This poem is my translation of the Spanish sonnet below by Manuel González Prada (Peru, 1844-1918). This poem provides one perspective, which is not necessarily my own.

From smoke to nothing is to be.
We die—each flower, man, and bird.
Our pleasures are but briefly stirred.
Our love is lost to memory.

The former lights we cannot see.
Their music is no longer heard.
The wine is bitter afterward.
By being born we pay our fee.

Who laughs without an inner pain?
Our joy and sorrow form a team.
It’s vain and mad to feel so deep!

Desirous thought is mad and vain!
What is our life? A sleepless dream.
What is our death? A dreamless sleep.


Vivir y morir

Manuel González Prada (Perú, 1844-1918)

Humo y nada el soplo de ser:
mueren hombre, pájaro y flor,
corre a mar de olvido el amor
huye a breve tumba el placer.

¿Dónde están las luces de ayer?
Tiene ocaso todo esplendor,
hiel esconde todo licor,
todo expía el mal de nacer.

¿Quién ríe sin nunca gemir,
siendo el goce un dulce penar?
¡Loco y vano ardor el sentir!

¡Vano y loco anhelo el pensar!
¿Qué es vivir? Soñar sin dormir.
¿Qué es morir? Dormir sin soñar.