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If we do not say all words, however absurd, we will never say the essential words.

José Saramago

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Monday, February 14th, 2011

🦋 Romantic beauty

A few things have reminded me lately of José Cárdenas Peña's poetry. Here is a translation that I spent some time on last summer.

El delincuente

Si sólo fuese el grito
del agua,
o el rodar de una piedra
que no encuentro acomodo
a la orilla del llanto.
Si sólo fuese
la herida corrosiva
de los pasos sin nombre
en los días que mueren,
o la processión lenta de las horas
(centinelas del miedo).
Si sólo fuese el puñado de hierba
lo que cubre a la sangre,
aventada al olvido,
para poder decir:
es el final.

Too Late

If only it were just the scream
the water's scream,
the restless turning of a stone
which finds no spot to nestle
by the banks of the storm.
If only it were just
the wound, corrosive wound,
that nameless passage,
flow of dead time;
the soft procession of the hours
(sentinels of fear).
If only that bundle of herbs,
the ones we use to bind our wounds,
could be scattered to oblivion,
that we might say:
it is over.
I'm torn here between the beauty of the language and imagery, and a fear that I'm not really understanding the poem, am misreading and mistranslating... A more literal translation of the title is "The Juvenile Offender" -- I could not make any sense of that so I seized on an alternate meaning of "delinquent" in English, but I really have no idea if that works in Spanish.

Cárdenas Peña seems like a good poet for Valentine's Day as he is just about as Romantic as they come. Wikipædia says that he was "infatuated with beauty, with masculine beauty; he passed his thankless days in Platonic admiration of young men's bodies. The contemplation of physical beauty, the slow and sensuous writing of his poetry, the dialogues which he carried out with himself in cheap hotels and in the beds of the poorhouse -- perhaps these were the three fundamental activities of his life."

posted evening of February 14th, 2011: Respond
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Thursday, October 28th, 2010

🦋 Composición y traducción

Versos sin sentido

por Jeremy Osner

Esas palabras se dicen a mí mismo
Como los ecos que vibranse entre las nubes
Pero también debéis escuchar, escuchad
al voz de vuestra Diosa propia.
Cuando vos sentís familiar me decid.
Vamos mañana tal vez al paisaje de nuestras ilusiones
o a una ruina postapocalíptica similar, nos
desaparezcase la iglesia, la iglesia de los padres, la iglesia de ayer.

from Criminal

by José Cárdenas Peña

If only it were just the scream
the water's scream,
the rolling stone
abandoned, with no place to lay its head
against the storm.
If only it were just
the wound, corrosive wound,
the nameless passage,
flow of dead time:
the soft procession of the hours,
sentinels of fear.
If only it were the handful of herb
the herb which mates with blood
winnowed through memory
now it can say:
it is over,
the statue, the labyrinth,
angel's shadow, world which never is.

But behind this silent
anguished nostalgia,
behind you yourself
o wounded shadow who calls me,
swells the violence
the destruction over cliffs
over conquered ragged armies, ashes, dust.
And still I know the damage,
in this moment of my hapless lineage;
this ghost or god who from my birthplace
from my rubble rises up
this dove of the final flood,
and around me your words
your tongues of fire
baptismal conch
pouring out on your mirror of drunkenness
handful of naked salt
of biblical questions:
the mud, the signal, seed of man
your voice, your name, your sorrow;
the shape of just one tear
wept out for the dead
for fallen moorish idols
blood which teaches me to feel,
who cannot catch it, fend it off
as the sky fends off his luminous abyss,
the sea her piscene stigmata.

posted evening of October 28th, 2010: Respond
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Monday, October 25th, 2010

🦋 Memento homo

Another poem from Los contados días.

At times I bear
as an enormous cross, love
mounted on this coffin, my corpse.
Shipwrecked and alone,
I crash like a thunderbolt, like a star.
Reborn from my anterior dyings,
to go on dying all around,
dying in a tree's ear
or at the hand of a dream.
I fell from void, just
like oblivion falls among the ruins,
I was thrust
into the beauty of the earth:
was clay before the brightness and the joy.

I pass from the bird to the rose,
by blood and by fæces,
between forgetfulness and dust.
My soul cries out for its species of pride,
its desolate labyrinth,
its universe of shadow.

But my mind won't stop
measuring out the ashes from my eye

And that the world remains the world
and that the land is bathed
in the purple of blood;
the flood's diluted in another flood,
the Gods break away from our grasp
our prayer is trapped
trapped in our throats
a nail, a catastrophe.

And still it's beautiful
raising up this cathedral of sighs

posted evening of October 25th, 2010: Respond

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

🦋 These Precious Evenings

Here is a poem by a Mexican poet named José Cárdenas Peña, "Los contados días".

This wandering groping
like I'm walking into ruins:
this turning my face to the wind
without expecting a response from the wind;
instinctive phrasing, to live and to hope
without contact:
this clamour to God,
this doubt and this love, this blasphemy;

this dread of being lonely,
of the death that is not death;
it hurts me, hurts like a wound,
like my own native land,
like an angel's wing --
like my crime, like her bleak silence...

And when at last I scream Here! Here I am!,
so cleaves in two my naked, naked heart.
I really like the rhythm of the poem in Spanish and am trying to get a similar rhythmic thing going in the translation.

(I posted the original of this poem in the comments to a LanguageHat entry about free verse and memorization.)

posted evening of October 22nd, 2010: Respond
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