Garcilaso de la Vega is known as one of the most important poets , being considered one of the greatest exponents of the lyric of the Golden Age and one of the greatest writers in history.

This writer and military man of Toledan origin, probably born in 1501 (although others the specific year of his birth is uncertain, having also been born in 1498) and died in 1536, is known for being the pioneer in introducing Renaissance poetry and hendecasyllabic verses (of eleven syllables) in our country as well as for employing in his works an intimate, musically and emotionally expressive tone that tended to avoid the pomposity typical of previous eras.

Despite its great importance, this author’s work was relatively short and would not be published until years after his death: it consists of about forty sonnets, three eclogues, an epistle, two elegies and five songs. All of them are very beautiful and love is one of their main themes. In order to be able to admire his work, throughout this article we are going to expose some of Garcilaso de la Vega’s best known poems .

A brief selection of poems by Garcilaso de la Vega

Below we offer you a series of examples of Garcilaso de la Vega’s poetry, all of them part of his sonnets and mostly focused on aspects such as love and melancholy.

His main source of inspiration was probably his feelings towards Isabel Freyre , which would become his platonic love and from whom he lived his marriage to another man and later his death (something that explains the despair and melancholy that expresses much of the author’s work), as well as friendship.

1. Sonnet 1

When I stop to contemplate my ‘status

and to see the steps for do m’ha n brought,

I find, according to where I was lost,

that the greater evil might have come;

but when the road ‘s forgotten,

I do not know where I have come from;

I know I’m done, and more I’ve felt

to see my care taken away from me.

I will finish, that I gave myself without art

who will know how to lose me and finish me off

if he will, and he shall know what he is doing;

for my will can kill me,

yours, which is not so much from me,

if you can, what will you do if you don’t?

  • This first sonnet refers to the observation of our past, looking back and appreciating what we have achieved in life and where we have come from, as well as the sadness generated by unrequited love .

  • You may be interested in: “23 poems by Pablo Neruda that will fascinate you”

2. Sonnet V

It is written in my soul your gesture,

and how much I write of you I desire;

you wrote it yourself, I read it

I’m just, I’m still keeping it from you.

This I am and will always be;

that although it does not fit in me as much as in you I see,

of so much good that I don’t understand I think,

already taking faith for granted.

I was not born but to love you;

my soul has cut you down to its measure;

by habit of the soul itself I love you.

When I have confessed I owe you;

for you I was born, for you I have life,

for you I must die, and for you I die.

*This fifth sonnet by Garcilaso expresses his feelings and sensations when he sees the person he loves , the energy and the desire to be with her that she generates and the memory of each of her gestures.

3. Sonnet XXVI

The foundation is laid

that my tired life held.

Oh how well it ends in just one day!

Oh how much hope the wind carries!

O how idle is my thought

when it’s for my benefit!

To my hope, as well as to waste,

a thousand times my torment punishes her.

Most times I give in, some times I resist

with such a fury, with a new strength,

that a mountain put on top would break.

Here is the desire that drives me,

that you want to see again one day

who was better off never having seen.

  • In this sonnet we note the pain caused by a love that has not been and cannot be again, as well as the suffering generated in the author by the death of his once platonic love, Isabel Freyre.

4. Sonnet XXXVIII

I’m still in tears,

always breaking the air with suspicion,

and it hurts me the most not to dare to tell you

that I have come by you to such a state;

that seeing me where I am and what I’ve been up to

by the narrow way of following you,

if I want to turn to run away from you,

fainting, seeing what I have left behind;

and if I want to climb to the top,

at every step scare me off the track

sad examples of those who have fallen;

above all, I lack the fire

of hope, what I used to walk with

through the dark region of your oblivion.

  • In this poem Garcilaso talks about a problem that is still present in many people today: the struggle between loving and wanting to stop loving someone who does not belong to us.

5. Sonnet XXVIII

Boscán, you are avenged, with my fall,

of my past rigor and roughness

with which to reprimand your tenderness

of your soft heart used to be.

Now I punish myself every day

of such a saviour and such clumsiness:

more is on time than from my baseness

I might as well come and punish myself.

