Pablo Antón Marín Estrada
Animal Estrañu (KRK: Uviéu, 2008)
The Song of One Who Comes and Leaves
I speak in your tongue,
When barefoot I tread the grass,
I caress your skin
When I write down
The word drizzle,
I eat your soul
When I squeeze out
The cherry’s heart.
I come from far
And bring nothing.
I come and leave
I leave here four words
For wind and iron
I give you my fate,
It has been a long time since I have posted a translation here. I have been reading, but the business of reading has been encompassing and engrossing to the extent that I have spared little time or energy for the public face of it: critical writing and translation.
It seems to me that the heart and soul of reading as a human experience- not a professional one- is its deep interconnection with life itself. Sometimes I find that my appetite for novelty dries up and I want to retrace familiar paths. Recently I have been reading Isaiah, for example, in English and in the Spanish translation of Cipriano de Valera. I have taken a very long time to re-read a Saul Bellow novel I first read when I was 21 and have frequently stopped to reread individual paragraphs and meditate on them, looking out at the early morning light on the frosted fields beyond the hospital.
This poem by Pablo Antón Marín Estrada fits in with my current reflective mood. It makes me think of A.E. Housman (From far, from eve and morn for example) with its allusions to Lucretius and this solid foundation in the classical past is a relief to me.
It comes from a collection called Animal Estrañu or Strange Beast that won the Acebal prize in 2007. To give you an indication of my current slowness, I have had the book for several weeks and have still not read all of the poems. This is not because they are difficult: they have an engaging clarity and develop their arguments in vivid images that unfold in clear and classically comprehensible units.
Perdíos en Monte Deva, for example, tells of coming across a group of cows on a misty hill-top I know well because I sometimes go walking there. In the mist the poet is only conscious of “the nearby heat of a living heart” and this turns out to be a herd of cows. He never knows how many cows there are, nor where they are going as the tinkle of their bells is swallowed up in the “lake” of fog. I love that phrase “nearby heat of a living heart”: El calor cercanu d’un corazón vivu. It is like a refrain in a song you enjoy. I go back and reread the poem just to hear it again.
And when I read the poem to Carmen I felt the emotional force of it in my chest. And I suppose that is what I mean about reading and life, as well.