This sonnet “in praise of a poetess called Antonia” is a tautogram: all of the words start with the same letter. It is not clear to me whether I understand it. I may have to translate it, and/or look up a commentary. A summary, as Antrobiótica points out, would be to join the first and last phrases: “Antes alegre andaba; antes amaba” [I was once happy; once I loved].

Antes alegre andaba; agora apenas
alcanzo alivio, ardiendo aprisionado;
armas a Antandra aumento acobardado;
aire abrazo, agua aprieto, aplico arenas.

Al áspid adormido, a las amenas
ascuas acerco atrevimiento alado;
alabanzas acuerdo al aclamado
aspecto, a quien admira antigua Atenas.

Agora, amenazándome atrevido,
Amor aprieta aprisa ascos, aljaba;
aguardo al arrogante agradecido.

Apunta airado; al fin, amando acaba
aqueste amante al árbol alto asido,
adonde alegre, ardiendo, antes amaba.

–Francisco de Quevedo (1648)

And now, since we are reciting classic texts, I will give the names of the Muses: Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Polymnia (music), Melpomene (tragedy), Erato (erotic poetry), Terpsichore (dance), Euterpe (lyric poetry), Thalia (comedy), Urania (astronomy). I know these names very well, because they are street names in New Orleans.

Which Muse would you like to be? I am Urania, of course!


4 thoughts on “Tautogram

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