in your face with grey hair:
in your unbitten mouth:
in your gaze with cataracts:
and in your 56 years that weigh on you
every time I look at you
my failure as a man
and my failure as a poet:
so do me
and do yourself
take away from my life
and its painful echoes:
when I ask it
it no longer replies
that I am
the most beautiful:
David de San Andrés (David González)
David de San Andrés is the editor of the collection Asturcones: Treinta y Un Poetas de Asturias (Canalla, 2012). In the introduction he describes the purpose of the work as “a humble proposal, small if you like, but not insignificant, of contemporary Asturian poetry.” The humble proposal includes 31 poets, all of whom are working today and each one of them has some interesting lines at the very least.
This poem of David de San Andrés is a witty poem on what it is like to be a writer (and a reader, at that). The word “and” in Spanish is “Y” pronounced “ee”. The “Y” in the original is separated from the text on the left. I have had trouble getting WordPress to behave itself and do what I ask, so you will have to imagine that.
In Spanish is called the “Greek i”. The “Y” is separated because it embodies what is happening in the poem itself, with the author talking to his own reflection in the mirror. He is one, as the “Y” is one at base, and he separates into the two sides looking at each other as the “Y” does at the top.
The poet makes the switch over clear, starting off by addressing his image as “you” and then making the transition to “I” and “my”. It is painfully honest:
my failure as a man
and my failure as a poet,
Ouch, that hurts. If you were Bukowski, you wouldn’t so much mind being a “failure as a man” because you could hold the eye of an audience and say, “There is only one poet here; and it is me.” David de San Andrés cannot even say that. He is a failure as a poet as well. The economy of the statement encompasses so much- from the youthful desire for success as a poet, through the minor successes of the occasional reading, through the patronising remarks of friends and family, to the eventual realisation at age 56 that it just ain´t happening, babe. Ouch.
Ironically, this is what makes it a good poem.