Miguel De Unamuno – An Eternal Elegy

  September 23rd, 2018 by Taf Taf

Miguel De Unamuno – An Eternal Elegy


Oh Time, Time,

relentless tyrant!

Oh terrible mystery!

The past does not return,

it never comes back again,

ancient history!

Yes, ancient, but always the same,


Always present…

. . . . . . . . . . . .

When consciousness is deprived

of the passage of time,

what is it that remains?

What happens to light if the mirror is broken?

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Fierce Saturn,

oh Time, Time!

Lord of the world,

executioner of your children,

supreme cause of our bondage!

Once again the complaint,

once again the eternal song

that never ends,

how all is lost and nothing remains,

that time is passing


Irreparably, irreparably, do you hear?


Yes, irreparably, and never forget it!

Life? Life is constantly dying,

it is like the river

in which the same water

never returns again

and yet is always the same.

In the crystal of the flowing liquids

the waving poplars on the river bank

are reflected

and the trembling image is never reflected

by the same water.

What is the past? Nothing!

The future you dream is also nothing

and the passing moment

is a mysterious transition to emptiness;

to emptiness once again!

It is a torrent that flows

from nothingness to nothingness.

The moment you touch it

all tender hope,

as if by magic or enchantment,

becomes a memory,

a memory that grows fainter

and is finally lost;

is lost forever.

Oh Time, Time!

Repeat, oh my soul, yes repeat once again

the same old song,

the sad litany,

the never ending dirge,

the same old elegy

of how time passes

and is never the same again.

The ”Alas!” of the one who is suffering

this ancient grief

is always the same,

the same old lament;

repeating it gives consolation,

an unceasing rosary, like the rain

again and again, a hundred times…

Oh Time, Time,

relentless tyrant!

Oh terrible mystery!

Rigid torture rack of the human spirit!

How limited words are…!

Language is never enough to describe

our thirst for eternity;

it is too limited…

A terrible thirst,

a thirst that constantly weakens the soul

that contemplates the ocean,

– the immense ocean! –

which never satisfies our thirst;

it only fills our vision,

an immense ocean of bitter waves!

Images? They disturb the profound

nakedness of our lament,

embellishments that drown out

the single note that is deep and strong…

But, yes, images, different chords

that calm the melodic theme…

. . . . . . . . . . . .

It is the elegy that silence intones,

silence, language of the eternal,

while eternity exists

as the slave of time…

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Did you destroy your watch? Not enough!

Lay down and go to sleep… that is best;

immersed forever

in a profound sleep

you will have conquered time,

your implacable enemy!

Yesterday, today and tomorrow!

A chain of grief

with links of anxiety…

You grip the horse’s mane

with tense hands

refusing to let go

and it runs faster and faster,

a runaway horse;

the tighter you hold on

the more maddening is its passage!

Don’t mutter out of one side of your mouth,

fierce Saturn!

Enough now, that’s enough of your hours,

implacable enemy!

Stop this interminable drudgery

once and for all!

I want to escape from time;

exhausted, I want to finally

dissolve myself into the eternal

where yesterday, today and tomorrow

are only one moment

disconnected from the passage of time;

where a tender memory

is linked with hope

and merges with it;

where the never-quiescent waters

of the passing rivers

remain forever in a quiet lake;

where the soul can finally be

immersed in a bath of consolation

where Saturn dies;

where time is defeated.


(Fransisco Goya – Saturn Devouring His Son, 1819-1823)


* In ancient Greek and Roman mythology, Saturn (or Cronus/Kronos) was a titan (the titans predated the Greek/Roman gods) who castrated and overthrown his own father (Caelus/Uranus) and then he was eating his own children, because of a prophecy that he would be overthrown by one of them. This mythological figure’s meaning was later examined and analyzed by many (including Freud and Jung).

Some information about Cronus/Saturn:



Father Time: Chronos and Kronos















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