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.


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?

Los Pobres by Roberto Sosa

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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

Los pobres son muchos
y por eso
es imposible olvidarlos.

en los amaneceres
múltiples edificios
donde ellos
quisieran habitar con sus hijos.

llevar en hombros
el féretro de una estrella.
destruir el aire como aves furiosas,
nublar el sol.

Pero desconociendo sus tesoros
entran y salen por espejos de sangre;
caminan y mueren despacio.

Por eso
es imposible olvidarlos.

The Poor

The poor are many:
that’s why it’s impossible
to forget them.

they glimpse
in each new dawn
building upon building
where they’d like to make
a home for their children.

They’re able
to bear on their shoulders
the coffin of a star.
They can shatter the air
like maddened birds,
blotting out the sun.

But unaware of their gifts, they enter
and exit through mirrors of blood,
they walk slowly and are slow to die.

That’s why it’s impossible
to forget them.

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.

Night by Majid Naficy

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Poem by Majid Naficy

Translation and video by Niloufar Talebi for The Translation Project DVD, Midnight Approaches

Letter From a Parasitic Head by Dana Guthrie Martin

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Dana Guthrie Martin wrote the poem — see qarrtsiluni for the text — and Donna Kuhn collaborated with her to make the video.

By way of explanation, the poem begins with this epigraph:

Upon autopsy, the neck stump of the parasitic head was shown to contain fragments of bone and tiny vestiges of a heart and lungs.

Anorexic by Eavan Boland

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Poem by Eavan Boland

Film by Alia Victor

Actors: Savanna Grier (also narration) and Ryan Haber

Cinco Poemas Concretos (Five Concrete Poems) from Brazil

Curiously, a lack of Portuguese doesn’t seem much of a barrier to appreciating these fun word-art pieces. Brazilians invented concrete poetry, so it only seems fair to represent them here. The YouTube description says (I think): Audiovisual adaptations of the concrete poems “Cinco” by José Lino Grunewald (1964), “Velocidade” by Ronald Azeredo (1957), “Cidade” by Augusto de Campos (1963), “Pêndulo” by E.M. de Melo e Castro (1961/62), and “O Organismo” by Décio Pignatari (1960). Director: Christian Caselli.

Rain by Hone Tuwhare

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Poem by Hone Tuwhare

Animation by (?) kiwimudcrab