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April 17th, 2008 (11:48 pm)

So earlier, thanks to inowhaveasn, I re-found a poem. Specifically, inowhaveasn had asked if I had any Spanish poems to recommend to her, and I went hunting for this one, which I wrote a paper on ages ago in high school. It's a really simple poem, but I always found it powerful in its simplicity, and though it is online as part of the Lorca Concordance, that site is the most confusing thing I've ever seen in my life. Thus I decided to recopy the poem to my LJ, so I won't lose it again. (See my nifty tags.)

And I would have posted it privately, but it is National Poetry Month... so. Y'all get the poem instead. The Spanish is the original, natch; the translation is, erm, by me. Despite the fact that I have not studied a word of Spanish since I received my high school diploma*, and despite the fact that I am a terrible poet myself, I have attempted to translate a poem by Lorca. Those of you who actually know a lick of Spanish -- or who have a better poetic sensibility than I and thus are offended at my stumbling rendition of what was once a fine poem -- please don't throw things at my head. There weren't any better translations online.

I like this poem. Happy (bitter?) April.

La balada del agua del mar
Federico García Lorca

El mar,
Sonríe a lo lejos.
Dientes de espuma,
Labios de cielo.

-¿Qué vendes, oh joven turbia,
Con los senos al aire?

-Vendo, señor, el agua
De los mares.

-¿Qué llevas, oh negro joven,
Mezclado con tu sangre?

-Llevo, señor, el agua
De los mares.

-¿Esas lágrimas salobres
De dònde vienen, madre?

-Lloro, señor, el agua
De los mares.

-Corazòn, y esta amargura
Seria, ¿de dònde nace?

- ¡Amarga mucho el agua
De los mares!

El mar,
Sonríe a lo lejos.
Dientes de espuma,
Labios de cielo.

* * *

The sea
Smiles at a distance.
Teeth of foam,
Lips of sky.

What do you sell,
oh turbid youth,
with your breasts to the wind?

I sell, sir, the water
of the seas.

What do you bear,
oh black youth,
mingled with your blood?

I bear, sir, the water
of the seas.

These salt tears --
Mother, whence do they come?

I weep, sir, the water
of the seas.

Heart, and this great bitterness,
From whence was it born?

Very bitter is the water
of the seas!

The sea
Smiles at a distance.
Teeth of foam,
Lips of sky.

*Not quite true, I suppose; I did take one course in Spanish in college. I skipped over all the learning-the-language stuff, figuring I was above all that -- I had taken AP Spanish Literature! -- and jumped straight into the Spanish-immersion course El poder y lo sagrado, in which we studied the philosophical and historical intersection of the concepts of power and the sacred, and in which we read two full-length Spanish novels a week. Or were supposed to read two full-length Spanish novels a week. I did not read two full-length Spanish novels a week. I read half of the full-length novels we were supposed to read. In translation. Harvard can rescind my degree now, I guess.


Posted by: s t a r l e t (lovefromgirl)
Posted at: April 18th, 2008 04:33 am (UTC)

You are (check all that apply)

[x] bloody brilliant

and if I get the chance, I would like to use your translation in a film I'm writing.

love from

Posted by: Doc Manhattan (docmanhattan)
Posted at: April 18th, 2008 11:33 am (UTC)

I love Lórca's dialogic poetry, especially "Arbolé, arbolé." And that's a lovely translation.

Posted by: lapetiteabeille (lapetiteabeille)
Posted at: April 19th, 2008 05:15 am (UTC)

This is my absolute favorite Spanish poem, by Pablo Neruda. There's a choral setting done by Morten Lauridsen, let me know if you'd like to hear it, it's wonderful.

Soneto de le Noche

Cuando yo muero, quiero tus manos en mis ojos
Quiero la luz y el trigo de tus manos amadas
Pasar una vez mas sobre mi su frescura
Sentir la suavidad que cambio mi destino

Quiero que vivas mientras yo, dormido, te espero
Quiero que tus oidos sigan oyendo el viento
Que huelas el aroma del mar que amamos juntos
Y que sigas pisando la arena que pisamos

Quiero que lo que amo siga vivo
Y a ti te ame y cante sobre todas las cosas
Por eso sigue tu florieciendo, florida

Para que alcances todo lo que mi amore te ordena
Para que se pasee mi sombra por tu pelo
Para que asi conozcan la razon de mi canto

Posted by: lapetiteabeille (lapetiteabeille)
Posted at: April 19th, 2008 05:17 am (UTC)

...and here's the English translation!

Sonnet of the Night

When I die, I want your hands upon my eyes:
I want the light and the wheat of your beloved hands
to pass their freshness over me one more time:
I want to feel the gentleness that changed my destiny

I want you to live while I wait for you, asleep,
I want your ears to still hear the wind,
I want your to smell the scent of the sea we both loved,
and to continue walking on the sand we walked on

I want all that I love to keep on living,
and you whom I loved and sang above all things
to keep flowering into full bloom,

so that you can touch all that my love provides you,
so that my shadow may pass over your hair,
so that all may know the reason for my song.

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