Archive for the ‘Spain’ Category

Juan Ramón Jiménez (Spain, 1881-1958)

I Am Not I

I am not I.
I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
the one who remains silent while I talk,
the one who forgives, sweet, when I hate,
the one who takes a walk when I am indoors,
the one who will remain standing when I die.
translated by Robert Bly

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Jacinto Benavente (Spain, 1866-1954)

Jacinto Benavente (Spain, 1866-1954)

The following is from the prologue of his play Los Intereses Creados (The Bonds of Interest), published in 1907. The play takes place in an imaginary country at the beginning of the 17th century. The prologue is spoken by the character of Crispin: For nothing is so quickly contagious between souls as this sympathetic laughter. At times the farce also ascended to the palaces of princes, most exalted lords, through some caprice of the masters and there it was no less liberated and carefree. It belonged to everyone and addressed everyone. From the masses it gathered practical jokes, cunning turns, and sententious sayings, that philosophy of the always suffering common man, which was sweetened by the resignation which the humble felt in those days, not expecting all things from this world, and thus able to laugh at the world without hatred or bitterness. Later on, the farce made its plebian origin illustrious with lofty patents of nobility: Lope de Rueda, Shakespeare, Molière, like the amorous princes in fairy tales, raised Cinderella to the highest throne of Poetry and Art. This farce of ours doesn’t boast such a glorious lineage; a poet of today presents it to you out of the inquisitiveness of his restless mind. It’s a farce for puppets; its subject is nonsensical and it’s completely unreal. You will soon see that its entire action could never have taken place, that its characters aren’t, and don’t even resemble, men and women, but are puppets or marionettes of cardboard and rags, pulled by thick strings that are visible even in scanty light, and even to the most nearsighted. They are the same grotesque masks of that Italian commedia dell’arte, not as jolly as in the past, because in all the time that’s gone by they’ve meditated a great deal. The author is well aware that such a primitive show is not particularly worthy of a cultured audience of this day and age; and so he claims the protection of your culture as well as your good nature. The author merely requests that you make your minds as childlike as possible. The world is already old and in its dotage, but Art refuses to grow old and, to resemble a child, it pretends to stammer…. And that’s why these old-time Punchinellos hope to entertain you today with their childish pranks.

Change of scene.

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The Snowfall Is So Silent

The snowfall is so silent,
so slow,
bit by bit, with delicacy
it settles down on the earth
and covers over the fields.
The silent snow comes down
white and weightless;
snowfall makes no noise,
falls as forgetting falls,
flake after flake.
It covers the fields gently
while frost attacks them
with its sudden flashes of white;
covers everything with its pure
and silent covering;
not one thing on the ground
anywhere escapes it.
And wherever it falls it stays,
content and gay,
for snow does not slip off
as rain does,
but it stays and sinks in.
The flakes are skyflowers,
pale lilies from the clouds,
that wither on earth.
They come down blossoming
but then so quickly
they are gone;
they bloom only on the peak,
above the mountains,
and make the earth feel heavier
when they die inside.
Snow, delicate snow,
that falls with such lightness
on the head,
on the feelings,
come and cover over the sadness
that lies always in my reason.
by Miguel de Unamuno
Translated by Robert Bly

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Frédéric Mistral (French, 1830-1914)

Frédéric Mistral (French, 1830-1914)

“Car, d’aquesto ouro, ounto es la raro
Que di delice nous separo,
Jouine, amourous que siam, libre coume d’aucèu?
Regardo: la Naturo brulo
A noste entour, e se barrulo
Dins li bras de l’Estiéu, e chulo
Lou devourant alen de soun nòve roussèu.
“Li serre clar e blu, li colo
Palo de la calour e molo,
Boulegon trefouli si mourre…. Ve la mar:
Courouso e lindo coumo un vèire,
Dòu grand soulèu i rai bevèire
Enjusqu’au founs se laisso vèire,
Se laisso coutiga pèr lou Rose e lou Var.”

“For now, where is the limit that separates us from joy, young, amorous as we are, free as birds! Look: Nature burns around us and rolls in the arms of Summer, and drinks in the devouring breath of her ruddy spouse. The clear, blue peaks, the hills, pale and soft with the heat, are thrilled and stir their rounding summits. Behold the sea, glistening and limpid as glass; in the thirsty rays of the great sun, she allows herself to be seen clear to the bottom, to be caressed by the Rhone and the Var.”

