Poets! Towers of God!

- 1867-1916

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…

More by Rubén Darío

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!

Related Poems

Love Opened a Mortal Wound / Con el dolor de la mortal herida

(Skip to the original poem in Spanish)

Love opened a mortal wound.
In agony, I worked the blade
to make it deeper. Please,
I begged, let death come quick.

Wild, distracted, sick, 
I counted, counted
all the ways love hurt me.
One life, I thought--a thousand deaths.

Blow after blow, my heart
couldn't survive this beating.
Then--how can I explain it?

I came to my senses. I said,
Why do I suffer? What lover
ever had so much pleasure?

Con el dolor de la mortal herida,
de un agravio de amor me lamentaba;
y por ver si la muerte se llegaba,
procuraba que fuese más crecida.

Toda en el mal el alma divertida,
pena por pena su dolor sumaba,
y en cada circunstancia ponderaba
que sobrarban mil muertes a una vida.

Y cuando, al golpe de uno y otro tiro,
rendido el corazón daba penoso
señas de dar el último suspiro,

no sé con qué destino prodigioso
volví en mi acuerdo y dije:--¿Qué me admiro?
¿Quién en amor ha sido más dichoso?

It Comes in Every Storm

translated by Mary Crow

And don’t you feel also, perhaps, a stormy sorrow on the skin of time,
like a scar that opens again
there where the sky was uprooted?
And don’t you feel sometimes how that night gathers its tatters into an ominous bird,
that there’s a beating of wings against the roof
like a clash among immense spring leaves struggling
or of hands clapping to summon you to death?
And don’t you feel afterwards someone exiled is crying,
that there’s an ember of a fallen angel on the threshold,
brought suddenly like a beggar by an alien gust of wind?
And don’t you feel, like me, that a house rolling toward the abyss
runs over you with a crash of crockery shattered
       by lightning,
with two empty shells embracing each other for an endless journey,
with a screech of axles suddenly fractured like love’s broken promises?
And don’t you feel then your bed sinking like the nave of a cathedral crushed by the fall of heaven,
and that a thick, heavy water runs over your face till the final judgment?

Again it’s the slime.
Again your heart thrown into the depth of the pool,
prisoner once more among the waves closing a dream.

Lie down as I do in this miserable eternity of one day.
It’s useless to howl.
From these waters the beasts of oblivion don’t drink.


Llega en cada tormenta

¿Y no sientes acaso tú también un dolor tormentoso sobre la piel del tiempo,
como de cicatriz que vuelve a abrirse allí
donde fue descuajado de raíz el cielo?
¿Y no sientes a veces que aquella noche junta sus jirones en un ave agorera,
que hay un batir de alas contra el techo,
como un entrechocar de inmensas hojas de primavera en duelo
o de palmas que llaman a morir?
¿Y no sientes después que el expulsado llora,
que es un rescoldo de ángel caído en el umbral,
aventado de pronto igual que la mendiga por una ráfaga extranjera?
¿Y no sientes conmigo que pasa sobre ti
una casa que rueda hacia el abismo con un chocar de loza trizada por el rayo,
con dos trajes vacíos que se abrazan para un viaje sin fin,
con un chirriar de ejes que se quiebran de pronto como las rotas frases del amor?
¿Y no sientes entonces que tu lecho se hunde como la nave de una catedral arrastrada por la caída de los cielos,
y que un agua viscosa corre sobre tu cara hasta el juicio final?

Es otra vez el légamo.
De nuevo el corazón arrojado en el fondo del estanque,
prisionero de nuevo entra las ondas con que se cierra su sueño.

Tiéndete como yo en esta miserable eternidad de un día.
Es inútil aullar.
De estas aguas no beben las bestias del olvido.

conflict with a god

            for Lucie Brock-Broido

I find it
in the cupboard
above the stove

it sits behind
the gluey
jug of syrup

it hides behind
the yogurt container
of congealed lard

the apple welded
to the saucer
resists my pull

the apple sticks with honey,
its slightly puckered skin
still intact

—a healthy shrunken head—
the sliced top tied
with a red satin ribbon

I untie,
lift to look
and see pennies

strong hands
jerk me off the chair
“¡Dejaste salir a los espíritus malos!”

pero, mami,
there are no such things
as bad spirits,
are there?