To the Country

- 1867-1916
translated from the Spanish by Charles B. McMichael

Prairie land, Happy days. In Royal Buenos Ayres
Now far, far behind are left the fire, and terrific heat.
Today in thy verdant exultation all my day dreams will come to life
And I shall inhale thy fragrant breath and bathe me in thy sun.

A very good morning to thee, my orchard, and now I salute thy freshness
As it bursts forth from thy branches, while thy peach trees are in bloom;
Framed about with rose bushes thy Florida Street
Looks on while Glory, the Mart and Sport pass along.

A little bird, a poet, meditates verses in his craw;
Gossipy and petulant, a sparrow goes chattering;
The climbing plants are arguing about political affairs;
The roses and the lilies talk of art and also of love.

Driving his chariot team of fairy dragon flies,
The mischief making Puck of rich dreams passes
And here is the splendid sportswoman in her celestial car,
The Imperial Titania followed by Oberon,

At night when the half ring of gold shows itself
Beneath the tranquil blue of Heaven, the loved one of Pierrot,
(It is a pallid feast which reigns now in the orchard)
Plays upon her lyre the air, forsooth, do-re-mi-fa-sol.

The curious violets into her balcony are peeping
And one of them sighs, “Tis a pity that the nightingale is not here!”
The sylphs accompany the dances of the breezes
In a vague hazy Walpurgis of perfume and fantasy.

Soon is heard the echo of the loud cry of the pampas.
It burns like the setting of the Argentine sun
And a spectral horseman like a shadow crosses,
Over his shoulder is a poncho, upon his face is grief.

Who are you solitary traveler of the night?
“I am Poetry” who once upon a time reigned here
I am the last gaucho herdsman. I am going away forever
From our ancient country and carrying away its heart.

A Sonnet on Cervantes

translated by Thomas Walsh and Salomón de la Selva

In all my days of troubled loneliness
And fretted grief Cervantes is to me
A faithful friend, and none so true as he,
That brings me precious gifts of quietness.

All nature his, and life. Of his largesse
My dreams, that are knight-errants bold and free,
Have golden casques to crown them gloriously.
He is, for me: sigh, prayer, joyousness.

He speaks as runs a brook, so amorous
And very gentle is this Christian knight,
Ever undaunted. And I love him thus,

Beholding how the world, by fate’s design,
Reaps, from his deathless sorrow, rich delight,
And laughter from a madness so divine!


Soneto a Cervantes

Horas de pesadumbre y de tristeza
paso en mi soledad. Pero Cervantes
es buen amigo. Endulza mis instantes
ásperos, y reposa mi cabeza.

El es la vida y la naturaleza;
regala un yelmo de oro y de diamantes
a mis sueños errantes.
Es para mí: suspire, ríe y reza.

Cristiano y amoroso caballero
parla como un arroyo cristalino.
¡Así le admiro y quiero,

viendo cómo el destino
hace que regocije al mundo entero
la tristeza inmortal de ser divino!

To Roosevelt

It is with the voice of the Bible, or verse of Walt Whitman,
that we should reach you, Hunter!
Primitive and modern, simple and complicated,
with a bit of Washington and a bit of Nimrod.
You are the United States,
You are the future invader
the naive America who has Indian blood,
that still prays to Jesus Christ and still speaks Spanish.

You are a proud and strong exemplar of your race;
you are cultured, you are clever, you oppose Tolstoy.
And breaking horses, or murdering tigers,
you are an Alejandro Nebuchadnezzar.
(You're a professor of energy,
as today's madmen say.)
You think life is fire,
that progress is eruption;
where you put your bullet
you put the future.

No.

The United States is strong and big.
When it shakes there is a deep tremor
through the enormous vertebrae of the Andes.
If you clamor, you hear the roar of the lion.
Hugo said to Grant: "The stars are yours."
(Just shining, rising, Argentine sun
and the Chilean star rises ...) You're rich.
Join Hercules' cult to Mammon's;
and lighting the path to easy conquest,
Liberty raises her torch in New York.

