these

images ultimately imply the superiority of the lady's

beauty, most of them are expressed in terms of the

lady's power over nature, her ability to make natural

phenomena behave in unexpected ways. In "La lumbre que

muri6 de convencida / con la luz de tus ojos" (#309),

the conquest of the lady's eyes is that a candle flame

is extinguished. In #303 the lady's lips "conquer"

a carnation, which "blushes" with shame (i.e., it turns

to a darker shade of red):

Basthbale al clavel verse vencido
del labio en que se vio (cuando, esforzado
con su propria vergUenza, lo encarnado
a tu rubi se vio mas parecido).

In #389 the lady's eyes achieve a great victory

indeed--they "conquer" the sun by making it grow dimmer

(the poet, while inviting the lady to stroll through

the fields, assures her that she has nothing to fear from

the hot sun):

Si te detiene el sol ardiente y puro,
ven, que yo te aseguro
que, si te ofende, le has de veneer luego,
pues se vale 61 de luz y tu de fuego.

Some generalizations can be drawn from the competitive

images just studied that will apply to most of the images

in this category. First, it is interesting to note that

they can all be reduced to metaphors containing the basic

subjects and analogues listed in the first part of this

chapters cheeks>flowers (read ">" as "is/are more

30 /

beautiful than"), eyes>fire, lips>carnations, eyes>sun.

Second, as witnessed especially by the last two quotes,

these images are usually fairly long and involved, includ-

ing secondary metaphors (e.g., labio=rubi in #303) and

many of the linguistic devices discussed earlier: adjec-

tivization of the analogue (in #389, "sol ardiente y puro,"

the adjectives could apply as well to the eyes) and hyper-

bole by temporal expansion (in #445, flowers are hyper-

bolized as primavera and manana). Another factor which

adds to the length of the competitive images is the fact

that the poet so often does comment on the effects on

nature of the competition with the lady--the flame goes

out, the carnation blushes, the sun grows dimmer. Some

images are lengthened by further comments by the poet

which define more precisely the attributes of the sub-

ject and analogue which are in competition, as in #389,

"se vale 61 de luz, y tu de fuego."

Quevedo uses other terms besides vencer to express

an active competition between the lady and nature. In

#348 the lady's beauty (metaphorized as llama) "tramples"

the dawn: "no invidiosa / su llama, que tus luces atro-

pella." In #309 her eyes "joust" with the firmament and

"wound" it "que con el firmamento, en estacada, /

rubrica en cada rayo una herida." (The rays of her

starry eyes are the lances that she jousts with. The

bloodiness of the wounds is implied by rubrica.)

In some of the images which show active competition,

the lady does not always come out a winner. Nature

sometimes takes revenge on the lady for her superior

beauty, as in #317, in which the envious sun, day, and

stars blind the lady:

Invidia, Antandra, fue del sol y el dia,
en que tambien pecaron las estrellas,
el quitaros los ojos, porque en ellas
el fuego blasonase monarquia.

In other images, nature tries to use the lady's beauty

to its own advantage. In #313 the candle burns the lady's

hair in order to steal "wealth" from it (note the emphasis

on the material value of gold): "Enriquecerse quiso, no

vengarse, / la llama que encendi6 vuestro cabello."

There are other types of images that are related to

the "competitive" images in that they also show that,

after weighing the respective merits of the lady and

nature, the poet concludes that the lady's beauty is

superior. They are different from the "competitive"

images, however, because they do not depict any active

competition between the lady and nature.

In one group of images the lady and nature seem to

be on the verge of some sort of struggle, but the lady's

scornful attitude and superior beauty and power discour-

age the natural elements (sometimes described as "cowardly")

from attempting to compete. Instead, they envy her beauty

from afar. Quevedo seems to think carnations particularly

meek, as in the following three examples:

(1) Y cuando con rel&mpagos te ries,
de purpura, cobardes, si ambiciosos,
marchitan sus blasones carmesies. (#339)


33 /

(2) Mas con tus labios quedan vergonzosos
(que no compiten flores a rubles)
y palidos despues, de temerosos. (#339)

(3) Apenas el clavel, que a la manana
guard en rubl las lgrimas que llora,
se atreverA con 61, cuando atesora
la sangre en si de Venus y Diana. (#320)

The intricate interplay of metaphorical devices

in these three examples is noteworthy. In the first two

the poet describes the reaction of the carnations before

the lady's more beautiful lips--they wither or grow pale.

All three examples contain images referring to the lady's

lips: in (1), the purpura in "relampagos de pirpura"I

in (2), rubies; in (3), in a mythological allusion, her

lips are like those of Diana and Venus.

In another group of images related to competitive

imagery, the lady is portrayed as having a greater

amount of beauty than nature, as in #445: "Si buscas

perlas, mAs descubre ufana / su risa que Colon en el

mar de ellas"; or in #428:

A la feria va Floris,
porque tenga la feria
mas joyas que el Oriente,
mas luces que la esfera.

The lady, ever generous, has so much more beauty that

she can afford to "give" some of it to nature: "a Tiro

dan sus labios grana" (#445); ors

Esas dos mejillas
de lo que les sobra,
prestan al verano
lo que a mayo adorna. (#431)
In the fourth and final set of images related to

competitive imagery, the lady knows so much more about

beauty that she "teaches" nature how to be lovely

A ser sol al mismo sol,
a ser dia al mismo dia,
ensenaba con los ojos
la belleza de Florinda. (#420)

Sometimes nature, recognizing the lady's superiority,

"learns" to be beautiful from hers "para que, a presumir

de tiria grana, / de tu pirpura liquida aprendiese"

(#303, in reference to a carnation which learns to be

red from the lady's blood); and "0 quiso introducir en sol

su llama, / y aprender a ser dia, a ser aurora" (#313, in

reference to a candle flame which came too close to the

lady's hair in order to learn to be day and dawn).

Even though the competitive and related images

stress the superiority of the lady's beauty over nature's,

the fact remains that nature in these images is still the

standard by which the lady's beauty is measured. How-

ever, in the next category of images, it will be seen

that this concept begins to break down. Here the lady

has achieved the same perfection of beauty that only

nature has held until now. This complete equality of the

lady and nature leads to the lady herself being mistaken

for nature.

In #376, for instance, the lady is mistaken for the

dawns "las fuentes y las aves te cantaron, / que por la

blanca Aurora te tuvieron." In the same sonnet, her eyes

are mistaken for real sunlight

_ __

El sol dorado que tus ojos via
dudaba si su luz o la luz dellos
prestaba el resplandor al claro dia.

It is interesting to note that It Is nature herself who

becomes confused by the lady's perfect beauty. In the

first quote, the fountains and birds began to sing, mis-

taking the lady for dawn; in the second example, the sun

itself was confused as to whether it or the lady's eyes

were causing the daylight.

One of Quevedo's favorite ways of portraying this

mistaken identity between the lady and nature is to play

on the conventional comparisons of certain of the lady's

features to flowers. In these usually prolonged images,

the lady's face is mistaken for a flower garden by a

group of bees, as in #504:

Haces hermoso engaho a las abejas,
que cortejan solicltas tus flores;
llaman a su codicia tus coloress
su instinto burlas y su error festejas.

In #433, the poet enumerates exactly which of the lady's

features attract the bees--her cheeks are roses and lilies;

her lips, carnations her sweet breath, jasmine and vio-

lets; her overall beauty, springs

que, buscando flores,
enga~adas piensan
que son sus mejillas
rosas y azucenas;

sus labios claveles,
jazmin y violetas,
el aliento dulce,
y ella primavera.

In a third set of images, the traditional order of

nature as the standard of beauty, with the lady aspiring

to imitate its perfection, has been completely reversed.

Now the lady has become the undisputed standard of beauty,

and nature is either "honored" by its similarity to her,

or, in some images, actively imitates her. An interesting

similarity which runs through many of these images is the

idea of painting. In #307, for example, the poet dis-

cusses the difficulty of painting a portrait of the lady.

In two images he considers using natural phenomena to por-

tray her loveliness, but then rejects them as not beautiful

enough "En nieve y rosas quise florecerosi / mas fuera

honrar las rosas y agraviaros," and "dos luceros por ojos

quise daros; / mas ucuAndo lo soTiaron los luceros?" If

the lady's cheeks were portrayed as roses, it would honor

the roses, but insult the lady (because roses would not

be lovely enough). He could use stars for her eyes, but

when did stars ever dream of being so lovely?

In a continuation of the painting motif, poem #429

offers a series of images which depict nature as "painting"

itself in imitation of the lady

A hurto la estan copiando
mayo y abril las mejillas,
y, a su imitacibn, las flores
pomposamente se pintan.

Mal imitados borrones
de su perfecci6n divina
muestran floridos los prados,
hacen las riberas ricas.

In his doctoral thesis, Hans Frankel points out that a

hurto implies that nature is ashamed of its inferiority,

and must imitate the lady on the sly.12 Note also how the


poet describes the flowery fields as badly imitated

sketches of the lady--"mal imitados borrones"--implying

that nature cannot hope to actually equal the lady's


In the fourth and final category, the lady's victory

over nature is complete. In these images the lady's

beauty is endowed with the ability to alter or suspend

natural laws. Not only has she become superior to nature

in beauty, but she also usurps its role as a source of

power. In two images, for instance, the lady's beauty

suspends natural laws by causing a river to stop flowing,

and a spring to flow faster "las aguas de Pisuerga se

pararon / y aprendieron a amar cuando te vieron" (#376),

and in #389, in reference to a spring in which the lady

watches her reflection:

Las aguas que han pasado
oir&s por este prado
llorar no haberte visto, con tristeza;
mas en las que mirares tu belleza,
ver&s alegre risa,
y c6mo las dan prisa,
murmurando su suerte a las primeras,
por poderte gozar las venideras.

