One of the biggest surprises I had during college was how much I enjoyed my ‘Literary Translations’ class.
It showed me the complexities of language. Like, how a word can mean an object in one context and an emotion in another. While translating poetry, which was the focus of the class, we needed to first understand the poem as a whole. What does it mean? Then, what does this sentence mean? Then, what does this line mean? There was a lot that went into it.
I dreaded it when I was forced to enroll because of scheduling conflicts. But I really, really enjoyed it.
One reading we were given stood out to me more than anything: a collection of translated poems and plays from famed Spanish poet Federico García Lorca. It’s full of beautiful, crazy poetry and stories, sprinkled with letters from the translator to the original poet about the difficulty he is having, and the fun. I geek out over this book. It’s called After Lorca. It’s limited edition and one day I will own it. Luckily there is a PDF you can read here.
This is one of those poems.
— Federico García Lorca | Translated by Jack Spicer
A Postscript for Marianna Moore
No one exactly knows
Exactly how clouds look in the sky
Or the shape of the mountains below them
Or the direction in which fish swim.
No one exactly knows.
The eye is jealous of whatever moves
And the heart
Is too far buried in the sand
They are going on a journey
Those deep blue creatures
Passing us as if they were sunshine
Those fins, those closed eyes
Admiring each last drop of the ocean.
I crawled into bed with sorrow that night
Couldn’t touch his fingers. See the splash
Of the water
The noisy movement of cloud
The push of the humpbacked mountains
Deep at the sand’s edge.
Until next time,