Rubén Darío: Song of Autumn in Spring / Canción de Otoño en Primavera

Still Life 1

Rubén Darío (Nicaragua, 1867-1916)
Canción de Otoño en Primavera

Juventud, divino tesoro,
ya te vas para no volver.
Cuando quiero llorar, no lloro,
y a veces lloro sin querer.

Plural ha sido la celeste
historia di mi corazón.
Era una dulce niña, en este
mundo de duelo y aflicción.

Miraba como el alba pura;
sonreía como una flor.
Era su cabellera obscura
hecha de noche y de dolor.

Yo era tímido como un niño.
Ella, naturalmente, fue
para mi amor hecho de armiño,
Herodías y Salomé.

Juventud, divino tesoro,
ya te vas para no volver.
Cuando quiero llorar, no lloro,
y a veces lloro sin querer.

Y más consoladora y más
halagadora y expresiva
la otra fue más sensitiva,
cual no pensé encontrar jamás.

Pues a su continua ternura
una pasión violenta unía.
En un peplo de gasa pura
una bacante se envolvía.

En brasos tomó mi ensueño
y lo arrulló como un bebé
y le mató, triste y pequeño,
falto de luz, falta de fe.

Juventud, divino tesoro,
ya te vas para no volver.
Cuando quiero llorar, no lloro,
y a veces lloro sin querer.

Otra juzgó que era mi boca
El estuche de su pasión;
y que me roería, loca,
con sus dientes el corazón,

poniendo en un amor de exceso
la mira de su voluntad,
mientras eran abrazo y beso
síntesis de la eternidad;

y de nuestra carne ligera
imaginó siempre un Edén,
sin pensar que la Primavera
y la carne acaban también.

Juventud, divino tesoro,
ya te vas para no volver.
Cuando quiero llorar, no lloro,
y a veces lloro sin querer.

Y las demás! En tantos climas,
en tantas tierras siempre son,
si no pretextos di mis rimas,
fantasmas de mi corazón.

En vano busqué a la princesa
que estaban triste de esperar.
La vida es dura. Amarga y pesa.
Ya no hay princesa que cantar.

Mas a pesar del tiemp terco,
Mi sed de amor no tiene fin;
con el cabello gris, me acerco
a los rosales del jardín.

Juventud, divino tesoro,
ya te vas para no volver.
Cuando quiero llorar, no lloro,
y a veces lloro sin querer.

¡Mas es mía el alba de oro!

Still Life 2

Rubén Darío (Nicaragua, 1867-1916)
Song of Autumn in Springtime


Youth’s a treasure that only the gods may keep,
and how it flees from me, forever – now.
I can’t seem to cry, when I need to,
and sometimes tears come when I don’t want them to.
The stories of this heart are countless,
can never be told – and
she was a darling child,
in this world of pain and woe.
Like daybreak, pure delight she was;
her smile – like flowers after rain.
Her hair was as the night,
fashioned of darkness and unhappiness.
Like a kid I was, awkward and shy,
couldn’t ever have been any other way.
And she was as Herodias or Salomé,
my love ermine-draped.
Youth’s a treasure only the gods may keep,
and how it flees from me, forever – now.
I can’t seem to cry, when I need to,
and sometimes tears come when I don’t want them to.
And there was another one…
More sensitive, quiet, loving, kind;
her will to live, to love, was greater
than I’d hoped to find.
Yet there went with her tender grace
a kind of violence of love;
in a peplos of loveliness
was hidden a passion – raving like a Maenad.
Youth’s a treasure only the gods may keep,
and how it flees from me, forever – now.
I can’t seem to cry, when I need to,
and sometimes tears come when I don’t want them to.
Still another imagined my lips
to be a casket made to bury our love.
She gnawed at the very heart of me,
that’s what she strove to do.