The idea here is that the waters of the spring which have

carried her reflection rush forward both to tell the

water ahead of their good fortune, and to allow the

following waters the honor of reflecting the lady's image.

Another group of images dealing with the lady's

power to suspend natural laws portray her as being able to

make natural phenomena behave the reverse of what one

would normally expect. In #376 she can make stones turn

soft by merely touching them: "cuantas peas tocaste,

se ablandaron." She can make water and snow burn by

looking at them "A poder vos mirar, la fuente fria /

encendiera cristales en centellas" (#317), and "que la luz

de tus ojos es de suerte, / que aun encender podrA la

nieve fria" (#308). She can also perform the opposite

feat--freezing fire--with the coolness of her snowy-white

skins "milagro fue pasar por vuestro cuello / y en tanta

nieve no temer helarse" (#313, in which a candle flame

comes dangerously close to the lady's neck).

Related to these images of reverse phenomena are

images which demonstrate the lady's ability to turn dark-

ness into light. The general concepts of light and dark

are manifested in various ways. Im poem #407 darkness is

represented by the ancient Greek concept of the under-

world--a gloomy place inhabited by shades. This poem com-

pares the lady and the poet to Eurydice and Orpheus; the

poet decides that his lady could never be Eurydice, because

being like the firmament, she could never be a "shade":

firmamento que vives en el suelo,
no podia ser que fueras
sombra, que entire las sombras asistieras;
que el inferno contigo se alumbrara.

In the same poem the concept of light is manifested as

dawn, which is brought to night by the lady's face (com-

pared to Apollo in his chariot):

y tu divina cara,
como el sol en su coche,
introdujera auroras en la noche.

In other images the source of light is the lady's

eyes, which can turn night into day, as in #476:

Bien pueden alargar la vida al dia,
suplir el sol, sostituir l'aurora,
disimular la noche a cualquier hora,
vuestros hermosos ojos, Lisis mia,

In #326 the lady's eyes in the night are compared to the

rebirth of the day after sunset:

Diviso il sole partoriva 11 giorno,
languido nella tomba d'occidente;
risorse dal sepolchro il lume ardente
di blonde stelle coronato intorno.

The remainder of the images in this fourth category

are similar to those already studied in that they also

show how the lady is above the mandates of natural law.

They are different, however, in that they stress the

benevolent effect that the lady has on whatever she comes

into contact with. In poem #376, for example, the lady

makes barren fields burst into blooms "Saliste, Doris

bella, y florecieron / los campos secos que tus pies

pisaron." (This is also an implicit comparison to Venus,

who was often portrayed as causing flowers to spring forth

from dry fields.)

In two other images, the flowers that the lady wears

take on new and unusual characteristics

no temas que el color que tienes muera,
estando en una parte tan dichosa.

Siempre verde serAs, siempre olorosa,
aunque despoje el cielo la ribera;
triunfaras del invierno y de la esfera. (#370)


_ _

L6grese en tu cabello, respetada
del ano; no mal logre lo que crias
adquiera en larga vida eterna aurora. (#446)

Here the flowers, through contact with the lady, attain

eternal freshness, fragrance, and dawn. They become

immune to the change of the seasons and the effects of

the weather.

In the final set of images, the lady's beauty

inspires destructive forces to become benevolent. When

Jupiter sends his thunder-bolts to earth, they descend to

her as gifts of golds

A ti el trueno es requiebro, si amenaza
el tirano, le atiende en el tesoro,
cuando su sien temor precioso enlaza.

Al robre baja en rayo y a ti en oro. (#453)

In poem #385 sickness and even death avoid the lady, in

respect for her beauty. This long work describes a lady

with an eye ailment who, having been ordered by her doc-

tor to cut her hair, refused to do so. Her fever, for

instance, left her so as not to oblige her to cut her

hairs "que aun por no te obligar a tal locura, / a si

se corrigi6 la calentura." Her health, jealous of the

sickness's closeness to her, returns

y la salud, de invidia, se tornara,
pues estaba, sin duda, ya celosa
de ver en ti la enfermedad hermosa.

Even death, in a great victory for the lady, does not

dare to offend hers "que ofender tal belleza quien la

viera, / hasta en la Muerte atrevimiento fuera."

40 '

The Lady and Her Admirers

Quevedo devotes a large number of images to depicting

the various ways in which the lady influences the

behavior or status of her admirers. The term "admirer"

refers to the human and divine characters who are described

as being in love with the lady. This group includes the

poet himself, usually speaking in the first person singular.

Before analyzing any specific images, it will be

helpful to discuss some generalities which will apply to

most of the images in this section. Structurally, most

of them can be divided into three parts, consisting of a

subject (one of the lady's features), an analogue (usu-

ally one of those studied at the beginning of this chapter),

and a statement referring to the lady's influence over her

admirers (expressed in terms of the analogue). For

example, in an image such as "quien los ve es ceniza, y

ellos fuego" (#308), the three respective parts are

(1) the lady's eyes, (2) fire, and (3) the lady's observers

reduced to ashes (by the fire of her eyes).

Each of these images, then, is actually an equa-

tional metaphor followed by a statement concerning the

lady's effect on her admirers. The type of influence

exerted on the latter by the lady's features may serve

as a convenient basis of organization for the images in

this section. The four major types of influence exerted

by the lady are (1) destruction, (2) power, (3) beneficence,

and (4) destruction and power combined with beneficence.

In the images that describe the destructive powers of

the lady's features, the eyes are the most frequently used

subject. These are usually compared to images of heat

and light, most of them similar, if not identical, to the

analogues studied in the first part of this chapter. Some

of these analogues are rayo and relAmpago (#499), fuego

(#499 and #476), luz (#499 and #476), aurora (#476), sol

(#476), and estrellas (#415). The difference between these

metaphors and the ones studied earlier is that here the

damaging effects, rather than the beautiful qualities, of

heat and light are stressed (e.g., heat burns and dazzling

light blinds).

Variety is achieved in this analogue system by uti-

lizing some of the same techniques that were studied pre-

viously. Two analogues, for example, are referred to by

periphrastic allusions, one astronomical and one mytho-

logicals in #482 the eyes are compared to Sirio, a

periphrasis for estrella and an allusion to one of the

brightest stars in the heavensI in #411 the eyes are lik-

ened to Faetonte, a periphrasis for sol and an allusion to

the myth of Phaethon, who carelessly drove the chariot of

the sun and almost burned up the earth. Four other ana-

logues contain mythological allusions, although they are

not periphrastic. Both #411 and #417 refer to the lady's

eyes as being stronger than Jupiter's lightning-bolts,

and #417 also compares them to Mars's sword. ("Sword"


is an analogue not mentioned previously, and evidently

exclusive to images that describe the lady's influence

over her admirers.) The effect of relating the lady's

features to these heavenly bodies and heavenly beings is

to hyperbolize their power.

The third part of these images, in which the lady's

influence over her admirers is described, is usually

expressed in terms of the analogue. Images of heat and

light, for example, usually portray the lady as burning

those whom she looks ati "Siempre con duplicado Sirio

cueces / las entranas" (#482), or (referring to the lady's

eyes looking at the poet) "lo miren reducido a sombra

ardiente" (#476). In some images the lady's admirers

merely "die," without any special mention of the means by

which their deaths occur (in the Petrarchan tradition,

the "life" and "death" of a person usually refer res-

pectively to his happiness or suffering in love)s "la

vita che di al glorno, a me la tolse" (#326), ors

Quien os ve, claras estrellas
de amor, si human se atreve
a mirar luces tan bellas,
no paga lo que las debe,
si no muere por ellas. (#415)

In some poems the effect of the lady on her admirers

is expressed in quite an extended fashion. The poem first

cites an example of destruction unrelated to the lady,

then relates the lady's destruction of her admirers to

the example. Poem #499, a sonnet, is devoted entirely

to such a process. The quatrains cite the example of

____ I

parched fields, which look forward to the rain, until

they realize that it comes accompanied by deadly light-

ning: "Mas quieren verse secos que abrasados, / viendo

que al agua la acompaha el fuego." The tercets then

explain how, in similar fashion, the poet looked forward

to seeing his lady's eyes, until he realized that they

would strike and burn him:

No de otra suerte temen la hermosura
que en los tuyos mis ojos codiciaron,
anhelando la luz serena y pura;

pues luego que se abrieron, fulminaron,
y amedrentando el gozo a mi ventura,
encendieron en ml cuanto miraron.

Poem #411, a madrigal, follows a similar procedure.

The first four lines relate how Jupiter punished Pha-

ethon for almost burning up the earth:

Jfpiter, si venganza tan several
tomaste de Faetonte
porque, descaminando el Sol al dia,
encendi6 el rio, el mar, el llano, el monte

The poet then concludes that Jupiter should wreak the

same vengeance on the lady, whose eyes are just as des-


ucuAnto mayor conviene,

que la tomen agora tus enojos
de aquellos sin pledad divinos ojos
que abrasan desde el suelo
hombres y dioses, mar y tierra, y cielo?

Quevedo rarely varies the subjects in the images

that display the lady's destructive power. In two poems,

however, he varies the images of the eyes by treating the

lady's disguised eyes (#428) and her sleeping eyes (#436).

In the former the eyes are swords (implied by the words

filos and aceros), and in the latter the eyes are rayos,

The statements of influence stress in both cases that

the lady's eyes are still destructive even when covered.

