“Yo cumplo mi encuentro con La Vida” / “I keep Life’s rendezvous”: Poemas para Viernes Santo / Good Friday poems: Countee Cullen

ZP_Simon of Cyrene_painting by Theophilus of Knoxville, Tennessee

ZP_Simon of Cyrene_painting by Theophilus of Knoxville, Tennessee

 

Countee Cullen (Poeta negro del “Renacimiento de Harlem”, E.E.U.U., 1903-1946)

Habla Simón de Cirene”

.

Nunca me habló ninguna palabra

pero me llamó por mi nombre;

No me habló por señas,

y aún entendí y vine.

.

Al princípio dije, “No cargaré

sobre mi espalda Su cruz;

Sólo procura colocarla allá

porque es negra mi piel.”

.

Pero Él moría por un sueño,

Y Él estuvo muy dócil,

Y en Sus ojos hubo un resplandor

que los hombres viajarán lejos para buscar.

.

Él – el mismo – ganó mi piedad;

Yo hice solamente por Cristo

Lo que todo el Imperio romano no pudo forjar en mí

con moretón de látigo o de piedra.

 

.      .     .

 

Countee Cullen (1903-1946)

Simon the Cyrenian Speaks”

.

He never spoke a word to me,

And yet He called my name;

He never gave a sign to me,

And yet I knew and came.

At first I said, “I will not bear

His cross upon my back;

He only seeks to place it there

Because my skin is black.”

But He was dying for a dream,

And He was very meek,

And in His eyes there shone a gleam

Men journey far to seek.

It was Himself my pity bought;

I did for Christ alone

What all of Rome could not have wrought

With bruise of lash or stone.

 

.

Luke 23:26

And as they led Him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country,

and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus”.

 

.     .     .

 

Tengo un encuentro con La Vida”

.

Tengo un encuentro con La Vida,

durante los días que pasen,

antes de que pasen como un bólido mi juventud y mi fuerza de mente,

antes de que las dulces voces se vuelvan mudas.

.

Tengo un ‘rendez-vous’ con Esta Vida.

cuando canturrean los primeros heraldos de la Primavera.

Por seguro hay gente que gritaría que sea tanto mejor

coronar los días con reposo en vez de

enfrentar el camino, el viento, la lluvia

para poner oídos al llamado profundo.

.

No tengo miedo ni de la lluvia, del viento, ni del camino abierto,

pero aún tengo, ay, tan mucho miedo, también,

por temor de que La Muerte me conozca y me requiera antes de que

yo cumpla mi ‘rendez-vous’ con La Vida.

 

.     .     .

 

I have a rendezvous with Life”

.

I have a rendezvous with Life,

In days I hope will come,

Ere youth has sped, and strength of mind,

Ere voices sweet grow dumb.

I have a rendezvous with Life,

When Spring’s first heralds hum.

Sure some would cry it’s better far

To crown their days with sleep

Than face the road, the wind and rain,

To heed the calling deep.

Though wet nor blow nor space I fear,

Yet fear I deeply, too,

Lest Death should meet and claim me ere

I keep Life’s rendezvous.

 

 

.     .     .

Countee Cullen produced most of his famous poems between 1923 and 1929;  he was at the top of his form from the end of his teens through his 20s – very early for a good poet.

His poems “Heritage”, “Yet Do I Marvel”, “The Ballad of the Brown Girl”, and “The Black Christ” are classics of The Harlem Renaissance.  We feature here two of Cullen’s lesser-known poems

– including Spanish translations.

.     .     .     .     .

Traducciones del inglés al español:   Alexander Best


Chinua Achebe: “Pine Tree in Spring” and “Their Idiot Song”

Norway Spruce_and Maple  tree on the right_Toronto_Canada.

Chinua Achebe

Pine Tree in Spring

(for Léon Damas *)

.

Pine tree

flag bearer

of green memory

across the breach of a desolate hour

*

Loyal tree

that stood guard

alone in austere emeraldry

over Nature’s recumbent standard

*

Pine tree

lost now in the shade

of traitors decked out flamboyantly

marching back unabashed to the colours they betrayed

*

Fine tree

erect and trustworthy

What school can teach me

your silent, stubborn fidelity?

 

.