Excess of passion, that was her will;
love’s flame for me she was,
and she could make each embrace, each kiss,
Eternity in synthesis.
She pronounced our flesh could never die,
that Desire might restore Eden;
but she forgot one thing:
that the flowers of Spring, and this flesh,
an End must bring.
Youth’s a treasure only the gods may keep,
and how it flees from me, forever – now.
I can’t seem to cry, when I need to,
and sometimes tears come when I don’t want them to.
And all the others!
Different climates, many lands,
they were just a pretext for my rhymes,
phantoms of my heart.
I sought for a princess in vain,
one who had waited, a-sorrowing.
This life is hard, and bitter with pain.
And there’s no princess exists now to sing.
Yet despite th’autumnal season’s meanings,
My thirst for love knows no end;
Gray-haired I am, yet still
you’ll find me circling the late-bloom rose.
Youth’s a treasure only the gods may keep,
and how it flees from me, forever – now.
I can’t seem to cry, when I need to,
and sometimes tears come when I don’t want them to.

Ah, but the Dawn belongs to me!

. . . . .

Translator’s note:
I have been faithful to the title of the original, calling my English-language version Song of Autumn in Springtime. Yet something doesn’t feel right; Song of Springtime in Autumn would fit Darío’s content better. True, he writes as if an old man reminisces – there is great nostalgia – about past Romance, yet he also tells us that he will still seek out the blooming rose in the garden of Life, and that Dawn belongs to him. And isn’t the dawn that fresh beginning to each day – its Springtime?

Poems for the first day of Autumn

ZP_Sumac with ripe fruit_Autumn in Toronto

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
As Summer into Autumn slips
As Summer into Autumn slips
And yet we sooner say
“The Summer” than “the Autumn,” lest
We turn the sun away,

And almost count it an Affront
The presence to concede
Of one however lovely, not
The one that we have loved —

So we evade the charge of Years
On one attempting shy
The Circumvention of the Shaft
Of Life’s Declivity.

. . .

Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805)
Different Destinies (translated from German)
Millions busily toil, that the human race may continue;
But by only a few is propagated our kind.

Thousands of seeds by the autumn are scattered, yet fruit is engendered
Only by few, for the most back to the element go.

But if one only can blossom, that one is able to scatter
Even a bright living world, filled with creations eterne.

. . .

Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)
Sumach and Birds
If you never came with a pigeon rainbow purple
Shining in the six o’clock September dusk:
If the red sumach on the autumn roads
Never danced on the flame of your eyelashes:
If the red-haws never burst in a million
Crimson fingertwists of your heartcrying:
If all this beauty of yours never crushed me
Then there are many flying acres of birds for me,
Many drumming gray wings going home I shall see,
Many crying voices riding the north wind.

. . .

Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)
If I could have your arms tonight—
But half the world and the broken sea
Lie between you and me.

The autumn rain reverberates in the courtyard,
Beating all night against the barren stone,
The sound of useless rain in the desolate courtyard
Makes me more alone.

If you were here, if you were only here —
My blood cries out to you all night in vain
As sleepless as the rain.

. . .

Louise Bogan (1897-1970)
Last Hill in a Vista
Come, let us tell the weeds in ditches
How we are poor, who once had riches,
And lie out in the sparse and sodden
Pastures that the cows have trodden,
The while an autumn night seals down
The comforts of the wooden town.

Come, let us counsel some cold stranger
How we sought safety, but loved danger.

So, with stiff walls about us, we
Chose this more fragile boundary:
Hills, where light poplars, the firm oak,
Loosen into a little smoke.

. . . . .

Poemas para el último día del Verano

Finaliza el Verano...y inicia sus cambios graduales el Otoño...Toronto Canadá_Septiembre de 2014

Pedro Serrano (Canada/México, nacido en 1947)
El último día del verano

El último día del verano
me ha traído la sospecha de que toda vida
es una ficción:
sigo queriendo amar a la mujer que amo,
las temperaturas son extremadamente altas,
aquí, en el comedor,
mi ciudad está sufriendo la metamorfosis inversa
de mariposa a gusano,
la banda de Liverpool actúa en el parque municipal
con acento che y con poco público,
el equipo local no gana los partidos, los empata,
las plantas se secan misteriosamente
y el silencio es el himno que espera al otoño.
El último día del verano
es un baile de grillos, y un consumo
de luna. Ficción.
. . .
Pedro Serrano (Canada/Mexico, born 1947)
The last day of summer
The last day of summer
I had been under the suspicion that all of Life was mere
invention, pretence, hogwash:
I keep on wanting to love the woman I love;
temperatures remain exceedingly high
here in the diningroom;
my city suffers from a kind of inverse metamorphosis
– butterfly to worm;
that band from Liverpool performs in the civic park
– with an Argentine accent and next to no audience;
our local team doesn’t win any games – they all end in ties;
plants dry up mysteriously
and Silence is a hymn that awaits the autumn.
This last day of summer
is the crickets’ dance;
this last day, consumed by the moon.
Pure fiction.