In poem #428 the disguised eyes are like swords which,

though sheathed, still cut (the souls of her admirers)s

;Oh qu6 filos tienen,
qu6 aceros gastan
ojos que envainados
cortan las almas:

In #436 the poet explains how the lady's eyes kill even

when closed--in this case by withholding the pleasure

of their beauty from her admirers

El regatear los rayos
retirados y soberbios,
es no matar, fulminantes,
para matar, avarientos.

Another of the lady's features endowed with destruc-

tive capabilities is her snowy-white skin, which in

two poems (#306 and #317) is paradoxically compared to

fire. The poet seems to achieve this jump from snow to

fire by concentrating on the dazzling whiteness of the

lady's skin. Then focusing on the heat that this bright-

ness might give off, he compares the snowy-whiteness to

fire. This sort of three-stage metaphorical progression

is closely related to what Damaso Alonso calls a metafora

de segundo grado.13 It is also similar to one of Arthur

Terry's definitions of a conceit, in that it compares

two apparently dissimilar entities, snow and fire, on the

basis of one attribute that they happen to share--

shininess.14 The effect of all this is that in #306 the

poet is "killed" by the fire of the lady's hand (which is

covering her eyes)s

Lo que me quita en fuego, me da en nieve
la mano que tus ojos me recata;
y no es menos rigor con el que mata,
ni menos llamas su blancura mueve.

And in #317 the dazzling whiteness of the lady's face

blinds him who dares to gaze upon hers

Hoy clega juntamente y desdeiosa,
sin ver la herida ni tender al ruego,
vista ceg&is al que miraros osa.

La nieve esquiva oficio hace de fuego.

The fourth and final group of images which describe

the lady's ability to destroy her admirers has her general

beauty has their subject. Many of these images have no

expressed analogue; therefore, it must be inferred from

the terminology used. For instance, in images which

speak of the lady's admirers as being "blinded" by looking

at her, one can probably assume that the implied analogue

is something like "fire" or "light": "no es possible sin

cegar miraros" (#307) and "y vi donde el mismo ver /

fue ocasion para cegar" (#415). Other images describe

the lady's admirers as being "killed" by her beauty, as

in #428:

Todo amante libre
se ponga en cobro;
que, si suelta la cara,
morir&n todos.

The implication here (affirmed by the context of the

poem), is that the lady's beauty is like a sword.

Another image in which a sword analogue is used (here

expressed, rather than implied) is "para todos Durandarte"

(#427; an allusion to Roland's sword).

An extended metaphor referring to the lady's general

beauty is found in #312, a sonnet. The quatrains and

first tercet present a graphic description of the suf-

ferings of the Trojan War. Then the final tercet states

that if Paris had seen the poet's lady, instead of Helen,

the Trojan War never would have happened, because he

would have "died"s

no lloraran, Aminta, los troyanos,
si, en lugar de la griega hermosa Helena,
Paris te viera, causa de su muerte.

The second group of images which display the lady's

influence over her admirers show the lady's "power" over

her suitors. These images are different from those just

studied in that the terminology is much less harsh.

Instead of "burning," "blinding," and "killing" her

admirers, her the lady "conquers," "captures," "binds

up," or "imprisons" those who dare to gaze upon her.

In addition, with a few exceptions, the statements of

effect (the third structural element) in these images

are not as closely related to the analogues as in the

first group. That is, there is an obvious connection

between stating that the lady's eyes are like fire, and

saying that they "burn" her admirers; however, the con-

nection is not so obvious when one says that her eyes

are like daylight, and that they "imprison" those who

look at her.

As always, the lady's eyes dominate this set of

images, and as always they are compared to images of heat

and light. Some specific examples are rayos, ardiente

valentia, and luces (all from #316), luces (#443), and

primeros mobles (#333). The effect these phenomena have on

her admirers is that they conquer hearts, win victories,

and triumph over nations (note the hyperbole by spatial

and numerical expansions the lady conquers whole nations

of men):

Aun faltan a sus rayos corazones,
victorias a su ardiente valentla
y al triunfo de sus luces aun naciones. (#316)

The lady is often portrayed as the "monarch" of her

suitors: "por quien a ser monarca Lisi aspira, / de

libertades, que en sus luces ata" (#443). Notice here

how her lights "bind up" her captives. And finally,

in a type of imagery taken from Neo-Platonism (used

only occasionally by Quevedo), the lady's eyes are

Prime Movers which control the poet's powers in the same

way that the real Prime Mover controls the movement of

the spheress5

Primeros mobles son vuestras esferas,
que arrebatan en cerco ardiente de oro
mis potencias absortas y ligeras.

One image dealing with the eyes, but with a slight

variation, appears in #316, in which the single eye

of a one-eyed lady is the subject. The poet states that

if with only one eye--compared to dia--she can kill

and imprison men, there would be no power left for a

second eye, even if she had ones

Si en un ojo no mAs, que en vos es dia,
tienen cuAntos le ven muerte y prisiones,
al otro le faltara monarqula.

The two images which deal with the lady's hair

share one aspect--they both depict her admirers as being

"bound" by her hair. In #385 the poet warns a doctor not

to cut the lady's hair, because he would also be cutting

all the lives of her lovers, who are caught in its

"pues cortara, en los lazos que hoy celebras, / tantas

vidas amantes como hebras." In #326, the lady's blond

"mane" has bound up the poet's hearts "Ligommi 11 core

11 biondo crin." The idea of binding is, of course,

closely related to that of capturing or imprisoning found

in the other images in this section.

In a final image, the lady's general beauty is not

compared to any specific analogue, but is pictured

as "capturing" or "carrying away" the poet's love.

This image occurs in #364, in which the poet describes how

the effects that a portrait of Fills has on him are like

those that the real Filis would have:

En el llevar tras si mi fe y deseo
es Fills viva, pues su ser incluye,
con cuyo disfavor siempre peleo.

The next category--beneficence--contains images

which are somewhat the opposite of the first category

("destruction"). In these images the lady is portrayed

as either mercifully withholding her destructive powers,

or as improving her admirers' status through contact

49 1

with her beauty.

In two images the lady's eyes are compared to

estrellas negras (#443) and luces sacras and augusto

dia (#333). In the former image the lady "courteously"

holds back the destructive potential of her eyes "en

nieve estrellas negras encendidas, / y cort6smente en

paz de ella guardadas." The latter image utilizes Neo-

Platonic terminology--the lady's eyes are like the heav-

enly spheres whose revolutions cause a silent, harmonious

music. As the poet gazes at her eyes, they produce a like

harmony in his souls

Las luces sacras, el augusto dia
que vuestros ojos abren sobre el suelo,
con el concento que se mueve el cielo
en mi esplritu explican armonia.

In poem #477 the final tercet offers two images con-

cerning the lady's general beauty, which is compared to

cielo and llama. (In this poem the poet addresses a child

sleeping in Lisi's lap.) In the first image the idea

is expressed that since Lisi is heaven, the child becomes

an angel. Furthermore, the child is protected from dis-

illusionment (sueno) in Lisi's laps "que tu eres Angel,

que tu cama es cielo, / y nada serA sue-no en esa cama."

In the second image, the child becomes a "phoenix" in

Lisi's flame. This image plays on the two meanings of

f6nixs a mythological creature and also a person endowed

with extraordinary powers. The image also expresses the

idea that Lisi's flame is more glorious than the phoe-

nix's: "que habitas fenix mAs gloriosa llama."

The images included in the fourth and final category

display how the destruction and power exerted by the lady's

beauty can also be, marvelously and paradoxically,


Included among the images which show the lady's

destructive power combined with beneficence are one in

which the lady's eyes bring both life and death: "en

donde vive Amor cuanto ella mata" (#443). In a second

image her general beauty both cures the afflicted and

afflicts the healthy (#427): "la que deshace los tuer-

tos, / y la que los clegos hace." (The word tuertos

here is actually a pun, since it means both "one-eyed

persons" or "torts." The phrase "deshace los tuertos"

could mean, in keeping with the chivalric language used

throughout this poem, "she rights torts.") Finally,

even though her beauty has reduced the poet to ashes,

they are the ashes of the phoenix (therefore, the poet

will rise again): "y aunque amor en ceniza me convierte, /

es de f6nix ceniza" (#308).

The lady's power over her admirers is also viewed

as beneficial, as in #315, which plainly states con-

cerning the lady's eyes: "su conquista / da a l'alma

tantos premios como enojos." In another image dealing

with the lady's eyes, she passes their "tyrannous ardor"

through her snowy-white hand (i.e., she covers her eyes

with her hand) in order to temper its effect:

_ _

Si de tus ojos el ardor tirano
le pasas por tu mano por templarle,
es gran piedad del coraz6n human. (#306)
In a final image using Neo-Platonic terms, the lady's

face is like the stars in that it can influence both

favorably and unfavorably

En ella la dorada monarqula
mAs eficaz influye y reverbera:
es tu desd6n constelaci6n several,
y tu favor la que es benigna envia. (#482)


1The I Fire (London: Cambridge Univ. Press,
1969), pp. 8-9.
2Arthur Terry, ed., An Anthology of Spanish Poetryi
1500-1700 (New Yorks Pergamon Press, 1965), I, xxi.
3For convenience, Blecua's numbering of the love
poems is used throughout this study.
Courtly Love, p. 82.

5The Icy Fire, p. 9.
Ensayos sobre poesia espanola (Madrid: Revista de
Occidente, 194 )-, 46. Note that Alonso uses metafora
to refer to the analogue in a metaphor of which the subject
is not expressed.
7"Oro de Ofir" and "oro de Tibar" are terms that
refer to the purest unalloyed gold, according to the
Enciclopedia Universal Ilustrada (Madrid: Espasa-Calpe,
1930), XL, 574. "Ophir" is mentioned in the Bible
(I Kings 9:28) as a land rich in gold.
8This is also an allusion to the Caballero del Febo,
a character appearing in chivalric romances. Blecua
explains (p. 464) that this poem was dedicated to an
actress. The imagery suggests that she was noted for her
roles in chivalric plays.

