Dos poemas para Yom Kipur / Two poems for Yom Kippur: Jane Kenyon, Mary Oliver + תשובה

Este año, Yom Kipur – la conmemoración del Día de la Expiación y del Perdón – cae en el 25 y 26 de septiembre.  Estos dos poemas, eligidos por la Rabina Rachel Barenblat, se tratan – elipticamente, oblicuamente – del sujeto de Teshuvá.   Teshuvá (en hebreo תשובה) es la práctica de volver a las raíces de la fe.  Incluye el esfuerzo del individuo hacia un sentido de arrepentirse de los pecados propios de una forma significativa y sincera…

*

This year Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement and Forgiveness – begins at sunset on September 25th and continues through the 26th.  The two poems featured here – chosen by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat – are about Teshuvah, although indirectly, elliptically so.  Teshuvah involves a “return” to the roots of the faith, and includes each individual’s effort to feel repentant, genuinely sorry for, the wrongs he or she has done to another.  When there is deep, meaningful sincerity to this spiritual process it is often reciprocated through forgiveness by the one who was wronged…

 

.

 

Jane Kenyon (1947-1995)

“Sola por una semana”

.

Hice una lavada de ropa

y la colgué para secar.

Subí al pueblo después fui al centro

y me entretuve todo el día.

La manga de tu camisa más fina

ascendió solemnemente

cuando llegaba en el carro

nuestras ropas de dormir

se enlazaron y desenlazaron

en una pequeña ráfaga de viento.

Para mí se estuvo haciendo tarde; estaba

para ti, donde estabas – no.

La luna de otoño estaba llena

pero las nubes escasas hacían su luz

no exactamente fidedigna.

La cama en tu lado parecía

ancha y llana como Kansas;

tu almohada estaba rellena, fresca, alegórica…

 

*

 

Jane Kenyon (1947-1995)

“Alone for a week”

.

I washed a load of clothes

and hung them out to dry.

Then I went up to town

and busied myself all day.

The sleeve of your best shirt

rose ceremonious

when I drove in; our night-

clothes twined and untwined in

a little gust of wind.

For me it was getting late;

for you, where you were, not.

The harvest moon was full

but sparse clouds made its light

not quite reliable.

The bed on your side seemed

as wide and flat as Kansas;

your pillow plump, cool,

and allegorical…

 

_____

 

Mary Oliver (nace 1935)

“El Viaje”

.

Por fin un día supiste

lo que tenías que hacer, y empezaste,

aunque las voces alrededor de ti

siguieron gritando

su mal consejo – aunque toda la casa

comenzó a temblar

y sentiste el jalón familiar

a tus tobillos.

“¡Arregla mi vida!”

gritó cada voz.

Pero no te detuvistes.

Supiste lo que tenías que hacer

aunque los dedos rígidos del viento

curiosearon aún en los fundamentos

aunque era terrible su melancolía.

Ya estaba bastante tarde

y una noche furiosa,

y el camino lleno de ramas y piedras caídas.

Pero, poco a poco,

como dejaste atrás sus voces,

las estrellas comenzaron a quemar

por las capas de nubes,

y había una fresca voz

que reconociste lentamente,

que te acompañaba

mientras que cruzaste a grandes zancadas

más y más en lo más hondo del mundo,

estando decidido a

hacer la sola cosa que podías hacer –

estando empeñado a salvar

la única vida que podías salvar.

 

*

 

Mary Oliver (born 1935)

“The Journey”

.

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice—

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do—

determined to save

the only life you could save…

 

.     .     .     .     .

Traducción del inglés al español  /  Translation from English into Spanish:

Alexander Best,  Lidia García Garay


“Yancuic Xochicuicatl”: Poemas náhuatl para celebrar el Día de la Independencia – ¡Vivan las lenguas indígenas mexicanas, hoy y siempre! / Poems to celebrate México on Independence Day – Long live Her Indigenous Languages, Today and Always!

 

Natalio Hernández (nace 1947, Naranjo Dulce, Veracruz)

Selecciones del poemario Semanca Huitzlin

/ Colibrí de la Harmonía

/ Hummingbird of Harmony (2005)

 

.

 

“Yancuic Xochicuicatl”

 

Huetzis atl

huetzis atl

tiyolpaqui

huetzis atl,

tiyolpaqui

huetzis atl.

.

Huala atl

huala atl

tepetzala

huala atl,

tepetzala

huala atl.

.

Cuali atl

cuali atl

yatihnequi

cuali atl,

yatihnequi

cuali atl

.

Xochi atl

xochi atl

huetztihuala

.

xochi atl,

huetztihuala

xochi atl.

.

Huetzis atl

huetzis atl

tiyolpaqui

huetzis atl,

tiyolpaqui

huetzis atl.

.

“Yancuic Xochicuicatl”:  Traducción en inglés / translation into English:  Donald Frischmann

.