From Mirèio, by Frédéric Mistral (French, 1830-1913),
translated from the Provencal (a dialect of French) by Charles Alfred Downer

José Echegaray (Spain, 1833-1916)

José Echegaray (Spanish, 1833-1916)

Two monologues from separate scenes from The great Galeoto: Folly or saintliness; two plays by José Echegaray

Monologue by Don Lorenzo:

Don Lorenzo: [Aside] Now they will see how my madness is going to end. Before I leave this house with what a hearty pleasure will I kick that doctor out. Fresh vigour already animates me. What! Since when has it become reason sufficient to declare a man mad because he is resolved to perform his duty ? Ah, that’s not very likely. Humanity is neither so blind nor so base, though it is bad enough. Softly now. Treason has begun its work ; then let the punishment begin too. [A loud] The hour has come for me to accomplish a sacred obligation, however sharp a sorrow it may be. It were a useless trouble to insist upon your presence at the necessary legal formalities. It would only bore you. The representative of law awaits me in yonder room. I, in obeying a higher law, am about to renounce a fortune that is not mine, as well as a name that neither I nor my family can any longer bear with a clear conscience. Afterwards I will return here, and with my wife and— and—my daughter, will leave this house, which in the past has only sheltered love and felicity, and to-day offers me nothing but treason and wickedness. Let no one seek to prevent me, for none of you can resist my will. Gentlemen [to Dr. Tomds and Bermudez], do me the favour to go before—I beg you. [All slowly enter closet R. On the threshold Don Lorenzo looks back once at Ines]

Monologue by Pepito:

Pepito: Well, here’s a mess; and a useless mess, too. Just the same, no matter what my uncle may say, it was sheer madness to have a young girl as beautiful as the sun under the same roof, in almost continual contact with Ernesto, who is a handsome fellow with a soul all of fire, and a head full of romance. He swears there is nothing between them but the purest sort of friendship, that he loves her like a sister, and that my uncle is a father to him. But I’m pretty sharp, and though I am young, I know a thing or two about this world, and I don’t put much faith in this brother-and-sister business; particularly where the brother is so young, and the relationship fictitious. But suppose this affection is all they say it is, how are other people to know that? Have they signed any pledge always to think well of every one? Don’t they see them together all the time–in the theater–in the park? Well, the person who saw them, saw them, and when he saw them, he told about it. Ernesto swore to me, “No.” They had almost never gone about in that way. Did he go once? Well, that’s enough. If a hundred people saw them that day, they might as well have appeared in public not once, but a hundred different times. Are people bound to examine their witnesses and compare their dates to find out whether it was many times or only once that they went out together, she with her innocent sympathy, and he with his brotherly affection? Such a demand would be altogether ridiculous. They all tell what they’ve seen, and they’re not lying when they tell it. “I saw them once. I saw them as well.” One and one make two. There’s no way out. “And I saw them, too.” There you have three already. And this man, four; and that one, five. And so, adding up in all good faith, you go on indefinitely. And they saw because they looked. In short, because naturally one uses one’s senses and doesn’t stop to ask permission. So let him look after himself and remember that nowadays he who avoids the appearance of evil, avoids the slander and the danger. And notice, I am admitting the purity of their affection; and that is a very important point; for, between ourselves, I must admit that to be near Teodora and not to love her, one must be as steady as a rock. He may be a scholar, and a philosopher, and a mathematician, and a physicist; but he’s human, and she’s divine!

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Cesar Vallejo (1892-1938)

The anger that breaks the man into children,
that breaks the child into equal birds,
and the bird, afterward, into little eggs;
the anger of the poor
has one oil against two vinegars.

The anger that breaks the tree into leaves,
the leaf into unequal buds
and the bud, into telescopic grooves;
the anger of the poor
has two rivers against many seas.

The anger that breaks the good into doubts,
and the doubt, into three similar arcs
and the arc, later on, into unforeseeable tombs;
the anger of the poor
has one steel against two daggers.

The anger that breaks the soul into bodies;
the body into dissimilar organs
and the organ, into octave thoughts;
the anger of the poor
has one central fire against two craters.

