Algo hermoso termina


  Todos los días del mundo
                                           algo hermoso termina.

                                                     Jaroslav Seifert

Duélete: 
como a una vieja estrella fatigada
te ha dejado la luz. Y la criatura 
que iluminabas 
                       (y que iluminaba
tus ojos ciegos a las nimias cosas 
del mundo)
ha vuelto a ser mortal. 
Todo recobra 
su densidad, su peso, su volumen, 
ese pobre equilibrio que sostiene 
tu nuevo invierno. Alégrate. 
Tus vísceras ahora son otra vez tus vísceras
y no crudo alimento de zozobras. 
Ya no eres ese dios ebrio e incierto 
que te fue dado ser. Muerde
el hueso que dan, 
llega a su médula, 
recoge las migajas que deja la memoria.

© 2004, Piedad Bonnett
From: Tretas del débil

  Every day of the world
                                                     something beautiful ends.

                                                                   Jaroslav Seifert

Suffer:
as if you were an old, tired star, 
light has left you. And the creature
you lighted
                 (and who lighted
your eyes, blind to the world’s
trivial things)
is now mortal again. 
Everything recovers
its density, its weight, its volume,
the poor balance that supports
your new winter. Be glad. 
Your entrails are now again your entrails
and not coarse food of anxiety. 
You’re no longer that drunk and uncertain god
that you turned out to be. Bite
the bone they give you,
down to the marrow, 
pick up the crumbs memory leaves behind.

© Translation: 2005, Nicolás Suescún

Standing at Fearful Attention

Standing at fearful attention, we’re grateful 
to fear, which keeps us from going mad.
Decision and courage are bad
for our health; life without living is safer.

Adventurers whose adventures are history,
standing in fear we struggle against
ironic ghosts in our ongoing quest
for what we never were and won’t be.

Standing in fear with no voice of our own,
our heart ground up by our teeth, we are
the madmen, we’re our own ghosts.

A flock of sheep pursued by fear,
we live so together and so alone
that life’s meaning has disappeared.

Alexandre O’Neill (1962) , Translation: 1997, Richard Zenith

Perfilados de medo, agradecemos
o medo que nos salva da loucura.
Decisão e coragem valem menos
e a vida sem viver é mais segura.

Aventureiros já sem aventura,
perfilados de medo combatemos
irónicos fantasmas à procura
do que fomos, do que não seremos.

Perfilados de medo, sem mais voz,
o coração nos dentes oprimido,
os loucos, os fantasmas somos nós.

Rebanho pelo medo perseguido,
já vivemos tão juntos e tão sós
que da vida perdemos o sentido . . . 

© 1962, Alexandre O’Neill
From: Poesias Completas
Publisher: Assírio & Alvim, Lisbon, 2000

At the wheel…

 

…of a Chevrolet on the road to Sintra,
Through moonlight and dreams, on the deserted road,
I drive alone, drive almost slowly, and it almost
Seems to me, or I almost force myself to think it seems,
That I’m going down another road, another dream, another world,
That I’m going on without having left Lisbon, without Sintra to go to,
That I’m going on, and what is there to going on except not stopping, but going on?

I’ll spend the night in Sintra because I can’t spend it in Lisbon,
But, when I get to Sintra, I’ll be sorry I didn’t stay in Lisbon.
Always this groundless worry, no purpose, no consequence,
Always, always, always,
This excessive anguish for nothing at all,
On the road to Sintra, on the road to dreams, on the road to life

Alert to my subconscious movements at the wheel,
Around me, with me, leaps the car I borrowed.
I smile at the symbol, at thinking of it, and at turning right.
In how many borrowed things do I move through the world?
How many borrowed things do I drive as if they were mine?
How many borrowed things — oh God — am I myself?

To my left, a hovel — yes, a hovel — by the roadside.
To my right an open field, the moon far off.
The car, which seemed just now to give me freedom,
Is now something I’m shut up in,
That I can only drive shut up in,
That I can only tame if I include it, if it includes me.