 

“New Flowers, New Songs”

 

It will rain

It will rain

we are happy

it will rain

we are happy

it will rain.

.

Rain is coming

rain is coming

o’er the hills

rain is coming

o’er the hills

rain is coming.

.

Good pure water

good pure water

we now wish for

good pure water

we now wish for

good pure water.

.

Flowered water

flowered water

is now falling

flowered water

is now falling

flowered water.

.

It will rain

it will rain

we are happy

it will rain

we are happy

it will rain.

Note:  the words Flower + Song together in Náhuatl mean “Poetry”.

The phrase in Náhuatl is:   ” in xochitl in cuicatl “

.

 

“Yancuic icuic Monteso Xocoyotzin”

 

Ximosehui tetahtzin

ximoyolsehui

xihcahua cuesoli

amo ximotequipacho;

nican tlachixtoque:

moconehua

mopilhuan

motlacamecayo,

ipan Mexihco totlalnantzin

nican titlachixtoque.

.

Xihuicahuitl panoc

panoc xopanatl;

ehecatl quihuicac cuesoli

quisehui choquilistli

quipahti totlacayo

quitlalochti mahmahtli.

Yancuic tonati

tech tlahuiltihuala.

.

Ximosehui tetahtzin

ximoyoltlali

amo nempolihuis in altepetl

chamanis totlahtol.

Nochipa manis in ixtli,

in yolohtli

in tlacamecayotl,

in xicnelhuayotl.

 

 

“Canto Nuevo a Moctezuma Xocoyotzin”

 

Reposa venerable viejo

apacigua tu corazón

abandona la tristeza

ya no te aflijas;

aquí permanecemos:

tus hijos

tus príncipes

tu linaje,

en la nación mexicana

aquí permanecemos.

.

Han pasado los años

la tempestad ya pasó;

El viento recogió nuestra tristeza

secó nuestras lágrimas

restauró nuestras heridas

ahuyentó el miedo.

Un nuevo sol

ya nos alumbra.

.

Reposa venerable viejo

tranquiliza tu corazón;

permanecerá el pueblo

renacerá la palabra.

No perecerá el rostro,

el corazón,

el linaje,

la raíz antigua.

 

.     .     .     .     .

 

“El Ritmo del Tiempo”

 

Todo a su debido tiempo…ni antes ni después.

Al año reverdece el campo.

El sol brota en el horizonte cuando la noche recoge su manto.

El hombre madura cuando el otoño llega y los árboles pierden sus hojas…

ni antes ni después.

El colibrí / huitzilin, inverna seis meses al año

y despierta cuando llega Xopantla / la primavera.

Ocurre lo mismo con el amor:  llega con el tiempo…ni antes ni después.

 

.

 

“The Rhythm of Time”

 

In due course everything has its time…not before, not after.

The countryside greens up during the passage of the year.

The sun sprouts from the horizon when night gathers up its cloak.

Man matures when autumn comes and the trees lose their leaves

…not any sooner than that, not any later.

Hummingbird / Huitzilin* winters away for half the year

and awakes when Xopantla** / Spring arrives.

The same occurs with Love:

It comes with time…neither too soon, nor too late.

 

.

*Huitzilin  –  Náhuatl word for hummingbird

**Xopantla  –  Náhuatl word for spring

.

“El Ritmo del Tiempo”:  Traducción del español al inglés:   Alexander Best

“The Rhythm of Time”:  Translation from Spanish into English:   Alexander Best


Poemas náhuatl para celebrar el Día de la Independencia mexicana: “dos flores” de Juan Hernández Ramírez

 

Juan Hernández Ramírez

(nace 1951, Colatlán, Veracruz)

Dos poemas del poemario Chikome xochitl / Siete-flor

 

“Miauaxochitl”

 

I

Ipan ueyatl axiuitik sintli

Makuilxochitl kipatlaua imamal.

Kueponi miauatl.

Xali xochitl tiokuitlatik.

In ajuechkali

moxochitlakentijtok.

San eltok kuikatl tlatsotsontli.

II

Tlilelemeka tonatij itsonkal

ipan sintli itlakayo.

Moxochiotlaltok Xilonen.

Pankistok siltik tlilelemektli.

Tlixochitl

toselik nakayo.

Ketsalxochimej kali.

III

Chichiltik, yayauik, chipauak, kostik

ikuetlaxo itlapoyauilis.

Tien sintli tlayoli.

Ika xochitl mokuachijchijtok Senteotl.

Kuika miauatototl.

In chalchiuitl uitsitsilij,

ika xochitl moiuintia.

IV

Kostik xochitl tlaixpaj.

Kantelaj tlauili.  Kopalij ipokyo.

Tokistli tiochiualistli.

Tlali, se uinoj tlatsikuintli,

inik tlakatl seyok.

