More than Muses

To a Nightingale That Began to Sing When One Person Related Their Sorrows to Another

A translation into English of A un ruiseñor que se puso a cantar al tiempo que una persona estaba contando sus pesares a otro, a décima by María Egual. Translation by Josh Johnson.

Translator's note: In approaching the rhyme and meter of this décima, I found it helpful to rhyme “malady” with “remedy”, which required rearranging lines 7-9. In adding a period at the end of line 6, I found that the meaning of each section was maintained and allowed for this rearrangement. Additionally, though the mood of line 10 was changed from the imperative/subjunctive to the indicative, the idea is maintained. More generally speaking, I sought to preserve the stark contrast of word choice between describing the nightingale (“mild,” “soothing,” “gentle”) and describing the speaker’s troubles (“oppressive,” “appalling,” “malady”).


Nightingale, your intonations, 

in all your mild warbling words, 

are the soothing allure of birds 

and the winds’ adulations; 

behold, my sore tribulations, 

as oppressive as appalling. 

Forbear now your gentle calling, 

for you know of no remedy 

that abates my grave malady.

You’ll mar not your voice forestalling.