To my left, back there, that modest, that more than modest hovel.
Life must be happy there: it’s not mine.
If someone saw me from the window, they’d think: Now that guy’s happy.

Maybe a child spying at the upstairs window
Would see me, in my borrowed car, as a dream, a fairy tale come true.
Maybe, for the girl who watched me, hearing my motor out the kitchen window,
On packed earth,
I’m some kind of prince of girls’ hearts,
And she’ll watch me sideways, out the window, past this curve where I lose myself.
Will I leave dreams behind me? Will the car?
I, the borrowed-car-driver, or the borrowed car I drive?

On the road to Sintra in moonlight, in sadness, before the fields and night,
Forlornly driving the borrowed Chevy,
I lose myself on the future road, I disappear in the distance I reach.

And in a terrible, sudden, violent, inconceivable desire
I speed up,
But my heart stayed back on a pile of rocks I veered from, seeing without seeing it,
At the door of the hovel —
My empty heart,
My dissatisfied heart,
My heart more human than me, more exact than life.

On the road to Sintra, near midnight, in moonlight, at the wheel,
On the road to Sintra, oh my weary imagination,
On the road to Sintra, ever nearer to Sintra,
On the road to Sintra, ever farther from me…

In The Collected Poems of Álvaro de CamposVol. 2 (1928–1935) . translated by Chris Daniels

 

Ao volante do Chevrolet pela estrada de Sintra,

Ao luar e ao sonho, na estrada deserta,

Sozinho guio, guio quase devagar, e um pouco

Me parece, ou me forço um pouco para que me pareça,

Que sigo por outra estrada, por outro sonho, por outro mundo,

Que sigo sem haver Lisboa deixada ou Sintra a que ir ter,

Que sigo, e que mais haverá em seguir senão não parar mas seguir?

Vou passar a noite a Sintra por não poder passá-la em Lisboa,

Mas, quando chegar a Sintra, terei pena de não ter ficado em Lisboa.

Sempre esta inquietação sem propósito, sem nexo, sem consequência,

Sempre, sempre, sempre,

Esta angústia excessiva do espírito por coisa nenhuma,

Na estrada de Sintra, ou na estrada do sonho, ou na estrada da vida…

Maleável aos meus movimentos subconscientes do volante,

Galga sob mim comigo o automóvel que me emprestaram.

Sorrio do símbolo, ao pensar nele, e ao virar à direita.

Em quantas coisas que me emprestaram guio como minhas!

Quanto me emprestaram, ai de mim!, eu próprio sou!

À esquerda o casebre — sim, o casebre — à beira da estrada.

À direita o campo aberto, com a lua ao longe.

O automóvel, que parecia há pouco dar-me liberdade,

É agora uma coisa onde estou fechado,

Que só posso conduzir se nele estiver fechado,

Que só domino se me incluir nele, se ele me incluir a mim.

À esquerda lá para trás o casebre modesto, mais que modesto.

A vida ali deve ser feliz, só porque não é a minha.

Se alguém me viu da janela do casebre, sonhará: Aquele é que é feliz.

Talvez à criança espreitando pelos vidros da janela do andar que está em cima

Fiquei (com o automóvel emprestado) como um sonho, uma fada real.

Talvez à rapariga que olhou, ouvindo o motor, pela janela da cozinha

No pavimento térreo,

Sou qualquer coisa do príncipe de todo o coração de rapariga,

E ela me olhará de esguelha, pelos vidros, até à curva em que me perdi.

Deixarei sonhos atrás de mim, ou é o automóvel que os deixa?

Eu, guiador do automóvel emprestado, ou o automóvel emprestado que eu guio?

Na estrada de Sintra ao luar, na tristeza, ante os campos e a noite,

Guiando o Chevrolet emprestado desconsoladamente,

Perco-me na estrada futura, sumo-me na distância que alcanço,

E, num desejo terrível, súbito, violento, inconcebível,

Acelero…

Mas o meu coração ficou no monte de pedras, de que me desviei ao vê-lo sem vê-lo,

À porta do casebre,

O meu coração vazio,

O meu coração insatisfeito,

O meu coração mais humano do que eu, mais exacto que a vida.