Xochimej, inik matlaeli.

Tlapojtok tlali, tlaoli kiselia.

V

Ipan youali tlakoyoyan kochki,

ajuechtli kiauitl issa.

Sintoktli.

Ipan kalejekatl yoltok.

Ipan tlauiltlalpan moskaltia,

xochiketsal ikuaxanko.

Xoxoktik xiuitl papalotl.

VI

Ketsaltototl kitlalana ipatlanil,

uiuipika sintli ixouiyo.

Ipan xoxouik xopantla tlali

tlen tlauili kuauitl moskaltia.

Kuikaya Xochitototl.

Tlapouij xiuimej

ipan yolistli.

VII

Ipan tonatij ichaj yoltok.

Tlen yolistli tiokuitlatl yoltok,

kostik sintlayoli.

Xoxoktik mestli xiuimej

itsajla tiotlatik tlauili uiuipikaj.

Tsaktok xochikoskatl.

Patlantok uitsitsilij.

 

 

“Espiga de maíz”

 

I

Sobre el verde mar del maíz

Su manto extiende Macuilxóchitl.

Brota la espiga.

Dorada flor de arena.

La casa del rocío

está vestida de flores.

Prevalece la música y el canto.

II

Arde la cabellera del sol

sobre el cuerpo del maíz.

Xilonen ha florecido.

La fina llama ha brotado.

Flor de fuego

nuestra tierna carne.

Casa de preciosas flores.

III

Amarillo, blanco, negro, rojo,

los matices de su piel.

El grano de maíz.

Centeotl, de flores está adornado.

Canta el pájaro espiga.

El colibrí de jade

se embriaga con las flores.

IV

Altar de flores amarillas.

Luz de velas.  Humo de copal.

Rito de la siembra.

Un trago de aguardiente a la tierra,

otro para el hombre.

Para la abundancia, flores.

La tierra abierta, recibe la semilla.

V

Ha dormido en el lugar de la noche,

despierta bajo la lluvia del rocío.

La mata de maíz.

Vive en la casa de los vientos.

Crece en la tierra de luz,

regazo de Xochiquetzal.

Mariposa de hojas verdes.

VI

Alza su vuelo el quetzal,

La hoja del maíz se estremece.

En la tierra verde-primavera

Crece el árbol de la luz.

Ya canta el pájaro flor.

Las hojas se abren

A la vida.

VII

Vive en la casa del sol.

El oro vivo de la vida,

dorada semilla de maíz.

Las hojas verde-luna

tiemblan bajo la luz atardecida.

Se ha cerrado el collar de flores.

El colibrí ha volado.

 

.     .     .     .     .

 

“Sempoalxochitl”

 

I

Kokitl itlauil

ipan yayauik ejekatl.

In kostik xochitl.

Ipan ejekatl tiokuitlaxochipetlatl

tlen tlali iijtiko pamitl.

Tlauili iuan tsintlayouali,

Sempoalxochitl.

II

Ika kostik xochitl

kisusua kauitl Xiutekojtli.

Tlixochimej.

Sesentsitsij xochimej moilpiaj

ketsalijuitl kiijitiyouij

kalmiktlampa inik ojtli.

Xochikoskatl.

III

Ipan kostik tlailpili

Tlen ikuaixuak tlajtsoyoj,

Moketstok kauitl.

In mijkatsij xochimej,

tiopantlauili kitemouaj

ipan youalkali.

In tlanestli sitlalij, inik tonali.

IV

Tiitstokeya nikanij,

¿Kanji tonejnemil techuikas?

¿ueslis ipan tonatij iojui?

Tiitstokeya nikanij.

Kostik xochimej tijtlachiliaj

iijuiyo tonatitototl tikitaj.

¿Temiktli in yolistli?

V

Nejnemi Tlitekojtli

ika miktokej yaotlakamej

ika siuamej miktokej ipan mixiuili.

Sempoalxochitl xochimej

tlapalmej totomej,

konemej, siuamej iuan tlakamej.

Tonatij iixpaj iichaj.

VI

Ika totomej ejekatl iniuaya

kuikatl iuan ajuechtli kimoyauaj.

Atl ikechkuayo.

Ipan yeuatsinko kuikaj texiuitik totomej,

tlen youaltotomej in tiotlak.

Tlauili iuan tsintlayouali.

Mikilistli iuan yolistli.

VII

Tiitstokejya nikanij

ika chichiltik xochitl titlakajtokej

ika kostik xochitl tikisteuasej.

In xiutototl techtlauilia

tlen mitlampa ojtli.

Ipan ojtli eltlapaltipaj tiyajtiasej

ika xochimej paxalouanij.

 

.

 

“Flor de Muerto”

 

I

Luz de luciérnaga

en el viento negro.

La flor amarilla.

Pétalos de oro al viento

dentro del surco de la tierra.