9Explained by Blecua, p. 506.

10A somewhat similar classification is used by Hans

Frankel in his doctoral thesis, Figurative Language in
the Serious Poetry of Quevedo (Univ. of California at
Berkeleyi Library Photographic Service, 1942), pp. 21-71.
His arrangement lacks my fourth category, and he includes
only a few of Quevedo's love poems.

11"Competitive Imagery in Spanish Poetry," Annali
dell'Istituto Universitario Orientale, 4 (January 1962),

12Figurative Language, p. 45.

13Poesia espa7ola, p. 371.

1Anthology, II, xl.

15The source of Neo-Platonic imagery is the Ptole-
maic cosmology, a fact noted by Bruce Wardropper in his
Spanish Poetry of the Golden Age, p. 10. Ptolemy viewed
the cosmos as a system of concentric spheres, at the center
of which was the earth, surrounded by the spheres of the
various planets and stars. One of the outermost spheres
was the Prime Mover, which caused all the other spheres
to revolve.

_ __


In this chapter the term "poet" refers not to

Quevedo, the historical personage, but to his poetic

"mask," the fictional face which he chooses to reveal

in his poems and which may or may not have some rela-

tionship to his real personality.

As in the previous chapter, the majority of the

images to be studied presently belong to the conventional

stock of Petrarchan imagery. The poet is presented

in such imagery as suffering dreadfully because of

his lady's disdain, and yet loving every minute of it.

This paradoxical state of affairs is often reflected

in such oxymoronic images as Leonard Forster's "icy


Therefore, whereas the lady was described in images

which emphasized her beauty and power, the poet is

usually portrayed in much more unpleasant terms.

For instance, one group of images used with great

frequency in poems describing the poet, and which is

hardly to be found in those depicting the lady, deals

with the four traditional elements of ancient science--

fire, water, earth, and air. The emphasis here, as

_____ I

will be seen, is on the first two elements, since the

poet is usually burning in the "fire" of love and

pouring forth "rivers" of tears because of it.

Another important difference between the images

of this chapter and those of the first lies in their

structures. In Chapter I the great majority of images

were metaphors--if not the more traditional equational

metaphor (A=B), then at least some type of relationship

set up between two images. In Chapter II the proportion

of metaphors to the total number of images to be studied

is smaller. The poet is often described not by comparing

him to some external phenomenon, but by portraying him

in certain situations which emphasize his suffering

in love. These latter images are "literal" in that

they portray the subject directly, without recourse

to analogues.

This chapter, then, will be divided into two main

parts. The first part will study metaphorical images

in which either the poet or something closely related

to him (such as his tears) is the subject. The second

part will study imagery in which the poet is depicted

in various situations--wearing various "masks" as it

were--that emphasize his suffering in love.

Metaphorical Relationships

It will be helpful at this point to make some

56 /

general comments on the metaphors involving the poet.

First, the metaphors studied in this chapter are, for

the most part, much longer and more involved than those

studied in the first chapter. It is not unusual, in

fact, to encounter an entire sonnet based on one meta-

phor. The systems of subjects and analogues used in

these metaphors are also less varied than those of

the first chapter. The subjects in this chapter are

almost always the poet, or something closely related

to him, such as his tears or his tearful eyes, his

heart, his veins, etc.

Predominant among the analogues are images of

fire and water, and the various forms in which these

elements may manifest themselves (e.g., heat, volcanoes,

ice,snow, rivers, etc.).

One procedure frequently used by Quevedo is to

compare his poetic self to some natural phenomenon

in an attempt to demonstrate his suffering in love.

For example, in some poems the poet compares himself

to volcanoes.

The basic metaphor in #293 is that the poet compares

himself to Mt. Etna. The entire sonnet is devoted

to elaborating on this comparison, to show how it is

possible to compare two such unlikely entities as a

human being and a volcano. The quatrains describe

Mt. Etna at length:

Ostentas, de prodigios coronado,
sepulcro fulminante, monte aleve,
las hazanas del fuego y de la nieve,
y el incendio en los yelos hospedado.

Arde el hibierno en llamas erizado,
y el fuego en lluvias y granizos bebe
truena, si gimes; si respiras, lueve
en cenizas tu cuerpo derramado.

The most extraordinary characteristic of Mt. Etna,

according to the quatrains, is that at its peak fire

and snow, heat and cold, can exist side by side.

This paradox is emphasized by a series of pairs of

contrasting images (pointed out by DAmaso Alonso in

his Poesia espanolal): fuego-nieve, incendio-yelos,

hibierno-llamas, and fuego-lluvias y granizos. (Note

the ever-present elements of fire and water.)

The tercets draw the comparison between the poet

and Mt. Etna. The poet first states that If he had not

been born, the volcano would be unique in the strange

properties that it possesses:

Si yo no fuera a tanto mal nacido,
no tuvieras, ;oh Etna:, semejante:
fueras hermoso monstro sin segundo.

But since he also burns (with love) in lofty snow

(the lady's disdain), he is an imitation of Mt. Etna:

Mas como en alta nieve ardo encendido,
soy Encelado vivo y Etna amante,
y ardiente imitaci6n de ti en el mundo.

The reference of alta nieve to the lady's disdain is

explained by Gonzalez de Salas, the friend and some-

times collaborator of Quevedo, in his edition of Quevedo's



In the final tercet the poet is also compared to

Enceladus, the Titan who was pinned under Mt. Etna

by Jupiter--his breath was supposed to cause Etna's

fire and smoke. The comparison with the giant is based

on the idea that just as the latter is being punished

by and suffers in Etna's fire, the poet is punished

by and suffers in his love for his lady. These compar-

isons of the poet to mythological characters are quite

common, and will be studied further in another section.

Quevedo employs a device in this poem which was

seen only rarely in the first chapter, but which will

occur quite frequently in this one. As seen in the

quatrains of #293, the analogue of the metaphor "poet=

Etna" is also the center of an elaborate system of

images. Some of these are related not only to Mt.

Etna, but also to the poet, such as the "fire-ice"

images quoted above. Others refer only to Mt. Etnas

"sepulcro fulminante," "monte aleve," and "truena, si

gimesl si respiras, llueve / en cenizas tu cuerpo derra-

mado." The number of images referring to the analogue

in proportion to those referring to the subject varies

greatly in these extended metaphors--these different

proportions will be discussed as each individual case


Poem #302 is another example of the suffering

poet being compared to a volcano, this time to Mt.

Vesuvius. Here the basis of comparison is the fact

that the green, pleasant slopes of Vesuvius hide the

fiery volcanic activity inside. In like manner, the

poet appears harmless on the outside, but seethes with

the fires of love within. The entire sonnet has a

closely knit structure. The quatrains and first tercet

describe Mt. Vesuvius. Just as in the previous sonnet

there is a series of fire-snow opposition, here the

image motif consists of a fire-vegetation opposition,

which reflects the paradoxical nature of both Vesuvius

and the poet.

The imagery of the first three stanzas reflects

the history of Vesuvius. In ancient times its appar-

ently harmless slopes were well cultivated and popu-


Salamandra frondosa y bien poblada
te vio la antiguedad, column ardiente,
joh Vesubio, gigante el mAs valiente
que al clelo amenazo con diestra osada:

The salamander, according to ancient science, could

live in fire without being burned. The volcano, then,

had the same appearance to the ancients as the sala-

mander--to them it seemed totally unaffected by the

fire inside. It was also a "leafy" salamander, covered

with luxuriant vegetation. The last two lines of the

quatrain personify Vesuvius as a giant threatening

the heavens with his right hand--an image which empha-

sizes the volcano's immense size and power.

Later, after the slopes of Vesuvius had been covered

with so many flowers that it looked like a garden

in the shape of a pyramid, it erupted:

Despues, de varias flores esmaltada,
jardin piramidal fuiste, y luciente
mariposa, en tus llamas inclemente,
y en quien toda Pomona fue abrasada.

During the eruption the fire, combined with the multi-

colored slopes, made it appear as a glittering butter-

fly--luciente mariposa. As in the first quatrain,

this stanza also ends with a reference to the destruc-

tive potential of Vesuvius's fire--the merciless oblit-

eration of the surrounding countryside.

After the first eruption (in modern times), the

volcano becomes the eternal abode of fires

Ya, fenix cultivada, te renuevas,
en eternos incendios repetidos,
y noche al sol y al cielo luces llevas,

Here, the ability of Vesuvius to continue existing in

the midst of fire is likened to the phoenix, a fantas-

tic creature which is eternally reborn after burning

to ashes. Note the continuation of the fire-vegetation

motif in f6nix cultivada. The parallel with the imagery

of the quatrains continues, as this tercet ends with

an allusion once more to the magnitude of Vesuviuss

"y noche al sol y al clelo luces llevas." Here the

fires of the volcano are so great as to darken the

day (with smoke and ashes) and light up the night

(with fire).

The final tercet introduces the poet and compares

him to Vesuviuss

61 '

iOh monte, emulaci6n de mis gemidoss
pues yo en el coraz6n y tu en las cuevas,
callamos los volcanos florecidos!

They are both "flowery volcanoes"--they both conceal

fires within, the poet in his heart and Vesuvius in

its caverns, while they maintain peaceful exteriors.

This final comparison reveals the double meaning

of certain images found in the first three stanzas.

