Monday, August 6, 2012

Spanish favorites

One of my favorite DC-area poet-people is Yvette Neisser Moreno -- who, besides giving us her own work, is active in translation of  Spanish-language poetry into English, most recently (with Patricia Bejarano Fisher) a Spanish and English edition of Venezuelan poet Maria Teresa Ogliastri’s South Pole/Polo Sur  (Settlement House, 2011).  Although I have not found any mathematical poems by Moreno, I learned from an interview that the Chilean Nobelist Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) is her favorite poet and I therefore present here the geometrically vivid opening opening stanza of Part XI of Neruda's well-known long poem, The Heights of Macchu Pichu: A Bilingual Edition (The Noonday Press, 1966). 

   from   XI   of   The Heights of Macchu Picchu        

                       by Pablo Neruda      (trans. Nathaniel Tarn)

   Through a confusion of splendor,
   through a night made stone let me plunge my hand
   and move to beat in me a bird held for a thousand years,
   the old and unremembered human heart!
   Today let me forget this happiness, wider than all the sea,
   because man is wider than all the sea and her necklace 
      of islands
   and we must fall into him as down a well to clamber back with
   branches of secret water, recondite truths.
   Allow me to forget, circumference of stone, the powerful 
      proportions,
   the transcendental span, the honeycomb's foundations,
   and from the set-square allow my hand to slide
   down a hypotenuse of hairshirt and salt blood.
      . . .

Neruda's complete 12-part book-length poem, The Heights of Macchu Pichu: A Bilingual Edition is available online from various sellers .
Readers also may enjoy Neruda's "Triangles," translated by Jodey Bateman; the first stanza is offered below; the complete translation is available here.

   Triangles       by Pablo Neruda   

   Three triangles of birds crossed 
   Over the enormous ocean which extended 
   In winter like a green beast. 
   Everything just lay there, the silence, 
   The unfolding gray, the heavy light 
   Of space, some land now and then. 
   Over everything there was passing 
   A flight 
   And another flight 
   Of dark birds, winter bodies 
   Trembling triangles 
   Whose wings, 
   Frantically flapping, hardly 
   Can carry the gray cold, the desolate days 
   From one place to another 
   Along the coast of Chile. 
        . . .

A tiny Neruda poem was posted in this blog on 30 August 2010.

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