Oscuridad y luz,

Sepoalxóchitl.

II

Con flores amarillas

Xiutecojtli engarza el tiempo.

Flores de fuego.

Una a una se anudan las flores

tejiendo el fino plumaje

para el camino a casa de la muerte.

Collar de flores.

III

En el nudo amarillo

bordado en la frente,

se ha detenido el tiempo.

Las flores de la muerte,

buscan el temple de la luz

en la casa de la noche.

Para el espíritu, la estrella del alba.

IV

Ya estamos aquí,

¿dónde nuestros pasos nos llevarán?

¿acaso por los caminos del sol?

Ya estamos aquí.

Contemplamos las flores amarillas,

miramos el plumaje del pájaro sol.

¿Es la vida sueño?

V

El Señor del fuego camina

con los guerreros muertos,

con las mujeres el el parto muertas.

Son flores de cempoalxóchitl

las aves de colores,

los niños, mujeres y hombres.

Su hogar de cara al sol.

VI

El viento aliado con los pájaros,

esparcen el canto y el rocío.

La garganta es de agua.

Cantan pájaros azules en la aurora,

la tarde es de las nocturnas aves.

Luz y oscuridad.

Muerte y vida.

VII

Ya estamos aquí

con flores rojas hemos nacido,

con flores amarillas hemos de partir.

El pájaro solar “xiutototl” nos alumbra

camino a la morada de los muertos.

Nos hemos de ir en alas por la senda,

con las viajeras flores.

.     .     .     .     .

“Chikome xochitl” / Siete-flor, alude al maíz que, junto con semillas del chile-tomate-algodón-amaranto-ajonjolí

– y de la calabaza — constituyen el símbolo náhuatl de las siete flores.

.     .     .     .     .

 

“Ear of Corn”

 

I

On the green sea of corn

Macuixóchitl extends his mantle.

The ear of corn ear comes out.

Golden flower of sand

The dew’s home

is dressed with flowers.

Music and song abound.

II

The sun’s radiance

on the corn’s body.

Xilonen has blossomed.

The fine flame has sprouted

Fire flower

our tender flesh.

House of precious flowers.

III

Yellow, white, black, red.

nuances of the skin.

The corn grains.

Centeotl, adorned with flowers.

The corn-ear bird sings.

the jade hummingbird

gets drunk with the flowers.

IV

Altar of yellow flowers.

Candlelight. Smoke of “copal”.

Sowing rites.

A drink of liquor for the land,

another one for man.

For abundance, flowers.

The open earth receives the seed.

V

It has slept in the night’s home,

wakes up under the dew’s rain

- the corn plant.

Lives in the house of winds.

Grows in the land of light,

Xochiquetzal’s lap.

Green-leafed butterfly.

VI

The “quetzal” takes flight

the maize leaf trembles.

In the land of green-spring.

The tree of light grows.

The flower-bird sings.

The leaves open up.

To Life.

VII

Lives in the house of the sun.

The living gold of life

- golden seed of corn.

With green-moon leaves

a-hiver under the evening light.

The flower necklace is closed.

The hummingbird has flown….

 

 

“The Flower of The Dead”

 

I

Glow-worm light

in the black wind.

Yellow flower.

Free-standing petals of gold.

Inside the ground’s furrow.

Darkness and light,

Sempoalxóchitl.

II

With yellow flowers

Xiutecojtli catches time.

Flowers of fire.

The flowers come together, one by one

knitting fine plumage

on the road to the house of death.

Flower necklace.

III

In the yellow knot

embroidered on the forehead,

time has stopped.

The flowers of death.

Seeking the temple of light

in the house of night.

For the spirit, the star of dawn.

IV

We’re here,

Where will our steps lead us?

Maybe to the paths of the sun?

We’re here.

Gazing at the yellow flowers,

Looking at the sun-bird’s plumage.

Is Life a dream?

V

The Lord of fire walks

with the dead warriors,

with the women who died in labour.

The “cempoalxóchitl” flowers

are birds in all colours.

Children, women and men.

Their home facing the sun.

VI

The wind and the birds together,

scatter song and dew.

Their throats – made of water.

The blue birds sing at daybreak,

and evening belongs to the night birds.

Light – Darkness,

Death and Life.

VII

We’re here

we were born with red flowers,

with yellow flowers we will leave.

The solar bird “xiutototl” shines on us.

On the way to the home of the dead.

And we must fly on that path

- with the travelling flowers.

 

.

Traducción del español al inglés / Translation from Spanish into English:

Lidia García Garay


Poemas para el Día de la Independencia: perspectivas frescas sobre Malinalli / Doña Marina / Malintzin / La Malinche – de los poetas Rosario Castellanos y Claribel Alegría

 

Rosario Castellanos (1925-1974, México)

“La Malinche”

 

Desde el sillón del mando mi madre dijo: “Ha muerto”.