Na estrada de Sintra, perto da meia-noite, ao luar, ao volante,

Na estrada de Sintra, que cansaço da própria imaginação,

Na estrada de Sintra, cada vez mais perto de Sintra,

Na estrada de Sintra, cada vez menos perto de mim…

11-5-1928

Poesias de Álvaro de Campos. Fernando Pessoa. Lisboa: Ática, 1944 (imp. 1993).- 37

 

I chose part of this poem to say goodbye to someone today. I did not go the funeral. “Do you want me to go?”, I asked. He didn’t. I didn’t know his father, I have never met him, I heard stories of beautiful cars and saw fading photos of a once happy life.

 

Photo: Not really a Chevrolet at Bastelicaccia, Corsica, August 2018

GLOSS ON THE COMING OF AUTUMN

The body does not wait. Neither for us
nor for love. This groping of hands,
researching with such reticence
the warm, silky aridness
that twitches from embarrassment
in movements quick and random;
this groping attended not by us
but by a thirst, a memory, whatever
we know about touching the bared
body that does not wait; this groping
that doesn’t know, doesn’t see, doesn’t
dare to be afraid of feeling scared…

The body’s so hasty! All is over and done
when one of us, or when love, has come.

Translation: 1997, Richard Zenith

 

GLOSA À CHEGADA DO OUTONO
O corpo não espera. Não. Por nós
ou pelo amor. Este pousar de mãos,
tão reticente e que interroga a sós
a tépida secura acetinada,
a que palpita por adivinhada
em solitários movimentos vãos;
este pousar em que não estamos nós,
mas uma sede, uma memória, tudo
o que sabemos de tocar desnudo
o corpo que não espera: este pousar
que não conhece, nada vê, nem nada
ousa temer no seu temor agudo…Tem tanta pressa o corpo! E já passou,
quando um de nós ou quando o amor chegou.

© 1958, Jorge de Sena
From: Fidelidade
Publisher: Edições 70, Lisboa, 1988
Photo: Urbino, April 2018

A haze

I have in me like a haze
Which holds and which is nothing
A nostalgia for nothing at all,
The desire for something vague.

I’m wrapped by it
As by a fog, and I see
The final star shining
Above the stub in my ashtray.

I smoked my life. How uncertain
All I saw or read! All
The world is a great open book
That smiles at me in an unknown tongue


Tenho em mim como uma bruma
Que nada é nem contém
A saudade de coisa nenhuma,
O desejo de qualquer bem.

Sou envolvido por ela
Como por um nevoeiro
E vejo luzir a última estrela
Por cima da ponta do meu cinzeiro

Fumei a vida. Que incerto
Tudo quanto vi ou li!
E todo o mundo é um grande livro aberto
Que em ignorada língua me sorri.

Monday poetry comes on Wednesday because Fernando Pessoa was born on this day in Lisbon 130 years ago. 

Translation: 1998, Richard Zenith

Photo: crossing back to Porto, May 2018

Little things

Now, dear, it isn’t the bold things,
Great deeds of valour and might,
That count the most in the summing up of life at the end of the day.
But it is the doing of old things,
Small acts that are just and right;
And doing them over and over again, no matter what others say;
In smiling at fate, when you want to cry, and in keeping at work when

          you want to play—
Dear, those are the things that count.

And, dear, it isn’t the new ways
Where the wonder-seekers crowd
That lead us into the land of content, or help us to find our own.
But it is keeping to true ways,
Though the music is not so loud,
And there may be many a shadowed spot where we journey along

          alone;
In flinging a prayer at the face of fear, and in changing into a song a

          groan—
Dear, these are the things that count.

