Return for an Instant

By Juan Ramón Jiménez 1881–1958 Juan Ramon Jimenez

Translated By Robert Bly

What was it like, God of mine, what was it like?
—Oh unfaithful heart, indecisive intelligence!
Was it like the going by of the wind?
Like the disappearance of the spring?

As nimble, as changeable, as weightless
as milkweed seeds in summer . . . Yes! Indefinite
as a smile which is lost forever in a laugh . . .
Arrogant in the air, just like a flag!

   Flag, smile, milkweed pod, swift
spring in June, clear wind! . . .
Your celebration was so wild, so sad!

   All of your changes ended up in nothing—
remembrance, a blind bee of bitter things!—
I don’t know what you were like, but you were!

Juan Ramón Jiménez, “Return for an Instant” from Lorca and Jiménez: Selected Poems. Translation copyright © 1973 by Robert Bly. Reprinted with the permission of Beacon Press.

Source: Lorca and Jiménez: Selected Poems (Beacon Press, 1973)

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Poet Juan Ramón Jiménez 1881–1958


Subjects Faith & Doubt, Religion, God & the Divine

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 Juan Ramón  Jiménez


A prolific Spanish poet, editor, and critic, Juan Ramón Jiménez won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1956. He was born in Moguer i Andalusia, an area that he depicted in Platero y Yo (Platero and I, 1914) a collection of prose poems about a man and his donkey. Jiménez’s other books of poetry include Elejías puras (Pure Elegies, 1908), La soledad sonora (Sonorous Solitude, 1911), Poesía (Poetry, 1923), and Belleza (Beauty, . . .

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SUBJECT Faith & Doubt, Religion, God & the Divine


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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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