*Léon Damas, 1912-1978, French poet, born in French Guiana (“Guyane”);  one of the founders,

along with Léopold Senghor and Aimé Césaire, of the “Négritude” literary and ideological movement

 

.     .     .

 

Their Idiot Song

.

These fellows, the old pagan said, surely are out of their mind – that old proudly impervious derelict skirted long ago by floodwaters of salvation:  Behold the great and gory handiwork of Death displayed for all on dazzling sheets this hour of day its twin nostrils plugged firmly with stoppers of wool and they ask of him:  Where is thy sting?

Sing on, good fellows, sing on!

Someday when it is you he decks out on his great iron bed with cotton wool for your breath, his massing odours mocking your pitiful makeshift defences of face powder and township ladies’ lascivious scent, these others roaming yet his roomy chicken coop will be singing and asking still but

YOU by then no longer will be in doubt!

 

.     .     .

Chinua Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930,

of the Igbo People.  He is a world-famous poet and writer,

and his first novel, “Things Fall Apart”, is among the most

widely-read books in African literature.

 

.     .     .     .     .


Hector Poullet: “Mi yo doubout an péyi-la…” / “Standing tall in our country…”


Hector Poullet (né/born 1938)

(Écrivain noir, créoliste, de La Guadeloupe

/ Black Creole-language writer, Guadeloupe)

 

E mi sé ti moun péyi-la

Mi yo

Mi yo doubout an péyi-la

An mitan lanmé

An mitan soley

Yo la

Po nwè

Po jonn

Po rouj

Po shapé

Po blan

Nou byen fouté pa mal !

Nou sa sé zenfan péyi-la

Sé swé a yo ki ka rozé péyi-la

_____

Voici les enfants du pays,     Here are the children of the country,

Les voici,                                 Here they are,

Les voici érigés au pays,               Standing tall in our country,

Au coeur même de la mer,       With hearts as much of the sea as sun.

Au coeur même du soleil.

Ils sont là                                      There they are:  the

Peaux noires                            Black skins, yellows,

Peaux jaunes                          Red skins and shedded skins,

Peaux rouges                           White skins, too.

Peaux échappées et

Peaux blanches

Quelle importance !                    And it’s so important –

Ce sont, nous le savons,               That they are – and we know it –

Les fils de ce pays;                          The children of this country;

Leur sueur nourrit la terre de ce pays!      Their sweat nourishes this earth!

_____


Mildred Barya: “Una Gota de Sangre” / “A Drop of Blood”

 

Mildred Barya (nace 1976)

“Una Gota de Sangre”

 

 

El día que me llegó la regla

Exclamó mi madre:

“¡Ahora eres mujer!”

Entonces me pregunté:

¿Qué yo había sido antes?

¿Y cómo me ha hecho una mujer

Una gota de sangre?

*

Cuando llevaron a mi hermano al círculo,

Él se estremeció a la sensación de un cuchillo afilado.

Pero le convencieron:

“No debes  tener miedo,

No muestres ninguna cobardía.

Tan pronto como te cortemos la piel

Te harás un hombre.”

*

Cuando mi madre tenía a Junior

Tan pesado en su vientre

Se apuraba de la mesa

Y corría al lavaplatos.

El día que le llevaron al hospital

Cayó al suelo una bolsa de agua

Pues una gota de sangre.

Gritó mi padre: “¡Mujer!”

*

Leí en Las Sagradas Escrituras

Como fue sacrificado el Hijo de Hombre.

Antes de dar su último aliento,

Manaron fuera de él

Agua y la sangre.

En este momento se hizo Hombre

Que era el Dios.

*

Supongo que haya algo en una gota de sangre

Que nos hace hombres y mujeres.

 

_____

 

Mildred Barya (born 1976)

“A Drop of Blood”

 

 

The day I got my first period,

Mother exclaimed:

“You’ve become a woman!”

And so I wondered,

What had I been earlier?

And how could a drop of blood

Make me a woman?

*

When they took my brother to the circle,

He flinched at the feel of a sharp knife.

But the elders convinced him:

“You must not fear

Do not show any cowardice

Once we slice off the skin

You become a man.”

*

When mother was heavy with Junior,

She would rush off the table

And run to the sink.

The day she was taken to hospital

A bag of water dropped to the ground,

Then a drop of blood.

Father cried: “Woman!”

*

I read in the Holy Scriptures

How the Son of Man was crucified

Before he breathed his last.

