Catherine Chandler's Poetry Blog

Monday, December 28, 2015

Cuenta atrás 0: Catherine Chandler

Capilla (chapel) on the grounds of Los Pueblitos, Argentina. Photo by Catherine Chandler

Today we leave for Uruguay and Argentina. Over the last ten days I've posted poems by ten Uruguayan women poets. Today I wish to post this poem dedicated to my longtime friend, Nelly, whom we will see during our travels. ¡Hasta pronto, mi amiga!





Prayer on the Pampas

Los Pueblitos. A million miles from Buenos Aires. Slivers of gold shimmer through the tall wooden shutters onto the bed sheet.

we are the dust motes
riding on the morning light—
wayward iotas

A stone fish arcs at each cardinal point on the hundred-year-old fountain. The sundial’s shadow is past noon. Torpor.

cool water plashes
we sit and sip tereré—
a stonefly flits by

Behind the soya fields and cow pastures, the evening sky bleeds orange into purple. Jasmine and eucalyptus fuse.

looking to the west
she whispers a secret wish—
a green granada

Ñacurutú begins his elegy. Wind chimes plink. The swirl of the Earth palpable. Stars spill, Polaris swallowed by latitudes.

she guides me to Crux—
we’ll pilgrimage to Luján
when the sun rises






-- by Catherine Chandler, first published in Passages (Greenwood Centre for Living History, 2010)













Sunday, December 27, 2015

Cuenta atrás 1: María Eugenia Vaz Ferreira

Countdown poem #1:  "La rima vacua" (The Empty Rhyme) by María Eugenia Vaz Ferreira, the greatest Latin American poet of her generation, and in the history of Uruguay.

María Eugenia Vaz Ferreira





La rima vacua by María Eugenia Vaz Ferreira

Grito de sapo
llega hasta mí de las nocturnas charcas...
la tierra está borrosa y las estrellas
me han vuelto las espaldas.

Grito de sapo, mueca
de la armonía, sin tono, sin eco,
llega hasta mí de las nocturnas charcas...

La vaciedad de mi profundo hastío
rima con él el dúo de la nada.


The Empty Rhyme

The croaking of the toad
reaches my ears from the ponds at night . . .
the land is blurred and the stars
have turned their backs on me.

The croaking of the toad, mocker
of harmony, toneless, echoless,
reaches my ears from the ponds at night . . .

The absurdity of my deep loathing
rhymes with him in a duet of nothingness.



(Translated by Catherine Chandler)

La sensación de lo inútil de su existencia llega a la negación de su esencia corporal en "La rima vacua", se ve hundida en las charcas, su canto rima con el de los sapos. La conciencia de su descenso desde lo lúcido e inteligente, hasta identificarse con el más bajo de la sustancia animal, casi nos subleva. ¡Cuánto habrá sufrido la poetisa excelsa para llega a expresar algo que apenas entrevió Doré, o si se quiere Goya! Sólo una persona que capta su disolución propia en una alucinación genial que puede haber concebido esta pesadilla de horror. Desde lo alto de la poetisa -Walkiria hasta la charca de la poetisa- sapo, ha bajado hasta la autohumillación de su divina esencia. -- Hyalmar Blixen





















Listen to a toad croaking.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Cuenta atrás 2: Delmira Agustini

Countdown poem #2: La Ruptura (The Split) by Delmira Agustini. The true side(s) of her story.

Source: dodho.com




La ruptura

Érase una cadena fuerte como un destino,
Sacra como una vida, sensible como un alma;
La corté con un lirio y sigo mi camino
Con la frialdad magnífica de la Muerte... Con calma

Curiosidad mi espíritu se asoma a su laguna
Interior, y el cristal de las aguas dormidas,
Refleja un dios o un monstruo, enmascarado en una
Esfinje tenebrosa suspensa de otras vidas.


The Split

It was a chain as strong as Fate,
sacred as a life, sensitive as a soul;
I cut it with a lily and continue on my journey
with Death’s magnificent indifference . . . with calm

curiosity my spirit looks out of its inner pool
and the mirror of the sleeping waters
reflects a god or a monster, masked as a
dark sphinx bewildered by other lives.





(Translated by Catherine Chandler)








Friday, December 25, 2015

Cuenta atrás 3: Circe Maia

Countdown poem #3: "Escalones" (Steps) by Circe Maia.






Escalones

Cambios pequeños y tenaces.

Bajo el cielo ya un grado
de luminosidad o de tibieza.

Ha caído más polvo sobre el piso o la silla.

Pequeñísima arruga se dibuja o se ahonda.

Hay un nuevo matiz en el sonido
de la voz familiar (¿Lo notarías?)

En un coro confuso de entreveradas voces
faltan algunas, otras
aparecen.

La misma
suma total: no hay cambios.

Millonésima ola golpea
millonésima roca
y el degaste
imperceptíble y cierto
avanza.





Steps



Small, persistent changes.

