Friday, June 18, 2010

Found in translation (Mark Strand)

Who cares if old age comes, what is old age?
Your shoulders are holding up the world
and it's lighter than a child's hand.
Wars, famine, family fights inside buildings
prove only that life goes on
and nobody will ever be free.
Some (the delicate ones) judging the spectacle cruel
will prefer to die.
A time comes when death doesn't help.
A time comes when life is an order.
Just life, without any escapes.

Carlos Drummond de Andrade, lines from "Your Shoulders Hold Up the World." Translation by Mark Strand, from Souvenir of the Ancient World, Antaeus Editions 1976.

We shall drink from the traitor's skull,
we shall wear his teeth as a necklace,
of his bones we shall make flutes,
of his skin we shall make a drum;
later, we'll dance.

"War Song." Translation by Mark Strand, from 18 Poems from the Quechua, Halty Ferguson 1971.

You must look for them
under the drop of wax that buries a word in a book
or the name at the end of a letter
that lies gathering dust.
Look for them
near a lost bottlecap,
near a shoe gone astray in the snow,
near a razorblade left at the edge of a cliff.

Rafael Alberti, lines from "The Dead Angels." Translation by Mark Strand, from The Owl's Insomnia, Atheneum 1973.

The contents of the three books above, with some corrections and additions, were later collected in the omnibus edition below.

Looking for Poetry: Poems by Carlos Drummond de Andrade and Rafael Alberti / Songs from the Quechua, Alfred A. Knopf 2002.

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