Water and blood flowed out,

There he became Man,

Who was God.

*

I guess there’s something in a drop of blood

That makes us men and women.

 

 

_____

Mildred Barya,  poeta,  nació en Uganda.

Ganó el Premio Pan-Africano del Foro Literário

en 2008.   Barya también es periodista y escritor

de viaje.   Vive en Syracuse, Nueva York, EEUU.

*

Poet Mildred Barya was born in Uganda.

She won the 2008 Prize of the Pan African

Literary Forum.   Barya is also a journalist

and travel-writer.   Currently she lives in

Syracuse, New York.

*

Translation from English into Spanish /

Traducción del inglés al español:   Alexander Best


Ataulfo Alves: “In a masquerade of Joy I hid my Sadness…”

Ataulfo Alves  (Sambista brasileiro, 1906-1969)

“Ilusão de carnaval”

.

Mascarado de alegria

Escondi minha tristeza

Terminada a folia

Sou mais triste com certeza

Ilusão de carnaval

Enganei somente a mim

Sem pensar que afinal

Carnaval também tem fim.

*

Ataulfo Alves 

(Brazilian Samba composer, 1906-1969)

“Carnival Illusion”

.

In a masquerade of Joy

I hid my Sadness.

Revelry done,

More sad than ever

Am I…

.

You Illusion – oh Carnival !

I merely tricked myself

Without thinking that,

After all,

Carnival too comes to an end.

 

.

Translation from Portuguese:

Alexander Best


Djavan: “Face of the Indian” / “Cara de Índio”

Letra da canção de

cantor e compositor afrobrasileiro

Djavan (nasce 1949)

“Cara de Índio”(1978)

 

 

Índio cara pálida,

cara de índio.

Índio cara pálida,

cara de índio.

Sua ação é válida, meu caro índio.

Sua ação é válida, válida ao índio.

Nessa terra tudo dá,

terra de índio.

Nessa terra tudo dá,

não para o índio.

Quando alguém puder plantar,

quem sabe índio.

Quando alguém puder plantar,

não é índio.

Índio quer se nomear,

nome de índio.

Índio quer se nomear,

duvido índio.

Isso pode demorar,

te cuida índio.

Isso pode demorar,

coisa de índio.

*

Índio sua pipoca,

tá pouca índio.

Índio quer pipoca,

te toca índio.

Se o índio se tocar,

touca de índio.

Se o índio toca,

não chove índio.

Se quer abrir a boca,

pra sorrir índio.

Se quer abrir a boca,

na toca índio.

*

A minha também tá pouca,

cota de índio.

Apesar da minha roupa,

também sou índio.

 

_____

 

Djavan

(Brazilian songwriter, born 1949)

“The Indian Face” (1978)

 

 

Indio pale-face

Indian face.

Pale-face Indio

Your action is just, my dear Indio.

Your action is valid, right for the Indian.

In that land everything grows

– the Indian’s land.

In that land everything grows

– but not for the Indian.

When someone can plant,

who knows? The Indio.

When someone inspires,

Isn’t it the Indio?

An Indian wants to call himself

an Indian name.

Indio wants to call himself himself

– I doubt it, Indio

– that might take time – take care,

That might take time,

The Indian thing.

*

Indio gets just

A little “popcorn”.

He wants “popcorn” too

– it’s your turn, Indio.

If the Indian touches his head

it doesn’t rain.

If he wants to open his mouth

– Smile, Indio.

If he wants to open his mouth,

Don’t touch him.

*

I also have little,

An Indian’s share.

Despite my clothes,

I’m an Indio, too.

 

_____


Jorge Ben Jor: Day of the Indian / Dia de Índio

_____

Jorge Ben Jor (nasce 1942)

“Curumin chama cunhãtã que eu vou contar

(Todo dia era Dia de Índio)”  (1981)

Hey  Hey  Hey!

Hey  Hey  Hey!

Jês, Kariris, Karajás, Tukanos, Caraíbas,

Makus, Nambikwaras, Tupis, Bororós,

Guaranis, Kaiowa, Ñandeva, YemiKruia

Yanomá, Waurá, Kamayurá, Iawalapiti,

Txikão, Txu-Karramãe, Xokren, Xikrin,

Krahô, Ramkokamenkrá, Suyá !