Beneath the sky already a degree
of brilliance or coolness.

More dust has settled on the floor or the chair.

A tiny wrinkle appears or deepens.

There is a new nuance in the sound
of a familiar voice (Would you notice it?)

Amid the muddled chorus of mixed voices
some are missing, others
appear.

The same
sum total: no substitutes.

The millionth wave strikes
the millionth rock
and the erosion,
subtle and sure,
continues.



(Translated by Catherine Chandler)







Thursday, December 24, 2015

Cuenta atrás 4: Marosa Di Giorgio

Countdown poem #4: "Este melón es una rosa" (This melon is a rose) by Marosa Di Giorgio.





Este melón es una rosa


Este melón es una rosa,
este perfuma como una rosa,
adentro debe tener un ángel
con el corazón y la cintura siempre en llamas.
Este es un santo,
vuelve de oro y de perfume
todo lo que toca;
posee todas las virtudes, ningún defecto,
Yo le rezo,
después lo voy a festejar en un poema.
ahora, sólo digo lo que él es:
un relámpago,
un perfume,
el hijo varón de las rosas.


This melon is a rose

This melon is a rose.
This one smells like a rose.
There must be an angel inside of it
with a passionate, blazing heart.
This one is a saint;
everything it touches
turns to gold and perfume;
it has every virtue, it is flawless.
I pray to it,
and later I am going to celebrate it in a poem.
Now, I only state what it is:
a bolt of lightning,
a perfume,
the son of roses.



(Translated by Catherine Chandler)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Cuenta atrás 5: Paula Einöder


Countdown poem #5: "Poema roto" (Broken Poem) by  Paula Einöder.

The punctuation (or lackof it) is somewhat disconcerting.

Market Street Bridge over the Susquehanna River, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania


Poema roto

Le quito páginas al río
y cuando digo río
escucho a los pájaros agolparse en los ramajes viscerales
para por fin desmenuzarse en el cielo disuelto
No. Le arranco páginas al río
Quiero decir –intento lo que no se puede
Detener al río no se puede
No se le pueden quitar todas las hojas al río
Detener lo escrito en el agua
Pero le quito las páginas al río
Me defino por eso. Y lo hago
Atravieso una penumbra. Pero el río es una máquina feliz.
Existe aparte de mí. No me espera ni se inmuta
y yo escribo sola
No digo –ahogada- pero pienso que el río
escribe versiones que luego desleo
sintiendo mi problema de enfoque
Igual, las páginas se escriben solas
y yo estoy sola cuando escribo
e intento quitarle páginas al río




Broken Poem



I'm taking pages from the river
and when I say river
I mean the sound of birds perching together on visceral branches 
only to break away into the melted sky
No. I yank pages from the river
That is to say -- I'm trying to do the impossible
You can't hold back the river
Every single page can't be taken from the river 
in order to stop what is written in its waters
But I'm taking pages from the river
This is how I define myself. And I'm doing it
I cross a shadow. But the river is a happy machine.
It exists apart from me. It doesn't wait for me, nor does it change
and I write alone
I wouldn't call myself "drowned", but I think the river
writes down versions that I dilute later on
feeling my problem focusing
Anyway, the pages write themselves
and I'm alone when I write
and try to take pages from the river



(Translated by Catherine Chandler)











Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Cuenta atrás 6: Cristina Peri Rossi

Countdown poem #6: "Oración"  (Prayer) by Cristina Peri Rossi.  After reading the poem (and translating it), I thought of THIS.




Oración

Líbranos, Señor,
de encontrarnos,
años después,
con nuestros grandes amores.


Prayer 

Deliver us, Lord,
from meeting up,
years later,
with the loves of our lives.





(Translation by Catherine Chandler)

 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Cuenta atrás 7: Juana de Ibarbourou

Countdown poem #7: "Rebelde" (Rebel) by Juana de Ibarbourou.


Rebelde

Caronte: yo sere un escandalo en tu barca
mientras las otras sombras recen, giman, o lloren
y bajo tus miradas de siniestro patriarca
las timidas y tristes, en bajo acento, oren.


Yo ire como una alondra cantando por el rio
y llevare a tu barca mi perfume salvaje
e irradiare en las ondas del arroyo sombrio
como una azul linterna que alumbrara en el viaje.


Por mas que tu no quieras, por mas guiños siniestros
que me hagan tus dos ojos, en el terror maestros,
Caronte, yo en tu barca sere como un escandalo


y extenuada de sombra, de valor y de frio,
cuando quieras dejarme a la orilla del rio
me bajaran tus brazos cual conquista de vandalo.



Rebel

Charon: I'll be a scandal in your barque.
Those other souls may pray, lament or cry
beneath your evil patriarchal eye,
while timid spirits murmur in the dark.

Not I. I'll be the lark that flits and sings.
I'll flaunt my savage musk, and I will beam
my bright blue lantern on the bleak black stream,
sailing above the crossing on my wings.

