Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Kobayashi Issa: Summer Night/ Noche de verano

Summer night--
Even the stars are whispering
to each other.

Kobayashi Issa (tr. Robert Hass)

Noche de verano

Noche de verano--
Aún las estrellas están susurrando
la una a la otra.

tr. E. A. Costa 21 July, 2015 San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Monday, July 6, 2015

Avenida--Federico García Lorca (con traducción al inglés)


Las blancas teorías
con los ojos vendados
danzaban por el bosque.

Lentas como cisnes
y amargas como adelfas.

Pasaron sin ser vistas
por los ojos del hombre,
como de noche pasan,
inéditos, los ríos;
como por el silencio
un rumor nuevo y único.

Alguna entre su túnica
lleva una gris mirada
pero de moribundo.
agitan largos ramos
de palabras confusas.

No viven y están vivas.
Van por el bosque extático.
¡Enjambre de sonámbulas!

(Lentas como cisnes
y amargas como adelfas.)

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, viven & 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.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Night The Mountains Burned

What is night time to a five-year old
in warm mountains?

The house was on a bluff under
surrounding green.

You cannot imagine the air
if you weren't there.

Town was a rifle-shot down the road.

Movies had just been moved indoors
and a Lebanese family ran the show.

The coal mines were destroying the place.

Kids running through the woods
would run into stills

and just run on.

What is a still to a five-year-old
except a sign to mind your own business

which was running and playing

with Injun ghosts
who knew Daniel Boone

and dead feuders

and cool pools of water in shade
alive with crayfish,

with endless simpicities & complications?

Father—many locals still used Pappy--
knew the Lebanese, or were they Greeks?--
who would have us to supper sometimes

when the B westerns
that toured with their cowboy stars
took the stage

facing a jolly crowd
from ten miles away

armed just as they arrived.

After supper once
two cowboys who
took up acting
let the five-year-old
and brother unholster
their single-actions,

heavy and shiny and bluish black.

“Could you put a bullet
through that keyhole over there?”

“Well, sure,” one of them said,
taking the revolver back.

He wasn't lying
and wasn't shooting.

“Do you know Tom Mix?”

“Well, sure,” one them said
and wasn't talking.

Hill folk families
came in from their
shotgun cabins
in home-spun
carrying their guns and shoes.

Someone sent Father
a carton of Maine oysters by mail.

It stunk up the PO for days.

Father laughed at the goddamned fool
who tried to send fresh oysters through
the mail.

“He's a good man and a good friend,
with a good heart,” he said,
“But there isn't much upstairs.”

Mother had one of those tightly held back
glowing small smiles.

The night the mountains burned
we were surrounded by fire

as if the stars had fallen molten & burning
on the hills.

What does a five-year-old know

of danger and disaster in Christmas lights?

E. A. Costa 3 July 2015 Granada, Nicaragua