But our America, which had poets
from the old days of Netzahualcoyotl,
you have saved in the footsteps of the great feet of Bacchus
panic in the alphabet learned a while;
who consulted the stars, that knew Atlantis,
whose name comes to resonate in Plato
Since the ancient times of your life
living light, fire, perfume, love,
America's great Montezuma, from the Inca,
redolent of America by Christopher Columbus
Catholic American, Spanish American,
The America where noble Cuahtemoc said:
"I'm not a bed of roses" that America
trembles in hurricanes and lives in Love,
men of Saxon eyes and barbarous soul lives.
And dreams. And loves, and vibrates, and is the daughter of the Sun
Be careful. Live the American Spanish!
There are thousand of puppies loose Leon Spanish.
Be required, Roosevelt, being God himself,
Rifleman the terrible and strong Hunter,
order to keep us in your tight grip.

And, You may count it all, missing one thing: God!

Poets! Towers of God!

Translation by Thomas Walsh and Salomón de la Selva.

Poets! Towers of God
Made to resist the fury of the storms
Like cliffs beside the ocean
Or clouded, savage peaks!
Masters of lightning!
Breakwaters of eternity!

Hope, magic-voiced, foretells the day
When on the rock of harmony
The Siren traitorous shall die and pass away,
And there shall only be
The full, frank-billowed music of the sea.

Be hopeful still,
Though bestial elements yet turn
From Song with rancorous ill-will
And blinded races one another spurn!
Perversity debased
Among the high her rebel cry has raised.
The cannibal still lusts after the raw,
Knife-toothed and gory-faced.

Towers, your laughing banners now unfold.
Against all hatreds and all envious lies
Upraise the protest of the breeze, half-told,
And the proud quietness of sea and skies…

----

Torres de Dios! Poetas!
Pararrayos celestes,
que resistís las duras tempestades,
como crestas escuetas,
como picos agrestes,
rompeolas de las eternidades!

   La mágica Esperanza anuncia el día
en que sobre la roca de armonía
expirará la pérfida sirena.
Esperad, esperemos todavía!

   Esperad todavía.
El bestial elemento se solaza
en el odio a la sacra poesía,
y se arroja baldón de raza a raza.
La insurrección de abajo
tiende a los Excelentes.
En caníbal codicia su tasajo
con roja encía y afilados dientes.

   Torres, poned al pabellón sonrisa.
Poned ante ese mal y ese recelo,
una soberbia insinuación de brisa
y una tranquilidad de mar y cielo…

Related Poems

Ballad of Forgotten Places

translated by Mary Crow

My most beautiful hiding places,
places that best fit my soul’s deepest colors,
are made of all that others forgot.

They are solitary sites hollowed out in the grass’s caress,
in a shadow of wings, in a passing song;
regions whose limits swirl with the ghostly carriages
that transport the mist in the dawn,
and in whose skies names are sketched, ancient words of love,
vows burning like constellations of drunken fireflies.

Sometimes earthly villages pass, hoarse trains make camp,
a couple piles marvelous oranges at the edge of the sea,
a single relic is spread through all space.
My places would look like broken mirages,
clippings of photographs torn from an album to orient nostalgia,
but they have roots deeper than this sinking ground,
these fleeing doors, these vanishing walls.

They are enchanted islands where only I can be the magician.

And who else, if not I, is climbing the stairs towards those attics in the clouds
where the light, aflame, used to hum in the siesta’s honey,
who else will open again the big chest where the remains of an unhappy story lie,
sacrificed a thousand times only to fantasy, only to foam,
and try on the rags again
like those costumes of invincible heroes,
circle of fire that inflamed time’s scorpion?

Who cleans the windowpane with her breath and stirs the fire of the afternoon
in those rooms where the table was an altar of idolatry,
each chair, a landscape folded up after every trip,
and the bed, a stormy short cut to the other shore of dreams,
rooms deep as nets hung from the sky,
like endless embraces I slid down till I brushed the feathers of death,
until I overturned the laws of knowledge and the fall of man?

Who goes into the parks with the golden breath of each Christmas
and washes the foliage with a little gray rag that was the handkerchief for waving goodbye,
and reweaves the garlands with a thread of tears,
repeating a fantastic ritual among smashed wine glasses and guests lost in thought,
while she savors the twelve green grapes of redemption—
one for each month, one for each year, one for each century of empty indulgence—
a taste acid but not as sharp as the bread of forgetfulness?

Because who but I changes the water for all the memories?
Who inserts the present like a slash into the dreams of the past?
Who switches my ancient lamps for new ones?

My most beautiful hiding places are solitary sites where no one goes,
and where there are shadows that only come to life when I am the magician.


 

Mis refugios más bellos,
los lugares que se adaptan mejor a los colores últimos de mi alma,
están hechos de todo lo que los otros olvidaron.

