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The Journey by Parachute

There’s a thin line between what you are and what you aren't.
I'm afraid of loving you, and you're afraid I can't.
I’m falling now, I’m falling.
I’m falling now, I'm falling.
Take it away.

Robyn Hitchcock, "I'm Falling"

Nearly every line of Altazor that I have read so far is just screaming for me to quote it -- I am going to go ahead and lay out some blocks of quotation; my idea here is to be doing a parallel translation of the poem (based loosely on Eliot Weinberger's) and (in the other direction, at the same time) of my own writing. Here is a section that immediately follows the speech by God that I quoted in the previous post -- a second great soliloquy, this time by Altazor (and/or by the author, there is a great deal of confusion between his voice and his character's): Con casi cada uno de los líneas que yo acabo de leer del poema Altazor, sentía el deseo de citarlo, repetirlo, traducirlo. Adelante, voy poner unos palabras citadas; tengo aquí la idea de traducir simultaneamente el poema (siguiendo vagamente la traducción de Eliot Weinberger) y mi propia escritura. Con esto, una pasaje que sigue directo el discurso de Dios citado en mi post anterior: es un segundo grande soliloquio, por Altazor mismo (o quizás por el autor, hay una gran confusión entre los dos).

My parachute began to fall vertiginously. Such is the force of the attraction from death, from the open sepulchre.

You must believe it, the tomb holds more power than the eyes of my beloved -- the open tomb and all its charms. And I'm saying this to you, to you who when you are smiling, you make me think about the beginning of the world.

My parachute became entangled with an extinguished star, one which went conscientiously about its orbit as if it were not aware of the futility of its efforts.

And making good use of this well-earned respite, I proceeded to fill in, with my profound thoughts, the blank squares of my gameboard:

"Authentic song is arson. Poetry weaves herself through every thing, she lights the way for her consumations with her shivers of ecstasy, of agony.

"One must write in a tongue which is not one's mother tongue.

"The four cardinal points are three: the South and the North.

"A poem is a thing which is coming into being.

"A poem is a thing which never exists, which must exist.

"A poem is a thing which never has existed, which could never exist.

"Flee from the sublime external, unless you want to die brought low by the wind.

"If I did not commit some madness at least once every year, I would surely go mad."

Moving into the first Canto, let's look at some repeated themes. Altazor is falling, and the poet speaks to him -- note the repetition of a planet moving precisely in its orbit, from the prologue.

Altazor, you will die. Your voice will dry up, you will become invisible
The earth will go on turning in its meticulous path.
Fearful of a slip -- like one balancing on a high wire stretched between two looks of fear
You seek in vain, mania is in your eye
There is no way out and this wind is pushing away the planets
You think it makes no difference, this perpetual fall, you will manage to escape
But can't you see you're already falling?

And later, in Altazor's response, a repetition of the image we saw in the prologue, of keeping vigilance over the passage of new ideas into and out of one's body.

Repair the motor of the dawn
Meanwhile I will sit at the edge of my eyes
In order to assist the entry of images

I am Altazor
Altazor
Imprisoned in the cage of his destiny
In vain I grapple with the bars of my possible escape
A flower blocks my way
They rise up, a statue of flames
My impossible escape
Weaker am I, walking along with my longings
Than an army without light caught in an ambuscade

...and getting further into Canto I/into Altazor's consciousness,

Eyes thirsty for seething tears
Lips thirsty for louder grief
Hands manic grasping the dusk
Seeking out the dusk
And this bitterness which passes through my bones
And this funeral in my memory
This funeral which extends itself in my memory
This long long funeral which enters into all the days of my memory
Continue
No
This skeleton, this framework must be shattered
The rafters of this consciousness laid low
Let the hurricane blow away the remains, to nothingness, to the other side
Where the wind thrashes God
Where you still hear echos of my gutteral violin
Accompanying the piano, posthumous, the Final Judgement

It is you, you the fallen angel
The endless fall towards death
The fall without end from death into death
Enchant the universe with your voice
Grapple with your voice enchantress of the world
Singing like a blind man lost in eternity

There walks in my brain a brutal, painful grammar
An ongoing massacre of internal thoughts
One last adventure of celestial hope
Rash, disordered stars
Fallen under spells, without haven
All that is hidden, that incites us with fatal charms
What is hidden in the frigid regions of the invisible
In the burning storm of our skull

Mi paracaídas empezó a caer vertiginosamente. Tal es la fuerza de attracción de la muerte y del sepulcro abierto.

Podéis creerlo, la tumba tiene más poder que los ojos de la amada. La tumba abierta y sus imanes. Y esto te lo digo a ti, a ti que cuando sonríes haces pensar en el comienzo del mundo.

Mi paracaídas se enredó en una estrella apagada que seguía su órbita concienzudamente como si ignorara la inutilidad de sus esfuerzos.

Y aprovechando este reposo bien ganado, comencé a llenar con profundos pensamientos las casillas de mi tablero:

«Los verdaderos poemas son incendios. La poesía se propaga por todas partes, iluminando sus consumaciones con estremecimientos de placer o de agonía.

»Se debe escribir en una lengua que no sea materna.