Emilia N. Kelley in La poesia metafisica de Quevedo

has suggested that the three animals mentioned in the

first three stanzas--the salamander, butterfly, and

phoenix--may also refer to the poet.3 He is like both

the salamander and phoenix, because he lives in spite

of being burned (by the fires of love). A possible

connection between the poet and the luciente mariposa

stems from the fact that in Classical Greek the word

psyche means both "soul" and "butterfly." Alexander

A. Parker has pointed out how in another poem mariposa

is used in this same way.4 The word luciente would

refer to the poet's soul "burning" with love.

Quevedo uses other natural phenomena besides vol-

canoes to exemplify the poet's suffering. For instance,

in several poems the poet's situation is related to

a river or brook. The relationship between the poet

and the river is established in various ways. In some

poems the procedure is similar to what we witnessed

in the volcano sonnets--Quevedo describes some charac-

teristic of a river which he then parallels to the

poet-lover's amorous condition.

Poem #296, for example, compares a babbling brook

to the poet's heart. Just as the brook was flowing

merrily along until it met with disaster by being hurled

down a mountainside, so the poet's heart entered into

love innocently happy, ignorant of the sorrow which

awaited it.

The quatrains and the first tercet are devoted to

developing the description of the brook. Throughout

the description the brook is personified as innocently

lovely and happy. The emphasis of the imagery in the

first quatrain is on the brook's peacefulness and


Torcido, desigual, blando y sonoro,
te resbalas secret entire las flores,
hurtando la corriente a los calories,
cano en la espuma y rubio con el oro.

The first two lines suggest the brook's soft murmuring!

the third line depicts the water's shady coolness; and

the final line adds a bit of color--the whiteness of

foam and the yellow of gold. (The latter image is

similar to one often found in poems about the Tagus

River, which was renowned for the gold contained in

its sand.)

The second quatrain emphasizes the merriness of

the brook:

En cristales dispensas tu tesoro,
liquid plectro a rusticos amores;
y templando por cuerdas ruiseiores,
te ries de crecer con lo que lloro.

The second and third lines introduce an image frequently

found in other "river poems"--the idea of the river

as a singer, or, as here, a musician. The romantic

effect of the brook's sound on the rustic lovers who

visit its banks is depicted as the brook "plucking"

(plectro) the instrument of love. And the brook inspir-

ing nightingales to sing is metaphorized as its "tuning"

nightingales (like cords on a stringed instrument)s

"templando por cuerdas ruisenores." The final line

introduces still another commonplace in "river poems"--

the idea that the river laughs, even though filled with

the poet's copious tears: "te ries de crecer con lo

que lloro."

The first tercet continues the idea of the "happy"

brook, and then abruptly changes tone:

De vidro, en las lisonjas, divertido,
gozoso vas al monte; y, despenado,
espumoso encaneces con gemido.

Happy, amused, beautiful, with its water sparkling

as if made of diamond-shaped glass crystals (lisonJas

de vidro), the brook continues merrily along--until,

hurled down a mountainside, it grows old with a groan.

The final tercet introduces the poets

No de otro modo el corazon cuitado,
a la prison, al llanto se ha venido
alegre, inadvertido y conflado.

In the same way that the brook meets unexpectedly with

disaster, so the poet's heart comes unaware and trusting

to sorrow and imprisonment.

Poem #347 follows a similar procedure, although


here (as in several other poems) the allusion is to

a specific Spanish river, the Guadiana. This river

is noted especially for the fact that it goes under-

ground at several points along its course,

o en las grutas sedientas tenebrosas
los raudales undosos despareces,
y de nacer a Espana muchas veces
te alegras en las tumbas cavernosas.

In the first tercet the poet compares this phenom-

enon to the fact that his tears are continually stopping

and starting:

6mulos mis dos ojos a tus fuentes
ya corren, ya se esconden, ya se paran,
y nacen sin morir al llanto ardientes.

In the second tercet, the poet compares himself

to the Guadiana in a second wayi "todo soy semejante

a tus corrientes, / que de su propio tmuulo se amparan."

Just like the Guadiana, the poet takes refuge in his

own tomb. That is, he seeks his own destruction by

persisting in love. This comparison stems from the

multiple meanings of the word timulo, which is here

a metaphor both for "caves" (for obvious reasons),

and for the poet's body (a poetic convention in Que-

vedo's day: body tomb, based on the Greek pun soma=


A third and final example of this same device is

poem #500, concerning the Nile and using some of the

astronomical terminology studied in Chapter I. This

sonnet adds a new twist, in that the river image is

_ _

64 '

related not only to the poet but also to his beloved.

The first quatrain discusses that aspect of the

Nile that relates to the poet's tears--the fact that

the Nile's origin is unknown (at least this was the

case in Quevedo's time)s "Dichoso tf, que naces sin

testigo / y de progenitores ignorados, / ;oh Nilo!"

The second quatrain follows with that characteris-

tic of the Nile that relates to the poet's beloved--

the fact that the influence of the constellation Canis

Major (of which Sirius is the brightest star) causes

the Nile to overflow in the summer:

El humor que, sediento y enemigo,
bebe el rabioso Can a los sagrados
rios, le aiade pr6digo a tus vados.

That is, the water that the summer heat evaporates from

other rivers is added to the waters of the Nile to

make it overflow.

The first tercet introduces the image of the poet

and relates it to the first quatrains

No de otra suerte, Lisis, acontece
a las undosas urnas de mis ojos,
cuyo ignorado origen enmudece.

The poet's tears are similar to the Nile in that he

also keeps their origin--his love for Lisis--a secret

(as is proper in courtly love).5

The second tercet compares the cause of the Nile's

overflow to Lisi, the cause of the poet's overflowing


I __


Pues cuanto el Sirio de tus lazos rojos
arde en bochornos de oro crespo, crece
mas su raudal, tu yelo y mis enojos.

The red ribbon in Lisis' golden hair is likened to

Sirius shining in the summer heat. Just as the latter

situation causes the Nile to overflow, Lisis' beauty

increases the poet's sorrows to make his tears over-


A second type of "river poem" describes a specific

river in detail, but the description has little to do

with the nature of the poet himself, Instead, the

river is depicted as merely the receptacle of the poet's

tears. The first quatrain of #378, for example, is

devoted to describing the Tagus. The river is por-

trayed as stealing its beautiful proportions and move-

ment from the body of the poet's beloved, who bathed

in its waters:

Tu, rey de rios, Tajo generoso,
que el movimiento y calidad hurtaste
al cuerpo de alabastro que balaste,
gentil en proporci6n, gallardo, hermoso.

In the next six lines the poet asks the Tagus to

perform certain services for his lady, thereby describ-

ing various characteristics of the river, Since the

river is musical, he asks it to be his lady's musician:

"ora natural mGsico ingenioso / seas." The river brings

fertility, so it should offer her the valley where

it grew the branch with which she is crowned "ora

el valle le ofrezcas do engendraste, / para su frente,

el ramo victorioso." Finally, the river's water is

clear, so it should be the lady's mirrors "ora, sueltas

del hielo tus corrlentes, / le des espejo."

Only in the final four lines does the poet enter


que, cuando quiera en ti ver sus despojos,
junto con su hermosura represents
mi llanto con que creces y est&s ricos
vean siquiera mis lagrimas sus ojos.

When the poet's beloved looks at her reflection

in the Tagus, the poet hopes she will also see the

tears with which he has filled the river.

Similarly, in #447 the quatrains describe the

Guadalquivir close to its source, "en las altas sierras

de Segura," where it is formed from melting ice, "en

cuna naces, liquida, de yelo." It then plunges down

the mountains "se retuerce corriente por el suelo, /

despues que se arroj6 por pena dura."

Here the poet pours his tears into the river to

make it grow, and so that they may be offered to Lisi


Aqui el primer tribute en llanto envlo
a tus raudales, porque a Lisi hermosa
mis l&grimas la ofrezcas con que creces.

(The ideas of the poet paying "tribute" with his tears,

and making the river "grow with them, are commonplaces

in the river poems.)

In the final tercet the poet expresses the fear

that by the time the Tagus reaches Lisi, it will be

_ _

so large that it will have forgotten the tears added

to it when it was a brooks

mas temo, como a verla llegas rio,
que olvide tu corriente poderosa
el aumento que arroyo me agradeces.

In the third type of "river poem," the poet addres-

ses a particular river by name, but gives no specific

description of it. These poems have so many points

in common that it will be more convenient to organize

their images into categories according to similarity,

rather than to study each poem separately.

Some poems begin by asking the river to stop

running while the poet sings his lament:

iFrena el corriente, oh Tajo retorcido!,
; 0 0 0 0 0 a 0 0 * 0 0 0 0 0 0
en tanto que al rigor de mi cuidado
busco (ay, isi le hallase:) algun olvido. (#319)


Deten tu curso, Henares, tan crecido,

en tanto que, content, mi ganado
goza del bien que pierde este afligido. (#362)

Or else the river itself stops upon hearing his sad

lament: "y cantando frene su curso y brios / tanto

puede el dolor en un ausente!" (#318).

Another common image is that of the poet's weeping

"strengthening" the river or making it grow (implying

the copiousness of his tears): "Esforzaron mis ojos

la corriente / de este, si fertil, apacible rio" (#318);

"donde una vez los ojos, otra el canto, / pararon y

crecieron ese rio" (#403); or "Fabio le daba en tribute, /


deshecha en llantos, el alma" (#432). One example

which gives a somewhat different twist to this image

is found in #390, where several rivers are said to

pass through the poet's eyes: (after naming the Euphra-

tes, Tagus, Peneus, Xanthus, Alpheus, and Nile) "Como

por vuestras urnas, sacros rios, / todos pasad por estos

ojos mios."

