Home > Translation > Two poems from the Spanish by Enrique Moya

Two poems from the Spanish by Enrique Moya

January 31, 2011

translated by Nathan D. Horowitz

 

Ante la tumba de Søren Kierkegaard

1.
Devoto era del azul,
mas al conocer el gris de Copenhague
me consagré al sacerdocio de sus tonos.

Ahora escucho atento las voces
procedentes de la niebla.
Transcribo sus ecos con tinta de agua y memoria.

2.
La tumba de Søren Kierkegaard, vacía de crisantemos
La sombra de un árbol reposa sobre su lápida
Trozos de luz alternan con trozos de sombra
El cielo del camposanto aún está en la nevera.

Los gorriones daneses alternan sus melodías,
saben cuándo es tiempo de requiem
y cuándo, de fanfarria.

En sus Estudios estéticos, el filósofo aconseja:

“El que […] se haya perfeccionado
en el arte de olvidar y en el arte de recordar
podrá jugar a la pelota con la existencia entera”.

Nada tan efímero
como la muerte ante un retoño
bajo el cielo de abril.

3.
Sentado y sin palabras
ante un epitafio.

El mejor poema a la primavera
es permanecer en silencio un instante.

 

At Kierkegaard’s tomb

1.
I was devoted to blue.
But when I met the grey of Copenhagen,
I consecrated myself to the priesthood of its tones.

Now I listen carefully to voices emerging from the fog.
I transcribe their echoes with ink of water mixed with memory.

2.
The tomb of Søren Kierkegaard is empty of chrysanthemums.
The shadow of a tree reposes on its stone.
Pieces of light alternate with pieces of shadow.
The sky above the churchyard is still in an icebox.

The Danish sparrows alternate their melodies:
they know when it’s time for a requiem
and when it’s time for a fanfare.

In his Aesthetic Studies, the philosopher advises:

“When you reach perfection
in the art of forgetting and remembering,
you will be able to play games with all existence.”

Nothing is as ephemeral
as death faced with new shoots under an April sky.

3.
I sit wordlessly
before an epitaph.

The best ode to spring
is a moment of silence.

*

Verano en las tierras de Islandia

1.
En Ódáðahraun el viento bautiza
los puntos cardinales de este desierto hijo de la nada.

El silencio tiene su modo de decir las cosas,
cada pisada posee un eco profundo, expansivo.
Así que más vale entender bien lo que dice
o serás alimento de los fantasmas de la arena.

2.
Vatnajökull tiene forma de eternidad
y su infinito cubre mi mano con su niebla.
Mas intuyo la distancia entre mi alma y el glaciar
por los susurros del hielo,
por el tímido saludo del disco solar.

3.
En Kerlingarfjöll no ayuda echarle un vistazo a la brújula;
hay que orientarse por la sombra de las piedras.
También puedes cerrar los ojos
y dejarte llevar por la ventisca del glaciar.
Todos los caminos llevan a Reykjavík.

4.
La noche está allí
aun cuando nadie la vea.
2.56 am en la bahía de Faxaflói,
y el sol levita
sobre el frío verano de Islandia.

 

Summer in Iceland

1.
In Ódáðahraun
the wind baptizes
the cardinal points of this desert
born of nothingness.

The silence has a way of saying things.
(Each step has a deep echo, expansive.)
So it’s best to understand clearly what it says,
or else you will nourish the ghosts in the sand.

2.
Vatnajökull is shaped like eternity,
and its infinity covers my hand with its fog.
But I intuit the distance between my soul and the glacier
through the whispers of the ice
and the timid greeting of the solar disk.

3.
In Kerlinarfjöll it doesn’t help to glance at the compass.
You have to orient yourself by the shadows of the stones.
You can also close your eyes
and let yourself be guided by the breeze from the glacier.
All roads lead to Reykjavik.

4.
The night is there
even when no-one sees it.
At 2:56 a.m.
in the Bay of Faxaflói
the sun levitates above the cold Icelandic summer.


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Enrique Moya is a Venezuelan-Austrian poet, fiction writer, literary translator, publisher, essayist, and music and literary critic. He has published works in diverse literary genres in newspapers and magazines of Latin America, the USA, Asia and Europe. His collections of poetry include Oval Memory (Eclepsidra Publishing, Caracas, 2000, Bilingual English–Spanish Edition), Café Kafka (Labyrinth Publishing House, Vienna-London, 2005, Bilingual English–Spanish Edition), Theories of the Skin (La Bohemia Publishing House, Buenos Aires, 2006, Bilingual German–Spanish Edition) and Before Soren Kierkegaard’s Tomb (Lilla Torg, Malmö, Sweden 2007, Swedish-Spanish). His poetry has been translated and published into English, German, Italian, Swedish, Turkish, Hindi, Arabic, Rumanian, and other languages. Enrique Moya is director of Latin American – Austrian Literature Forum.

Nathan D. Horowitz teaches English in Vienna, Austria.

  1. February 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Creation began with a ‘word’. But it hasn’t stopped with it; it is now through us, with us. Without words, we wouldn’t know infinity in the finiteness neither of that patch of creation we perceive nor of our being. We exist because we are co-creators with words. This poem does prove it. Thank you for the exquisite translation, Nathan. Mil gracias, Sr. Moya!

  2. February 2, 2011 at 5:42 am

    Loved these, every aspect of them. Both voices were a joy to hear and to follow, the poems and their translations felt completely right. And what a world tour they take us on! Thank you both.

  3. February 4, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Nathan, this is fabulous! Your translations and your reading couldn’t be better. And your voice’s shape-shifting is magical: you *become* the Spanish-speaker/writer. Thank you for this moment.

  4. nathan h
    February 5, 2011 at 2:56 am

    Thanks much for your kind words, all.

  5. Alex
    February 7, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    As a hyphenated American, I was touched by the human, poetic dimension of these poems, but was particularly thrilled by the post-colonial implications of such cross-pollination, in opposition to globalization and exile, a true synthesis of a world culture. Thank you Nathan for bringing these to our attention, and my deep appreciation for Enrique Moya’s work.

  6. nathan h
    February 14, 2011 at 3:17 am

    Alex, you’re very welcome, and thanks for your appreciation, on behalf of Enrique and myself.

    That post-colonial cross-pollination you mention is something I, too, find really interesting about Enrique’s poems, and about this moment in history.

    Maybe you’ve run across Teju Cole’s name? He’s getting good reviews for his new novel, Open City. I just finished reading his first book, Every Day is for the Thief, about a half-German, half-Yoruba psychiatry student returning to Lagos, Nigeria, where he grew up, after a couple of decades in the United States. I’m planning on reading Open City next; it’s set mostly in New York City. Cole is very interested in issues of identity and place, and he writes like Johannes Vermeer would have written if he had been a writer who grew up in Lagos: quiet and illuminating.

    • nathan h
      February 14, 2011 at 3:20 am

      ((Note to esteemed moderator(s) of comments: Please cut the link in that message I just posted. It seems to have eaten one of my sentences, which went something like “Perhaps you’ve heard of Teju Cole, whose new book, Open City, is getting good reviews.” And there’s a horrible looking rectangle with an ad for the book and a button that says “Buy from amazon.com”. Thaaaaanks, love you, Nathan.))

  7. nathan h
    February 15, 2011 at 6:16 am

    Ha! Next I’ll be plugging Dave Bonta. Ever heard of him?

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