Saturday, July 11, 2020

Altazor, Canto II ... in English

One of the most beautiful poems ever written in Spanish is Altazor by Vicente Huidobro. I really love it and feel identified with its beauty and from time to time I love to share it with friends, particularly, the Canto II, a truly amazing love poem. Last week I wanted to share it with someone who does not speak Spanish whatsoever but English, so I tried to find a good translation in the internet. It became evident that there is only a couple of translations that I didn't quite like, but hey, is a Huidobro's poem and any attempt of translation is epic. I decided to try doing it by myself and I believe the result is acceptable... I have decided to share it here, so it is available for free to English speaking people, I hope you enjoy it as I do every time I read it.

Canto II

Woman, the world is furnished by your eyes.
The sky goes higher when you are here,
the earth extends from rose to rose
and the air extends from dove to dove.

When you go away, you leave a star in your stead.
You drop your lights like the passing ship
while my haunted song follows you,
like a faithful and melancholic serpent.
And you turn your head from behind a sun.

What battle is waged in the space?
Those spears of light among planets,
reflection of merciless armors.
What bloodthirsty star does not want to give way?
Where are you, sad night walker?
Giver of infinity
who walks in the forest of dreams?

Here I am, lost between deserted seas
Alone like the feather, falling from a night bird.
Here I am in a tower of cold
sheltered by the memory of your maritime lips,
the memory of your surrender and your hair.
Bright and unleashed, like mountain rivers.
Were you going to be blind so God gave you those hands?
I am asking you again.

The crossbow of your eyebrows tensed for your eyes’ weapons,
in the winged triumphant offensive, reassured with flower pride.
The beaten rocks speak to you on my behalf,
the waves of heaven-less birds speak to you on my behalf,
the colour of landscapes without wind speak to you on my behalf,
the flock of silent sheep speak to you on my behalf.
Asleep in your memory,
the exposed stream speak to you on my behalf.
The surviving grass bound to adventure,
adventure of light and blooded horizon.
Without more covering than a withering flower
if there is a bit of wind.

The plains are lost under your frail grace.
The world is lost under your visible pace
because everything is not real when you appear
with your dangerous light,
innocent harmony without fatigue nor oblivion.
Fragment of a tear that rolls inwards,
built with proud fear and silence.
You make time and heaven doubt
with instincts of infinity.
Away from you everything is mortal.
You send agony throughout a night-humbled earth.
Only what thinks about you tastes like eternity.

Here is your star passing by
with your breathing of distant fatigues,
with your gesturing and your way of walking,
with the magnetic space greeting you,
keeping us separated like night-leagues

Yet I warn you, we are sewn
to the same star.
We are sewn by the same music stretching
from one to the other.
By the same giant shadow shaken like a tree.
Let’s be that piece of heaven,
that fragment where the mysterious adventure unfolds.
The planet’s adventure that explodes in dream petals.

You would try in vain to escape my voice
and to climb over the walls of my praises.
We are sewn by the same star,
you are tied to the nightingale of moons,
which has a sacred ritual in its throat.

The night’s signs, their roots and funeral echoes in my chest
don’t matter to me.
I don’t care about the shinning enigma
or the signs shedding lights on the randomness.
I don’t care about those islands traveling in chaos, without destiny, towards my eyes.
I don’t care about the flower-like fear in the void.
I don’t care about the name of the emptiness,
the name of the infinite desert,
or the will and randomness they represent.
And if in that desert every star is the desire for sanctuary,
alas! flags of premonition and death.

I’ve got my own atmosphere within your breath.
The mighty security of your gaze with its intimate constellations.
With your own seeded language,
your bright forehead, like one of God’s ring.
Stronger that everything in heaven’s flora,
without the restless universe’s whirlpools,
like a horse due to its shadow upon the air.

I’m asking you again:
were you going to be mute, so God gave you those eyes?

I have your voice for every defense,
that voice that comes from you as heartbeats.
That voice in which the eternity falls
and breaks into fragments of phosphorescent spheres.

What would be life if you were not born?
A comet without a cloak dying of cold.

I found you like a tear in a forgotten book.
With your sensitive name from before my chest.
Your name made from the doves’ noise, flying.
You bring with you the memory of other, higher life,
from a god found somewhere.
And deep inside yourself you remember it was you
the ancient bird in the poet’s key.

I dream a submerged dream.
Your tied hair makes the day,
your untied hair makes the night.
Life is beheld in the oblivion.
Only your eyes are alive in the world,
the only unstoppable planetary system.
Serene skin, anchored in heights,
devoid of all webs and tricks.
In its force of self-absorbed light,
behind you, life is afraid
because you are the depth in everything.
The world becomes majestic when you pass.
Falling tears from heaven can be heard
and you erase the sleepy soul,
the bitterness of being alive.
The orb becomes lighter on the back.

My happiness is hearing the sound of the wind within your hair
(I recognize such noise from the distance).
When the boats capsize and the river drags tree trunks,
you are a flesh lamp in the storm
with your hair unleashed in the wind.
Happiness is seeing you alone on the world’s divan,
like the hand of a sleepy princess
with your eyes evoking a piano of fragrances.
A paroxysmal drink,
a flower no longer fragrant.
Your eyes hypnotize the solitude,
like the wheel that continues spinning after the catastrophe.

My happiness is looking at you when you listen.
Such beam of light walking towards the bottom of the water
and you stay motionless for a long time.
So many stars going through the sea’s sieve.
Therefore nothing has a similar emotion,
neither a mast begging for wind,
nor a blind airplane feeling the infinite,
nor the emaciated dove sleeping on a sorrow,
nor the rainbow with sealed wings,
more beautiful than a verse’s parable.
The parable laid in a nocturne bridge from soul to soul.

Born in every place I put my eyes,
with a raised head
and all the hair in the wind.

You are more beautiful than the cry of a stallion in the mountain,
more beautiful than the siren of a ship yielding all its soul,
more beautiful than a lighthouse in the fog trying to find someone to save,
more beautiful than a swallow pierced by the wind.
You are the sound of the sea in summer,
you are the sound of a full street, full of admiration.

My glory is in your eyes,
dressed in your eyes’ luxury and their inner shinning.
I am seated in the most sensitive corner of your gaze,
under the static silence of motionless eyelashes.
An omen is coming from the bottom of your eyes
and an oceanic wind curls your pupils.

Nothing compares to this seeded legend left by your presence.
Nothing compares to that voice searching for a dead sun rather than coming back to life.
Your voice sets an empire in the space
and that hand raising on you as if you were going to hang suns in the air.
And that glare writing words in the infinite
and that head bending to listen a murmur in the eternity
and that foot, which is the party of chained roads
and those eyelids where the ether’s sparks strand themselves
and that kiss swelling the prow of your lips
and that smile like the banner at the front of your life
and that secret driving your chest’s tides,
sleeping in the shadow of your bosom.

If you were going to die,
the stars, despite of their switched-on light
would lose their path.
What would happen to the universe?

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