.

Ya se dejó caer, como abatida,

en los brazos del otro, usurpador, padrastro

que la sostuvo no con el respeto

que el siervo da a la majestad de reina

sino con ese abajamiento mutuo

en que se humillan ambos, los amantes, los cómplices.

.

Desde la Plaza de los Intercambios

mi madre anunció: “Ha muerto”.

.

La balanza

se sostuvo un instante sin moverse

y el grano de cacao quedó quieto en el arca

y el sol permanecía en la mitad del cielo

como aguardando un signo

que fue, cuando partió como una flecha,

el ay agudo de las plañideras.

.

“Se deshojó la flor de muchos pétalos,

se evaporó el perfume,

se consumió la llama de la antorcha.

.

Una niña regresa, escarbando, al lugar

en el que la partera depositó su ombligo.

.

Regresa al Sitio de los que Vivieron.

.

Reconoce a su padre asesinado,

ay, ay, ay, con veneno, con puñal,

con trampa ante sus pies, con lazo de horca.

.

Se toman de la mano y caminan, caminan

perdiéndose en la niebla.”

.

Tal era el llanto y las lamentaciones

sobre algún cuerpo anónimo; un cadáver

que no era el mío porque yo, vendida

a mercaderes, iba como esclava,

como nadie, al destierro.

.

Arrojada, expulsada

del reino, del palacio y de la entraña tibia

de la que me dio a luz en tálamo legítimo

y que me aborreció porque yo era su igual

en figura y rango

y se contempló en mí y odió su imagen

y destrozó el espejo contra el suelo.

.

Yo avanzo hacia el destino entre cadenas

y dejo atrás lo que todavía escucho:

los fúnebres rumores con los que se me entierra.

.

Y la voz de mi madre con lágrimas ¡con lágrimas!

que decreta mi muerte.

 

.     .     .

El poema “La Malinche” – del poemario Poesía no eres tú (1972) – es uno de varios textos de Castellanos que revisa y reinterpreta figuras famosas femeninas.

.     .     .

 

Rosario Castellanos (1925-1974, México)

“La Malinche”

 

From her royal throne my mother announced: “She is dead”.

.

And then she collapsed, humbled,

in the arms of the other, the usurper, my stepfather

who sustained her not with the respect

a servant owes to the majesty of a queen

but with the mutual submissiveness

with which lovers, accomplices, abase themselves.

.

From the Plaza de los Intercambios

my mother announced: “She is dead.”

.

The scale

remained immobile for an instant

the cacao bean reposed quietly in its chest

the sun stood still in the sky’s zenith

as if awaiting a sign

which was, when it shot out like an arrow,

the penetrating cry of the mourners.

.

“The many-petaled flower has withered

the perfume has evaporated

the torch’s flame extinguished.

.

A girl returns, scratching at

the spot where the midwife left her navel.

.

She returns to the Place of Those who have Lived.

.

She beholds her father, murdered,

ay, ay, ay, with poison, with a dagger,

with a trap set before his feet, with a hangman’s noose.

.

Taken by the hand, she and they walk, they walk,

losing themselves in the fog.”

.

Such was the weeping and lamentation

over an anonymous corpse; a cadaver

that was not mine, because I, sold to

the merchants, went forth to exile like a slave,

a pariah.

.

Expelled, cast out from

the kingdom, from the palace and warmth

of her who gave honest birth to me

and who despised me because I was her equal

in figure and rank

she who saw herself in me and hated her image

and dashed the mirror to the ground.

.

I go, in chains, toward my destiny

and am followed still by the sounds

of the mournful chants with which they bury me.

.

And the voice of my mother in tears – in tears! -

that decries my death.

 

 

Translation from Spanish into English:  © Julian Palley, 1988

_____

 

Claribel Alegría (nace 1924, Nicaragua/El Salvador)

“La Malinche”

 

Estoy aquí

en el banquillo de los acusados

dicen que soy traidora

¿a quién he traicionado?

era una niña aún

cuando mi padre

es decir

mi padrastro

temiendo que su hijo

no heredara las tierras

que a mí correspondían

me condujo hacia el sur

y me entregó a extraños

que no hablaban mi lengua.

Terminé de crecer en esa tribu

les servía de esclava

y llegaron los blancos

y me entregaron a los blancos.

¿Qué significa para ustedes

la palabra traición?

¿Acaso no fui yo la traicionada?

¿Quién de los míos vino a mi defensa

cuando el primer blanco me violó

cuando fui obligada

a besar su falo

de rodillas

cuando sentí mi cuerpo desgarrarse

y junto a él mi alma?

Fidelidad me exigen

ni siquiera conmigo

he podido ser fiel.

Antes de florecer

se me secó el amor

es un niño en mi vientre

que nunca vio la luz

¿Qué traicioné a mi patria?

