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Ruben Dario (1867-1916)

February 27, 2011

I was doing doctoral work in Bilingual Education at UDub in the mid-80s and in one course was assigned the task of finding a poem in Spanish and translating it. I settled on this poignant (and even more so now that I’m approaching 70!) poem by Nicaraguan Poet Ruben Dario. I translated the first half using the same rhyming scheme Dario used. For the second half, however, I wanted to challenge my translating ability so it’s more free form. After all these years, still can’t decide which I like better, although I should probably side with Dario, as he wrote it. I’d love to post some of your poems, too – send ’em to me!

Dave

S P R I N G ‘ S   A U T U M N   S O N G (1906)

Youth, treasure divine, never again will you be mine!

When I wish to cry, tears remain hidden . . .And at other times they come – unbidden

The heavenly histories of my heart are many. I will start.

She was a sweet child, here, in this world of sorrows and fear.

She looked on like the daybreak hour, her smile so like a flower.

Hair so long, woven black from strands of night and pain held back.

And I like a timid boy because she, of course, for me was

For my love of ermine made, Herodias and Salome.

Youth, treasure divine, never again will you be mine!

When I wish to cry, tears remain hidden . . .And at other times they come – unbidden

The next, more sensual she, as well as more consolatory;

And more coaxing and kind, which I thought never to find.

For a strong passion was uniting with her softness, so abiding.

In a gauzy skirt,  bacchante was girt.

My illusion she took within her embrace and as though an infant she lulled it, with grace.

And she killed it, so sad, so small; light and faith both did fault.

 

In her arms she took my illusion and she lulled it, as she would an infant.

And she killed it, so sad, so small, lightless, faithless.

Youth, treasure divine, you leave, never to return!

When I wish to cry, I cry not . . .other times I cry – though I wish not.

Another decided my mouth was the sheath of her passion,

And that she would gnaw wildly with her teeth at my heart.

Placing in an excess of love the care of her desire

While embrace and kiss are synthesized for Eternity.

And within our flesh rashly imagining ever an Eden,

Without thinking that Spring and flesh die also.

Youth, treasure divine, you leave, never to return!

When I wish to cry, I cry not . . .other times I cry – though I wish not.

And the rest! In so many climes and lands are always,

If not the pretext for my rhymes, specters of my heart.

In vain did I search for the princess, she who was saddened from long-waiting.

Life is hard. Bitter and heavy. No longer is there a princess to whom to sing.

Still, the stubbornness of time notwithstanding, the thirst for love is without end;

With hair grayed I approach the rosebuds within the garden.

Youth, treasure divine, you leave, never to return!

When I wish to cry, I cry not . . .other times I cry – though I wish not.

And mine is the Golden Dawn!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. NRJ permalink
    March 3, 2011 6:19 am

    I vote for the second half, because it has a natural flow to it. Poetry (at least in the classic sense) is like music – it has defined forms and patterns, rules for accents, foot lengths, internal rhymes and rhythms that make it move. Trying to translate from one language to another is difficult. Trying to force into English the strict rhyme schemes and patterns that were in another language is not very workable and seldom has been successful. But a more free form translation allows you to put your own rhythms into play, like a jazz musician improvising on someone else’s song, and let the lyricism flow. There were some great translations of Frederico Garcia Lorca done back in the 1960s, especially a poem which is called somnambular ballad in its English version. A beautiful poem in both languages. Ezra Pound did some excellent translations of the Confucian Odes also. You have a good ear for language and movement. Try some more one of these days, perhaps a more contemporary poet.

    Waldo Ralphson

    • March 3, 2011 5:07 pm

      Wow! Thanx for the mini-lesson on poetry! As I mentioned in a previous post, poetry is not something I’m familiar with, at least, not in its technical aspects. It’s like that old cliche about art I may not know much about it but I know what I like. I have been tempted to go back and re-do the poem all in one format or the other.

      Dave

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