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People overly concerned with tracking down and denouncing plagiarism have defective characters.  They are small-minded, reactionary bullies....

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Noche oscura (Atencia)

The one who squeezes the night under the sheets once again
denies me as a guest of his everyday love,
and the word--the tenuous whisper of the breath
that barely signifies--with the first lark
weaves the fragile plot of despair:
against himself debates the one who battles by himself.

The most difficult lover, whom I pursue until dawn:
in your void my poem finds its making.

D-

***

That would be a very rough version. Here's a second attempt:

He who bunches up the night in tangled sheets once again
denies me as a guest of his ordinary love,
and the word--a faint whisper of breath
signifying almost nothing--at the first lark
intertwines the fragile weave of despair:
the solitary combatant debates only against himself.

That most difficult lover, whom I chase until dawn:
in your void my poem finds its handicraft.

D

***

Still not very good, is it? Lines two, six, and seven, are very bad. The whole thing lacks any kind of satisfying rhythm. I discovered that "trama" means "weave" as a noun. It is also a plot (conspiracy) a plot (in a story). "Hechura" is the "confection" of a piece of clothing. I came up with "handicraft." I could come up with a C- version with a little more effort. It is lacking precision and musicality. It is not yet a poem. Only a few lines might survive:

and the word--a faint whisper of breath
signifying almost nothing--at the first lark
intertwines the fragile weave of despair

***

The next version would try to evoke some of the resonance some of the words have in English:

"Like to the lark at break of day arising / From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate." "Full of sound and fury / Signifying nothing." "Oh what a subtle web we weave..."


He who hoards night under the fold of the sheet once again
denies me as a guest of his habitual love,
and the word--a faint whisper of breath
signifying almost nothing--at the first lark
weaves the fragile web of despair:
he argues only with himself who combats alone.

That most difficult lover, whom I chase until break of day:
in your void my poem finds its handiwork.

D+

A good poem cannot have a hideous first line. tbc

5 comments:

Leslie said...

Is it just I who find "handiwork" and "handicraft" too 19th century or something like that?

Jonathan said...

Right. That's probably true. "En tu vacío encuentra mi poema su hechura." What does that line suggest to you? What is its feeling? If it has a contemporary, colloquial feeling then I'm sure handicraft is superannuated here. If it has a slightly old-fashioned ring to it then maybe an old-fashioned word is good.

Leslie said...

Making is what I would have said and I like it a *lot* better. I realize that if you think too much about what hechura means you can get locked into sewing terminology but for tone here, making.

Jonathan said...

I had making in my first version and maybe could have left it at that. I rejected "stitching" and "confection." What do you think of just "craft"?

Leslie said...

I thought of craft too, but like making better. Craft seems trite to me, all the Creative Writing students are going around talking about craft. I kind of like stitching, too! I had not thought of it, and was looking for a good sewing term.