Sunday, February 21, 2016

残響: In Memoriam Umberto Eco (English & Spanish)

Dear Echo. Echo...
Mirroring my speech. My speech...
Oh, Echo? Echo...?

E. A. Costa 20 February, 2016 Durham, North Carolina


Querido Eco. Eco...
Espejando mi discurso. Mi discurso...
¿Oh, Eco? ¿Eco ...?

tr. EAC
*In memoriam Umberto Eco.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

E. A. Costa: Fragments


We deal in fragments
because all is broken...

            in the moonlight on the wine-blue sea
            our black ships glow

We engrave hapless scraps
kept unspoken and undone...

               scuttering out of caves of darkness
               under fluttering oars

We scratch ostraka with yeses and nos
that come to blows with all we are
and know:

                 like a crowd of crows at dawn
                 falling upon a field of corn....


Night surrounds and falls,
a net congealed from half-light.

Thalloi like streaks of ink
in water blur and cloud the sight.

Has earth itself entered a cavern
luminous with mold?

                     They beach the dragons of their ships,
                     slaughter sheep and from driftwood
                     build a bonfire.

                        Watchmen are posted at the edge of pine,
                        fat wineskins are unloaded from the hold
                        to eyes that sparkle like the stars.

                            Sober old sailors and young drunken liars
                            sing  joys and sorrows craving and fearing
                            tomorrow's sun....


Who knows what sleep is
lying orange-bodied on the sand?

How does Dream search out
the hemisphere of fire to warn
or forbid?

Does he have his own ship
riding the fluorescent wake
of the night sea?

Hid in bright day does he creep out of forest
in owl-grey twilight?

Is he winged?—does he swoop down darkly from on high?


The tetrahedron can be reduced
to two straight lines of equal length
at a right angle to one another
& from midpoint to midpoint
separated by space.

This the unbreakable labor of all pyramids.

This the origin of left and right,
of backward and forward in time.

This balance and walking upright on two legs.

This the hearth in which fire lives

                                                      is quenched

                                                                         & is reborn.


We leave fragments to other ears
that they might hear and mend
them into seamless amphora
holding virgin oil:
                                                 In the agora he sorts through triangles
                                                 and silver-polished spheres looking
                                                 for music in stick-figures....

We leave world and matter sorted
and stacked against the wall
like a library of possible dawns:
                                                        Kouros in worthless red clay riding
                                                        perfectly balanced a trotting, proud horse--
                                                        form more precious than electrum....


This is aiming the bow.
This is  ἀρχή and its sinew.
This is the arc of rounded space and time
in which commences all mind....

                                        On the beaked beached prow
                                       over the ship's ravenous mouth
                                      stands Teucer, famed archer of the Achaeans,
                                     aiming his eye far out over the sighing sea and

                                 for his cousin Hector:

                           “Come dawn, we will be off on the endless ocean—
                          ocean which surrounds, ocean which circles and envelops—
                        ocean which carries every mortal's end
                      to its origin...”


If space is lost unto zero
or time allows the lines
to be seen at just the right
angle from a distance,
the two straight lines
of the tetrahedron cross
or appear to cross.

Either figure, real or apparent,
makes it perfect sense to have
pontificated, almost wistfully,
as if in dream:
    “And as you would that mankind do unto yourselves,
do unto them likewise....”

E. A. Costa 10 February, 2016  Granada, Nicaragua

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Learned Gecko/ El geco erudito

Mr. Gecko wriggles sigmoid functions
up the wall,

scampers across the ceiling
and on my keyboard falls.

He freezes, looks at every letter,
then sss's off.

E. A. Costa

El geco erudito

Señor Geco dibuja funciones sigmoides
por la pared,

y correteando a través del cielo
en mi teclado cae.

Se para congelado, mirando cada letra,
y luego—se escapa eSSSeando...

