Alfonsina Storni’s Tú Me Quieres Blanca (a translation)

Alfosina StorniAlfonsina Storni (May 29, 1892 – October 25, 1938) was one of the most important Argentine and Latin-American poets of the modernist period (Wikipedia). She was also an early feminist poet, as this poem clearly shows.

Much of this translation was a group effort with help from Melissa Gioia and Laura Hakala.//




Tú Me Quieres Blanca

Tú me quieres alba,
Me quieres de espumas,
Me quieres de nácar.
Que sea azucena
Sobre todas, casta.
De perfume tenue.
Corola cerrada

Ni un rayo de luna
Filtrado me haya.
Ni una margarita
Se diga mi hermana.
Tú me quieres nívea,
Tú me quieres blanca,
Tú me quieres alba.

Tú que hubiste todas
Las copas a mano,
De frutos y mieles
Los labios morados.
Tú que en el banquete
Cubierto de pámpanos
Dejaste las carnes
Festejando a Baco.
Tú que en los jardines
Negros del Engaño
Vestido de rojo
Corriste al Estrago.

Tú que el esqueleto
Conservas intacto
No sé todavía
Por cuáles milagros,
Me pretendes blanca
(Dios te lo perdone),
Me pretendes casta
(Dios te lo perdone),
¡Me pretendes alba!

Huye hacia los bosques,
Vete a la montaña;
Límpiate la boca;
Vive en las cabañas;
Toca con las manos
La tierra mojada;
Alimenta el cuerpo
Con raíz amarga;
Bebe de las rocas;
Duerme sobre escarcha;
Renueva tejidos
Con salitre y agua;
Habla con los pájaros
Y lévate al alba.
Y cuando las carnes
Te sean tornadas,
Y cuando hayas puesto
En ellas el alma
Que por las alcobas
Se quedó enredada,
Entonces, buen hombre,
Preténdeme blanca,
Preténdeme nívea,
Preténdeme casta.




You Who Want Me White

You want me dawn,
You want me sea foam,
You want me mother of pearl
To be a lily
Above all, chaste.
Of faint perfume.
An unopened blossom.

Not even a moonbeam
To caress me.
Nor a daisy
that may call herself my sister.
You want me snow,
You want me white,
You want me dawn.

You who had all
The drinks at hand,
With lips stained
From fruits and honey.
You who were in the feast,
Who were covered with leaves,
Who destroyed the flesh
To celebrate Bacchus.
You who in the black
Gardens of deception
Dressed in red
Ran to ruin.

You who still preserve
Your skeleton.
I don’t even know
For what miracles
You expect me white
(May god forgive you),
You expect me chaste
(May god forgive you),
You expect me dawn.

Run away to the forest
Leave for the mountains;
Clean your mouth;
Live in the shacks;
Touch with your hands
The wet earth;
Feed your body
With bitter root;
Drink from the rocks,
Sleep on the frost;
Renew your flesh
With salt and water;
Speak with the birds
And get up with dawn.
And when your flesh
Returns to you,
And when you have put
In it the soul,
Which in the bedroom
Was left tangled,
Then, good man,
Expect me white,
Expect me snow,
Expect me chaste.


12 Responses to “Alfonsina Storni’s Tú Me Quieres Blanca (a translation)”

  1. January 19, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Beautiful. I love this blog.

  2. January 20, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Beautiful poem from (to me) an unknown voice. Thank you very much.

  3. January 21, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Wow–this Storni poem is really striking. Thank you for introducing me to her work.

  4. January 27, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Wow! Stunning. And thanks for introducing me to her work!

  5. 10 NK
    March 24, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Thanks for the translation! It is more beautiful and powerful in Spanish but I understand it more thoroughly in English, although I am a native Spanish speaker. That’s what happens when we only study English our entire lives!

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