Nationality: Chile

Walking Around by Pablo Neruda

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“Perhaps one of Neruda’s more disturbing poems, Walking Around, comes to life through a mosaic of classic silent horror films featuring among others the great John Barrymore,” says Four Seasons Productions. Recitation and translation by Robert Bly.

There are a number of videos for this poem on YouTube, but I find all of them flawed in some way — it’s one of my favorite poems. The approach here is at least original.

Four Seasons are, by the way, mistaken about the date: it was published in 1935 in Residencia en Tierra II, not in 1971 as they claim. The title is in English in the original.

Alabanza by Martín Espada

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Arte Poética by Vicente Huidobro

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Poem by Vicente Huidobro

Music by Iván Lizama, performed by Ensamble Transiente – Música Experimental Latinoamericana (see YouTube for personnel)

Arte poética

Que el verso sea como una llave
Que abra mil puertas.
Una hoja cae; algo pasa volando;
Cuanto miren los ojos creado sea,
Y el alma del oyente quede temblando.

Inventa mundos nuevos y cuida tu palabra;
El adjetivo, cuando no da vida, mata.

Estamos en el ciclo de los nervios.
El músculo cuelga,
Como recuerdo, en los museos;
Mas no por eso tenemos menos fuerza:
El vigor verdadero
Reside en la cabeza.

Por qué cantáis la rosa, ¡oh Poetas!
Hacedla florecer en el poema;

Sólo para nosotros
Viven todas las cosas bajo el Sol.

El Poeta es un pequeño Dios.

Let poetry become a key
That opens a thousand doors.
A leaf falls; something flies past;
Let everything the eyes see be created,
And the listener’s soul keep trembling.

Invent new worlds and guard your word;
Unless it gives new life, the adjective kills.

We dwell in a circle of nerves.
Muscle hangs,
Like a memory, in museums,
But that doesn’t mean we have less strength.
True vigor
Comes from the head.

Poets! Why eulogize the rose?
Through the poem you can make it bloom.

Everything under the sun
Lives only for us.

The Poet is a little God.

My attempt at a translation. The last line became the slogan of the literary movement Huidobro founded, Creacionismo (“Creationism”).

Standard Oil Co. by Pablo Neruda

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Poem by Pablo Neruda, translated by Jack Schmitt (reading by Allen Dwight Callahan) — the text is here

Video by Four Seasons Productions

Here’s the Spanish original:

Cuando el barreno se abrió paso
hacia las simas pedregales
y hundió su intestino implacable
en las haciendas subterráneas,
y los años muertos, los ojos
de las edades, las raíces
de las plantas encarceladas
y los sistemas escamosos
se hicieron estratas del agua,
subió por los tubos el fuego
convertido en líquido frío,
en la aduana de las alturas
a la salida de su mundo
de profundidad tenebrosa,
encontró un pálido ingeniero
y un título de propietario.

Aunque se enreden los caminos
del petróleo, aunque las napas
cambien su sitio silencioso
y muevan su soberanía
entre los vientres de la tierra,
cuando sacude el surtidor
su ramaje de parafina,
antes llegó la Standard Oil
con sus letrados y sus botas,
con sus cheques y sus fusiles,
con sus gobiernos y sus presos.

Sus obesos emperadores
viven en New York, son suaves
y sonrientes asesinos,
que compran seda, nylon, puros,
tiranuelos y dictadores.

Compran países, pueblos, mares,
policías, diputaciones,
lejanas comarcas en donde
los pobres guardan su maíz
como los avaros el oro:
la Standard Oil los despierta,
los uniforma, les designa
cuál es el hermano enemigo,
y el paraguayo hace su guerra
y el boliviano se deshace
con su ametralladora en la selva.

Un presidente asesinado
por una gota de petróleo,
una hipoteca de millones
de hectáreas, un fusilamiento
rápido en una mañana
mortal de luz, petrificada,
un nuevo campo de presos
subversivos, en Patagonia,
una traición, un tiroteo
bajo la luna petrolada,
un cambio sutil de ministros
en la capital, un rumor
como una marea de aceite,
y luego el zarpazo, y verás
cómo brillan, sobre las nubes,
sobre los mares, en tu casa,
las letras de la Standard Oil
iluminando sus dominios.

La Bailarina (The Dancer) by Gabriela Mistral

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http://youtu.be/Q7n3Ki73D1Q

Poem by Gabriela Mistral — full text here; excerpts used in the poem below

Animation by ultapopdsgn

La Bailarina
The Dancer

La bailarina ahor est danzando
la danza del perder cuanto tenia
The dancer now is dancing
the dance of losing it all

Se solto de su casta y de su carne
She loosed herself from caste and flesh

desnuda de todo y de si misma
stripped of everything and of herself

sigue danzando sin saberse ajena
she dances on, not knowing she is changed

unica y torbellino, vil y pura
alone, a whirlwind, foul and pure
(Ursula K. Guin, trans.)

An interesting attempt to convey the mood of a work with just a few fragments of text, given out of order, and a rapid, pop music-video-style succession of images. I like it!

Since this is Women’s History Month (in the U.S., at any rate), I thought this would be a good time to recall that Pablo Neruda was not the first Chilean poet to win the Nobel Prize. I’m not sure which are the best English translations, but the volume I own seems pretty good: Gabriela Mistral: A Reader, tr. by Maria Giachetti and ed. by Marjorie Agosin. Its only drawback is that it does not include the original Spanish. The translation used above comes from a more recent book — Selected Poems of Gabriala Mistral, tr. by Ursala K. LeGuin, which I haven’t seen.

Though never well known in North America, Mistral remains a beloved figure in Latin America. She appeals strongly to conservatives and leftists alike, who tend to project their own values onto the clear and deceptively simple surfaces of her poems, much as readers do here with Emily Dickinson. Unlike Dickinson, Mistral was very active on the world stage, and her mix of progressive activism and traditional Catholic religiosity makes her supremely dificult to pigeonhole. According to Petri Liukkonen,

In 2001 Mistral’s sexual inclinations arose fierce debate in Chile. Yuri Labarca’s film, La Pasajera, written by Francisco Casas, dealt with her relationship to Doris Dana, her American secretary. Mistral’s devoted readers considered the film outrageous and said that her true, traditional views of life and love were present in her works. However, an independent woman, Mistral has also been presented as a feminist icon. The absence of male friendship and her life as an unmarried woman has contributed to her image of a defender of all racial minorities and “the mixed-race mother of the nation”.

As for me, I am of course fondest of her nature poetry.