the dawn

Standard

The Dawn

Ricardo Jaime Freyre

Translation

El alba

Las auroras pálidas,
que nacen entre penumbras misteriosas,
y enredados en las orlas de sus mantos
llevan jirones de sombra,
iluminan las montañas,
las crestas de las montañas rojas;
bañan las torres erguidas,
que saludan su aparición silenciosa,
con la voz de sus campanas
soñolienta y ronca;
ríen en las calles
dormidas de la ciudad populosa,
y se esparcen en los campos
donde el invierno respeta las amarillentas hojas.
Tienen perfumes de Oriente
las auroras;
los recogieron al paso, de las florestas ocultas
de una extraña Flora.
Tienen ritmos
y músicas armoniosas,
porque oyeron los gorjeos y los trinos de las aves
exóticas.

Su luz fría,
que conserva los jirones de la sombra,
enredóse, vacilante, de los lotos
en las anchas hojas.
Chispeó en las aguas dormidas,
las aguas del viejo Ganges, dormidas y silenciosas;
y las tribus de los árabes desiertos,
saludaron con plegarias a las pálidas auroras.
Los rostros de los errantes beduinos
se bañaron con arenas ardorosas,
y murmuraron las suras del Profeta
voces roncas.

Tendieron las suaves alas
sobre los mares de Jonia
y vieron surgir a Venus
de las suspirantes olas.
En las cimas,
donde las tinieblas eternas sobre las nieves se posan
vieron monstruos espantables
entre las rocas,
y las crines de los búfalos que huían
por la selva tenebrosa.
Reflejaron en la espada
simbólica,
que a la sombra de una encina
yacía olvidada y polvorosa.

Hay ensueños,
hay ensueños en las pálidas auroras…
Hay ensueños,
que se envuelven en sus jirones de sombra…
Sorprenden los amorosos
secretos de las nupciales alcobas,
y ponen pálidos tintes en los labios
donde el beso dejó huellas voluptuosas…

Y el Sol eleva su disco fulgurante
sobre la tierra, los aires y las suspirantes olas.

Photo by Thomas Millot on Unsplash

masks

Standard

Masks

Claribel Alegría

All I was
all I was not
all that am I.
-Fernando Pessoa

I am all that I was
all that I could have been
what I dreamed but was not
all the mismatched scraps
that compose my mask
and claw my face
through sleepless nights.
I am everything I love
all those who love me
and also my failures
my weeping
my mute angels
my silent ancestors.
I am this dark tedium
that clouds my hours
that gnaws my bones
that traps me
and prevents my breaking loose
to dance my way toward you.

Translation

Máscaras

Cuanto fui
cuanto no fui
todo eso soy.
-Fernando Pessoa

Soy todo lo que fui
lo que pude haber sido
loque soñé y no fui
todos esos retazos incongruentes
que componen mi máscara
yme arañan el rostro
en mis noches de insomnio.
Soy todo lo que amo
los que me aman
y también mis fracasos
y mis lloros
y mis ángeles mudos
y mis antepasados silenciosos,
Soy este oscuro tedio
que me opaca las horas
que me roe los huesos
que me atrapa
y me impide soltarme
y danzar hacia ti.

Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash

story of my death

Standard

Story of My Death

Leopoldo Lugones

I dreamed of death and it was quite simple:
a silk thread enwrapped me,
and each kiss of yours
with a turn unraveled me.
And each of your kisses
was a day;
and the time between two kisses,
a night. Death is quite simple.
And little by little the fatal thread
unwrapped itself. I no longer controlled it
but for a single bit between my fingers . . .
Then, suddenly, you became cold,
and no longer kissed me . . .
I let the thread go, and my life vanished.

Translation

Historia de mi muerte

Soñé la muerte y era muy sencillo;
una hebra de seda me envolvía,
y a cada beso tuyo,
con una vuelta menos me ceñía
y cada beso tuyo
era un día;
y el tiempo que mediaba entre dos besos
una noche. La muerte era muy sencilla.

Y poco a poco fue desenvolviéndose
la hebra fatal. Ya no la retenía
sino por solo un cabo entre los dedos…
Cuando de pronto te pusiste fría
y ya no me besaste…
y solté el cabo, y se me fue la vida.

