Garcilaso de la Vega: The Sonnets

Our new translation of Garcilaso de la Vega's forty sonnets is now online here.

Garcilaso (García Laso, c.1501 – 1536), a Spanish soldier-poet in the manner of Philip Sydney, was born to a noble family in Toledo. Joining Charles V’s Imperial Guard in 1520, Garcilaso, in 1525, married Elena de Zúñiga, a lady-in-waiting to Charles’ sister, Leonor. Involved in the emperor’s campaigns in Italy, Germany, France, and Tunisia, he was later wounded in battle at Le Muy in Provençe, and died at Nice.

Garcilaso well-educated and knowledgeable in the Classics and the Romance languages, was highly influential in introducing Italian poetry, and Neo-Platonic concepts, to Spain; his verse, published posthumously by Juan Boscán in 1543, being admired, for example, by both Góngora and Quevedo.

In the twentieth century, García Lorca found a kindred spirit in Garcilaso's poetry, particularly the forty sonnets, and Lorca’s own Sonetos del amor oscuro (Sonnets of Hidden Love) possess a similar emotional strength and directness. Garcilaso’s other verse includes elegies, letters, eclogues and odes, stylistically influential as regards Spanish poetry but more conventional in content.

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