I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library.
Jorge Luis Borges
Sonnet of the Garland of Roses
by Federico Garcia Lorca
Translated by Paul Archer
A garland, quick, I’m dying!
Weave it now, sing and moan and sing!
For shadows my throat are clouding
and again the January light comes in.
Trembling bushes and the air of stars
lie between your love and mine,
a dense mass of anemones picks up
an entire year with a muffled moan.
Revel in the open country of my wound,
break apart its reeds and delicate rivulets,
drink from my thigh my pouring blood.
But be quick! And then, together entwined,
with love-broken mouths and frayed souls
time will find us utterly destroyed.
Soneto de al Guirnalda de Rosas
by Federico Garcia Lorca
¡Esa guirnalda! ¡pronto! ¡que me muero!
¡Teje deprisa! ¡canta! ¡gime! ¡canta!
que la sombra me enturbia la garganta
y otra vez y mil la luz de enero
Entre lo que me quieres y te quiero,
aire de estrellas y temblor de planta,
espesura de anémonas levanta
con oscuro gemir un año enter
Goza el fresco paisaje de mi herida,
quiebra juncos y arroyos delicados.
Bebe en muslo de miel sangre vertida.
Pero ¡pronto! Que unidos, enlazados,
boca rota de amor y alma mordida,
el tiempo nos encuentre destrozados.
Don’t ever think for a moment that poetry isn’t dangerous. Poetry that crosses the boundary from mere words into art, by its very nature is dangerous. Dangerous for the writer and the reader, a danger that you will be forever changed to your core, subverted. Is that as good a definition of subversive as any – poetry?
How many poets have lost their lives because their poetry was too subversive for the politics of their times, either by their own hand or their enemies? Federico Garcia Lorca was a casualty of the Spanish Civil war, his body never found, his execution and likely torture at the hands of the right wing for being a socialist and a homosexual. Which was the greater crime in the eyes of his judges and executioners?
Lorca and Borges are two of the more prominent Spanish poets, dramatists and writers of their generation. Both used the sonnet form to great effect, but did not limit themselves to the confines of fourteen lines and explored a myriad of poetic forms and styles. Borges had a wide knowledge of world literature, the connection to Milton with his sonnet below gives it more weight and complexity. Borges was born in Argentina but lived in Europe for much of his lifetime. His surrealist style opened the eyes of writers around the world to mystical reality that imbibes great writing. Unlike Lorca, Borges enjoyed a long life, dying in Switzerland that the age of 87. I wonder if the “luminous mist” surrounded him?
On His Blindness
by Jorge Luis Borges (1899 – 1986)
In the fullness of the years, like it or not
a luminous mist surrounds the unvarying
that breaks down into a single thing
colorless, formless. Almost into a thought.
The elemental, vast night and the day,
teeming with people have become that fog
of constant, tentative light that does not flag,
and lies at wait at dawn. I longed to see
just once a human face. Unknown to me
the closed encyclopedia, the sweet play
in volumes I can do no more to hold
the tiny soaring birds, the moons of gold,
Others have the world, better or worse;
I have this half-dark, and the toil of verse.