An End of Summer bouquet in a watering can_Goldenrod_Asters_Sunflowers_09.2014
Henri Cole (Japón/EE.UU., nacido en 1956)
Pobre Verano, no comprende el hecho de su muerte; le quedan pocos días.
Pero aun está conmigo el lago con sus pinceladas de índigo
y el sol encendido recolocando la soledad.
Me siento como criatura que ha descubierto un hogar;
eso es mi madriguera / nido / intento para decir:
Yo existo.
La rosa no puede pararse y ser de nuevo un capullo.
Es una dolencia, quererlo.
A lo largo de la orilla, la luna esparce su luz sobre todo, como una fogata;
y dentro de la noche verde-negro, los pinos altos ofrecen, estiran, sus brazos
– como Dios
que ofreció, estiró, sus brazos para decir que
Él era aislado y que
Él hacía para Su Mismo
un hombre.

An End of Summer bouquet in a watering can_Goldenrod_Asters_Sunflowers_September 2014
Henri Cole (Japan/USA, born 1956)
Poor Summer, it doesn’t know it’s dying.
A few days are all it has. Still, the lake
is with me, its strokes of blue-violet
and the fiery sun replacing loneliness.
I feel like an animal that has found a place.
This is my burrow, my nest, my attempt
to say, I exist. A rose can’t shut itself
and be a bud again. It’s a malady,
wanting it. On the shore, the moon sprinkles
light over everything, like a campfire,
and in the green-black night, the tall pines
hold their arms out as God held His arms
out to say that He was lonely and that
He was making Himself a man.

. . . . .

La llave de agua chorreante

Una llave de agua chorreante es el Amor...

La llave de agua chorreante
¿cuándo fue la última vez que dije Te Amo?
Pasa mucho durante una ruptura
– la hora punta de sentimientos –
que podamos olvidar.
Simplemente, quiero decirte:
Te amo.
Ajá, soy soso; yo pronunciaba esas dos palabras con demasiado frecuencia en este año pasado.
Y bueno – paciencia –
yo llevaba puesto mi corazón en la manga;
y eras Señor Inescrutable.
El Amor es como agua chorreante, agua del grifo;
pero cuando el grifo está prendido no puedo apagarlo en un suspiro, ¿verdad?
No es un aparato mecánico el Amor – aunque conlleva unas “mangueras” y unos “flujos”.

Eh, tengo una idea:  que chorree ese cabrón…
Y llenaremos la cubeta
– la regadera –
con Energía para Un Porvenir que Da Vida,
bien, cualquier cosa – Avenida – que venga, fluida y creciente.
De la pena hasta el gozo: sencillamente hazlo.
La Vida Quiere Seguir Viviendo.
Los clichés – a veces son ciertos, ¿no?

. . . . .

“Por ahí, por aquí, en algún lugar”: poema con el corazón en la mano

Por ahí, por aquí, en algún lugar...

Por ahí, por aquí, en algún lugar…

“Por ahí, por aquí, en algún lugar”
Por ahí, por aquí, en algún lugar…
Un giro del destino – via la mano de Dios o Diosa –
me trajo el Desconocido Perfecto.
Esa persona era un trotamundos perspicaz y pulcro;
un ser resistente – y dulce.
Jugamos al Frisbee;
nos alimentamos con salmón ahumado, el uno al otro;
y hicimos el amor – a través de un solo beso.

Por lo tanto, pasó un año cuando escribimos cartas
y charlamos por pocas llamadas celular
– malas conexiones cada rara vez.


Y, después de ese año, era yo el viajero; y volé por las alas de una murraca metálico tintinando…

Nos reunimos de nuevo, en el otro lado, sólo para enterarme que

el Desconocido Perfecto era reservado, aún cerrado.

Él, por su comportamiento – sin palabras – me enseñó:

No me toques.

