Icy Bulwarks

Translated from the Spanish by Yvette Siegert

Every day, I come to watch you pass,
little steamer, magical and always distant. . . 
Your eyes are a pair of blondish captains,
your lip a slip of kerchief, red and
bidding its blood goodbyes.

I will come to watch you pass—
drunk on time, on cruelty, you magical
little steamer, always distant—until that day
when the evening star takes leave.

The rigging, the traitor winds, the currents
from a woman who just walked past—
Then your cold captains will issue orders,
And the one to take leave will be me.



Bordas de Hielo


Vengo a verte pasar todos los días,
vaporcito encantado siempre lejos. . . 
Tus ojos son dos rubios capitanes;
tu labio que ondea en un adios de sangre!

Vengo a verte pasar; hasta que un día,
embriagada de tiempo y de crueldad,
vaporcito encantado siempre lejos,
la estrella de la tarde partirá!

Las jarcias; vientos que traicionan; vientos
de mujer que pasó!
Tus fríos capitanes darán orden;
y quien habrá partido seré yo. . . !

From Los heraldos negros (Editorial Losada, S. A., 1918) by César Vallejo. Translated from the Spanish by Yvette Siegert. This poem is in the public domain.