You may not like it; and although you glare
at me with baleful eyes, I just don't care.
Charon, in your barque I'll be a scandal.

Then, when I'm cold and weak and fight no more,
your arms will drop me on the other shore,
vanquished like the captive of a Vandal.

(Translated by Catherine Chandler)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Cuenta atrás 8: Idea Vilariño

Countdown poem number 8: El mar (The Sea) by Idea Vilariño.

Playa Brava, Punta del Este, Uruguay. Photo by Catherine Chandler
El Mar

Tan arduamente el mar,
tan arduamente,
el lento mar inmenso,
tan largamente en sí, cansadamente,
el hondo mar eterno.

Lento mar, hondo mar,
profundo mar inmenso...

Tan lenta y honda y largamente y tanto
insistente y cansado ser cayendo
como un llanto, sin fin,
pesadamente,
tenazmente muriendo...

Va creciendo sereno desde el fondo,
sabiamente creciendo,
lentamente, hondamente, largamente,
pausadamente,
mar,
arduo, cansado mar,
Padre de mi silencio.


The Sea

So arduously the sea,
so arduously,
the slow, vast sea,
endlessly, wearily,
the deep eternal sea.

Slow sea, deep sea,
deep, immense sea . . .

So slow and deep and endless and so
insistent and tired of falling
like a never-ending lamentation,
heavily,
stubbornly dying . . .

Growing calmly from the depths,
wisely growing,
slowly, deeply, endlessly,
deliberately,
sea,
arduous, weary sea,
Father of my silence.


(Translated by Catherine Chandler)


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Cuenta atrás 9: Ida Vitale



Countdown 9: "Mariposa, poem" (Butterfly, Poem) by Ida Vitale.



Mariposa, poema

En el aire estaba
impreciso, tenue, el poema.
Imprecisa también
llegó la mariposa nocturna,
ni hermosa ni agorera,
a perderse entre biombos de papeles.
La deshilada, débil cinta de palabras
se disipó con ella.
¿Volverán ambas?
Quizás, en un momento de la noche,
cuando ya no quiera escribir
algo más agorero acaso
que esa escondida mariposa
que evita la luz,
                                 como las Dichas.




 
Butterfly, Poem

It was in the air
vague, tenuous, the poem.
Vague as well
the butterfly arrived at night,
neither beautiful nor ominous,
to lose herself among paper screens.
The frayed, thin ribbon of words
vanished with her.    
Will they both return?
Perhaps, at some moment in the night,
when I no longer wish to write
something a bit more prophetic
than that ethereal butterfly  
who avoids the light,
                                              like Happiness.   


(Translated by Catherine Chandler)

Friday, December 18, 2015

Cuenta atrás 10: Amanda Berenguer

With ten days left until I leave for Uruguay, I've decided to post ten poems by Uruguayan women poets.

This one, "Tarea doméstica"  (Housework) is by Amanda Berenguer.

"Woman Sweeping" by Albert H. Krehbiel

Tarea Doméstica

Sacudo las telarañas del cielo
desmantelado
con el mismo utensilio
de todos los días,
sacudo el polvo obsecuente
de los objetos regulares, sacudo
el polvo, sacudo el polvo
de astros, cósmico abatimiento
de siempre, siempremuerta caricia
cubriendo el mobiliario terrestre,
sacudo puertas y ventanas, limpio
sus vidrios para ver más claro,
barro el piso tapado de deshechos,
de hojas arrugadas, de ceniza,
de migas, de pisadas,
de huesos relucientes,
barro la tierra, más abajo, la tierra,
y voy haciendo un pozo
a la medida de las circunstancias.


Housework

I shake off the cobwebs from the dismantled
sky
with the same duster
I use every day,
I shake off the lowly dust
from the same old things, I dust,
I dust the stardust, always the same
cosmic demolition, the forever-dead caress
that blankets earthly furniture,
I clean doors and windows, I clean
their glass in order to see more clearly,
I sweep the floor covered with garbage,
shriveled leaves, ashes,
crumbs, footprints,
glittering bones,
I sweep the ground, deeper, the ground,
as I go along making a hole
according to the circumstances.


(Translation by Catherine Chandler)





Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Abacus

Calculating-Table by Gregor Reisch: Margarita Philosophica, 1503.





 Abacus

A monotone of multipartite prose
divides into a calculated text;
its quirky quotient and remainder pose
as ciphers, cybernetic, multiplexed

a linear equation in disguise.
Well, count me out of that, but count me in
the metric system (though this be unwise),
and let me wallow in my cardinal sin:

an aggregate of sonnet, villanelle,
of terza rima and the odd blank verse,
rondeau, pantoum, the triolet as well.
Go on. Black list me. I can think of worse.

And since I reckon that the rate is prime,
despite the sum of others' wasted wrath,
I'll bloody tick them off and tick off time
until the Galilean aftermath.


-- Catherine Chandler