Posts Tagged ‘translation


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.



Federico García Lorca’s “Dos lunas de tarde” (a translation)

Federico García Lorca’s poem appears in Canciones, 1921-1924 (Songs, 1921-1924).

Dos lunas de tarde

   (A Laurita, amiga de mi hermana )

La luna está muerta, muerta;
pero resucita en la primavera.

Cuando en la frente de los chopos
se rice el viento del Sur.

Cuando den nuestros corazones
su cosecha de suspiros.

Cuando se pongan los tejados
sus sombreritos de yerba.

La luna está muerta, muerta;
pero resucita en la primavera.

   (A Isabelita, mi hermana )

La tarde canta
una <<berceuse>> a las naranjas.

Mi hermanita canta:
<<La tierra es una naranja>>.

La luna llorando dice:
<<Yo quiero ser una naranja>>.

No puede ser, hija mía,
aunque te pongas rosada.
Ni siquiera limoncito.
¡Qué lástima!


Two Evening Moons

   (to Laurita, my sister’s friend)

The moon is dead, is dead,
but in spring is resurrected.

When the fronts of the poplars
rustle in the southern wind.

When our hearts relinquish
their harvest of sighs.

When rooftops wear
their grass sombreros.

The moon is dead, is dead,
but in spring is resurrected.

   (to Isabelita, my sister)

The evening sings
a lullaby to oranges.

My sister sings:
“The earth is an orange.”

The crying moon says:
“I want to be an orange.”

You cannot be, my child,
even if you become a rose.
Not even a little lemon.
Oh, what a pity it is!



Federico García Lorca’s “Despedida” (a translation)

Federico García Lorca’s poem appears in Canciones, 1921-1924 (Songs, 1921-1924).


Si muero,
dejad el balcón abierto.

El niño come naranjas.
(Desde mi balcón lo veo).

El segador siega el trigo.
(Desde mi balcón lo siento).

¡Si muero,
dejad el balcón abierto!



If I die,
leave the balcony doors open.

A boy eats oranges.
(From my balcony, I see him.)

The reaper reaps the wheat.
(From my balcony, I’m sorry to hear him.)

If I die,
leave the balcony doors open!



Federico García Lorca’s “La luna asoma” (a translation)

Federico García Lorca’s poem appears in Canciones, 1921-1924 (Songs, 1921-1924).

La luna asoma

Cuando sale la luna
se pierden las campanas
y aparecen las sendas

Cuando sale la luna,
el mar cubre la tierra
y el corazón se siente
isla en el infinito.

Nadie come naranjas
bajo la luna llena.
Es preciso comer
fruta verde y helada.

Cuando sale la luna
de cien rostros iguales,
la moneda de plata
solloza en el bolsillo.


The Looming Moon

When the moon rises
bells fade
and impenetrable paths

When the moon rises,
the ocean covers the earth
and the heart feels
as an island within infinity.

No one eats oranges
under the full moon.
One must eat
green fruit and ice.

When the moon rises
with his hundred identical faces,
the silver coin
within his pocket weeps.



Tristan Tzara’s Song 5 (Two Translations)

I forgot to add this preface so here it is now: I needed a translation for Tristan Tzara’s Song 5, but I couldn’t find any. So I went about it on my own. And, of course, whenever i translate a poem, and end up having at least two translations. So here are my two translations.

Tristan Tzara’s in the original

Si les mots n’étaient que signes
timbres-poste sur les choses
qu’est-ce qu’il en resterait
temps perdu
il n’y aurait ni joi ni peine
par ce monde farfelu

A literal translation or what Ezra Pound would call a logopoeia translation.

If words were only signs
postage stamps on things
what would remain
lost time –
there would be neither pain nor joy
in this wacky world

A contemporized in-the-spirit-of translation or what Ezra Pound would call a contemporized phanopoeia translation.

