What Law, Then, Moved A Wicked Judge

Francisco de Quevedo (1580 – 1645)

A Una Dama Bizca y Hermosa

by Francisco de Quevedo

Si a una parte miraran solamente
vuestros ojos, ¿cuál parte no abrasaran?
Y si a diversas partes no miraran,
se helaran el ocaso o el Oriente.

El mirar zambo y zurdo es delincuente;
vuestras luces izquierdas lo declaran,
pues con mira engañosa nos disparan
facinorosa luz, dulce y ardiente.

Lo que no miran ven, y son despojos
suyos cuantos los ven, y su conquista
da a l’alma tantos premios como enojos.

¿Qué ley, pues, mover pudo al mal jurista
a que, siendo monarcas los dos ojos,
los llamase vizcondes de la vista?

To A Cross-Eyed, Beautiful Lady

By Francisco de Quevedo
Translated by Christopher Johnson

Were your eyes to gaze on just
one place, it would be cinders.
If they didn’t gaze hither and thither,
the West would freeze, or the East.

Your lame, stuttering glance convicts
your criminal eyes of sinister deeds;
with deceitful sight, they shoot us
with sweet, fascinating, burning light.

What they do not gaze upon, they see;
what they see is their spoils, and their
conquest angers and pleases the soul.

What law, then, moved a wicked judge
to declare them, the eyes being monarchs,
mere counts of the countenance?

Do not think this business of writing sonnets is all snooty literature.   There is a history of using sonnets as satire, humor and good clean revenge.   We take for granted freedom of the press, but for most of the past 500 years a writers words could get them killed if you offended the wrong person.  Cervantes was not the only Spanish writer to use humor to gain wide spread acceptance of his most politically charged writing.   The wit and flow of the rhyme in both these poems is lost in the English translation, but the school boy humor still comes through loud and clear.

I am fond of limericks, as well as sonnets.   Limericks have a reputation for silliness, double meanings, puns and bawdiness.  Though they are considered low brow poetry, their tradition of origin is historically high brow. Limericks are the poetry of college boy drinking contests, in which tawdriness balanced by wit, the more clever the unexpected twist the more likely the limerick will survive in oral tradition.  Limerick origins are usually considered “anonymous” yet, some of the most famous writers in the English language, men of distinguished letters, penned more than one that would have made their Mother’s blush.  Of course they generally only assigned their names to ones that didn’t sully their reputation.

Oliver Wendell Holmes is credited with the following:

God’s plan made a hopeful beginning.
But man spoiled his chances by sinning.
We trust that the story
Will end in God’s glory,
But at present the other side’s winning.

La Voz Del Ojo, Que Llamamos Pedo

by Francisco de Quevedo

La voz del ojo, que llamamos pedo
(ruiseñor de los putos), detenida,
da muerte a la salud más presumida,
y el proprio Preste Juan le tiene miedo.

Mas pronunciada con el labio acedo
y con pujo sonoro despedida,
con pullas y con risa da la vida,
y con puf y con asco, siendo quedo.

Cágome en el blasón de los monarcas
que se precian, cercados de tudescos,
de dar la vida y dispensar las Parcas.

Pues en el tribunal de sus gregüescos,
con afl ojar y comprimir las arcas,
cualquier culo lo hace con dos cuescos.

The eye’s voice we call a fart

by Francisco de Quevedo
Translated by Christopher Johnson

The eye’s voice we call a fart
(nightingale of sodomites), if
detained, kills the healthiest
and scares the wealthiest.

But if pronounced with a vile lip
and with a sonorous, farewell push,
with curses and jests, with a soft ,
disgusting puff , it gives life.

I shit on the blazons of kings,
who fancy, guarded by Germans,
they grant life and dispense fate;

for in the tribunal of its trousers,
easing and squeezing the chambers,
any asshole does so with two farts.

Published by

A Sonnet Obsession

I am a life-long Minnesotan who resides in Minneapolis. I hope you enjoy my curated selection of sonnets, short poems and nerdy ruminations. I am pleased to offer Fourteenlines as an ad and cookie free poetry resource, to allow the poetry to be presented on its own without distractions. Fourteenlines is a testament to the power of the written word, for anyone wanting a little more poetry in their life.

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