My dear, it isn’t the loud part
Of creeds that are pleasing to God,
Not the chant of a prayer, or the hum of a hymn, or a jubilant shout or

          song.
But it is the beautiful proud part
Of walking with feet faith-shod;
And in loving, loving, loving through all, no matter how things go

          wrong;
In trusting ever, though dark the day, and in keeping your hope when

          the way seems long—

Dear, these are the things that count.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox, The Things that Count

 

The will to

I sing the will to love:
the will that carves the will to live,
the will that saps the will to hurt,
the will that kills the will to die;
the will that made and keeps you warm,
the will that points your eyes ahead,
the will that makes you give, not get,
a give and get that tell us what you are:
how much a god, how much a human.
I call on you to live the will to love.

CredoAlfred Kreymborg

 

Photo, Campo dos Mártires da Pátria (Porto, May 2018)

He’ll know

Rain will fall again
on your smooth pavement,
a light rain like
a breath or a step.
The breeze and the dawn
will flourish again
when you return,
as if beneath your step.
Between flowers and sills
the cats will know.
 
There will be other days,
there will be other voices.
You will smile alone.
The cats will know.
You will hear words
old and spent and useless
like costumes left over
from yesterday’s parties.
 
You too will make gestures.
You’ll answer with words—
face of springtime,
you too will make gestures.
 
The cats will know,
face of springtime;
and the light rain
and the hyacinth dawn
that wrench the heart of him
who hopes no more for you—
they are the sad smile
you smile by yourself.
 
There will be other days,
other voices and renewals.
Face of springtime,
we will suffer at daybreak.
Cats Will Know, Cesare Pavese

Words

They are like a crystal,
words.
Some a dagger,
some a blaze.
Others,
merely dew.

Secret they come, full of memory.
Insecurely they sail:
cockleboats or kisses,
the waters trembling.

Abandoned, innocent,
weightless.
They are woven of light.
They are the night.
And even pallid
they recall green paradise.

Who hears them? Who
gathers them, thus,
cruel, shapeless,
in their pure shells?

Translation: 1985, Alexis Levitin, Inhabited Heart
Perivale Press, Los Angeles, 1985

São como um cristal,
as palavras.
Algumas, um punhal,
um incêndio.
Outras,
orvalho apenas.

Secretas vêm, cheias de memória.
Inseguras navegam:
barcos ou beijos,
as águas estremecem.

Desamparadas, inocentes,
leves.
Tecidas são de luz
e são a noite.
E mesmo pálidas
verdes paraísos lembram ainda.

Quem as escuta? Quem
as recolhe, assim,
cruéis, desfeitas,
nas suas conchas puras?

Eugénio de Andrade, Coração do Dia
Limiar, Porto, 1958

Photo: Point Omega by Don Delillo (sometimes I’m too lazy to take notes)

Lingering

Come to me in the silence of the night;
    Come in the speaking silence of a dream;
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright
    As sunlight on a stream;
       Come back in tears,
O memory, hope, love of finished years.

O dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter sweet,
    Whose wakening should have been in Paradise,
Where souls brimful of love abide and meet;
    Where thirsting longing eyes
       Watch the slow door
That opening, letting in, lets out no more.

Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live
    My very life again though cold in death:
Come back to me in dreams, that I may give
    Pulse for pulse, breath for breath:
       Speak low, lean low,
As long ago, my love, how long ago!

Echo, Christina Rossetti

Photo: Leça da Palmeira, after the storm (March 2018)

Early in the morning

Hoje de manhã saí muito cedo,

Hoje de manhã saí muito cedo,

Por ter acordado ainda mais cedo

E não ter nada que quisesse fazer…

 

Não sabia por caminho tomar

Mas o vento soprava forte, varria para um lado,

E segui o caminho para onde o vento me soprava nas costas.

 

Assim tem sido sempre a minha vida, e

Assim quero que possa ser sempre —

Vou onde o vento me leva e não me

Sinto pensar.

13-6-1930

“Poemas Inconjuntos”. In Poemas de Alberto Caeiro. Fernando Pessoa.

