High Noon

Just as the scales of a leaping fish catch fire
So far from the sky’s azure, and the wings of Eros
Quiver, though his eyes are blank marble,
So, too, somewhere inside that leafy elm’s
Tremulous limbs is a green cicada trilling—
Though it sounds no different than a toy whistle.

Siesta time. Let us praise the Lord
Almighty, whose open palm can silence the loud
And unruly anytime he pleases, and casts a shadow
Dark as the one that extends from the cypress tree.
God of distance and God of absence, anchor
Stone that plumbs its own bottomless depth;

Path that’s open for all to walk on; key
That turns on ubiquitous life, and shuts the door.
Freedom. By this glass of wine so dark it brims
Like rising nightfall, with a heart whose deepest faith
Is insatiable thirst, let us praise the Lord of Desire,
Who molded our mind as if it was good for nothing.


[Translated from the Spanish by George Kalogeris and Gláucia Rezende]


Mientras traza su curva el pez de fuego,

junto al ciprés, bajo el supremo añil,

y vuela en blanca piedra el niño ciego,

y en el olmo la copla de marfil

de la verde cigarra late y suena,

honremos al Señor

—la negra estampa de su mano buena—

que ha dictado el silencio en el clamor.

Al dios de la distancia y de la ausencia,

del áncora en el mar, la plena mar

Él nos libra del mundo—omnipresencia—,

nos abrea senda para caminar.

Con la copa de sombra bien colmada,

con este nunca lleno corazón,

honremos al Señor que hizo la Nada

y ha esculpido en la fe nuestra razón.

Rainbow at Night

One night, on a train that was bound for Madrid,

In the darkness over Guadarrama, I saw a rainbow

Just as it was emerging from moonlit fog.

O peaceful April moon, covered by clouds

You can drive away just by looking down!

Though he’s fast asleep in his mother’s lap, the child

Still sees the meadows flash by, and it feels so lush

Lying there in his mother’s arms he dreams he’s enclosed

By a warm circle of trees, and closes his eyes

Tighter to catch the flutter of yellow butterflies.

But his mother, whose face is lined like a map

Of yesterday’s gloom as well as tomorrow’s, sees only

The coals smoldering out and the black oven

Crawling with spiders. One of our fellow passengers

Must be seeing things, too. He stares out the window,

Muttering something to himself. Then his shattered look

Looks right through us. My mind dwells on fields

Buried under snow, even as it pictures pine trees

Evergreen on other mountains. And you, O Lord,

Overseer of our souls, and the one through whom

Our eyes are able to see: will the day ever dawn

When your countenance shines in everyone’s eyes?

[Translated from the Spanish by George Kalogeris and Gláucia Rezende]

Iris De La Noche

Hacia Madrid, una noche,

va el tren por el Guadarrama.

En el cielo, el arco iris

que hacen la luna y el agua.

¡Oh luna de abril, serena,

que empuja las nubes blancas!

La madre lleva a su niño,

dormido,sobre la falda.

Duerme el niño y, todavía,

ve el campo verde que pasa,

y arbolillos soleados,

y mariposas doradas.

La madre, ceño sombrío

entre un ayer y un mañana,

ve unas ascuas mortecinas

y una hornilla con arañas.

Hay un trágico viajero,

que debe ver cosas raras,

y habla solo y, cuando mira,

nos borra con la mirada.

Yo pienso en campos de nieve

y en pinos de otras montañas.

Y tú, Señor, por quien todos

Vemos y que ves las almas,

dinos si todos, un día,

hemos de verte la cara.

Antonio Machado y Ruiz, 1875-1939, was a Spanish poet and one of the principal figures in the Generación de 1898, a literary group of writers and thinkers during the Spanish-American War. His first book of poetry, Soledades, was published in 1903; he continued to add to the collection and the complete work was published in 1907 as Soledades. Galerías. Otros Poemas. His other works include Campos de Castilla and Nuevas canciones.

George Kalogeris teaches at Boston University and Suffolk University. His book of poems Camus: Carnets has just been published by Pressed Wafer.

Gláucia Rezende is a Brazilian poet who is currently translating poems of Pessoa and Lorca.

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