Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Rain (Pessoa and Vallejo)
It rains and keeps raining. My soul is wet from hearing it. So much rain. . .
— Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
I will die in Paris in the rain
on a day I already remember
I will die in Paris — I won't deny it —
maybe on a Thursday, like today, in autumn
— César Vallejo, from "Black Stone on a White Stone"
This afternoon it is raining, as never before; and I
have no desire to live, my heart.
This afternoon is sweet. Why shouldn't it be?
Dressed in grace and pain; dressed like a woman.
This afternoon in Lima it is raining. And I recall
the cruel caverns of my ingratitude;
my block of ice over her poppy,
stronger than her “Don’t be like that!”
— César Vallejo, from "Dregs"
It's hailing so hard, as if to make me remember
and augment the pearls
that I've recovered from the very snout
of every storm.
Don't let this rain dry up.
Not unless it's given to me
to fall now into it, or to be buried
drenched in the water
that wells up from every fire.
How far will this rain reach in me?
I'm afraid I'll be left with one side dry;
I'm afraid it will cease, without having tasted me
in the droughts of incredible vocal cords,
to make harmony,
one must always rise, never descend!
Don't we in fact rise by descending?
Sing, rain, on the still-sealess coast!
— César Vallejo, Trilce, lxxvii
The Pessoa translation is by Richard Zenith; the first Vallejo translation is a mash-up of several versions and the second is by Clayton Eshleman but with modifications. The translation from Trilce is mine, but with borrowings from the versions of David Smith (Grossman, 1973) and Clayton Eshleman. The image is a detail from a photograph of César Vallejo by Juan Domingo Córdoba.