La cólera que quiebra al hombre en ninos,
que quiebra al nino en pájaros iguales,
y al pájaro, después, en huevecillos;
la cólera del pobre
tiene un aceite contra dos vinagres.

La cólera que al álbol quiebra en hojas,
a la hoja en botones desiguales
y al botón, en ranuras telescópicas;
la cólera del pobre
tiene dos ríos contra muchos mares.

La cólera que quibra al bien en dudas,
a la duda, en tres arcos semejantes
y al arco, luego, en tumbas imprevistas;
la cólera del pobre
tiene un acero contra dos punales.

La cólera que quiebra al alma en cuerpos;
al cuerpo en órganos desemejantes
y al órgano, en octavos pensamintos;
la cólera del pobre
tiene un fuego central contra dos cráteres.

Cesar Vallejo (1892-1938)
translated by Clayton Eshleman and Jose Rubia Barcia

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Something identifies you with the one who leaves you, and it is your common power to return: thus your greatest sorrow.
Something separates you from the one who remains with you, and it is your common slavery to depart: thus your meagerest rejoicing.
I address myself, in this way, to collective individualities, as well as to individual collectivities and to those who, between them both, lie marching to the sound of the frontiers, or simply, mark time without moving at the edge of the world.
Something typically neuter, inexorably neuter, stands between the thief and his victim. This, likewise, can be noticed in the relation between a surgeon and his patient. A horrible halfmoon, convex and solar, covers all of them. For the stolen object has also its indifferent weight, and the operated on organ, also its sad fat.
What on earth is more exasperating, than the impossibility for the happy man to become unhappy, and the good man to become wicked?
To leave! To remain! To return! To depart! The whole social mechanism fits in these words.

Algo te identifica con el que se aleja de ti, y es la facultad común de volver: de ahí tu más grande pesadumbre.
Algo te separa del que se queda contigo, y es la esclavitud común de partir: d ahí tus más nimios regocijos.
Me dirijo, en esta forma, a las individualidades colectivas, tanto como a las colectivades individuales y a los que, entre unas y otras, yacen marchando al son de las fronteras o, simplemente, marcan el paso immóval en el borde del mundo.
Algo típicamente neutro, de inexorablemente neutro, interpónese entre el ladrón y su víctima. Esto, asimismo, pueda discernirse tratándose del cirujano y del paciente. Horrible medialuna, convexa y solar, cobija a unos y otros. Porque el objecto hurtado tiene también su peso indifernente, y el órgano intervenido, también su grasa triste.
Qué hay de más desesperente en la tierra, que la imposibilidad en que se halla el hombre feliz de ser infortunado y el hombre bueno, de ser malvado?
Alejarse! Quedarse! Volver! Partir! Toda la mecánica social cabe en estas palabras.
Cesar Vallejo (1892-1938)
translated by Clayton Eshleman and Jose Rubia Barcia

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As the falling rain
trickles among the stones
memories come bubbling out.
It’s as if the rain
had pierced my temples.
streaming chaotically
come memories:
the reedy voice
of the servant
telling me tales
of ghosts.
They sat beside me
the ghosts
and the bed creaked
that purple-dark afternoon
when I learned you were leaving forever,
a gleaming pebble
from constant rubbing
becomes a comet.
Rain is falling
and memories keep flooding by
they show me a senseless
a voracious
but I keep loving it
because I do
because of my five senses
because of my amazement
because every morning,
because forever, I have loved it
without knowing why.
by Claribel Alegría (born 1924)
Translated by Margaret S. Peden

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Forty playing cards have taken the place of life.
Brightly colored talismans of pasteboard,
they make us forgetful of our fates
and a most agreeable creation
peoples the stolen hours
with the theatrical mischief
of a home-made mythology.
At the frontier of the card-table
the lives of others are denied entry.
Inside, there is another country:
exploits of claim and challenge,
the authority of the Ace of Swords,
all-powerful like don Juan Manuel,
and the 7 of Coins jingling its hope.
Balky hesitations
keep interrupting the words,
and just as all the possible decisions
come up again and again,
the men playing tonight
repeat the ancient tricks:
all of which revives a little, a very little,
the generations of the forefathers
who bequeathed to the idle hours of Buenos Aires
the same rhymes, the same lies and deviltries.

by Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), Translated from the Spanish by Dick Barnes and Robert Mezey

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