Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Waddington, ed. > The Sonnets of Europe
Samuel Waddington, comp.  The Sonnets of Europe.  1888.
Sonnet on the Sonnet
By Lope de Vega (1562–1635)
Translated by James Y. Gibson

TO 1 write a sonnet doth Juana press me,
  I’ve never found me in such stress or pain;
  A sonnet numbers fourteen lines, ’tis plain,
And three are gone, ere I can say, God bless me!
I thought that spinning rhymes might sore oppress me,        5
  Yet here I’m midway in the last quatrain;
  And if the foremost tercet I can gain,
The quatrains need not any more distress me.
To the first tercet I have got at last,
  And travel through it with such right good will,        10
  That with this line I’ve finished it, I ween;
I’m in the second now, and see how fast
  The thirteenth line runs tripping from my quill;
  Hurrah, ’tis done! Count if there be fourteen!
Note 1. This somewhat celebrated sonnet is taken from Lope de Vega’s Nina de Plata. It has been translated by Edwards, author of the Canons of Criticism, and others; but the late Mr. Gibson’s rendering is the most successful in depicting the dexterous ease and rapidity with which the poet overcomes the difficulties of the form. It is, perhaps, not generally known that the credit of the idea of the Soneto del Soneto belongs to Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, who flourished some fifty years before Lope de Vega. The sonnets of both of them are placed side by side in the Parnaso Español, tom. iv., 22, 23. These sonnets have been translated or imitated in various other languages—as, for instance, in Italian by Marino, and in French by Voiture and Desmarais. Lord Holland, in his Life of Lope de Vega, states that the sonnet seems to have been his favourite employment, and that there are few of his plays which do not contain three or four of these little poems. [back]

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