Y éso me hizo daño en la médula.

Pero no fue la culpa de nadie;

y, supongo,

él tuvo sus motivos – candorosos (debo creerlo.)


¡Puede ser un hueco vasto y vacío La Vida!

Pues cocinamos el huachinango al escabeche;
tomamos los tranvías en busca de churros más exquisitos;
y hicimos el amor – a través de un solo beso.
Sin embargo, no triunfará la relación íntima
cuando nos separa, los dos, este Mundo tan ancho.
Ah sí, he llorado un rato largo.

Todavía existe el Desconocido Perfecto;
ahora, en mis sueños, contemplo su cara bien recordado.
Y hoy, al final, tengo la comprensión:
que, a través de un solo beso,
hay un sentimiento de honradez y potencia tan grande
– que no pueda vivir por ahí, por aquí, en algún lugar
sino en el fondo de mí, donde mora la desapercibida Verdad.

. . . . .

Tres Odas al Ajo

Combate el mal aliento de café ¡Devora más AJO!

Fight coffee breath Eat GARLIC!

Hardneck garlic_photo via Penn State Hort Blog

Mario Andrés Díaz Molina (Linares, Chile)
Oda al Ajo
Bailarina de trenzas brillantinas,
eterna resonancia del baile de los dientes.
Sabor telúrico de una sopa deseada.
Alegría humilde de una mesa pobre.
Invitado de honor en un banquete de alcurnia.
Esperanza que se come en ayunas.
Desfile de damas blancas
pasando por una eterna retina.
Delantales desprendidos de la desnudez de la tierra.
Astros flotando en el océano de la olla.
Besos que niegan su esencia
ante los labios vecinos.
Bocas volcánicas
que eructan el olor incorrupto de los campos.
Pesadilla de las niñas enamoradas
después de la cena.
Pasión tardía, oculta en el sabor
que desciende de las alturas del corazón
a los brazos del bienamado.
Sonriendo con el aroma de miel
que perfuma a primavera
el paso solemne del rey de la cocina.

. . .
Oda al Ajo
Estás allá, en banquetes los más elegantes;
Das vida a cada plato y
Haces bailar el gusto.

Ajo, eres el héroe aun de la literatura
– ¡puedes dominar a Drácula!

Eres nuestro placer culposo;
Dicen todo el mundo que te detestan, pero
Queremos tu aceite esencial.
De veras, Ajo: ¡eres el Rey de la Cocina!
. . .
Ode to Garlic
You are there at the finest banquets,
You liven up every dish
and make my palate dance.

Garlic, you’re the hero even of literature
– able to conquer Dracula!

You’re our guilty pleasure;
everyone says how they detest you
yet we all love your essential oil.
For truly, Garlic:
You are King of the Kitchen!

. . .

Mong-Lan (Vietnam/EE.UU., nacido en 1970)

Poema de Amor – para el Ajo
rosa maloliente
el olor embriagante
agrio picante
el más subestimado
orbe perenne
raíz bulboso
luna incandescente
invocado como deidad por los egipcios
cada día contigo es otro día triplicado
desvestido de tu cubierta delicada
tu crudeza fresca – escupiendo fuego
te adoro, integro,
un temblor cuando te muerdo
eres un milagro medicinal,
luchando contra resfriados,
disolvente de sangre,
antibiótico extraordinario
el modo de comerte crudo – y amarlo:
pela la cubierta de placenta ,
corta en juliana para salsa de pescado con ají e limon
tu palidez audaz descubierto,
te imagino en cada momento de cada día

. . .

Mong-Lan (Vietnam/USA, born 1970)
Love Poem to Garlic
stinking rose
the heady scent of you
tangy spicy
most under-rated
year-round orb
bulbous root, incandescent moon

invoked as a deity by the Egyptians
each day with you is another day tripled

stripped of your delicate cover
your fire-spitting fresh rawness
i love you unadulterated
a shiver once i bite you

medicinally you are a miracle
fighting colds
blood thinner
anti-bacterial extraordinaire

how to eat you raw & love it:
peel the placenta-like cover
julienne into fish sauce with red chili peppers & lemon

your bold paleness exposed
i imagine you
at every moment of every day

. . . . .