Photo by amirali mirhashemian on Unsplash

curriculum vitae

Standard

Curriculum Vitae

Blanca Varela

let’s say you won the race
and the prize
was another race
you didn’t savor the wine of victory
but your own salt
you never listened to hurrahs
but dog barks
and your shadow
your own shadow
was your only
and disloyal competitor

Translation

Curriculum vitae

digamos que ganaste la carrera
y que el premio
era otra carrera
que no bebiste el vino de la victoria
sino tu propia sal
que jamás escuchaste vítores
sino ladridos de perros
y que tu sombra
tu propia sombra
fue tu única
y desleal competidora.

 

Photo by Martino Pietropoli on Unsplash

love poem 8

Standard

Love Poem 8

Darío Jaramillo Agudelo

Your tongue, your wise tongue that invents my skin,
your fire tongue that burns me,
your tongue that creates the instant of insanity, delirium
of the body in love
your tongue, sacred whip, sweet ember,
invocation of fire that takes me out of myself,
that transforms me,
your tongue of unmodest flesh,
your tongue of surrender that demands everything from me,
your very mine tongue,
your beautiful tongue electrifying my lips, making yours the body you have purified,
your tongue exploring and discovering me,
your gorgeous tongue also knowing how to say it loves me.

Translation

Poema de amor 8

Tu lengua, tu sabia lengua que inventa mi piel,
tu lengua de fuego que me incendia,
tu lengua que crea el instante de demencia, el delirio del cuerpo enamorado,
tu lengua, látigo sagrado, brasa dulce,
invocación de los incendios que me saca de mí, que me transforma,
tu lengua de carne sin pudores,
tu lengua de entrega que me demanda todo, tu muy mía lengua,
tu bella lengua que electriza mis labios, que vuelve tuyo mi cuerpo por ti purificado,
tu lengua que me explora y me descubre,
tu hermosa lengua que también sabe decir que me ama.

 

Photo by Nsey Benajah on Unsplash

Said and read – October 2020

Standard

For the first time this year, I have read only a small handful of books. The motivation just wasn’t there. There is darkness all around. We are all on edge … and at the edge of falling into the abyss of societal decay we won’t easily recover from.

“Though neither happiness nor respect are worth anything, because unless both are coming from the truest motives, they are simply deceits. A successful man earns the respect of the world never mind what is the state of his mind, or his manner of earning. So what is the good of such respect, and how happy will such a man be in himself? And if he is what passes for happy, such a state is lower than the self-content of the meanest animal.” How Green Was My ValleyRichard Llewellyn

Previous book reports: 2020 – September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January. 2019 – December, November, October, September, May, April, March, February, January. 2018 – NovemberOctober, SeptemberAugust, July, June, May, April, March, February and January.

Thoughts on reading for October:

I liked all of the very few things I read in October (there were only six books):

*Shuggie BainDouglas Stuart

“’Mammy, help. I can’t.’ ‘Yes. You. Can.’ She was still smiling through her open teeth. “Just hold your head up high and Gie. It. Laldy.” She was no use at maths homework, and some days you could starve rather than get a hot meal from her, but Shuggie looked at her now and understood this was where she excelled. Everyday with the make-up on and her hair done, she climbed out of her grave and held her head high. When she had disgraced herself with drink, she got up the next day, put on her best coat, and faced the world. When her belly was empty and her weans were hungry, she did her hair and let the world think otherwise.”

A heartbreaking book with a clear sense of language, culture, class and place (Glasgow). It hits close to home, and I devoured it.

*How Green Was My ValleyRichard Llewellyn

One of those books you always think you should read. A friend read it back when we were in junior high school, and then I recall Frasier Crane making a big deal out of the film adaptation in an episode of Frasier. I haven’t seen the film or read the book. But now, suddenly, I thought, “Why not?”

“HERE IN THIS QUIET HOUSE I sit thinking back the structure of my life, building again that which has fallen. It do seem to me that the life of man is merely a pattern scrawled on Time, with little thought, little care, and no sense of design. Why is it, I wonder, that people suffer, when there is so little need, when an effort of will and some hard work would bring them from their misery into peace and contentment.”

Like many stories about people living in communities where everyone ends up doing one dangerous job – whether it’s mining, as it is here, or logging, or something similar, the main character (Huw Morgan) has academic promise that can help him achieve something more than going down into the mines.

*Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945Tony Judt

“Post-national, welfare-state, cooperative, pacific Europe was not born of the optimistic, ambitious, forward-looking project imagined in fond retrospect by today’s Euro-idealists. It was the insecure child of anxiety. Shadowed by history, its leaders implemented social reforms and built new institutions as a prophylactic, to keep the past at bay.”