If words are only signs
or post-it notes on items
what remains?
things to do
empty timelines –
there would be neither deadlines or relief
in this bustling world



Pablo Neruda’s Love Sonnet XII (Two Translations)

I am planning an assignment for my creative writing class based on something my friend does in his class. This assignment involves a Pablo Neruda love poem. So today I read some of Neruda’s love poems, and I found one I think will work well, Love Sonnet XII. However, I couldn’t find a translation that was fully working the way I think the poem should in English, and something that wasn’t so literal in translation. So I set out to make my own translation. I ended up doing two translations. First the poem original in its original language.

   Plena mujer, manzana carnal, luna caliente
   espeso aroma de algas, lodo y luz machacados
   qué oscura claridad se abre entre tus columnas?
   qué antigua noche el hombre toca con sus sentidos?

   Ay, amar es un viaje con agua y con estrellas,
   con aire ahogado y brucas tempestades de harina:
   amar es un combate de relámpagos
   y dos cuerpos por una sola miel derrotados.

   Beso a beso recorro tu pequeño infinito,
   tus márgenes, tus rios, tus pueblos diminutos,
   y el fuego genital transformado en delicia

   corre por los delgados caminos de la sangre
   hasta precipitarse como un clavel nocturno,
   hasta ser y no ser sino un rayo en la sombra.

Now my first translation:

   Full woman, carnal apple, hot moon,
   seaweed’s sodden aroma, mud, and shattered light –
   what shadowy clarity opens between your columns?
   What primitive night is touched by a masculine nerve?

   Ah, love is a journey with water and stars,
   in drowning air and squalls of flour;
   love is a battle of the lightning,
   two bodies defeated by a single drop of honey.

   Kiss after kiss, I recover your small infinitude,
   rivers and shores, your diminutive village,
   the genital fire transformed to delight

   races through the blood’s thin pathways
   and overflows as nocturnal carnations
   until it is and is nothing but a glow in the shadow.

I think I like this. “Full woman” seems a little off for me, but I’ll leave it. Maybe there’s something more going on in “full woman,” more than I know or know to translate. But the two bigger concerns are in line 6 and in the mood of  the poem. Why would Neruda use “flour” in line 6. That just seems to odd to me. I can’t wrap my mind around what “flour” is doing in this poem or what it wants to do or what feelings it’s trying to create. I left it in there for now. I did think about “dust” or “sand” to balance off with smallness and infinity in line 9, and it would balance with the smallness of salt in line 2. You know, because dust and sand are small but infinite. But I think the better word is “powder.”

The other concern is the tone or mood of the poem. I think this poem wants to be sexy. Below is a sexier version:

   Full moon, carnal apple, seductive woman, 
   seaweed’s salty aroma, mud, and shredded light –
   what shadowy arousal opens between your columns?
   What primitive night is touched by a masculine nerve?

   Ah, love is a journey with water and stars,
   in gasping air and squalls of powder;
   love is a battle in lightning,
   two bodies defeated by a single drop of honey.

   Kiss after kiss, I rekindle your warming infinity,
   rivers and shores, your diminutive village,
   the genital fire transformed into a delicacy

   races through blood’s thin pathways
   and overflows nocturnal carnations
   and endures in a glow in the shadow.

Here, I replaced “flour” with “powder,” but I almost used “moisture.” I wanted a hot, sweaty poem, and, again, the sweat would balance off the saltiness in line 2. You’ll also see I changed some of the first line. I liked the progression from moon to sinful apple to seductive woman. I also made the moon full instead of the woman. I think that actually might be closer to what the original wants, don’t you? You can also see the other places where I sexed up the poem. In the penultimate, I tried to create the sense of climax, at least more deliberately. In the above translation, I tried to do the same, but here it’s more deliberate. (I also like the closeness of “nocturnal carnations” to “nocturnal emissions.”)

(I just had a side thought. “Flour” might work better in this poem, cuz then it would enhance the food motif in “honey” and “delicacy.” Hmm. I don’t think it will pan out, though.)

Now, I’m wondering which translation I like better and would be better to use in class. What do you think?

Thank you for reading and voting.//

The Cave (Winner of The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013.)

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