10 dic. 2006

A book read and reread
appears in her hands
as in alien hands. She fixes
in the tree-top the image
of emptiness, breathes calmly, raises
branches and leaves to the lung's rhythm,
they descend. She speaks a few
repeated words, consolation
seeks, knows that feared
animals find the one watching for them.

--Olvido García Valdés / (trans. JM)

[Un libro que leyó y releyó
aparece en sus manos
como en manos ajenas. Fija
en la copa del árbol la imagen
del vacío, respira sosegada, alza
ramas y hojas con ritmo de pulmón,
descienden. Dice algunas
palabras repetidas, consuelo
busca, sabe que animales
temidos hallan a quien los acecha.]

Cognates with Spanish original: aparece, ajenas, fija, ritmo, descienden, repetidas, consuelo, animales. I like preserving cognates because I think poets are thinking of the etymological substrate. What if I said "shows up in her hands / as in someone else's hands." Or "to the beat of her lungs."

The gender of the character in the poem is revealed in one participle, sosegada, in line 5. I've had to put it in the second line and again in the third. English wants a subject pronoun, though I've got away with using only two.

This is significant because Olvido likes not to reveal the "subject" when it is not necessary, even though this subject is often implicitly female. My students wanted to always claim that the subject was female even when not specified, but the gender indetermination is a meaningful technique in its own right.

2 comentarios:

Anónimo dijo...

I just found your weblog through a link on Heriberto Yepez' site. I appreciate your thoughts on cognates. I also see a great value in them, also because it makes English sometimes strange to read the cognates. Anyway, could you post the original Spanish too? It would be good to see. Also, I tried to read your archives and they seem to be shut down.

Jonathan dijo...

Archives should be working now.