Literature

Nieto’s Romance of Song and Sorrow

A Couple of Beautiful Butterflies

Unrequited love, what could be more common and more human. Yet Nieto’s is not the model of the couple dominant in English. We see the couple as the fulfillment of love, even if such was not the case for the troubadours. In the traditions of Cuzco a different image inheres.

The sun and the moon constantly chase each other through the sky as if in a cosmic struggle. This is the image, that of a struggle and competition between the sexes where the one will never dominate the other, and where they never come together in a unity which completely subsumes their differences.

As a result, a poem of unrequited love, like that presented here by Cuzco’s esteemed poet Luís Nieto Miranda, takes on a different meaning. Grounded in the change of seasons this romance recognizes the continuity of struggle, of desire that calls out and is never completely fulfilled.

Sunset Over the Mountains
Sunset Over the Mountains

Romance of Song and Sorrow

Under a sky of bells
you walk over poppies
among flaming stars
and a butterfly wind.

At the song of dawn
a rain of petals
carpets your path
as doves keep watch.

From a lilly’s silence
the guitars call you.
(they struck up with
the larks’ song).

By your burning body
the breezes dance and wail.
In your sleeping locks
the shadows converse.

A swallows’ sky
flitters on your brow.
A thrush in my chest
keeps calling for you.

I wish you’d love me
before my roses fade.
My garden’s turned to fall,
green leaves went brown.

This love has no cure,
like a sorrow that weeps.
Love that suffers and sings,
Love that laughs and sobs!

A Pretty Cholita
A Pretty Cholita
Luís Nieto Miranda

(translated by David Knowlton)

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