»Los cuatros puntos cardinales son tres: el Sur y el Norte.

»Un poema es una cosa que será.

»Un poema es una cosa que nunca es pero que debiera ser.

»Un poema es una cosa que nunca ha sido, que nunca podrá ser.

»Huye del sublime externo, si no quieres morir aplastado por el viento.

»Si no hiciera al menos una locura por año, me volvería loco.»

Marchando en el Canto I, miramos unos temas repetidos. Cae Altazor, a quién el poeta se dirige. Nota también la repetición de «su órbita precisa» del prefacio.

Altazor morirás Se secara tu voz y serás invisible
La tierra seguira girando sobre su órbita precisa
Temerosa de un traspiés como el equilibrista sobre el alambre que ata las miradas del pavor
En vano buscas ojo enloquecido
No hay puerta de salida y el viento desplaza los planetas
Piensas que no importa caer eternamente si se logra escapar
¿No ves que vas cayendo ya?

Luego en la respuesta de Altazor, otra vez la imagen que vimos en el prefacio, vigilar la comunicación de ideas nuevas adentro y afuera del cuerpo.

Reparad el motor del alba
En tanto me siento al bordo de mis ojos
Para asistir a la entrada de las imágenes

Soy yo Altazor
Altazor
Encerrado en la jaula de su destino
En vano me aferro a los barrotes de la evasión posible
Una flor cierra el camino
Y se levantan como la estatua de las llamas
La evasión imposible
Más débil marcho con mis ansias
Que un ejército sin luz en medio de emboscadas

...marchando más allá en el Canto I y la cabeza de Altazor,

Ohos ávidos de lágrimas hirviendo
Labios ávidos de mayores lamentos
Manos enloquecidas de palpar tinieblas
Buscando más tinieblas
Y esta amargura que se pasea por los huesos
Y este entierro en mi memoria
Este entierro que se alarga en mi memoria
Este largo entierro que atraviesa todos los días de mi memoria
Seguir
No
Que se rompa el andiano de los huesos
Que se derrumben las vigas del cerebro
Y arrastre el huracán los trozos a la nada del otro lado
En donde el viento azota a Dios
En donde aún resuene mi violín gutural
Acompañando el piano póstumo del Juicio Final

Eres tú tú el angel caído
La caída eterna sobre la muerte
La caída sin fin de muerte en muerte
Embruja el universo con tu voz
Aférrate a tu voz embrujador del mundo
Cantando como un ciego perdido en la eternidad

Anda en mi cerebro un gramática dolorosa y brutal
La matanza continua de conceptos internos
Y una última aventura de esperanzas celestes
Un desorden de estrellas imprudentes
Caídas de los sortilegios sin refugio
Todo lo que se esconde y nos incita con imanes fatales
Lo que se esconde en las frías regiones de lo invisible
O en la ardiente tempestad de nuestro cráneo

posted evening of Friday, September 10th, 2010
➳ More posts about Altazor: The Journey by Parachute
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Hello, my name is Gabriela and I am from Chile (just the same as Vicente!). I think I have read Altazor about 50 times and I always feel a very strong emotion that grows and rises with each word throughout the poem.

I was looking for an English version of Altazor because I study English-Spanish/Portuguese-Spanish Translation, and since a couple of months I have feel the "necessity" of reading it in different languages in order to analyse the translations and to see whether the words in English manage to transmit the same strength as the original version does. Unfortunately I didn't find a whole English version, however I found this blog and it feels so great to see some of my favourite quotes here. I would like to read a little bit more, so I will be waiting for you to publish something else.

Kind regards!

posted evening of July 18th, 2014 by Gabriela Hernández

Thanks, Gabriela! I was looking at Altazor again recently -- was thinking about what a translator would do with the final canto.

posted morning of July 19th, 2014 by The Modesto Kid

The final canto is extremely sublime. Huidobro put into practice his thoughts about the words and disassemble not only linguistic signs but also grammar structures in order to create new words, new concepts, and I would like to know how that practice was conceive by the translators that recreated it in English and what is the impression, the feeling that the readers feel when they face this amazing "new language".

posted afternoon of July 19th, 2014 by Gabriela Hernández

My initial impulse was to render it "as is" -- because how can you touch perfection? But now am thinking it would have to be the "English equivalent" of his Spanish nonsense -- I think it has a distinctly "Spanish" sound to it -- so would the translator use a similar transformation starting from common sounds of the target language?

beautiful rendition here:

posted afternoon of July 20th, 2014 by The Modesto Kid

Or another possibility is that an English-speaking reader will bring to the text as is, an English reading...

posted afternoon of July 20th, 2014 by The Modesto Kid

I think that both options, rendering as it and trying to find an equivalent in English, have a complicated issue. If we took the first one we could deprive some readers of understanding the "sense" but if we chose the second one we could take the original sense away or even change it. In this case it is important to distinguish what kind of audience we would like to reach: a wide one (in this case the translation is recommendable ) or a more specific and "learned" one which should be supposed to be able to read and underestand what the poem, in its original version, says

posted evening of July 21st, 2014 by Gabriela Hernández

Oh, the video is really great!

posted evening of July 21st, 2014 by Gabriela Hernández

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