Mi patria son los míos

y me entregaron ellos.

¿A quién rendirle cuentas?

¿A quién?

decidme

¿a quién?

 

.

 

Claribel Alegría (born 1924, Nicaragua/El Salvador)

“La Malinche”

 

Here I am

In “the dock”…

They say I’m a traitor,

Who have I betrayed?

I was just a little girl

When my father

(that is, my stepfather)

Fearing that his son

Would not inherit his lands

– lands to which I was entitled –

led me away to the south

And handed me over to strangers

Who didn’t speak my language.

I stopped growing in that tribe,

I served as slave.

And white people arrived

And I was handed over to them.

What does the word betrayal mean to all of you?

Wasn’t I the betrayed one?

Who of my people came to my defence

When the first white man violated me,

When I was made to kiss his phallus,

Down on my knees,

When I felt my body torn

And my soul right next to him?

Loyalty you demand of me

When I have not even been able to be true to myself.

Before blooming

I was already dessicated by Love.

There’s a child in my womb

who never saw the light.

In what way did I betray my homeland?

My country is my people

– and they abandoned me.

Who will account for that?

Who?

All of you, tell me – who?

 

 

Alegría translation from Spanish into English:   Alexander Best

_____

La Malinche – born Malinalli, of Nahua parentage, in 1496 – was sold as a teenager by her mother and step-father to slave-traders – from whom she learned the Mayan language.  She ended up as one of many “gifts” to recently-arrived “conquistador” Hernán Cortés, in 1519.  She proved invaluable to him;  her knowledge of both Náhuatl (the language of the Aztecs’ Empire) and of the neighbouring Maya meant that she could interpret for Cortés in his dealings with officials of both Peoples, thereby gaining the upper hand for Spain.  Her fluency in Spanish soon followed, and in 1522, Doña Marina (her Christian baptism name, with the word “Lady” (Doña) before it) or Malintzin (as she was called respectfully by the Nahuas) bore a son by Cortés.  His name was Martín, and he is said to symbolize the first true Mexican, being “mestizo” (“mixed race” of white/amerindian).  Historians are in disagreement over the date of Malintzin’s death – 1529 or 1551.  At any rate, Cortés was an ambitious and greedy man-in-a-hurry and he did not remain with Malintzin;  yet she had been supremely useful to him – and to “el Imperio español”/The Spanish Empire, which was then in its initial surges of power.

Like The Virgin of Guadalupe La Malinche is a cultural icon in México – but unlike “Our Lady” she is also viewed negatively.

While she is seen as the “womb” of Mestizaje – the on-going union of different races and cultures – she is also, unfairly many contemporary scholars believe –  a symbol of the “betrayal” of Indigenous Peoples – the Mexicas, the Tlaxcalans, the Totonacs, the Chichimecas – the lot.

The flashpoint is her multilinguality:  ¡Traductora, traidora!  Translator — Traitor!

This is a great deal for one woman to bear.  And poets Rosario Castellanos and Claribel Alegría understand such a fact – so they have allowed Malintzin to “speak” in our era instead of only “interpreting” for others in centuries past…


Poemas de América Central de las décadas de los 70 y 80, poemas para ayudarnos a recordar, poemas que nos hagan pensar… / Poems for the sake of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua – poems to help us remember – poems to make us think…

 

En este día – el 15 de septiembre…Poemas de América Central de las décadas de los 70 y 80 – tiempos de guerra civil, de lucha popular, de revolución…

Poems we post this 15th of September 2012 for the sake of Independence Days in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua – poems from the 1970s and 1980s, decades of civil war, The People’s struggle, revolution…

.

Lil Milagro Ramírez (El Salvador)

“Despertar”

 

Yo era mansa y pacífica

Era una flor,

Pero la mansedumbre no es un muro

Que cubre la miseria.

Y vi las injusticias

Y ante los ojos asombrados,

Estallaron las huelgas y las rebeldías

Del hombre proletario.

.

Y en vez de absurdas lástimas,

De hipocresías compasivas,

Brotó mi indignación

Y me sentí fraternalmente unida a mis hermanos,

Y toda huelga me dolía,

Y cada grito me golpeaba

No sólo en la cabeza o los oídos

Sino en el corazón.

Cayó mi blanca mansedumbre,

Muerta a los pies del hambre,

Me desnude llorando de sus velas

Y un nuevo traje me ciñó las carnes.

Primavera de lucha son ahora mis brazos,

Mi enrojecida sangre es de protesta,

Mi cuerpo es verde olivo

Y un incendiario fuego me consume

…y sin embargo,

Sigo siendo como antes,

Amante de la paz,

Quiero luchar por ella desesperadamente,

Porque desde el principio

Yo soñé con la paz.

 

.

 

“Awakening”

 

I was gentle and peaceful,

A flower.

