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Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

86. Ten Versions from Trilce

This is a translation from Vallejo done by Charles Tomlinson, the British poet, and Henry Gifford. I read it at one sitting, aloud, and was quite moved (San Marcos Press, 1970). It is a beautifully printed book, and lacks the Spanish original: less distracting. These poems are haunted by the maternal presence.

Here is 77:

It hails and with so much zest
as if it wanted to have me wake
and augment the pearls I gather
from the very snout of each tempest.

Let it not dry up, this rain.
Grant me this grace at least
to fall int its place now,
or that they might lay me in earth
soaked in the water
that would spout from all the fires.

How far will it reach into me, this rain?
I am afraid I shall be left with some flank dry;
I am afraid it will go away without having proved me
in the droughts of incredible vocal chords,
by which
to harmonize,
one must rise always - never descend!
(Don't we rise perhaps to go down?)

Sing, rain, along that coast that still no seas attend!

Compare Mayhew's translation here.

[UPDATE: Aug. 26: Tomlinson has died]

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