This was a really long book and goes into a fair amount of depth about the many different challenges faced by Europe after World War II.

“But the Communist myth bears unintended witness to the importance (and the difficulty) in both halves of Europe of managing a burdensome inheritance. World War One destroyed old Europe; World War Two created the conditions for a new Europe. But the whole of Europe lived for many decades after 1945 in the long shadow cast by the dictators and wars in its immediate past. That is one of the experiences that Europeans of the post-war generation have in common with one another and which separates them from Americans, for whom the twentieth century taught rather different and altogether more optimistic lessons. And it is the necessary point of departure for anyone seeking to understand European history before 1989—and to appreciate how much it changed afterwards.”

“Why were Europeans willing to pay so much for insurance and other long-term welfare provisions, at a time when life was still truly hard and material shortages endemic? The first reason is that, precisely because times were difficult, the post-war welfare systems were a guarantee of a certain minimum of justice, or fairness. This was not the spiritual and social revolution for which many in the wartime Resistance had dreamed, but it was a first step away from the hopelessness and cynicism of the pre-war years.”

It’s fascinating to see how the idea of a united (western) Europe is juxtaposed with the eventual unification of Europe after Communism and the splinters that created, whether in the breakup of Yugoslavia and subsequent war or the significant differences between the way the United Kingdom is governed and how Scotland wishes to be governed.

“What these figures suggest is that Slovenia and (to a lesser extent) Croatia already ranked alongside the less prosperous countries of the European Community, while Kosovo, Macedonia and rural Serbia more closely resembled parts of Asia or Latin America. If Slovenes and Croats were increasingly restive in their common Yugoslav home, then, this was not because of a resurfacing of deep-rooted religious or linguistic sentiments or from a resurgence of ethnic particularism. It was because they were coming to believe that they would be a lot better off if they could manage their own affairs without having to take into account the needs and interests of underachieving Yugoslavs to their south.”

“Scotland was another matter. There too the decline of the old industries had taken a terrible toll; but the Scottish National Party (SNP) which emerged in the Seventies could count on a share of the local vote four times that of their Welsh colleagues. Within two decades of its breakthrough as a ‘single-issue’ party at the 1974 elections—where it returned eleven members to parliament—the SNP had overtaken the Conservatives and was placing serious pressure upon traditional Labour strongholds. Unlike the Welsh, the voters of Scotland did favour devolution of power; and although they had to wait for it until 1997, the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh indisputably speaks for a country which thinks of itself as a distinct and separate nation, if not quite a state. Scottish nationalism benefited both from the fortuitous discovery of North Sea oil and gas—which brought prosperity to Aberdeen and the north-east—and from EC regional policies, which allowed Scottish administrators and businessmen to bypass London and forge direct links to Brussels. But Scotland, though joined to England by an Act of Union in 1707, had always been a land apart. Its sense of self rested less on linguistic or religious distinctions, which—though real enough—had grown tenuous for most of its residents, than on a curious admix of superiority and ressentiment.”

“Thus, in the same way that so many of the classics of modern English literature are in fact Irish, so some of the greatest achievements of English-language political and social thought since the Enlightenment, from David Hume to Adam Smith and on to John Stuart Mill and beyond, were actually Scottish. Not only was Edinburgh in some ways the intellectual capital of early industrial Britain and Glasgow the radical core of the British labour movement in the early years of the twentieth century; but Scottish businessmen, Scottish managers—and Scottish émigrés—were responsible for establishing, settling and administering much of England’s empire. Moreover Scotland had always claimed and maintained a distinctive and separate identity: even at the height of centralized rule from London it preserved its own system of education and its own legal system. An independent Scotland, then, was a perfectly plausible proposition—particularly in a European Union in which it would have been by no means the smallest or the poorest nation-state. Whether the majority of the Scottish population, having secured much of the appearance and some of the substance of independence, would ever wish to go further is less certain. The limitations of geography, demography and resources which have kept Scotland dependent upon the UK are still there; and by the end of the Nineties there seemed reason to suppose that in Scotland as elsewhere the engine of nationalism was running out of steam.”

*An Anthology of Contemporary Russian Women PoetsValentina Polukhina, ed

*An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Brazilian PoetryElizabeth Bishop, ed

*The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry: An Anthology- Ilan Stavans, ed