The poet often describes the reflection of his

eyes in the water. Displaying a bit of conceptista

word-play, Quevedo states:

Hoy me fuerzan mi pena y tus enojos
(tal es por ti mi llanto) a ver dos mares
en un arroyo, viendo mis dos ojos. (#318)

That is, the reflection of his teary eyes is paradox-

ically like two "seas" in a brook. And in the same

vein there is in #432 an example of chiasmust "En

el agua entrambos ojos, / y en entrambos ojos agua."

The final image to be studied in this third group

of "river poems" is that of the laughing or singing

river. In two poems the poet tells the river not to

sing or laugh, because it would not be proper to do

these things, since their streams are filled with his


Que mal parece, si tus aguas frias
son lAgrimas las mAs, que triste arrojo,
que canten, cuando lloro, siendo mias. (#362)


Que no es razon que, si tus aguas frias
son lagrimas llovidas de mis ojos,
rian cuando las lloran anslas mias. (#319)

In two other poems the brooks voluntarily stop

their happy sound. In #403 the brook stops "murmuring"

and learns to "groan" after the poet's examples

El arroyo mas blando,
de mi justo dolor reprehendido,
deja de murmurar y va llorando,
y aprende, entire las guijas, mi gemido.

In #432 the brooks weep and do not sing, because they

are filled with the poet's tears

Los arroyos de crystal
con sus guijuelas no cantan,
porque las ligrimas mias
hacen que lloren mis anslas.

Another large group of poems continues to compare

the poet's situation in love to natural phenomena.

Here, however, many different types of phenomena are

described, and to create a separate category for each

one would be too cumbersome. Therefore, they have all

been placed in one section.

Two poems relate the poet's feelings to the spring--

the theme of both is that the poet's inner suffering

contrasts sharply with the pleasant outside weather.

In poem #481 the quatrains and first tercet des-

cribe the spring, emphasizing the burst of color and

light after the gloomy winter. The first quatrain,

for instance, evokes the image of April's colorful

meadows and green woods after the gloomy, icy winters

Colora abril el campo que mancilla
agudo yelo y nieve desatada
de nube obscura y yerta, y, bien pintada,
ya la selva lozana en torno brilla.

71 /

The brooks begin to flow and babble, after the sun

releases them from their icy imprisonment:

Los terminos descubre de la orilla,
corriente, con el sol desenojada;
y la voz del arroyo, articulada
en guijas, llama l'aura a competilla.

The image of the poet is introduced in the final


S6lo no hay primavera en mis entranas,
que habitadas de Amor arden infierno,
y bosque son de flechas y guadanas.

There is no spring inside the poet. Cupid (Amor) lives

there where it burns infernally, and where instead of

the pleasant green spring woods, there exists a forest

of arrows and scythes.

Poem #466 follows a similar procedure, with the

quatrains and first tercet describing the spring, and

the final tercet referring to the poet. The first

quatrain seems to be a display of Quevedo's classical


Ya titul6 al verano ronca seina
vuela la grulla en letra, y con las alas
describe el viento y, en parleras galas,
Progne cantora su dolor desdeRa.

GonzAlez de Salas explained the classical sources of

these images In his edition of Quevedo's works.6

The overall plan of the stanza is to describe three

birds that are considered signs (titul6) of spring.

The first line was inspired by Publius Sirus, and

refers to the hoarse cry of the stork (the word verano

here refers to spring, according to Gonzalez de Salas).

The next two lines, taken from several sources, including

Cicero and Martial, describe the crane, which in flight

looks like a letter of the alphabet, as "writing"

on the wind. The final image refers to the swallow

(Progne), singing in merry disdain of its winter sorrow.

The rest of the description contains many images

similar to those in #481. The absence of clouds in

the sky is evoked bys "Semblante azul y alegre el cielo

ensena, / limpio de nubes y impresiones malas." The

first tercet offers us once more the picture and sound

of the brook "released" from its icy imprisonment by

the suns "de la carcel del yelo desatado, / temple el

arroyo el ruido en armonia."

The final tercet, which speaks about the poet,

employs the fire-ice opposition seen in earlier poems.

In contrast to the pleasant weather without, the poet's

soul, paradoxically as ever, burns with love while

freezing in Lisi's disdains

Yo solo, ;oh Lisi!, a pena destinado,
y en encendido invierno l'alma mia,
ardo en la nieve y yelome abrasado.

In two other poems the poet's situation in love

is related to fire images. In #314, as in the two

previous poems, the poet's inner feelings are contrasted

to the surrounding environment. The quatrains and

first tercet describe the effects of the dog days on

the earth's water supplies. The sun is so hot that

steam rises from the oceans "El pielago encendido

est& exhalando / al sol humos en traje de vapores."

Even the blood and humors within the human body burns

"y, en el cuerpo, la sangre y los humores / discurren

sediciosos fulminando." The drying up of fountains,

brooks and rivers is depicted as the day assuaging

its thirsts

B&bese sin piedad la sed del dia
en las fuentes y arroyos, y en los rios
la risa y el crystal y la armonla.

After this hyperbolization of the summer heat,

it seems even more extraordinary that the poet's tears

have escaped evaporation--not only because they are

so copious, but also because, since they are shed in

tribute to his lady's disdain, they are respected by

the weathers

S61o del llanto de los ojos mios
no tiene el Can Mayor hidropesia,
respetando el tribute a tus desvios.

Poem #345 compares, rather than contrasts, the

poet's feelings to the analogues, which in-this case

consist of a candle-flame and a forest fire. The first

quatrain demonstrates what happens when one blows on

a candle-flames

ZNo ves, piramidal y sin sosiego,
en esta vela arder inquieta llama,
y cuan pequeno soplo la derrama
en cadaver de luz, en humo clego?

No matter how brightly a candle burns, a small puff

of air will extinguish it. On the other hand, a forest

fire behaves quite differently

ZNo ves, sonoro y animoso, el fuego
arder voraz en una y otra rama,
a quien, ya poderoso, el soplo inflama
que a la centella dio la muerte luego?

The same puff of air that killed the candle-flame

will only incite a raging forest fire to burn even

more vigorously.

The tercets clarify the exemplary nature of the

quatrains. A love affair in its beginning stages is

like a candle-flame:

Ansi pequeo amor reci&n nacido
muere, Alexi, con poca resistencia,
y le apaga una ausencia y un olvido.

A mere absence or lapse of memory will end a beginning

love affair with little resistance. But if allowed

to grow, love reacts like a forest fires

mas si crece en las venas su dolencia,
vence con lo que pudo ser vencido
y vuelve en alimento la violencia.

That which extinguished the candle-flame made the forest

fire grow stronger. In like manner, that which extin-

guished a beginning love, resistance, only makes a

more advanced affair grow stronger--it feeds on strong


Two more poems use a combination of element (fire,

water, earth, air) images to clarify the poet's love

feelings. Poem #444 is based on a fire-water opposition,

similar to the fire-ice poems seen earlier. With all

the tears that he has shed, everyone wonders that the

poet has not turned into fountains and rain, and that

_ __

he does not run liquifieds

Los que clego me ven de haber llorado
y las lagrimas saben que he vertido,
admiran de que, en fuentes dividido
o en lluvias, ya no corra derramado.

At the same time it is amazing that his heart can

burn so in love for Lisi, and yet he does not emit

sparks and black smoke:

Pero mi coraz6n arde admirado
(porque en tus llamas, Lisi, est& encendido)
de no verme en centellas repartido,
y en humo negro y llamas desatado.

In the poet natural laws are suspended--long,

deep rivers (his tears) do not extinguish fires (his

love)s "En.ml no vencen largos y altos rios / a incen-

dios." Water and fire co-exist peacefully within him;

they perversely remain friends in order to make him

more miserable

La agua y el fuego en ml de paces tratanj
y amigos son, por ser contrarios mlosl
y los dos, por matarme, no se matan.

In #406, a madrigal, the poet discusses how his

amorous sentiments relate him to all four elements,

Each element is inhabited by a particular type of

creature--the bird in the air, the fish in water, the

salamander in fire, and man on earths

Esta la ave en el aire con sosiego,
en la agua el pez, la salamandra en fuego,
y el hombre, en cuyo ser todo se encierra,
est& en sola la tierra.

Only the poet, tormented as always, inhabits all

four elements: "Yo solo, que naci para tormentos,

_ _

estoy en todos estos elementss" His mouth breathes

air, his body wanders over the earth, his eyes are eter-

nally in water (tears), and his heart and soul dwell

in fire (love):

la boca tengo en aire suspirando,
el cuerpo en tierra esta peregrinando,
los ojos tengo en agua noche y dia,
y en fuego el coraz6n y la alma mia.

Finally, in #502 the effect of love on the poet

is like the effect of an ivy on the tree that it clings

to. The ivy seems a "green labyrinth" enveloping

the poplar that it "offends" (because it ruins whatever

it caresses)s

y en verde labirinto comprehend
la estatura del alamo que ofende,
pues cu&nto le acaricia, le arruina.

The observer, upon seeing the ivy's leafy splen-

dor, is not sure whether it embraces or imprisons

the trees "si es abrazo o prision, no determine /

la vista, que al frondoso halago atiende." Only the

tree trunk understands whether the ivy is a blessing

or notes "el tronco solo, si es favor, entlende, /

o carcel que le esconde y que le inclina."

In the same way, Lisi's love, to all outward

appearances, appears a blessing to the poets

iAy, Lisi!, quien me viere enriquecido
con alta adoraci6n de tu hermosura,
y de tan nobles penas asistido.