El Festival del Ajo de Toronto:

. . . . .

“How Can I Begin?”: poems from Milk Stone by Pat Lowther

Burning the Iris_by GogitaFroggies1

“How Can I Begin?”: poems from Milk Stone by Pat Lowther

. . .
How Can I Begin
How can I begin?
So many skins
of silence upon me
Not that they blunt me,
but I have become
accustomed to
walking like a pregnant woman
carrying something
alive yet remote.
My thoughts,
though less articulate
than image,
still have in them
something like a skeleton,
a durable beginning
waiting for
unpredicted flesh
and deliverance.
I would ask
you: learn as I learn
patience with mine
and your own silence.

. . .

String-figure man outside the door
Didn’t I too catch the sun
in a cradle spun
of my own gut string?
If now outside my house some thing
makes a sound like dry skins scraping,
should my bones dissolve to jelly
in my narrowing flesh?
It is fitting to strangle me in the mesh
of my own making.
I who made the sun
come in my belly.
I shall open my door
and accept the evil as I did before
the shining One.

. . .

Stone Deaf
Imagine it
– tympanum, cochlea,
cunning little frogs-legs ossicles,
all that delicate absurd machinery
petrified, rattling stonily
in the skull’s cavity
like garnets in a hollow rock.
Or like a whale’s eardrum
I saw once preserved,
blank as a great flint chip
and lonely as one cymbal.
And the blood’s surf beating
then always like the sea
unheard on solitary stone.

. . .

Fragments of shell
shards of protein alphabet
my hands are blind
at my skin’s circumference
i fumble
seams openings
(is this an organ
for breaking shells?)
i smell snow on this beach
what colour
are my eyes?

. . .

Touch Home
My daughter, a statistic
in a population explosion
out of my body like a cork.
The doctors called for oxygen,
the birth too sudden, violent,
the child seemed pale
But my daughter lay
in perfect tranquillity
touching the new air
with her
elegant hands.

. . .

The Last Room
I am waiting for you
in the lowest room beneath the building
I am smooth as a gourd
without resistance
my shape spreads
seeking the lowest
centre of gravity
I spend hours memorizing
the labyrinth
beneath our skins
by which I came
waiting for your long shadow
in the passage
I am green as a gourd
but inside I am red
All through the folded hours
I am burning
I am becoming a red hollow
a gourd for drinking
Only now do I recognize
shards patterning the dust
between my legs
they are my former skins
How many times
have I come here
How long have I been waiting

. . .

to be broken
split apart with a mighty tearing
like an apple broken
to unfold
the delicate open veined petal pattern
inside the fruit
I am arrogant
what I can do
for a man
I am arrogant
for fear
I may be broken
utterly open
and he not see
the flower shape of me

. . .

It’s a kind of justice
for our having left them
face down
while we grew branched
They held out
dumb paws for grace
We gave them ritual
Even the spare comfort
they negotiated
we fattened on,
driving them always
to the edges
It’s a kind of justice
that in certain seasons
they possess us
like planets,
like territories

. . .

For Selected Friends
Work one face of a stone
so I can always have you:
at times I am one-dimensional.
Love on paper.
It’s easier to photograph you
with my mind
arresting you at mid-point
in some brilliant exposition
before discovery moves you
off the surface.
Although I know you’re
a cave splendid with crystals
and white bats,
sometimes I am
afraid to go there.

. . .

Letter to the Majority
We are not what you think we are.
In another space
enclosing another space
we have grown
whole crops of quiet.
Even our laughter
laughing at ourselves
has been too soft for you to hear.
You have thought us a mirror
to your torments
and your homely pleasures.
You have been watching
motion on a screen only.
You send us casual
directives – Eat me, Drink me.
We brush your language
from the pages of books.
It is a momentary diversion.
The only way you can
speak to us
is by speaking to the whole world.

. . .

All poems © Pat Lowther Estate and Borealis Press, from Milk Stone (published 1974)

.     .     .

Toronto poet Sonia Di Placido is running a poetry workshop about Pat Lowther and her complete + unpublished poems every Saturday beginning September 13th through November 29th, 2014.  The workshop is part of Di Placido’s Poetry of the Canadian Moderns series.  Click the link for more details:

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