Word and idea- a chasm gapes
Between them, sublime orator.
If you once loved, tell me: when you loved
Is it not true you lost your tongue?
And in your hate did you not keep
Silent the ice of your rancour
In the deepest, most hidden, black
Place a man can find in himself?
A kiss, an exchange of glances:
The gentlest language of heaven.
A sharpened knife, a light swift blow:
The expressive language of hell.
But the vain word,
When life is full of love and hate,
Throws itself upon- and sticks to-
The convulsive, stuttering lip.
What can I say? Sorry and mute
With such deep intimate secrets,
The thick human tongue can’t translate
The veiled mystery.
Sad and sickening heartbeats
Make the spirit weaken. That’s all.
The fragile glass breaks. And the essence
Is taken up into the unknown.
This poem from En las Orillas del Sar, shows Rosalía’s radical pessimism: it is supremely pessimistic for a poet to suggest that the most important experiences in life are beyond language.