Las blancas teorías
con los ojos vendados
danzaban por el bosque.
Lentas como cisnes
y amargas como adelfas.
Pasaron sin ser vistas
ojos del hombre,
como de noche pasan,
como por el silencio
un rumor nuevo y único.
Alguna entre su túnica
una gris mirada
de palabras confusas.
No viven y están vivas.
por el bosque extático.
¡Enjambre de sonámbulas!
(Lentas como cisnes
y amargas como
Federico García Lorca
White theories with blindfolded eyes waltz through the woods--
Slow and majestic as swans, bitter as oleander.
Pass they unseen by men's eyes, as pass by night unprecedented rivers, as through great silence passes unheard of and singular murmuring.
Some one of them in robe or shroud wears a greyish frown, moribund.
….....................................the others rustle long branches of bewildered words.
Not living still they are alive. Through the ecstatic forest they waltz-- a swarm of sleep-walkers. (Slow like swans and bitter like oleander)
Tr. E. A. Costa 6 July, 2015 Granada, Nicaragua ________________________________________________ N.B.: One notes that in the translation the whole tense structure
has been changed to the present. In the original “dance” or, as
in the translation, “waltz” (danzaban) is in the imperfect
and “pass” (pasaron) is in the simple preterite. The
hinge is the generality of the simile (como pasan...ríos), followed by lleva, agitan,
están—all in the present. So the theories were dancing and
passed, but though they do not live, they are still alive, including
the one that is morabund. In the translation one attempts to
transfer this subtle half-life wholly to the present, with “not
living still they are alive” bearing the brunt of the complicated
temporality of the original. At base the Greek word “theoria”
implies something seen, later used in Geometry and Aristotle, and so
forth, quite like the modern scientific “theory”, adding depth to
Lorca's implication that, though they are alive, they are not seen sensually by the eyes but by the mind's eye. As a poetic commonplace, on the other hand, Swans do not sing, but are considered visually beautiful, much like theories. Nor clearly is the poem
only about scientific theory, but also about poetic theory, including
the theory of his own poetry and this poem, which, new and
unprecedented, fully lives while reducing the old theories to alive
but without life. The intent, however, is not a historic present but just the reverse.