The Bull and The Picador


by JOSÉ ZORRILLA (1817-1893)

Con el hirviente resoplido moja
El ronco toro la tostada arena,
La vista en el ginete alta y serena
Ancho espacio buscando al asta roja.

Su arranque audaz á recibir se arroja
Pálida de valor la faz morena,
É hincha en la frente la robusta vent
El picador, á quien el tiempo enoja.

Duda la fiera, el español la llama:
Sacude el toro la enastada frente,
La tierra escarba, sopla y desparrama

Le obliga el hombre, parte de repente,
Y herido en la cerviz, huyele y brama,
Y en grito universal rompe la gente.

Bull Charging a Picador, 1865

The Bull and The Picador

translated by THOMAS WALSH

Pawing the earth, and snorting in his rage
The Bull is tossing up the torrid sand;
The while the horseman’s eye serene and bland
Seeks out a point for his red lance to gauge.
Steadied to take the charge, the fight to wage,
The picador holds his impatient stand;
His face, for all its blackness, whiter fanned
To anger as the bull obstructs the stage.
He hesitates; the Spaniard jeers at him;
He shakes his hornéd front; he tears the earth,
Heaving great breaths and straining every limb;
The taunter urges him to prove his worth;
Sudden he charges, fails, and bellows grim,
His shoulder bleeding, the great crowd in mirth!

Jose Zorrilla

Born at Valladolid, José Zorrilla achieved fame early for an elegy he wrote which was read at romantic writer, Mariano José de Larra’s funeral. He published a book of verse and wrote many well-received plays. After the death of his mother, Zorrilla left Spain to live first in France and later Mexico. There he stayed for 11 years but wrote little. He found himself all but forgotten upon his return to Spain, and endured years of poverty and obscurity. In his old age, his reputation was restored, he was granted a pension and named poet laureate.

José Zorrilla Contemporaries
Robert Browning
Mikhail Lermontov
Emily Brontë
Charles Baudelaire