But if the observer will ask his passion and fortune,

he will discover that what appears to be a blessing

is actually an imprisonment of his senses:

pregunte a ml passion y a mi ventura,
y sabra que es prisi6n de ml sentido
lo que juzga blas6n de ml locura.

The fourth category of analogues to which the

love-sick poet is related concerns fantastic or mytho-

logical creatures. These images are usually closely

associated to fire imagery. In poem #450, for instance,

the quatrains are devoted to demonstrating how the

poet's own suffering in the fires of love make the

phoenix's and the salamander's powers seem believable.

He proves that the phoenix can be renewed in fire,

since he himself is reborn in the fire of love (related

to the idea of love's paradoxical power of both blessing

and cursing those who suffer from it): "Hago verdad

la fenix en la ardiente / llama, en que renaciendo

me renuevo." His heart defends the question of the

existence of the salamander, since it drinks fire

(love) thirstily, and lives in fire, and yet does not

feel it:

La salamandra fria, que desmiente
noticia docta, a defender me atrevo,
cuando en incendios, que sediento bebo,
mi corazbn habitat y no los siente.

The idea of the "cold" salamander in the midst

of fire is found also in #379, where the poet is depicted

as cold in his lady's disdain, and yet burning with


En sustentarme entire los fuegos rojos,
en tus desdenes Asperos y frios,
soy salamandra, y cumplo tus antojos.

The fifth and final type of analogue used by

Quevedo to exemplify the poet's suffering concerns

mythological or legendary personages. These images

are usually fairly extended, often involving entire

poems. The mythological characters involved are usually

those who passed through trials and tribulations (like

the poet in love)--Ulysses, Hercules, Midas, Orpheus,

Icarus, Tantalus, and others. Those images which

involve entire poems (or the major part of a poem)

will be studied first, followed by a survey of more

isolated images.

Although in some poems the poet is compared to

mythological characters, in other poems the relation-

ship between them and the poet is different. For

example, in #299 the poet's suffering is seen as being

able to replace something that a mythological character

might have removed. In the second quatrain the allusion

is to Phaethon:

Si el dia, por Faet6n descaminado,
hubiera todo el mar y aguas bebido,
con el piadoso llanto que he vertido,
las hubieran mis ojos renovado.

That is, if the sun-chariot, misguided by Phadthon,

had burned all the earth's water, the poet's abundant

tears would have replaced it. (Note that all these

cases are hypothetical ones--Phaethon was stopped before

the sun could dry up the water.)

Likewise, if Ulysses had been able to keep all

the winds imprisoned, the poet's sorrowful sighs would

have replaced them

Si las legiones todas de los vientos
guardar Ullses en prisl6n pudiera,
mis suspiros sin fin otros formaran.

The allusion here is to the tenth book of the Odyssey,

in which Aeolus gives all the winds (except Zephyr)

to Ulysses in a wineskin. Once again, the tercet pre-

sents a hypothetical case--Ulysses was not able to keep

the winds imprisoned.

The final tercet presents the example of Orpheusi

Si del inferno todos los tormentos,
con su music, Orfeo suspendiera,
otros mis penas nuevos inventaran.

If Orpheus had been able to stop the torments of hell

with his music, the poet-lover's sufferings would have

replaced them with new torments.

In #449, probably one of Quevedo's best known

sonnets ("En crespa tempestad del oro undoso"), the

poet suffering in love is compared to four mythological

characters.7 The entire sonnet is based on a comparison

of Lisi's wavy blond hair to a stormy sea of fire.

The poet's admiration of her hair is pictured as his

heart in some kind of physical contact with it.

In the second quatrain, his heart "swimming" in

her hair is like Leander swimming the stormy Helles-

pont to prove his loves "Leandro, en mar de fuego

proceloso, / su amor ostenta, su vivir apura." His

heart in her bright gold hair is like Icarus risking

death to get close to the suns "Icaro, en senda de

oro mal segura, / arde sus alas por morir glorioso."

In the final tercet, his heart hungering for

Lisi's hair is like Midas's hunger for gold--they are

both punished for its "el castigo y la hambre imita

a Midas," Its frustrated attempts to possess her hair

is like Tantalus's frustrated attempts to reach the

water around hims "Tantalo en fugitive fuente de


Poem #452 describes what would happen if Hercules

came alive again--the poet's tormented heart would

recreate the beasts that caused Hercules's original


s6lo en mi corazon hallara fieras,
que todos sus trabajos renovaran,
leones y centauros y quimeras.

Other poems contain isolated allusions to mytholo-

gical characters. For instance, in #297 the poet has

an inferno (love) within him. He is a prisoner of love,

and the musicc of his chains makes him another Orpheuss

La vida es mi prisi6n, y no lo creo;
y al son del hierro, que perpetuamente
pesado arrastro, y humedezco ausente,
dentro en mi proprio pruebo a ser Orfeo.

The final stanza of #390 alludes to Tantalus

("Tu, que del agua yaces desdenado, / con sed burlado,

en fuente sumergido"); to Sisyphus ("tu, que a s6lo

bajar subes cargado"); and to Prometheus ("y ti, por

los penascos extendido, / para eterno alimento conden-

_ __

ado"). The poet tells them that he will imitate their

torments (with his love sufferings)s "todos venid,

ioh pueblos macilentos:s / ver6isme remedar vuestros


"Masks" of the Poet

Another way in which Quevedo dramatizes the poet's

suffering in love is to depict the poet in various

situations or poses. These poses have been termed by

some critics as the poet's "masks," to differentiate

them from the poet's real personality, which may or

may not coincide with his poetic self.8

In the first two categories to be studied, the

"poet as pilgrim" and the "poet as prisoner," the dis-

tinction between mask-wearing and metaphor is not as

clear-cut as with the later categories (the suffering

poet, the weeping poet, the sick poet, the poet at war,

the sleeping poet, and the poet longing for death).

The reason these first two categories have been included

in the second part of this chapter is a question both

of meaning and of mechanics.

In the first part of the chapter the images to

which the poet is related represent non-human entities,

progressing from the least to the most anthropomor-

phic--from inanimate objects (volcanoes, rivers, etc.),

to animate creatures (the salamander, the phoenix),

to mythological beings (who, if not actually super-

natural, have at least powers beyond those of ordinary

men). The second part of the chapter is reserved for

human images.

The difference in mechanics is that in every poem

cited in the first part, the comparison between the

subject (the poet) and the analogue (a non-human entity)

is explicitly stated the poet is like a volcano, or

a river, or the phoenix, or Phagthon. In the poems

of the second part no comparison is stated the poetic

"I" is the pilgrim or the prisoner described in the


For instance, two very similar poems depict the

poet as a pilgrim lost in the wilderness (a common-

place in poetry of the Petrarchan tradition). In

#363 the poet-pilgrim timorously crosses the top of
a mountains "Por la cumbre de un monte levantado, /

mis temerosos pasos, triste, guio." Night falls, and

he finds himself lost, with only his hope to inspire

him to continues "Llega la noche, y hallome enganado, /

y sl6o en la esperanza me conflo."

He arrives at a river, but there is.no way to

cross "llego al corriente mar de un hondo rio: /

ni hallo barca ni puente, ni hallo vado." Although

the sound of the water consoles him somewhat, he is

disturbed at being lost "dame content el agua con

su ruido / mas en verme perdido me congojo."

He finds the tracks of someone who was there before

him--he wonders sadly if the other was also lost:

Hallo pisadas de otro que ha subido;
parome a verlas; pienso con enojo
si son de otro, como yo, perdido.

Poem #480 has many parallels to #363. The poet

once more stumbles blindly over a high mountain:

"Por yerta frente de alto escollo, osado, / con pie

dudoso, clegos pasos gulo." Once again night falls,

and the poet finds himself at the edge of a river;

he looks for a way to cross:

Cae del clelo la noche, y al cuidado
presta enganosa paz el sueno frlol
llevame a yerma orilla de alto rio,
y busco por demAs o puente o vado.

As in #363, the poet finds the tracks of another

pilgrim, who, much to the poet's sorrow, also lost

his way:

En muda send, obscure peregrine,
sigo pisadas de otro sin ventura,
que para mi dolor perdib el camino.

The main difference between the two poems lies

in the fact that #480 makes two references to the poet's

love. In the first quatrain, the poet states that

he is guided by the light of the very fire (love)

that burns hims "sigo la escasa luz del fuego mio, /

que avara alumbra, habi6ndome abrasado." In the final

tercet there is also a conventional reference to Lisi,

Poem #363, on the other hand, is almost allegorical

in its avoidance of any explicit mention of love.

Both poems, however, imply more about love than

they explicitly state. The first image in both poems,

that of the pilgrim stumbling blindly over a high moun-

tain top, suggests both the danger of love and the

helpless desperation of the poet. The idea of a deep

river blocking his path implies that the way of love is

hopeless and leads nowhere. His finding the footprints

of another pilgrim emphasizes that all who enter in love

are lost.

Another group of poems depict the poet as a prisoner.

The prison is, of course, love, and the lady is often

portrayed as the captor* The poet's attitude toward his

imprisonment varies from poem to poem. In some works,

he is so content in his shackles that he abhors the

time when he was frees

Yo las adoro y nunca las padezcoo
y en la red y prisiones amarrado,
lo que vivl sin ellas aborrezco. (#483)
He is sometimes himself amazed that he can feel this


y que est6 yo en su cadena
tan content con mi pena
como ella en verme penar;

Laue puede ser? (#421)
Even Jove, Phoebus, and Cupid envy his bonds "El lazo

me invidiaron Jove y Febo; / Amor, del cebo, invidia la

dulzura" (#483).