I went out very early in the morning today
Because I woke up even earlier
And there was nothing I wanted to do…

I didn’t know which road to take
But the wind rose strong, sweeping up from one side,
And I followed the road where the wind pushed at my back.

That’s how my life has always been, and
That’s how I’d like to be able to have it always be —
I go where the wind leads me
And don’t feel like thinking.

Translation here 

Photo: Afurada on a perfect Saturday morning

Be all this

Quiero que sepas
una cosa.

Tú sabes cómo es esto:
si miro
la luna de cristal, la rama roja 
del lento otoño en mi ventana, 
si toco
junto al fuego 
la impalpable ceniza
o el arrugado cuerpo de la leña, 
todo me lleva a ti, 
como si todo lo que existe, 
aromas, luz, metales, 
fueran pequeños barcos que navegan 
hacia las islas tuyas que me aguardan.

Ahora bien, 
si poco a poco dejas de quererme
dejaré de quererte poco a poco.

Si de pronto
me olvidas
no me busques,
que ya te habré olvidado.

Si consideras largo y loco 
el viento de banderas 
que pasa por mi vida 
y te decides
a dejarme a la orilla
del corazón en que tengo raíces,
piensa
que en ese día,
a esa hora
levantaré los brazos
y saldrán mis raíces
a buscar otra tierra.

Pero
si cada día, 
cada hora
sientes que a mí estás destinada 
con dulzura implacable.
Si cada día sube 
una flor a tus labios a buscarme, 
ay amor mío, ay mía, 
en mí todo ese fuego se repite, 
en mí nada se apaga ni se olvida, 
mi amor se nutre de tu amor, amada, 
y mientras vivas estará en tus brazos 
sin salir de los míos.

Si tu me olvidas, Pablo Neruda

 

I want you to know

one thing.

You know how this is:

if I look

at the crystal moon, at the red branch

of the slow autumn at my window,

if I touch

near the fire

the impalpable ash

or the wrinkled body of the log,

everything carries me to you,

as if everything that exists,

aromas, light, metals,

were little boats

that sail

toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,

if little by little you stop loving me

I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly

you forget me

do not look for me,

for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,

the wind of banners

that passes through my life,

and you decide

to leave me at the shore

of the heart where I have roots,

remember

that on that day,

at that hour,

I shall lift my arms

and my roots will set off

to seek another land.

But

if each day,

each hour,

you feel that you are destined for me

with implacable sweetness,

if each day a flower

climbs up to your lips to seek me,

ah my love, ah my own,

in me all that fire is repeated,

in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,

my love feeds on your love, beloved,

and as long as you live it will be in your arms

without leaving mine.

Photo: Wall poetry on the streets of Porto

Be all this.
Be this touch with all the skin that can comfort you

 

Welcome song

Here’s your Mom, here’s your Dad.
Welcome to being their flesh and blood.
Why do you look so sad?

Here’s your food, here’s your drink.
Also some thoughts, if you care to think.
Welcome to everything.

Here’s your practically clean slate.
Welcome to it, though it’s kind of late.
Welcome at any rate.

Here’s your paycheck, here’s your rent.
Money is nature’s fifth element.
Welcome to every cent.

Here’s your swarm and your huge beehive.
Welcome to that there’s roughly five
billion like you alive.

Welcome to the phone book that stars your name
Digits are democracy’s secret aim.
Welcome to your claim to fame.

Here’s your marriage, and here’s divorce.
Now that’s the order you can’t reverse.
Welcome to it; up yours.

Here’s your blade, here’s your wrist.
Welcome to playing your own terrorist;
call this your Middle East.

Here’s your mirror, your dental gleam.
Here’s an octopus in your dream.
Why do you try to scream?

Here’s your corn-cob, your TV set.
Your candidate suffering an upset.
Welcome to what he said.

Here’s your porch, see the cars pass by.
Here’s your shitting dog’s guilty eye.
Welcome to its alibi.