Son sitios solitarios excavados en la caricia de la hierba,
en una sombra de alas; en una canción que pasa;
regiones cuyos límites giran con los carruajes fantasmales
que transportan la niebla en el amanecer
y en cuyos cielos se dibujan nombres, viejas frases de amor,
juramentos ardientes como constelaciones de luciérnagas ebrias.

Algunas veces pasan poblaciones terrosas, acampan roncos trenes,
una pareja junta naranjas prodigiosas en el borde del mar,
una sola reliquia se propaga por toda la extensión.
Parecerían espejismos rotos,
recortes de fotografías arrancados de un álbum para orientar a la nostalgia,
pero tienen raíces más profundas que este suelo que se hunde,
estas puertas que huyen, estas paredes que se borran.

Son islas encantadas en las que sólo yo puedo ser la hechicera.

¿Y quién si no, sube las escaleras hacia aquellos desvanes entre nubes
donde la luz zumbaba enardecida en la miel de la siesta,
vuelve a abrir el arcón donde yacen los restos de una historia inclemente,
mil veces inmolada nada más que a delirios, nada más que a espumas,
y se prueba de nuevo los pedazos
como aquellos disfraces de las protagonistas invencibles,
el círculo de fuego con el que encandilaba al escorpión del tiempo?

¿Quién limpia con su aliento los cristales y remueve la lumbre del atardecer
en aquellas habitaciones donde la mesa era un altar de idolatría,
cada silla, un paisaje replegado después de cada viaje,
y el lecho, un tormentoso atajo hacia la otra orilla de los sueños;
aposentos profundos como redes suspendidas del cielo,
como los abrazos sin fin donde me deslizaba hasta rozar las plumas de la muerte,
hasta invertir las leyes del conocimiento y la caída?

¿Quién se interna en los parques con el soplo dorado de cada Navidad
y lava los follajes con un trapito gris que fue el pañuelo de las despedidas,
y entrelaza de nuevo los guirnaldas con un hilo de lágrimas,
repitiendo un fantástico ritual entre copas trizadas y absortos comensales,
mientras paleada en las doce uvas verdes de la redención—
una por cada mes, una por cada año, una por cada siglo de vacía indulgencia—
un ácido sabor menos mordiente que el del pan del olvido?

¿Por qué quién sino yo les cambia el agua a todos los recuerdos?
¿Quién incrusta el presente como un tajo ante las proyecciones del pasado?
¿Alguien trueca mis lámparas antiguas por sus lámparas nuevas?

Mis refugios más bellos son sitios solitarios a los que nadie va
y en los que sólo hay sombras que se animan cuando soy la hechicera.

A Woman Sleeps on an Island

translated by Cola Franzen

A woman sleeps on an island
and from her hair is born the dwelling place
of memories and wild birds.
Her body is a figurehead,
and they say that since
she fell asleep on the island
she seems to have been touched by the rains
of madness, that her hair blossoms each evening
next to the music of the sea. Others say
her eyelids trace maps of strange geographies,
savage tattoos kept only in the tenuous
circle of her dreams.

A woman sleeps on an island
and stops being herself,
free now of the land.
She sails and drinks
the vastness of the sea.
Seeds fill her floating hair;
she is an island
surrounded by stars.


 

Una mujer duerme en una isla
y del cabello nacen las moradas
de memorias y pájaros salvajes.
Su cuerpo es un mascarón de proa
y dicen que desde
que durmió en la isla
pareciera haber sido tocada por las lluvias
de la demencia, que su pelo florece en los atardeceres
junto a la música del mar. Otros dicen
que sus párpados dibujan mapas de extrañas geografías,
tatuajes salvajes que ella guarda sólo
en la redondez tenue del sueño.

Una mujer duerme en una isla
y deja de ser ella misma
libre ahora de la tierra.
Navega y bebe
la inmensidad del mar.
Las semillas llenan su pelo que flota
y ella es una isla
rodeada de estrellas.

Three Fragments of Instan

alba saliva
el instan

time bending
tongue

entwine
the betwixt

double
thread

madre
del habla

imán
del gen

palabra
estrella

mother
of time

 

time awakes

inside words

awayo

mi away

voy a tejer
mis tres
lenguas

away

 

el instante
es la cuerda
vital

seco fluir

dry elixir

words
are the loom
of the stars

life's breath

la palabra
es la estrella
interior
del estar

words
are
the inner
star.