(tr. EAC)

E. A. Costa 8 February, 2016  Granada, Nicaragua
N.B. As far as one knows "esear" is a neologism, or if one
 prefers, a nonce word, in Spanish--here used to render "sss's",
which is also not a formally recognized word in English, but
is now and then heard.  "Esear" is ese (S) verbized and should
mean as these things go, "to make or move in an S-shaped way".
One added two more S's to it to fit the English.

Toad In The Hole/ El sapo en su madriguera

                                 “...but you will never know where's concealed
                                  the heart of toad or the violet.”

                                                        Federico García Lorca (tr. EAC)

Wintering deep below the rose beds,
wrapped in three skins,
heart stopped,
contemplates naught
save Buddha contemplating nothing,
and rising again to roses in the spring.

E. A. Costa

El sapo en su madriguera

                         ...pero tú no sabrás dónde se ocultan
                         el corazón de sapo o la violeta.

                                            Federico García Lorca

Profundamente debajo de las rosaledas,
abrigado en tres pieles,
con corazón parado
en nada sino Buda,
pensativo sobre vacio,
y en subir otra vez a rosas en primavera.

(tr. EAC)

E. A. Costa 7 February, 2016 Granada, Nicaragua

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Federico García Lorca: Casida de la rosa/ Casida Of The Rose (English Translation)

La rosa 
no buscaba la aurora:
Casi eterna en su ramo
buscaba otra cosa.

La rosa
no buscaba ni ciencia ni sombra:
Confín de carne y sueño
buscaba otra cosa.

La rosa
no buscaba la rosa:
Inmóvil por el cielo
¡buscaba otra cosa!

Federico García Lorca

Casida Of The Rose

                             ¿Qué busca? ¿Qué busca?

sought not sunrise:
near timeless on her stem
she was stalking other items.

sought not enlightenment nor darkness:
the outer limit of dream and flesh
she was out on other business.

sought not rose:
motionless in paradise
she was after other merchandise!

(tr. EAC)

E. A. Costa 2 February, 2016 Granada, Nicaragua
*¿Qué busca?--”What a you looking for?", the common and near universal query of vendors
 in the classic Spanish and Latin American open air mercados, which, appropriate to the
 loose form of the Arabic Qasida adopted by Lorca, remind also of bazaar and suq. The
 exclamation mark at the end of the poem in Spanish is particularly subtle and pregnant,
 Rose, flower and beautiful woman, in silence and self-possession answers the hawkers
 with her own unspoken cry.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Federico García Lorca: Casida de la mujer tendida/ Casida Of Woman Lying (English translation)

Verte desnuda es recordar la Tierra.
La Tierra lisa, limpia de caballos.
La Tierra sin un junco, forma pura
cerrada al porvenir: confín de plata.

Verte desnuda es comprender el ansia
de la lluvia que busca débil talle
o la fiebre del mar de inmenso rostro
sin encontrar la luz de su mejilla.

La sangre sonará por las alcobas
y vendrá con espada fulgurante,
pero tú no sabrás dónde se ocultan
el corazón de sapo o la violeta.

Tu vientre es una lucha de raíces,
tus labios son un alba sin contorno,
bajo las rosas tibias de la cama
los muertos gimen esperando turno.

Federico García Lorca

Casida of Woman Lying

To see you stripped bare is to recall earth--
smooth, clean running ground of horses, rushless,
pure form closed to any future: a horizon of silver.

To see you stripped bare is to grasp the anxiousness
of rain in search of frail waist, or the fever of sea
immense-faced and with cheeks unrosed.

Blood will sound throughout the bedrooms
and a shining sword will come, but you will not
know where's hidden toad's heart or the violet.

Your belly is a war of roots. Your lips sunrise
without contour—below the tepid rosebed dead
and buried men moan waiting their turn.

(tr. EAC)

E. A.Costa 1 February, 2016 Granada, Nicaragua
N.B. The Casida is a Spanish verse form loosely adapted
from the Arab Quasida.