Know that at my perfect age and armed,

with my eyes open I have surrendered

the child you know, blind and naked.

Of such beautiful fire consumed

never was heart: if asked

I’m the rest, otherwise I’m mute.

  • In this poem the author refers to the fact of having reproached a friend for something that the same author is doing now: letting himself be carried away by passion and love for someone.

6. Sonnet XXIX

Passing the sea Leandro the bold,

in loving fire all burning,

the wind was strong, and it was boisterous

the water with a furious rush.

*Expiry of the rush job,

contrast the waves by not being able to,

and more of the good that was lost there by dying

that of his own distressing life,

as he could, ‘he strengthened his tired voice

and to the waves he spoke thus,

but his voice was never heard:

“Waves, for there is no excuse that I and I die,

let me get there, and the tornado

your anger will be executed in my life”

  • The author refers to the Greek myth of Leandro and Hero , in which two young lovers who each lived on one side of the Dardanelles or Helesponto strait and were separated by the opposition of their families, met every night, leaving Hero a light on in the tower where he lived so that Leandro could swim across the strait to be together. One night the wind turned off the light that was guiding Leandro, and he got lost and drowned and Hero committed suicide when he heard about the end of his beloved.

7. Sonnet XXXI

Within my soul he was begotten of me

a sweet love, and from my feeling

so approved was his birth

as of one desired child;

but after he was born who has ravaged

the whole loving thought;

in harshness and in great torment

the first delights have returned.

O crude grandson, who gives life to the father

and you kill the water, why do you grow so

he is frightened to see the monster that has given birth.

  • Garcilaso talks here about jealousy , and how it is capable of transforming and destroying the very love that allowed his birth.

8. Sonnet XXIII

As for pink and lily

the color is shown in your gesture,

and that your burning, honest,

with clear light the serene storm;

and as for the hair, that in the vein

of gold was chosen, with presto flight

by the beautiful white collar, enhiesto,

the wind moves, scatters and messes up:

take from your merry spring

the sweet fruit before the angry time

cover the beautiful summit with snow.

The rose will wither the icy wind,

everything will be moved by the light age

for not making a move in his habit.

  • The poetry reflected here speaks to us of the beauty of youth, as well as urges us to seize the moment before time passes and that youth ends up fading away .

9. Sonnet IV

A while my hope rises,

more tired of getting up,

it makes me fall, which leaves, to bad my grade,

free the place to mistrust.

Who will suffer such a rough move

from good to evil? O weary heart,

strive in the misery of your state,

that after fortune there is usually bonanza!

I myself will undertake by force of arms

to break a mountain that another would not break,

very thick;

death, prison cannot, nor pregnancies,

take me away from going to see you as I wish,

naked spirit or man in the flesh.

  • This sonnet is one of the few in which no reference is made to the figure of the beloved. In this case Garcilaso tells us about his stay in prison, in Tolosa , after having attended his nephew’s wedding. This wedding did not have the permission of Emperor Charles I, who ordered the poet and military man to be imprisoned.

10. Sonnet VIII

From that good and excellent view

spirtus come out alive and well,

and being received by my eyes,

they happen to me as far as evil feels.

Enter the road easily,

with mine, of such heat moved,

come out of me as lost,

calls of that good that is present.

Absent, in memory I imagine her;

my spirits, thinking they saw her,

move and ignite without measure;

but not finding the way easy,

that theirs coming in would melt,

They’re bursting to get out where there’s no way out.

  • In this sonnet we are presented with a situation in which the author and the loved one look into each other’s eyes, establishing an act of profound and even spiritual communication . We observe the sensations generated by the gaze of the loved one, as well as the melancholy that his memory provokes.

11. If at your will I am made of wax

If at your will I am made of wax,

and by the sun I have only your sight,

which he does not inflame or conquer

with his gaze, is of meaning outside;

Where does one thing come from, what if it were

less times of me tried and tested,

as it seems to be right to resist,

to my own sense of purpose would not believe?

And I am by far the most inflamed

from your burning sight and light

so much so that in life I can hardly stand;

more if close to me I’m attacked

of your eyes, then I feel ice cream

my blood curdling through my veins.

  • One of his most intimate poems.

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