Category Archives: Poetry

Findings

Nothing was saved or spared
when they adored the sun.
Just a shadow remained
awaiting the unseen.

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Negligence

by Nellie Campobello

I went to him
the doctor
I was ill

Here inside
doctor, in my
head

Noise, lots
of noise
Sounds of musics
Vivid colours
Smiles that
I can’t repress
Joy all over
my body

They say it’s
an illness
doctor, and that’s
why I’ve come

Sadness
plenty
of sadness
he prescribed

We don’t have it
They said everywhere
laughing
and I’d say to myself
very softly:
These
are ill as well

Where can I
find it, doctor?
                I’ve got it.
I saw him so pale
almost a spectre
                No, doctor,
                mine’s better.

Nellie Campobello (1900–1986). Original title: Irresponsabilidad. Translated from Spanish by Alex A. Basilio.

arc_carbajal_01

Nellie and Gloria Campobello, circa 1932. Photo: Archivo Alberto Dallal

 

Tinker, Tailor, Boxer, Water-Carrier

“Just as breath emerges with a brighter voice from the narrow bore of a trumpet, the thought that carves its way through the rigours and the rhythms of poetry must come to surface with a livelier force and light.” Words to that effect were said by Cleanthes, who some 23 centuries ago was a boxer, philosopher, and water-carrier.

Poems by Juan Ramón Jiménez and Edward Elgar

At some point in the year 2000, by the end of my first year at university, I started to cultivate something of an obsession with the life and work of the late-romantic British composer Edward Elgar. However catchy and brilliantly orchestrated the Pomp & Circumstance marches were, what ignited my interest in Elgar’s music was what I saw as a very personal contrast between a surface of studied sobriety (or pomposity) alternating with really striking episodes, sometimes very humorous, sometimes very moving. After a first hearing of Pierre Monteux’s recording of the Enigma Variations, I believed I had encountered in Elgar a musical mind whose mysteries were worth devoting oneself to.

An example of Elgar at his most mysterious is found in the choral song Owls, an Epitaph, set on a poem written by Elgar himself and dedicated to Pietro d’Alba –his daughter’s pet rabbit– a work which both in text and music represents perhaps the most obvious case of Elgar working at several removes from the ceremonial style of Pomp & Circumstance.

A couple of years after discovering Owls I came across a poem by Juan Ramón Jiménez which struck me as being remarkably similar in many ways to Elgar’s text. The poem by Juan Ramón had been published in 1904, and Elgar’s song in 1908; however, there isn’t anything in the biographies of Elgar that I’ve read to suggest that he would have known the work of the Spanish poet. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always thought there are some haunting parallels between these two entirely unrelated texts. So here I present them, Juan Ramón’s poem given in my own English translation (the original is included in the appendix at the end of this post), followed by Elgar’s. Continue reading

Noises

by Renato Leduc

Noises from the street. The window trembles,
like a window trembles, as it often does.
I, a part-time poet, wonder
“à moi même,”
could it be Death’s calling? or perhaps be Love’s…
But the window, trembling, quite plainly provided
the terrible truth:
                                         Sir, it was a bus…

Renato Leduc (1897–1986). Fragment of Ruidos. Translated from Spanish by Alex Adame Basilio

20Nov1948

Avenida 20 de Noviembre, with the Metropolitan Cathedral in the background, Mexico City (1948)