30 October 2011

Octavio Paz

[from Octavio Paz's The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz: 1957-1987, ed. Eliot Weinberger, New Directions, 1990]


         "Thunder and wind: duration."
                                              I Ching


Sky black
                Yellow earth
The rooster tears the night apart
The water wakes and asks what time it is
The wind wakes and asks for you
A white horse goes by


As the forest in its bed of leaves
you sleep in your bed of rain
you sing in your bed of wind
your kiss in your bed of sparks


Multiple vehement odor
many-handed body
On an invisible stem a single


Speak listen answer me
what the thunderclap
says, the woods


I enter by your eyes
you come forth by my mouth
You sleep in my blood
I waken in your head


I will speak to you in stone-language
(answer with a green syllable)
I will speak to you in snow-language
(answer with a fan of bees)
I will speak to you in water-language
(answer with a canoe of lightning)
I will speak to you in blood-language
(answer with a tower of birds)

         – translated by Denise Levertov


         "Trueno y viento: duración."
                                              I Ching


Negro el cielo
                      Amerilla la tierra
El gallo desgarra la noche
El agua se levanta y pregunta la hora
El viento se levanta y pregunta por ti
Pasa un caballo blanco


Como el bosque en su lecho de hojas
tú duermes en tu lecho de lluvia
tú cantas en tu lecho de viento
tú besas en tu lecho de chispas


Olor vehemencia numerosa
cuerpo de muchas manos
Sobre un tallo invisible
una sola blancura


Habla escucha respóndeme
lo que dice el trueno
lo comprende el bosque


Entro por tus ojos
sales por mi boca
Duermes en mi sangre
despierto en tu frente


Te hablaré un lenguaje de piedra
(respondes con un monosílabo verde)
Te hablaré un lenguaje de nieve
(respondes con un abanico de abejas)
Te hablaré un lenguaje de agua
(respondes con una canoa de relámpagos)
Te hablaré un lenguaje de sangre
(respondes con una torre de pájaros)

Octavio Paz, 1936

22 October 2011

César Vallejo

[from César Vallejo's Complete Poetry: A Bilingual Edition, ed./tr. Clayton Eshleman, University of California, 2007]

Distant Footsteps

      My father is asleep. His august face
expresses a peaceful heart;
he is now so sweet . . .
if there is anything bitter in him, it must be me.

      There is loneliness in the house; there is prayer;
and no news of the children today.
My father stirs, sounding
the flight into Egypt, the styptic farewell.
He is now so near;
if there is anything distant in him, it must be me.

      My mother walks in the orchard,
savoring a savor now without savor.
She is so soft,
so wing, so gone, so love.

      There is loneliness in the house with no bustle,
no news, no green, no childhood.
And if there is something broken this afternoon,
something that descends and that creaks,
it is two old white, curved roads.
Down them my heart makes its way on foot.

Los Pasos Lejanos

      Mi padre duerme. Su semblante augusto
figura un apacible corazón;
está ahora tan dulce . . .
si hay algo en él de amargo, seré yo.

      Hay soledad en el hogar; se reza;
y no hay noticias de los hijos hoy.
Mi padre se despierta, ausculta
la huida a Egipto, el restañante adiós.
Está ahora tan cerca;
si hay algo en él de lejos, seré yo.

      Y mi madre pasea allá en los huertos,
saboreando un sabor ya sin sabor.
Está ahora tan suave,
tan ala, tan salida, tan amor.

      Hay soledad en el hogar sin bulla,
sin noticias, sin verde, sin niñez.
Y si hay algo quebrado en esta tarde,
y que baja y que cruje,
son dos viejos caminos blancos, curvos.
Por ellos va mi corazón a pie.

César Vallejo

07 October 2011

Joanna Catherine Scott

[from Joanna Catherine Scott & John Lee Conaway's An Innocent in the House of the Dead, Main Street Rag, 2011]

In Which You Tell Me You Have Set Islam Aside . . .

I used to dream, you say, that one day
I would take a pilgrimage to Mecca,

but I have given Islam up,
I have taken my name off all the lists,

I no longer go to pray.
Although I pray to Allah in my heart,

I thank him for the Qur'an,
which I also have inside my heart.

Get knowledge and understanding,
it instructs me.

And so I read and read and think,
and argue with myself, and others too,

and have become a wiser person
on account of it.

Which is why I have set Islam aside.
What point is there,

I came to understand,
in fighting with an enemy

who has the upper hand?
What point in setting myself up

for persecution by the guards and wardens
because I wear the Muslim cap

and fast for Ramadan?
A man must act upon his wisdom.

So I have set aside the kufi.
I do not abase myself.

I have light within me, though.
They cannot take that away.

. . . And I Drive Home in the Rain

The fallen sky laying itself out
and laying itself out along the road

like grey-clad pilgrims
abasing themselves full-length

and rising,
and then the abasement

and the rising up again,
end-to-ending themselves

like inchworms inching their way
across grey countryside

toward the holy city,
pelted on, and blown up

into a thousand falling fragments
by lumbering grey trucks.

Gathering themselves together.
Shaking off the insult.

Rising and abasing.
Rising and abasing.

And being blessed for it.
And being blessed for it.

That glittering
spinning off the wheels.

Joanna Catherine Scott