But gentleness isn’t a wall

That hides misery –

And I saw injustice,

And strikes and rebellions

By ordinary people

Exploded before my astonished eyes.

.

And instead of absurd pity

And sympathetic hypocrisy

My indignation burst forth

And I felt myself united with my sisters and brothers,

And every strike hurt me,

And every cry struck me

Not only in my head or ears

But in my heart.

My white gentleness fell,

Dead at the feet of hunger,

I undressed myself, weeping at its veils

And new clothing clung to my flesh.

My arms now in the springtime of struggle,

My red-hot blood protesting,

My body olive-green,

An incendiary passion consumes me

… and nevertheless

I keep feeling as before,

A lover of Peace,

I want to fight for it – desperately –

Because from the beginning

I have dreamt of Peace.

 

.

 

José Luis Villatoro  (Guatemala)

“Elegía por el Joven Cadáver”

 

¿De quién es este joven

Cadáver que nos mira?

.

La calle tuvo antenas asesinas.

.

Sobre limpias baldosas

Su nombre perforaron,

Agujerearon su risa sospechosa.

.

Alguien anduvo cerca de sus labios

Y le hizo pedazos de sangre la palabra.

.

Amor, ¿como explicarte éste cadáver

Sin lastimar el fruto de tu vientre?

Será llegar sin cauce hasta el océano

Y llorar en la isla que le duele.

.

Hay un cadáver nuevo y vehemente

Con los ojos abiertos para siempre.

.

Amor, ¿como explicarte la mañana

Si apenas la tocamos con los dedos?

 

.

 

“Elegy for the Young Corpse”

 

Who is this young corpse

That looks at us?

.

The street had murderous antennae.

.

On clean cobblestones

They perforated his name,

They pierced his suspicious laugh.

.

Someone went near his lips

And turned his word into bloody pieces.

.

My love, how do I explain this corpse to you

Without wounding the fruit of your womb?

It will arrive at the ocean, rampant,

And weep on the island of its pain.

.

It’s a new and passionate corpse

With its eyes open forever.

.

My love, how do I explain the morning to you,

If we barely touch it with our fingers?

 

.

 

Roberto Sosa (Honduras)

“Dibujo a pulso”

 

A como dé lugar pudren al hombre en vida,

Le dibujan a pulso

Las amplias palideces de los asesinados

Y le encierran en el infinito.

.

Por eso

He decidido dulcemente

Mortalmente

Construir

Con todas mis canciones

Un puente interminable hacia la dignidad,

para que pasen,

Uno por uno,

Los hombres himillados de la Tierra.

 

.

 

“Freehand Sketch”

 

They use everything they’ve got to putrify a man alive,

Sketch in a flash

The ample pallor of the murdered

And lock him up in infinity.

.

And so,

Sweetly

Fatally

I have decided to construct

With all my songs

An endless bridge to dignity

So that,

One by one,

The humiliated of the Earth may pass.

 

.

 

Daisy Zamora (Nicaragua)

“Cuando regresemos”

 

Cuando regresemos a nuestra antigua tierra

Que nunca conocimos

Y platiquemos de todas esas cosas

Que nunca han sucedido

.

Caminaremos llevando de la mano niños

Que nunca han existido

.

Escucharemos sus voces y viviremos

Esa vida de la que tanto hablamos

Y nunca hemos vivido.

 

.

 

“When we return”

 

When we return to our ancient land

That we never knew

And we talk of all those things

That never happened

.

We will walk holding children by the hand

Who have never existed

.

We’ll listen to their voices and

Live that life we spoke of so often

And have never lived.

.     .     .     .     .

Traducciones del español al inglés / Translations from Spanish into English:

Barbara Paschke, Tony Ryan, David Volpendesta, Magaly Fernández


Five Poets from Trinidad and Tobago – with an introduction by Andre Bagoo

Five poets from Trinidad and Tobago

THE WORLD meets in Trinidad and Tobago.  Here is a Caribbean country open to the possibilities of permeable boundaries, enriched by cultural diversity and charged with the energy needed to drive a special art.

Today, as the former British colony marks its 50th anniversary as an independent nation, we take a look at the work of five contemporary Trinidad-born poets in a series of posts which you will see below.

Most of these poets live in Trinidad, others divide their time between Trinidad and homes in the United Kingdom or the United States.  All share a remarkable vantage point;  all have been influenced by a rich Caribbean literary tradition which predates independence.  Here are travellers: between time, space, dimensions, selves, journeying to and from Shakespeare’s undiscovered country.  They create richly-coloured gems, sparkling like the light bouncing off the floor of a cold, golden sea, and sharp as a diamond blade.

The first post features Mervyn Taylor, the Trinidad-born poet who also lives in New York.  His poem ‘The Mentor’ – which features the persona of a poet “dancing his / mischievous meaning, / tieless, sparkling with / metaphor” – seeks reason but finds the crackling of bones. The poem is an audacious distillation of the challenges facing Trinidad, which may also reflect the challenges of the poet and the individual seeking freedom.

