Metempsícosis by Juan Ramón Molina

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A poem by the great prophetic poet of modernismo, Juan Ramón Molina, turned into a heavy metal song (minus a few verses) by the Honduran band Delirium, in homage to the poet on the centenary of his death. The song is also currently available on the band’s MySpace page.

METEMPSÍCOSIS

Del ancho mar sonoro fui pez en los cristales,
que tuve los reflejos de gemas y metales.
Por eso amo la espuma, los agrios peñascales,
las brisas salitrosas, los vívidos corales.

Después, aleve víbora de tintes caprichosos,
magnéticas pupilas, colmillos venenosos.
Por eso amo las ciénagas, los parajes umbrosos,
los húmedos crepúsculos, los bosques calurosos.

Pájaro fui en seguida en un vergel salvaje,
que tuve todo el iris pintado en el plumaje.
Amo flores y nidos, el frescor del ramaje,
los extraños insectos, lo verde del paisaje.

Tornéme luego en águila de porte audaz y fiero,
tuve alas poderosas, garras de fino acero.
Por eso amo la nube, el alto pico austero,
el espacio sin límites, el aire vocinglero.

Después, león bravío de profusa melena,
de tronco ágil y fuerte y mirada serena.
Por eso amo los montes donde su pecho truena,
las estepas asiáticas, los desiertos de arena.

Hoy (convertido en hombre por órdenes obscuras),
siento en mi ser los gérmenes de existencias futuras.
Vidas que han de encumbrarse a mayores alturas
o que han de convertirse en génesis impuras.

¿A qué lejana estrella voy a tender el vuelo,
cuando se llegue la hora de buscar otro cielo?
¿A qué astro de ventura o planeta de duelo,
irá a posarse mi alma cuando deje este suelo?

¿O descendiendo en breve (por secretas razones),
de la terrestre vida todos los escalones,
aguardaré, en el limbo de largas gestaciones,
el sagrado momento de nuevas ascensiones?

Say what you will about heavy metal or Juan Ramón Molina; I think they’re a good fit for each other!

(UPDATE) Thanks to commenter Enrique (see below), here’s an English translation:

METEMPSYCHOSIS

I was a fish in the mirrors of the sonorous ocean wide,
where I beheld the glimmer of gems and metals;
that is the reason why I love the foam, the sourly
rocky shores, the briny gales, and the vivid choral reefs.

Then I was a treacherous viper of shifty tints,
magnetic pupils, and poisonous fangs; that is
the reason why I love the swamps, the shadowy trails,
the crepuscular wetlands, and the steamy forests.

Thereafter, I became a bird in a wild garden.
I had my entire iris painted on my plumage.
Yes, I love flowers, nests, the cool branches,
rare insects, and the green colors of landscapes.

Soon I turned into an eagle of bold and feral sight.
I had mighty wings and fine iron-wrought talons;
reason why I love the clouds, the stark mountain tops,
the boisterous winds, and the limitless skies.

I once became a brave lion of profuse mane,
of rapid yet strong backlash and a serene gaze;
that is why I love the plains where he roars
like thunder, the desert sands, and the Asian steppes.

Now (turned into a Man under obscure measures),
I feel within me the germs of future existences,
lives that shall rise and soar to find higher reaches,
or else should turn into entities of impure genesis.

Towards which distant star shall I direct my flight
when the time comes to look for another heaven?
On what venturous celestial body or grieving planet
shall my soul rest when I depart from this land?

Or is it that (by undisclosed reasons) descending
all the stairways of my brief terrestrial life,
in a limbo of long gestations, I shall lie in wait
for the sacred moment of renewed ascensions?

8 Comments

  1. Reply
    Katherine 13 November, 2009

    I completely agree with your comment…I think this is a brilliant combination and the fact that these people are so different as to take such a wonderful poem and add music to it trully fascinates me.
    I love honduran rock :D I support my country’s artits

    • Reply
      Dave Bonta 13 November, 2009

      Thanks for the comment. Be sure to check out all the Honduran poetry videos here, if you haven’t already, and please let me know of any others I should include.

  2. Reply
    Jose 19 February, 2010

    Interesting poem, but lacks a translation in English! I would help, but I don’t know if I can do it

  3. Reply
    Amílcar Barca 24 August, 2011

    Check the blogspot for a translation of Metempsychosis. It was translated by León Leiva Gallardo, a Honduran writer, novelist, and poet.

  4. Reply
    Dave Bonta 24 August, 2011

    Do you have a link for us, Amilcar?

  5. Reply
    Enrique 25 October, 2012

    Soy hondureño igual que Juan Ramon Molina gran poeta del modernismo, movimiento impulsado por el nicaraguense Ruben Dario. Este poema es el que mas gusta de Juan Ramon Molina es magnifico. Dave Bonta te dejo la traduccion al ingles de este hermoso poema:

    METEMPSYCHOSIS

    I was a fish in the mirrors of the sonorous ocean wide,
    where I beheld the glimmer of gems and metals;
    that is the reason why I love the foam, the sourly
    rocky shores, the briny gales, and the vivid choral reefs.

    Then I was a treacherous viper of shifty tints,
    magnetic pupils, and poisonous fangs; that is
    the reason why I love the swamps, the shadowy trails,
    the crepuscular wetlands, and the steamy forests.

    Thereafter, I became a bird in a wild garden.
    I had my entire iris painted on my plumage.
    Yes, I love flowers, nests, the cool branches,
    rare insects, and the green colors of landscapes.

    Soon I turned into an eagle of bold and feral sight.
    I had mighty wings and fine iron-wrought talons;
    reason why I love the clouds, the stark mountain tops,
    the boisterous winds, and the limitless skies.

    I once became a brave lion of profuse mane,
    of rapid yet strong backlash and a serene gaze;
    that is why I love the plains where he roars
    like thunder, the desert sands, and the Asian steppes.

    Now (turned into a Man under obscure measures),
    I feel within me the germs of future existences,
    lives that shall rise and soar to find higher reaches,
    or else should turn into entities of impure genesis.

    Towards which distant star shall I direct my flight
    when the time comes to look for another heaven?
    On what venturous celestial body or grieving planet
    shall my soul rest when I depart from this land?

    Or is it that (by undisclosed reasons) descending
    all the stairways of my brief terrestrial life,
    in a limbo of long gestations, I shall lie in wait
    for the sacred moment of renewed ascensions?

    • Reply
      Dave 25 October, 2012

      Hey, thanks a lot! I’m not sure why the comments here don’t preserve stanza spacing, but I’ve updated the post to include your translation.

  6. Reply
    Juanse 1 September, 2017

    Thanks for sharing everyone. Im the bass player for Delirium, and every time we play this beautiful set of lines, goosebumps everywhere. It means a lot to the band. It reflects a great creative era for us, way back 1996 – 2000. Check out our acoustic take of this same song.!!! for more Delirium´s music check out our download section at deliriumrock.net
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1s49Xmwo7E

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