Poem by Seamus Heaney
Video by Raw Nerve Productions, “Produced for an interactive tourist guide for Derry City Council”
A video poem on the perils of video! The poem and narration are by Chris Woods; the film is by Charlotte Caetano. Yet another fine production from Comma Film. (This appears to be a revised version; the original video is here.)
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.
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:
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?
Roberto Sosa is Honduras’ most famous living poet. This is one of several musical adaptations of his poems by the Honduran classic rock band Rajamadrex on YouTube. It’s a little unclear, but I’m guessing that the video itself was made by the band, or someone under their direction, and the captions were added much more recently by the YouTube poster, who goes by the handle Sanjeringas. Here’s the Spanish text along with my own translation.
Los pobres son muchos
Pero desconociendo sus tesoros
The poor are many:
But unaware of their gifts, they enter
That’s why it’s impossible
I did this translation 14 years ago as part of a chapbook I put together after a six-week visit to the country. I was in Honduras not just as a tourist but to attend my brother Mark’s wedding to a Honduran, my sister-in-law Luz, who is from the same small city as the just-deposed president, Mel Zelaya. The Honduran coup is therefore somewhat personal for me. Since Zelaya was deposed for siding with the poor and alienating large segments of the ruling elite, Sosa’s poem seems — sadly — as relevant as ever.