Here are your cicadas, then a chickadee,
the bulb’s dry tear in your lemon tea.
Welcome to infinity.

Here are your pills on the plastic tray,
Your disappointing, crisp X-ray.
You are welcome to pray.

Here’s your cemetery, a well kept glen.
Welcome to a voice that says, “Amen.”
The end of the rope, old man.

Here’s your will, and here’s a few
takers. Here’s an empty pew.
Here’s life after you.

And here are your stars which appear still keen
on shining as though you had never been.
They might have a point, old bean.

Here’s your afterlife, with no trace
of you, especially of your face.
Welcome, and call it space.

Welcome to where one cannot breathe.
This way, space resembles what’s underneath
and Saturn holds the wreath.

Joseph Brodsky

 

Enjoying Porto’s sunsets and making Monday’s poetry late again.

 

 

Não fora o Mar

Não fora o mar,

e eu seria feliz na minha rua,

neste primeiro andar da minha casa

a ver, de dia, o sol, de noite a lua,

calada, quieta, sem um golpe de asa.

Não fora o mar,

e seriam contados os meus passos,

tantos para viver, para morrer,

tantos os movimentos dos meus braços,

pequena angústia, pequeno prazer.

Não fora o mar,

e os seus sonhos seriam sem violência

como irisadas bolas de sabão,

efémero cristal, branca aparência,

e o resto — pingos de água em minha mão.

Não fora o mar,

e este cruel desejo de aventura

seria vaga música ao sol pôr

nem sequer brasa viva, queimadura,

pouco mais que o perfume duma flor.

Não fora o mar

e o longo apelo, o canto da sereia,

apenas ilusão, miragem,

breve canção, passo breve na areia,

desejo balbuciante de viagem.

Não fora o mar

e, resignada, em vez de olhar os astros

tudo o que é alto, inacessível, fundo,

cimos, castelos, torres, nuvens, mastros,

iria de olhos baixos pelo mundo.

Não fora o mar

e o meu canto seria flor e mel,

asa de borboleta, rouxinol,

e não rude halali, garra cruel,

Águia Real que desafia o sol.

Não fora o mar

e este potro selvagem, sem arção,

crinas ao vento, com arreio,

meu altivo, indomável coração,

Não fora o mar

e comeria à mão,

não fora o mar

e aceitaria o freio.

Fernanda de Castro, in “Trinta e Nove Poemas”

I couldn’t find a translation of this poem. I did try to translate it myself and I think I ended up mutilating it because I was not able to translate the feeling of disquiet a lifetime staring at the sea actually has over ourselves. In the midst of all the routines, broken illusions and plans that have not been fulfilled, you can’t help yourself. You don’t surrender.

It weren’t for the sea,

and I would be happy on my street,

on this first floor of my house

to see, by day, the sun, at night the moon,

quiet, quiet, without a blow of the wing.

It weren’t for the sea,

and my steps would be numbered,

so many to live, to die,

so many movements of my arms,

little anguish, little pleasure.

It weren’t for the sea,

and your dreams would be without violence

like iridescent soap bubbles,

ephemeral crystal, white appearance,

and the rest – drops of water in my hand.

It weren’t for the sea,

and this cruel desire for adventure

would be vague music in the sun

not even live coal, burning,

little more than the perfume of a flower.

It weren’t for the sea

and the long appeal, the mermaid’s song,

only illusion, mirage,

brief song, brief step in the sand,

bursts of travel.

It weren’t for the sea

and, resigned, instead of looking at the stars

everything that is high, inaccessible, deep,

high, castles, towers, clouds, masts,

would be travelling face down through the world.

It weren’t for the sea

and my song would be flower and honey,

butterfly wing, nightingale,

and not rude halali, cruel claw,

Royall eagle defying the sun.

It weren’t for the sea

and this wild colt,

mane in the wind, harnessed,

my haughty, indomitable heart,

It weren’t for the sea

and I would eat out of hand,

It weren’t for the sea,

and would accept the bridle.