Spanish poet Luis Cernuda, born in Seville in 1902, was one of the main figures in the so-called “Generation of ’27”, the movement of Spanish poets that also included his friend Federico García Lorca. After Lorca’s murder in 1936 and the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Cernuda began the exile from which he would never return, first in the United Kingdom, then the United States, and finally, Mexico, where he died in 1963. His work is characterized by a style described by many as neo-Romantic, with a focus on the themes of solitude, desire and his personal experience of exile.
Return? Let the man return who,
After long years, after a long journey,
Is tired of the road and longs
for his land, his home, his friends.
For the love that will be faithfully awaiting him.
But you? Return? You think not of going back,
But of carrying on ahead unfettered,
Free forever, young or old,
With no son to search for you, like Ulysses,
With no Ithaca waiting and with no Penelope.
Carry on, carry on ahead and never turn back,
Faithful to the end of the road and your life,
Never pine for an easier destiny,
Your feet upon ground hitherto untrodden,
Your eyes upon sights hitherto unseen.
Translated by Martin Boyd