Spanish Poetry for the Sullen

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I Can Neither Hold You Nor Let You Go

I can neither hold you nor let you go,
I know not why, to let you go or hold you
Causes me, I know not why, to want you,
Or to find you wanting for what I do not know.

Since you will neither go away nor mend your ways,
I propose in this way to amend my heart:
In only half will love for you be kept apart,
While all the other half will hate you always.

Thus let it be if have each other we must:
Leaving off endless quarrels that rend the soul,
And not suspect, in jealousy and mistrust.

Nor giving half may one expect the whole;
Hence away while making sure that you deceive,
Be sure that here I stay and make believe.

— Kate Flores

I decided to use today to thumb through Spanish Poetry: A Dual-Language Anthology edited by Angel Flores. I have had this book since my senior year in high school so I’ve been acquainted with it for nearly 10 years. It seemed appropriate to find a romantic poem to share with my readers for Valentine’s Day but I was extremely captivated by the more somber work. The book covers a wide range of themes and topics as it features poets’ poetry from the 16th to 20th centuries. This poem, by Kate Flores, is the one that stood out during my revisit of this book. It captures the essence of a fading love, no longer righteous, between to disagreeing parties that haven’t met a clear or desired fate. I felt the push and pull the poet expresses. It is a struggle so many of us are familiar with (whether in a relationship or not) when we want change within a partnership. So with utter lack of regard to Valentine’s day I am sharing this sullen poem. To those who can relate: you aren’t alone. Below is the Spanish version:

Yo no puedo tenerte ni dejarte…

Yo no puedo tenerte ni dejarte,
ni sé por qué, al dejarte o al tenerte,
se encuentra un no sé qué para quererte
y muchos sí sé qué para olvidarte.

Pues ni quieres dejarme ni enmendarte,
yo templaré mi corazón de suerte
que la mitad se incline a aborrecerte
aunque la otra mitad se incline a amarte.

Si ello es fuerza queremos, haya modo,
que es morir el estar siempre riñendo:
no se hable más en celo y en sospecha,

y quien da la mitad, no quiera el todo;
y cuando me la estas allá haciendo,
sabe que estoy haciendo la deshecha.

— Kate Flores

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