In other images the poet, although adoring his

captor, hates his imprisonment

84 '

Perdi mi libertad y mi tesorol
perdi6se ml esperanza de atrevida.
iTriste de mi, que ml verdugo adoro! (#372)

Although his lady is beautiful, his imprisonment is hard

"Si hermoso el lazo fue, si dulce el cebo, / fue tirana

la red, la prison dura" (#483).

In a third set of images, the poet ruefully describes

his present captivity, and remembers longingly his former

days of freedom. In #403 the poet feels "chained" to

the memory of his lost happiness "Aqul vivo amarrado /

a la memorial de mi bien perdido." This represents a

different twist, in that the poet's memories, rather

than his beloved, torment him. But now he is so much

in his lady's power, that he lacks the strength to

regain his lost liberty:

Mas hAllome en prisi6n tan de su parte,
joh libertad!, que faltas a mi pecho
para poder sin Fill desearte. (#300)

The ambiguity of the two categories just studied--

the "poet as pilgrim" and the "poet as prisoner"--is that

they may be viewed either as implied metaphors (the poet

is like a pilgrim or a prisoner), or as masks of the

poet (the poet wearing the mask of a pilgrim or a pris-

oner). In the remaining categories, however, no such

ambiguity exists. They are definitely not metaphorical,

since it would be tautological to say "the poet is like

the weeping poet," etc.

The first of the remaining categories might be

termed "the suffering poet." This is a very general

category, encompassing a variety of ways in which the

poet's suffering is depicted. One sonnet, #371, seems

to say almost everything there is to say about someone

suffering in love. The first quatrain pictures the

poet as being in a sort of limbo. He burns, but is

never consumed he cannot stop crying he never tires,

even after all his travails; and although he longs for

death, it never comes

Tras arder siempre, nunca consumirmel
y tras siempre llorar, nunca acabarmel
tras tanto caminar, nunca cansarme;
y tras siempre vivir, jams morirme.

In the second quatrain, the poet is not able to

extricate himself from love's cruel grasp. He cannot

repent, even after so much evil (courtly love, as explained

by Arthur Terry, is basically "sinful"9); after so much

deception, he still cannot see the truth; and after so

much sorrow and pain, he can neither be happy nor laugh:

despues de tanto mal, no arrepentirme;
tras tanto engano, no desenganarme;
despu6s de tantas penas, no alegrarmes
y tras tanto dolor, nunca reirme.

The first tercet continues in much the same vein

as the quatrains. In the final tercet, the poet decides

that any struggle against love is hopeless--he will be

dead before he will have learned his lesson: "Antes

muerto estare que escarmentado." Instead of persisting in

his resistance, he decides to give in and wallow in his

misfortune: "ya no pienso tratar de defenderme, / sino

de ser de veras desdichado."

87 '

Other poems continue this catalogue of the poet's

torments. One aspect stressed frequently is the paradox-

ical effects that love has on him. For instance, a

lover's sorrows are also a cause for joy (this is prob-

ably related to the courtly love idea that it is a priv-

ilege to serve one's lady): "los amantes, / que fabrican

de lastimas sus gozos" (#486), and "en ti mi mismo mal

me da alegria" (#357).

He is happy in his suffering, and esteems her who

offends him the most:

Que me muestre yo content
de este mal que no se entiende;
que estime a quien mAs me ofende,
cuando crece mi tormento. (#421)

Because of this state of affairs, those who see his

suffering often envy him: "envidien mi dolor, si son

constantes" (#486), and "viendo ya la pasi6n que en mi

alma lidia, / unos tendrAn consuelo, otros invidia" (#390).

The poet lives in constant torment: "mi corazon

es reino del espanto" (#485). In his life, being sad is

the rule, being happy the exception: "Mi mal es propio,

el bien es accident" (#374). He himself realizes how

foolish it seems to persist in this torments "necio en

ser en mi dano porfiado" (#379).

The second category might be termed "the weeping

poet." His tears begin in the morning even earlier

than the dew: "madrugan mAs en mi que en las auroras /

lagrimas a este llano" (#398). In fact, the poet cries

night and day: "Lloro mientras el sol alumbra, y cuando

descansan en silencio los mortales" (#372); and "Desde el

un sol al otro, . / y de una sombra a otra, siempre

lloro" (#372).

His eyes seem to have been made for crying more

than for any other purpose:

y tanto, que persuade la tristeza
a mis dos ojos que nacieron antes
para llorar que para verte, sueno. (#398)
His eyes are being used up in crying: "En triste humor

los ojos voy gastando" (#372); nevertheless, his eyes

cannot stop, even though they are made useless by so many

tears: "sin poder hartarse / del llanto mismo en que se

ve anegada" (#403).

Poem #392, although not actually concerned with the

weeping poet, has a great deal to say about his tears.

They speak for him: "lenguas de un pensamiento recatado,"

and "muda y tierna elocuencia derramada." They are parts

of his soul ("del alma parties) which are poured fourth

as liquid fire: "alma en liquido fuego transformada."

His tears, then, reveal what his words cannot express.

The third category portrays the sick poet (the

sickness, naturally, is love). Poem #426, entitled

"Alegorica enfermedad y medicine de amante," is devoted

entirely to expanding this theme. The conventional

images used to describe the suffering poet are here

expressed in medical terms. The "fire" within the poet

becomes "fever": "Mi coraz6n, lo primero, / en fiebre

hermosa se quema." His longing for his beloved is com-

pared to the thirst caused by dropsy:

T6mese de hidropesia
mi ardiente sed, pues se aumenta
y arde mAs, aunque mis ojos
mares de l&grimas viertan.

Finally, his irrevocable commitment to love is com-

pared to a disease, for which even the ancient sages knew

no cure: "No studies mi enfermedad / en Galeno ni Avi-


The fourth category depicts the poet at war--some-

times with his lady, sometimes with love. In the former

case, even though he tries to defend himself against

his beloved, his attempts are futile, like fighting air

or water: "armas a Antandra aumento acobardado; / aire

abrazo, agua aprieto, aplico arenas" (#336, in which

every word begins with "a"). The lady's features "sacked"

his heart, like a band of marauders:

Una risa, unos ojos, unas manos
todo mi coraz6n y mis sentidos
saquearon, hermosos y tiranos. (#442)
Even after she has conquered him she mistreats the spoils--

him--and shows her power by despising her victory:

Agora, amenazAndome atrevido,
Amor aprieta aprisa arcos, aljaba;
aguardo al arrogante agradecido. (#336)
Here the emotion love is personified as Cupid (Amor),

ready to assail the poet with his arrows.

Most of the time, however, the poet struggles against

love. In #486 his conflicting emotions are seen as a

civil war within him: "no me concede tregua ni reposo /

esta guerra civil de los nacidos." He is especially

vulnerable to these inner conflicts while sleeping: "y

duro campo de batalla el lecho" (#359). His thoughts

of love attacking him in his sleep are like corsairs

attacking a sleeping ship

Algunos enemigos pensamientos,
cosarios en el mar de amor nacidos,
mi dormido batel han asaltado. (#356)

The fifth category deals with the sleeping poet. The

poet's struggles with love disturb his sleep as much as

his waking hours. In fact, he often cannot sleep, because

his sorrows keep him awakes

Cuidados veladores
hacen inobedientes mis dos ojos
a la ley de las horas
no han podido veneer a mis dolores
las noches, ni dar paz a mis enojos. (#398)

Therefore, he begs Morpheus, the god of sleep, to grant

him rest:

Dame, cortes mancebo, algun reposol

debate alguna pausa mi torment. (#398)

In the same poem, he states that he longs for sleep not

in order to rest, but because sleep is like death (and

therefore frees him from his struggles): "Pues no te

busco yo por ser descanso, / sino por muda imagen de la


Even when he is able to fall asleep, the poet's

dreams give him no rest. In #366 he dreams that his

beloved kills him, and he.goes to hell. He awakes,

91 '

amazed that a dream could torment him sos

Y lo que mAs en esto me dio espanto
es ver que fuese sueno algo de aquello
que me pudiera dar tormento tanto.

But in poem #359 the poet does a complete about-face.

Instead of longing for sleep, he hates it, because it

prevents him from seeing his beloved therefore, sleep to

him is worse than deaths

El sueio, que es imagen de la muerte,
en mi a la muerte vence en aspereza,
pues que me estorba el sumo bien de verte.

In the final group of images, the poet either longs

for death, or is dying. The word "death" is used in two

different ways. It either refers to real death (the end of

life), or is used as a metaphorical expression for love

(in Petrarchan fashion). In the first sense, the poet

time and time again longs for death, as a means of ending

the torments caused by loves "%CuAndo aquel fin a ml

vendrA forzoso?" (#492), or "&Cuando . / traerhs,

;oh muerte fria: / lo que te ruego mas . ?" (#403).

But wish as he might, death never comes "La condici6n

del hado desdeBoso / quiere que le codicie y no le

vea" (#492).

In other poems the poet expresses the paradoxical

notion that his sufferings in love have made his life so

miserable, that his life is really deaths "Quiere el

Tiempo enganarme lisonjero, / llamando vida dilatar la

muerte" (#492), and "Mejor vida es morir que vivir

muerto" (#488).

~___ ______ ___

In many poems the dying poet is a metaphor for the

poet in love. He dies merely by gazing upon his lady's


Por beber yo con la vista
en labios, coral y perlas,
preciosa muerte me aguarda.

Or else he lives in his lady's presence, and dies in her


Solo sin vos, y mi dolor present,
mi pecho rompo con mortal suspiro;
s6lo vivo aquel tiempo cuando os miro. (#374)

In any event, he is only happy with what kills him (his

lady), "que he venido a tener s61o por gloria / vivir

content en lo que mas me matal" (#374).

_ ____ __

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