Gloria Fuertes: Historia de Gloria

aa4If you feel like a dishcloth
Like a butt
Like a husk.
Don’t water your sadness,
Your failure doesn’t exist
(The failure is his!)
Of the man who used you to clean himself
And threw you away like an old dishcloth,
Who sucked out your energy,
Enjoyed you then trod on you like a dead butt;
He bit into your fruit
And threw away what was left of you,
The pure and simple velvet shell.

If you are a dishcloth,
Butt
Or husk
Sow your seeds inside yourself!
Then flower again in a painting,
A poem,
Or if a husk,
In food for a starving child.
(That’s what I did.)

 

This poem comes from Gloria Fuertes, Historia de Gloria, Amor, Humor y Desamor (Madrid: Cátedra, 1980).  You can see just from the title that she loves wordplay.  The title could be Story of Glory in English and I chose this poem because it shows just where Gloria finds her glory.

Gloria Fuertes is a well-known poet in Spain.  She has written some of the best-selling anthologies of poetry for children with delightful plays on words and meanings.  She has an engaging directness.  Historia de Gloria combines the wistful observations of her children’s poetry with a directness of sentiment and feeling that occasionally makes you feel awkward, like when someone you meet on the bus confides in you.  “Oh Gloria!” I found myself saying at times, struck by the painful autobiographical truth of what she was saying.

This poem is a good example.  “The pure and simple velvet shell” in Spanish is “la monda y lironda cáscara de terciopelo”.  Monda is part of an expression that means pure and simple but when it is used alone it means something like “stripped to the bone”.  That one line is the most lyrical in the whole poem, right there in the centre, seeding the poem like the advice she gives at the end.

And I imagine the food for a starving child refers to her poetry that has given food for thought to several generations of children now.

aa7

About Jason Preater

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10 Responses to Gloria Fuertes: Historia de Gloria

  1. hickson1 says:

    I wish I could appreciate the wordplay of the original – I love multiplicity and layering in language – enjoy your weekend Jason!

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  2. pierrmorgan says:

    Brava to Gloria and Bravo to you. This is gutsy and full of fire. And I see a horse munching away on the left and a bird or two in your lovely tree.

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  3. That’s one powerful poem. As you say, makes you feel slightly awkward with the rawness, but I guess that’s why it’s so good! I am in awe of anyone who can speak another language let alone translate 😉

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    • Awe! That is something you can only say because you haven’t met me: I’m really quite an ordinary guy and Carmen would laugh her socks off at awe. Thanks for the comment though.

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  4. maggiebird says:

    Hi Jason,
    I recently started following your blog. I love the poetry translations-I wish I read Spanish well enough to read them in the original. Thanks for introducing the many wonderful Spanish poets.

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  5. mirigabriel says:

    Such wise words, and timely for myself as well as for many I am sure. Thank you so much for using your translation gifts to feed the hungry child in me, perhaps in many.

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  6. golembook says:

    I always love your poetry. Thanks so much for visiting my blog throughout the past year and for all the advice you gave me about my scans. I hope you will follow me to my next site, http://www.onebodyperlifetime.com

    Like

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