Xuan Bello- Unfinished Poem

I, who no longer believe in what I write,
Who lie when I tell the nuances
Of what matters, at twenty-something
Years of my life, in Oviedo, I declare
The rightness of things that get away,
Tobacco smoke, the air I breathe,
The life that escapes my grasp
Like water in a basket.
I, who am cold this night
And can make out away over there
Light at the window of someone not waiting for me,
I, who did everything I wanted to do
And everything I have not wanted to,
I have doubt as my destiny,
And my past is nostalgia
For things I never experienced.

In silence I have thought of silence,
Difficult and thoughtful silence, cruel
When someone is waiting for my words
(I do not think of anything, look at the ceiling, drift off,
Dreaming of impossible lives I more than understand).

In silence I have thought of you and of you
Also, my life, because I’m losing you and sing
For what I hoped to have and don’t have.

I recognise the light of a window at night
And the person clothed in that light, so sweet
And shining like the sun on wheat.
I recognise the cowardice of the years
And the foot that trips on the carpet
And me in the wrong place at the wrong time- it comes
to me
And now never wants to leave me.  I, Xuan Bello,
Who have spent my life reading books
(Here there was already no life),
I, who recognise the sea through what I write
And daylight by what others write,
I was happy, I was unhappy, I was loved and I loved
With a love linking the watching gaze with ideas.

I walk along the street looking at people’s faces
In the morning, in the small shops of Pumarín
(Where conversation varies five per cent)
I spoke courteously, politely asked for life not to hurt.
But the evening came galloping into my life
Like an old horse that runs so as not to stop
Evening came in with grey light and no mist.
The evening has brought loneliness, old verses I reread
Which I repeat here
Pretending passion, pretending love, pretending to be
these words I speak.

In the port I have seen boats I never boarded,
On maps there are deserts I’ve crossed with my finger,
There are women I’ve loved with an unspoken love,
And who walked on the street in front, without seeing
me.
Xuan Bello(Paniceiros, 1965) is one of the best-known writers in Asturianu.  He had a national success in 2003 with Hestoria Universal de Paniceiros.  Paniceiros is a tiny village in the district of Tineo, which is on the route of the Camino Primitivo as it crosses the mountains heading west out of Asturias into Galicia.  In Bello’s writing the village becomes the focus of a meditation on the disappearing country life of a generation ago, combining autobiography and fiction.

I have been reading Ambos Mundos: Poesía 1988-2009 (Oviedo: Trabe, 2010), a bilingual anthology of poetry that includes a broad selection of poetry from a literary life that started very early: he published his first book of poetry in 1982 when he was just sixteen years old.  Since the author is better known for his fiction I have been reading Confesión Xeneral  (Oviedo: Ámbitu, 2008) in tandem.  The novel follows the Kafka-esque trials of its hero Andrés Parrondo into Portugal.  He is an Existential detective, of a kind we have become familiar with in contemporary literature from Paul Auster to Haruki Murakami.  It is strong on place, ideas and reflection and weak on character: the only character with any life is the protagonist; all the others are cut-outs offering clues to ‘reality’.

This sounds damning but, as you can appreciate from this poem, there is something startlingly fresh and honest about his soul-searching.  We do not complain that John Donne is always talking about himself, and Wordsworth’s enormous conceit in writing the Preludes does not prevent him being a great poet.   Xuan Bello’s excruciating honesty would make him a poor dinner guest, but the poetry is exacting, specific and tight.

 

Unfinished Poem

I, who no longer believe in what I write,

Who lie when I tell the nuances

Of what matters, at twenty-something

Years of my life, in Oviedo, I declare

The rightness of things that get away,

Tobacco smoke, the air I breathe,

The life that escapes my grasp

Like water in a basket.

I, who am cold this night

And can make out away over there

Light at the window of someone not waiting for me,

I, who did everything I wanted to do

And everything I have not wanted to,

I have doubt as my destiny,

And my past is nostalgia

For things I never experienced.

In silence I have thought of silence,

Difficult and thoughtful silence, cruel

When someone is waiting for my words

(I do not think of anything, look at the ceiling, drift off,

Dreaming of impossible lives I more than understand).

In silence I have thought of you and of you

Also, my life, because I’m losing you and sing

For what I hoped to have and don’t have.

I recognise the light of a window at night

And the person clothed in that light, so sweet

And shining like the sun on wheat.

I recognise the cowardice of the years

And the foot that trips on the carpet

And me in the wrong place at the wrong time- it comes to me

And now never wants to leave me.  I, Xuan Bello,

Who have spent my life reading books

(Here there was already no life),

I, who recognise the sea through what I write

And daylight by what others write,

I was happy, I was unhappy, I was loved and I loved

With a love linking the watching gaze with ideas.

I walk along the street looking at people’s faces

In the morning, in the small shops of Pumarín

(Where conversation varies five per cent)

I spoke courteously, politely asked for life not to hurt.

But the evening came galloping into my life

Like an old horse that runs so as not to stop

Evening came in with grey light and no mist.

The evening has brought loneliness, old verses I reread

Which I repeat here

Pretending passion, pretending love, pretending to be these words I speak.

In the port I have seen boats I never boarded,

On maps there are deserts I’ve crossed with my finger,

There are women I’ve loved with an unspoken love,

And who walked on the street in front, without seeing me.

Xuan Bello(Paniceiros, 1965) is one of the best-known writers in Asturianu.  He had a national success in 2003 with Hestoria Universal de Paniceiros.  Paniceiros is a tiny village in the district of Tineo, which is on the route of the Camino Primitivo as it crosses the mountains heading west out of Asturias into Galicia.  In Bello’s writing the village becomes the focus of a meditation on the disappearing country life of a generation ago, combining autobiography and fiction.

I have been reading Ambos Mundos: Poesía 1988-2009 (Oviedo: Trabe, 2010), a bilingual anthology of poetry that includes a broad selection of poetry from a literary life that started very early: he published his first book of poetry in 1982 when he was just sixteen years old.  Since the author is better known for his fiction I have been reading Confesión Xeneral  (Oviedo: Ámbitu, 2008) in tandem.  The novel follows the Kafka-esque trials of its hero Andrés Parrondo into Portugal.  He is an Existential detective, of a kind we have become familiar with in contemporary literature from Paul Auster to Haruki Murakami.  It is strong on place, ideas and reflection and weak on character: the only character with any life is the protagonist; all the others are cut-outs offering clues to ‘reality’.

This sounds damning but, as you can appreciate from this poem, there is something startlingly fresh and honest about his soul-searching.  We do not complain that John Donne is always talking about himself, and Wordsworth’s enormous conceit in writing the Preludes does not prevent him being a great poet.   Xuan Bello’s excruciating honesty would make him a poor dinner guest, but the poetry is exacting, specific and tight.

About Jason Preater

Working on Projects
This entry was posted in Asturianu, Contemporary and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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