Friday, September 01, 2006

Lorca Trans. - Passing


Look at the young
from a distant point.

The oil lamps go out.
Blind children
ask questions, the moon rises
upward in the air,
and their crying spirals.

The mountains point
to a distant place.


Despues de pasar

Los ninos miran
un punto lejano.

Los candiles se apagan.
Unas muchachas ciegas
preguntan a la luna,
y por el aire ascienden
espirales de llanto.

Las montanas miran
un punto lejano.

* not certain that I got this one.
**accent marks didn't appear.


Lyle Daggett said...

Hi again, Ann. I posted a comment on your Lorca translation below. I love Lorca, I can stay up all night reading him.

You indicated you weren't sure if you'd gotten this one right. A couple of details -- "ascienden" has the third-person plural ending (not singular), so it is not the moon that ascends, it is the spirals ("espirales").

Also, in the first line, the verb "miran" is again third-person plural (not an imperative form). It is the children who are looking, not someone else looking at them.

If I may, here's my attempt with this poem:

After Passing

The children look
at a point far away.

The oil lamps are extinguished.
Blind girls
question the moon,
and through the air ascend
spirals of weeping.

The mountains look
at a point far away.


The line "Unas muchachas ciegas" might also be translated "Some blind girls..." though to my ear that sounds odder in English than it does in the original Spanish.

Ann said...

Lyle -
I like your rendition.

I don't quite understand his use of the word "blind" here. Is it metaphorical or a play on nighttime darkness? Both? And his use of "girls" - is this a generic term used commonly to denote females of all ages - or is it specifically referring to youth?

This scene reminds me of the ancient rites associated with Beltane - fertility & all that. But there's such futility in these lines that it throws me. Do you know what this is about?

O - Thanks for the grammatical correction.You are in sync with the translation in Lorca's Collected Poems.

Lyle Daggett said...

My understanding is that "muchacho/muchacha" and "nino/nina" (should have a tilde over the second "n") both refer to children, boys and girls respectively. It's always been my understanding that "ninos/ninas" refers to young children, and "muchachos/muchachos" maybe slightly older ones, though I'm not at all positive about this.

"Muchachas" is not, to my limited knowledge, a general word for females of all ages, though I'm not positive how it might be used colloquially. However I take Lorca to mean specifically girls (younger than adult age).

I don't think Lorca's use of "blind" is metaphorical or a reference to night darkness. I think he means it literally. The mysterious sensual quality of the poem is very characteristic of him.

As with the other poem you've translated here, this poem is from the "cante jondo" sequences. Each of the four poem sequences in the book is named for one of the types of song, or song and dance, in the cante jondo tradition. To one degree or another, all seem to blend freely elements of Roman Catholic ritual and ancient, pre-Christian (pagan, if you like) rituals and traditions.

The futility in the lines that you referred to has to do, I think, with the awareness of the ecstatic presence of death that the poem conveys. This is a quality that runs through much of Lorca's poetry. He talked about it at length in his lecture on the Duende.