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  • Miguel Hernandez
  • Written by Miguel Hernandez
    Translated by Don Share
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9781590176290
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Miguel Hernandez

Written by Miguel HernandezAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Miguel Hernandez
Translated by Don ShareAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Don Share

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Miguel Hernández is, along with Antonio Machado, Juan Ramón Jiménez, and Federico García Lorca, one of the greatest Spanish poets of the twentieth century. This volume spans the whole of Hernández’s brief writing life, and includes his most celebrated poems, from the early lyrics written in traditional forms, such as the moving elegy Hernández wrote to his friend and mentor Ramon Sijé (one of the most famous elegies ever written in the Spanish language), to the spiritual eroticism of his love poems, and the heart-wrenching, luminous lines written in the trenches of war. Also included in this edition are tributes to Hernández by Federico García Lorca, Pablo Neruda (interviewed by Robert Bly), Rafael Alberti, and Vicente Aleixandre. Pastoral nature, love, and war are recurring themes in Hernández’s poetry, his words a dazzling reminder that force can never defeat spirit, that courage is its own reward.


A man-eating knife
A man-eating knife
with a sweet, murdering wing
keeps up its flight and gleams
all around my life.
A twitching metal glint
flashes quickly down,
pricks into my side,
and makes a sad nest in it.
My temples, flowery balcony
of a younger day,
are black, and my heart,
my heart is turning grey.
Such is the evil ability
of this enveloping beam
that I go back to my youth
like the moon goes to a city.
I gather with my eyelashes
salt from my soul, salt from my eye,
and gather blossoming spiderwebs
of all my sadnesses.
Where can I be
that I will not find loss?
Your destiny is the beach,
my calling is the sea.
To rest from this hurricane
work of love or hell
is impossible, and the pain
makes sorrow last and last.
But at last I will win out,
worldly bird and ray,
heart, because in death
there is no doubt.
So go on, knife, and slash
and fly: and then one day
time will yellow
on my photograph.
Lightning that never ends
Will this lightning never end, that fills
my heart with exasperated wild beasts
and furious forges and anvils
where even the freshest metal shrivels?
Will it never quit, this stubborn stalactite,
tending its stiff tufts of hair
like swords and harsh bonfires
inside my heart, which bellows and cries out?
This lightning never ends, or drains
away: from me alone it sprang, it trains
on me alone its madness.
This obstinate rock sprouts
from me, and turns on me the insistence
of its rainy, shattering bolts.
Your heart is a frozen orange
Your heart is a frozen orange.
No light gets in; it is resinous, porous,
golden: the skin promises
good things to the eye.
My heart is a feverish pomegranate
of clustered crimson, its wax opened,
which could offer you its tender pendants
lovingly, persistently.
But how crushing it is to go
to your heart and find it frosted
with sheer, terrifying snow!
On the fringes of my grief
a thirsty handkerchief
hovers, hoping to drink down my tears.
You threw me a bitter lemon
You threw me a bitter lemon
from a hand so warm and pure
that I tasted the bitterness
without spoiling its architecture.
With a yellow jolt, my sweet
and lazy blood turned hot, possessed,
and so I felt the bite
of the tip of that long, firm teat.
But glancing at you and seeing the smile
that this lemon condition produced
(so at odds with my greed and guile),
my blood blacked out inside my shirt,
and through that porous golden breast
I felt a pointed, dazzling hurt.


“In Miguel’s earthy and wild poetry all the extravagances of color, of perfume, and of the voice of the Spanish Levant came together, with the exuberance and the fragrance of a powerful and virile youth.” —Pablo Neruda

“Miguel Hernández sang in his deep voice and his singing was as though all the trees were singing.” —Octavio Paz

“In Don Share’s translations of Miguel Hernández, there is a sense of shared elation between reader and translator that confirms the delight of exact sensation when the poem feels transmitted by that cautious and subtle alchemy that is the translator’s skill.” —Derek Walcott
“The consumate poet of light, darkness, soul, time, death.” —Willis Barnstone
“The apparent simplicity of his poems, which speak eloquently of love, poverty and hope, turned Hernández into a popular figure who was elevated to cult status.” —El Pais
“Raw, passionate, despairing and celebratory.” —Publisher’s Weekly
“What a victory it is to watch springing forth from our murky thicket of half-commercialized poetry the silver boar of Hernández's words—to see the world of paper part so as to allow the language tusks and shoulders to emerge, shining, pressed forward by his genius.” —Robert Bly
“One of the great talents of the century.” —Philip Levine, The Kenyon Review
“ A cherished example of why great poetry is timeless." —Ray Gonzalez, Bloomsbury Review

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