Miguel Hernández, Elegy, Poem, Poetry, Grief, Loss, Death, Generation of ’27, Generation of ’36, Sorrow, Mourning, Memories, Bereavement

Elegy/ Elegía a Ramón Sijé

One of the most moving and beautiful elegies in Spanish literature is the one written by the Spanish poet Miguel Hernández on the unexpected death of his friend Ramón Sijé at the age of 22. They became friends in elementary school, sharing an interest in books, ideas, and conversation. Soon after they became friends, Miguel was pulled out of school by his father. As he didn’t support his son’s intellectual ambitions.

Luckily, friends like Ramón Sijé helped Hernández continue his self-education. They did so by lending him books and readings alloiwng him to study during his own time. In his elegy, Miguel expressed the sadness, pain, anger, and helplessness associated with loss and grief. 

Miguel Hernández died of tuberculosis in 1942, at the age of 31, while imprisoned by the Franco regime for his participation on the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War.


(En Orihuela, su pueblo y el mío, se me ha muerto como del rayo Ramón Sijé, a quien tanto quería.)
Yo quiero ser llorando el hortelano
de la tierra que ocupas y estercolas,
compañero del alma, tan temprano.

Alimentando lluvias, caracoles
Y órganos mi dolor sin instrumento,
a las desalentadas amapolas daré tu corazón por alimento.


Tanto dolor se agrupa en mi costado,
que por doler me duele hasta el aliento.
Un manotazo duro, un golpe helado,
un hachazo invisible y homicida,
un empujón brutal te ha derribado.

No hay extensión más grande que mi herida, lloro mi desventura y sus conjuntos y siento más tu muerte que mi vida.

Ando sobre rastrojos de difuntos,
y sin calor de nadie y sin consuelo
voy de mi corazón a mis asuntos.

Temprano levantó la muerte el vuelo,
temprano madrugó la madrugada,
temprano estás rodando por el suelo.
No perdono a la muerte enamorada,
no perdono a la vida desatenta,
no perdono a la tierra ni a la nada.

En mis manos levanto una tormenta
de piedras, rayos y hachas estridentes
sedienta de catástrofe y hambrienta.

Quiero escarbar la tierra con los dientes,
quiero apartar la tierra parte a parte 

a dentelladas secas y calientes.

Quiero minar la tierra hasta encontrarte
y besarte la noble calavera
y desamordazarte y regresarte

Volverás a mi huerto y a mi higuera:
por los altos andamios de mis flores
pajareará tu alma colmenera de angelicales ceras y labores.

Volverás al arrullo de las rejas
de los enamorados labradores. Alegrarás la sombra de mis cejas,
y tu sangre se irá a cada lado
disputando tu novia y las abejas.

Tu corazón, ya terciopelo ajado,
llama a un campo de almendras espumosas mi avariciosa voz de enamorado.

A las aladas almas de las rosas
de almendro de nata te requiero,
que tenemos que hablar de muchas cosas,

compañero del alma, compañero.


(In Orihuela, his town and mine, like lightning death took Ramón Sijé, whom I so loved.)

I wish I was the gardener whose tears water the earth you fill and fertilize, 

my closest friend, so suddenly. 

With my useless grief nourishing the rains,

the snails, and the body’s organs, 

I shall feed your heart 

to the wasting poppies.

Grief bunches up in my ribs

until just breathing is painful. 

A hard punch, a frozen fist,

An invisible, homicidal ax-blow,

A brutal shove has knocked you down.

Nothing gapes wider than my wound. 

I cry over this disaster, over everything, 

and feel your death more than my life. 

I walk over the stubble of the dead, and without warmth or consolation from anyone I leave my heart behind, 

and mind my business. 

Death flew off with you too soon, 

dawn dawned too soon, 

you were put into earth too soon. 

I won’t forgive lovestruck death,

I won’t forgive this indifferent life, 

I won’t forgive the earth, or anything. 

In my hands a torrent of rocks 

is brewing, lighting, vicious axes, 

thirsting and starved for catastrophe.

I want to carve up the earth with my teeth,

I want to break up the earth chunk by chunk in dry fiery mouthfuls. 

I want to mine the earth till I find you,

and can kiss your noble skull, 

ungag and revive you. 

You’ll come back to my orchard, and my fig tree: high up in the blossoms your soul will flutter its wings, gathering 

the wax and honey of angelic hives. 

You’ll come back to the plow’s lullaby 

of lovestruck farmhands.

You’ll bring light to my darkened face,

and your blood will have to pulse back and forth between your bride and the bees.

My greedy lovesick voice calls your heart,

now crumpled velvet,

to a field of frothy almond sprays.

I call you to come to the flying souls

of the milky blossoms because

we have so many things to talk about, 

my friend, my very best friend. 

Image Credits:
Feature Image: Gabriel, On Unsplash. Creative Commons