*

Curumim chama cunhatã que eu vou contar

Cunhatã chama curumim que eu vou contar

Curumim, cunhatã

Cunhatã, curumim

*

Antes que os homens aqui pisassem

Nas ricas e férteis terraes brazilis

Que eram povoadas e amadas por milhões de índios

Reais donos felizes

Da terra do pau-brasil

Pois todo dia, toda hora, era dia de índio

Pois todo dia, toda hora, era dia de índio

*

Mas agora eles só têm um dia

O dia dezenove de abril…

Amantes da pureza e da natureza

Eles são de verdade incapazes

De maltratarem as fêmeas

Ou de poluir o rio, o céu e o mar

Protegendo o equilíbrio ecológico

Da terra, fauna e flora.

Pois na sua história, o índio

É o exemplo mais puro

Mais perfeito, mais belo

Junto da harmonia da fraternidade.

É da alegria,

Da alegria de viver

Da alegria de amar.

Mas no entanto agora

O seu canto de guerra

É um choro de uma raça inocente…

Que já foi muito contente

Pois antigamente

Todo dia, toda hora, era dia de índio.

*

Jês, Kariris, Karajás, Tukanos, Caraíbas,

Makus, Nambikwaras, Tupis, Bororós,

Guaranis, Kaiowa, Ñandeva, YemiKruia

Yanomá, Waurá, Kamayurá, Iawalapiti, Suyá,

Txikão, Txu-Karramãe, Xokren, Xikrin, Krahô,

Ramkokamenkrá, Suyá !

*

Todo dia, toda hora, era dia de índio…..

Curumim, cunhatã / Hey! Hey! Hey!

Hey! Hey! Hey! / Cunhatã, curumim…..

_____

Jorge Ben Jor

“Every day, every hour, was the Day of the Indian”

Hey  Hey  Hey!

Hey  Hey  Hey!

Jês, Kariris, Karajás, Tukanos, Caraíbas,

Makus, Nambikwaras, Tupis, Bororós,

Guaranis, Kaiowa, Ñandeva, YemiKruia

Yanomá, Waurá, Kamayurá, Iawalapiti,

Suyá, Txikão, Txu-Karramãe, Xokren, Xikrin,

Krahô, Ramkokamenkrá, Suyá !

*

Call:   “Curumim cunhatã” – I’m going to tell it.

Cry:   “Cunhatã curumim” is how I’m going to tell it.

Curumim, cunhatã

Cunhatã, curumim

*

Before people trod here

Upon this rich and fertile land of Brazil

It was populated and loved by millions of Indians,

Happy moneyless owners

Of this land of “Brazil-wood”.

Back then, every day, every hour, was the Day of the Indian.

But now they have only one day,

The 19th of April…

*

Lovers of purity, of nature,

They knew truth, incapable of

Mistreating Woman

Or of polluting river, sky and sea,

Protecting the ecological equilibrium

Of earth, flora and fauna.

And so, in history,  the Indio

Is an exemplar most pure,

Perfect and beautiful.

Together in the harmony of humanity

He gives joy – joy of life,  joy of love.

Now, though, theirs is a war song – and it’s

The cry of an innocent race…

In olden times they were most happy because

Every day, every hour, was the Day of the Indian.

*

Jês, Kariris, Karajás, Tukanos, Caraíbas,

Makus, Nambikwaras, Tupis, Bororós,

Guaranis, Kaiowa, Ñandeva, YemiKruia

Yanomá, Waurá, Kamayurá, Iawalapiti,

Txikão, Txu-Karramãe, Xokren, Xikrin,

Krahô, Ramkokamenkrá, Suyá !

*

Every day, every hour, was the Day of the Indian.

Curumim, cunhatã / Hey! Hey! Hey!

Hey! Hey! Hey! / Cunhatã, curumim…..

_____

Glossary:

Jês, Kariris, Karajás, Tukanos, Caraíbas, etc.,

–  Ben gives us a list of names of the

Indian/Indigenous/Native Peoples of Brazil

The 19th of April – throughout Latin and South America,

this day – Dia Americano del Indio – draws attention to the

cultures, struggles and progress of Indigenous Peoples;

initiated in 1940 at Pátzcuaro, México, during the first

“Congreso Indigenista Interamericano”

/ InterAmerican Indigenous Congress