Dernière mise à jour : 29 avr. 2021
Translated from the Spanish by Michael Lee Rattigan, with Mario Domínguez Parra.
To translate a collection which, in Vallejo’s own words, effectively fell “into a void” soon after its publication, means that the translator should at the very least be prepared to leap into one! The intransigence of the original, its refusal to be rounded off, but rather “squared to three silences”, must be respected if the act of translation is to be accomplished at all. The aim of this translation of Trilce is to be exacting in terms of fidelity to Vallejo’s poetry, while not shying away from any of the Wake-like suggestion within it, however awkward and incongruous that might feel. Mario Domínguez Parra and I are endeavouring to bring out the lurking and nigh-on impossible to render nuances of the original – Vallejo’s inveterate shadow-play and suggestion. A rare kind of obduracy and flexibility is required “in this most butting of jousts”, if the translator and the poet are to “leap through the needle’s eye”.
Michael Lee Rattigan
When Michael, whose work as a poet I have relished and translated, proposed me to work on Trilce as his co-translator, the flame of working with extremely difficult classic texts was rekindled. I have translated some juvenilia by James Joyce and Nikos Kazantzakis, both authors extremely exacting in their re-constructions of English and Greek words, either by using sixty to seventy languages or by creating thousands of Greek neologisms in a desire for Homerian completeness. But Trilce, oh my, Trilce: we are dealing with one of the acmes of Spanish poetry, its audacities preceded the Joycish language, with just one speaker in the world, in seventeen years. How could I say ‘no’? The Wake is our guide: “the few fly the farbetween!”
Mario Domínguez Parra
El traje que vestí mañana
no lo ha lavado mi lavandera:
lo lavaba en sus venas otilinas,
en el chorro de su corazón, y hoy no he
de preguntarme si yo dejaba
el traje turbio de injusticia.
A hora que no hay quien vaya a las aguas,
en mis falsillas encañona
el lienzo para emplumar, y todas las cosas
del velador de tánto qué será de mí,
todas no están mías
a mi lado.
Quedaron de su propiedad,
fratesadas, selladas con su trigueña bondad.
Y si supiera si ha de volver;
y si supiera qué mañana entrará
a entregarme las ropas lavadas, mi aquella
lavandera del alma. Que mañana entrará
satisfecha, capulí de obrería, dichosa
de probar que sí sabe, que sí puede
¡CÓMO NO VA A PODER!
azular y planchar todos los caos.
The suit I wore tomorrow
my laundress hasn’t washed:
she washed it in her Otiline veins,
in the stream of her heart, and today I don’t have
to ask myself if I left
the suit grimy with injustice.
Now there’s no one who goes to the waters,
on my guidelines she aims
to fledge the cloth, and everything
the nightstand holds from so much of what’ll become of me,
there all not mine
by my side.
They remained her property,
smoothed-out, sealed with her dusky kindness.
And If I knew she would return;
and if I knew on what morning she will come
to hand me the clean clothes, that one
the laundress of my soul. On what morning she will come
satisfied, vestry rum-cherry, happy
to prove she knows, that she can
HOW COULD SHE NOT!
blue-dye and iron out all the chaoses.
Rumbé sin novedad por la veteada calle
que yo me sé. Todo sin novedad,
de veras. Y fondeé hacia cosas así,
y fui pasado.
Doblé la calle por la que raras
veces se pasa con bien, salida
heroica por la herida de aquella
esquina viva, nada a medias.
Son los grandores,
el grito aquel, la claridad de careo,
la barreta sumersa en su función de
Cuando la calle está ojerosa de puertas,
y pregona desde descalzos atriles
trasmañanar las salvas en los dobles.
Ahora hormigas minuteras
se adentran dulzoradas, dormitadas, apenas
dispuestas, y se baldan,
quemadas pólvoras, altos de a 1921.
I shuffled nonchalant down the enamelled street
that I know. All as usual,
truly. And I latched onto such things,
and I was past.
I took the street one rarely
walks with a good outcome, heroic
exit from the wound of that
live corner, a-swim at half-mast.
It’s about grandeurs,
that cry, the clear confrontation,
the lever drowned in the right now! –
When the street is haggard with doors,
and proclaims from barefoot lecterns
to procrastinate salvoes inside knells.
Now minute-marking ants,
go in dulcified, drowsy, barely
able, and collapse,
burnt powders, penthouses 1921 each.
Editor’s note: Two other poems from Trilce, translated by Michael Lee Rattigan, were published in issue 5 of The Black Herald.