Friday, August 7, 2015

Pablo Neruda Poema XXIV (con traducción a inglés)

El 4 es 4 para todos?
Son todos los sietes iguales?

Cuando el preso piensa en la luz
es la misma luz que te ilumina?

Has pensado de qué color
es el Abril de los enfermos?

Qué monarchía occidental
se embandera con amapolas?

Pablo Neruda (El libro de las preguntas)


Is four four for all? Are all sevens equal?

When someone in a prison cell contemplates the light of day,

is it the selfsame daylight which illumines you?

Have you given any thought to what color April may be to the ill?

What western monarchy, with its Kings and Queens, is flagged

forever with opium and poppies?

Tr.  E. A. Costa San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua 7 August, 2015

N.B.: One has deliberately departed from literal translation to get
to the heart of the poem, which is ironic.  Quite clearly the topic is
political exceptionalism, or more generally, the golden rule, or its lack.
The last line with its reference to poppies is ambiguous--gay on the
surface but with a clear reference the Opium Wars of the British
(1839–1842 & 1856–1860), which were fought to force the Chinese
to import opium that British merchants were exporting from British India
under the Raj, and which was hugely profitable. Both the United States 
and France played marginal roles in the war against China, which China
lost. There is also clearly a reference to the wearing of red poppies to honor
British and Canadian dead from World War I, which took its origin from
the poem "Flanders Fields" of John McCrae, beginning, "In Flanders fields
the poppies blow/ Between the crosses, row on row..." (1915) The usage
also spread quickly to the United States, where it continues today, with
artifical, paper poppies.

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