Then, as Queen Elizabeth celebrates her Jubilee year, the Oxford-based poet Vahni Capildeo takes us to London’s Hyde Park only to make us discover that we have never left the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, “Opalescent, Crystalline, Amethyst. And Dark”.  By the time she is done with us we are unsure what ground we walk on and feel walking on water to be a natural state.

In another post we feature the quietly disquieting work of Danielle Boodoo-Fortune, a poet and artist who lives in Sangre Grande, a town in the north-east of Trinidad.

There are also posts by Colin Robinson, whose poetry shows us the sublime in unexpected places, and Nicholas Laughlin, the editor behind the Caribbean Review of Books, whose own work is a tour de force of mood, sound and language – dissecting ideas of alienation like an anthropologist might but with unexpected lyricism.  Both are poets living in Diego Martin, the suburb nestled in the cool mountains of northwest Trinidad which was only this month ravaged by flood.

These poems are not intended as any sort of programmatic depiction of anything.  They are grouped here to speak, whether in harmony or dissonance, of feelings, ideas and impressions.  They are an unauthorised biography which the subject might secretly relish.

Each post is accompanied by an image from the Trinidadian graphic artist Rodell Warner (rodellwarner.com) who manages to capture a mood and tone that say things about the work, but also about Trinidad and Tobago and its vitality.

Andre Bagoo

 

.

ABOUT TODAY’S GUEST EDITOR

Andre Bagoo is a poet and journalist from Trinidad. His first book of poems, Trick Vessels, was published by Shearsman Books (UK) in March 2012. His poetry has appeared in Boston Review, Caribbean Review of Books, The Caribbean Writer, tongues of the ocean and elsewhere. One of his poems, ‘Carnival Monday in Trinidad’, was featured at Zócalo Poets earlier this year.  He is Zócalo Poets’ guest editor today, the 50th anniversary of Trinidad and Tobago Independence.


Mervyn Taylor: The Mentor

Mervyn Taylor

The Mentor

 

I.

In this dream there were

cows in every field,

breaths rising to create

clouds floating above

an island so green,

it seemed made of gases.

And out of this arose the

poet, in a grey suit,

as spry as I’ve ever

seen him, dancing his

mischievous meaning,

tieless, sparkling with

metaphor, asking his trick

question- are you going

with me, are we going

to look for reasons?

In this place I answered,

no one should ever starve,

or complain about things

other than an open gate

through which a stray might

wander lost and unmarked,

ending in dispute settled now

in such devious ways.

 

II.

 

You might remember Lena.

In the dream she too

was present, wearing

a hat like a teakettle cover,

remarking those boys who

now live where she grew up,

tattoos marking their bodies,

and a young girl hosting

a perfume sale every Friday,

advertised under

a Digicel sign and one

for computer repairs.

It is rumored this is the

house a mental outpatient

was looking for, when he

smashed the gate

at a wrong address,

took a wheelbarrow handle

and beat a bedridden

90 yr. old to death, those

who harbored the fugitive

he was seeking crouching

next door, saying

not a word, their weapons

like marshmallows in their

pockets, hands over their

ears, blocking the sound of

breaking bones, and screams.

 

III.

 

Cows crop the grass,

brown and white backs

seen from above, the land

in undulating waves below.

Out of the few houses,

people in black follow

funerals, fathers refusing

to accept each other’s

apologies, watching their sons

lowered, earth tamped,

they remain, conversing

with the dead. Ah, the poet

smiles his ineffable smile,

those adverbs he warned

against, they shuffle up.

What will we do with them,

now that he is going, trailing

long verses, joining the islands

like cans behind a wedding,

bells pealing in chapels

whose stone walls he worked

hard to capture, inside the

host on Sunday morning,

blood in silver chalices,

the priest’s voice intoning

from memory- sunlight,

stained glass, sin, all in

four-by-four refrain.

 

IV.

 

This is where they’ve

chosen to reenact the story

of sacrifice, with animals,

gold and greed,

where the washing of hands

goes on every day, governors

and guards swearing

each other away, poets

in corners swearing out

long poems like warrants,

lists of charges read aloud

in a difficult language,

the one in grey asking,

are you going with me, are

we going to understand

what it is we do, and why?

 

.     .     .

ABOUT THE POET

Mervyn Taylor is a Trinidad-born poet who divides his time between Brooklyn and his native island.  He has taught in the New York City public school system, at Bronx Community College and The New School, and is the author of four books of poetry, namely, An Island of His Own (1992), The Goat (1999), Gone Away (2006), and No Back Door (2010, Shearsman Books).  He can be heard on an audio collection, Road Clear, accompanied by bassist David Williams.


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