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I fucking love this poem.


Written by Jose de Espronceda "La Canción del Pirata" (The Pirate’s Song) is one the key works of the 19th century Spanish Romanticism. Espronceda was one of the last greats poets of this genre, the bulk of his work having been published a good century after the deaths of Gongora and Quevedo. His most important piece has always been considered "El Estudiante de Salamanca" (The Student of Salamanca) which at a massive 1680 verses provided the current benchmark of romantic poems. But the Pirate's song is the piece that you memorize in school over and over again, the poem that you still remember twenty years later, the verses you wish you could live your life by.

Its effortless language and flowing images all blend together in the image of this fearless buccaneer who answers to no-one and goes where the sea leads him taking no hostages. But it also plays against the typical idea of the evil pirate, from here we can get one the first images (in Spanish Literature at least) of the fair and just pirate. The idea of a man whose life has led him to where he is though no fault or recriminating deed of his own. It presents the idea of a man who has escaped the life of a slave to become freer than any king who’s rule is confined to where the lands end.

La Canción del Pirata - Jose De Espronceda (1808-1842)
Translation (and a fine one it is) by James Kennedy (1920)

Con diez cañones por banda,
viento en popa, a toda vela,
no corta el mar, sino vuela
un velero bergantín.
Bajel pirata que llaman,
por su bravura, el
Temido,
en todo mar conocido
del uno al otro confín.

The breeze fair aft, all sails on high,
Ten guns on each side mounted seen,
She does not cut the sea, but fly,
A swiftly sailing brigantine;
A pirate bark, the “Dreaded” named,
For her surpassing boldness famed,
On every sea well-known and shore,
From side to side their boundaries o'er.

La luna en el mar rïela,
en la lona gime el viento,
y alza en blando movimiento
olas de plata y azul;
y va el capitán pirata,
cantando alegre en la popa,
Asia a un lado, al otro Europa,
y allá a su frente Stambul:

The moon in streaks the waves illumes
Hoarse groans the wind the rigging through;
In gentle motion raised assumes
The sea a silvery shade with blue;
Whilst singing gaily on the poop
The pirate Captain, in a group,
Sees Europe here, there Asia lies,
And Stamboul in the front arise.

”Navega, velero mío,
sin temor,
que ni enemigo navío
ni tormenta, ni bonanza
tu rumbo a torcer alcanza,
ni a sujetar tu valor.”

“Sail on, my swift one! nothing fear;
Nor calm, nor storm, nor foeman's force,
Shall make thee yield in thy career
Or turn thee from thy course."

Veinte presas
hemos hecho
a despecho
del inglés,
y han rendido
sus pendones
cien naciones
a mis pies.

Despite the English cruisers fleet
We have full twenty prizes made;
And see their flags beneath my feet
A hundred nations laid.

Que es mi barco mi tesoro,
que es mi dios la libertad,
mi ley, la fuerza y el viento,
mi única patria, la mar.

My treasure is my gallant bark,
My only God is liberty;
My law is might, the wind my mark,
My country is the sea.

Allá muevan feroz guerra
ciegos reyes
por un palmo más de tierra;
que yo aquí tengo por mío
cuanto abarca el mar bravío,
a quien nadie impuso leyes.

There blindly kings fierce wars maintain,
For palms of land, when here I hold
As mine, whose power no laws restrain.
Whate'er the seas infold.

Y no hay playa,
sea cualquiera,
ni bandera
de esplendor,
que no sienta
mi derecho
y dé pecho
a mi valor.

Nor is there shore around whate'er,
Or banner proud, but of my might
Is taught the valorous proofs to bear,
And made to feel my right.

Que es mi barco mi tesoro,
que es mi dios la libertad,
mi ley, la fuerza y el viento,
mi única patria, la mar.

My treasure is my gallant bark,
My only God is liberty;
My law is might, the wind my mark,
My country is the sea.

A la voz de “¡barco viene!”
es de ver
cómo gira y se previene
a todo trapo a escapar;
que yo soy el rey del mar,
y mi furia es de temer.

Look when a ship our signals ring,
Full sail to fly how quick she's veered!
For of the sea I am the king,
My fury's to be feared.

En las presas
yo divido
lo cogido
por igual;
sólo quiero
por riqueza
la belleza
sin rival.

But equally with all I share
Whate'er the wealth we take supplies;
I only seek the matchless fair,
My portion of the prize.

Que es mi barco mi tesoro,
que es mi dios la libertad,
mi ley, la fuerza y el viento,
mi única patria, la mar.

My treasure is my gallant bark,
My only God is liberty;
My law is might, the wind my mark,
My country is the sea.

¡Sentenciado estoy a muerte!
Yo me río;
no me abandone la suerte,
y al mismo que me condena,
colgaré de alguna entena,
quizá en su propio navío.

I am condemned to die ! – I laugh;
For, if my fates are kindly sped,
My doomer from his own ship's staff
Perhaps I'll hang instead.

Y si caigo,
¿qué es la vida?
Por perdida
ya la di,
cuando el yugo
del esclavo,
como un bravo,
sacudí.

And if I fall, why what is life?
For lost I gave it then as due,
When from slavery's yoke in strife
A rover! I withdrew.

Que es mi barco mi tesoro,
que es mi dios la libertad,
mi ley, la fuerza y el viento,
mi única patria, la mar.

My treasure is my gallant bark,
My only God is liberty;
My law is might, the wind my mark,
My country is the sea.

Son mi música mejor
aquilones,
el estrépito y temblor
de los cables sacudidos,
del negro mar los bramidos
y el rugir de mis cañones.

"My music is the Northwind's roar;
The bellowings of the Black Sea's shore,
And rolling of my guns.

Y del trueno
al son violento,
y del viento
al rebramar,
yo me duermo
sosegado,
arrullado
por el mar.

And as the thunders loudly sound,
And furious the tempests rave,
I calmly rest in sleep profound,
So rocked upon the wave.

Que es mi barco mi tesoro,
que es mi dios la libertad,
mi ley, la fuerza y el viento,
mi única patria, la mar.

My treasure is my gallant bark,
My only God is liberty;
My law is might, the wind my mark,
My country is the sea.

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