Posts Tagged ‘translations’


On Living – Nazim Hikmet

July 26, 2008

On Living


Living is no laughing matter:
you must live with great seriousness
like a squirrel, for example-
I mean without looking for something beyond and above living,
I mean living must be your whole occupation.
Living is no laughing matter:
you must take it seriously,
so much so and to such a degree
that, for example, your hands tied behind your back,
your back to the wall,
or else in a laboratory
in your white coat and safety glasses,
you can die for people-
even for people whose faces you’ve never seen,
even though you know living
is the most real, the most beautiful thing.
I mean, you must take living so seriously
that even at seventy, for example, you’ll plant olive trees-
and not for your children, either,
but because although you fear death you don’t believe it,
because living, I mean, weighs heavier.


Let’s say you’re seriously ill, need surgery –
which is to say we might not get
from the white table.
Even though it’s impossible not to feel sad
about going a little too soon,
we’ll still laugh at the jokes being told,
we’ll look out the window to see it’s raining,
or still wait anxiously
for the latest newscast …
Let’s say we’re at the front-
for something worth fighting for, say.
There, in the first offensive, on that very day,
we might fall on our face, dead.
We’ll know this with a curious anger,
but we’ll still worry ourselves to death
about the outcome of the war, which could last years.
Let’s say we’re in prison
and close to fifty,
and we have eighteen more years, say,
before the iron doors will open.
We’ll still live with the outside,
with its people and animals, struggle and wind-
I mean with the outside beyond the walls.
I mean, however and wherever we are,
we must live as if we will never die.


This earth will grow cold,
a star among stars
and one of the smallest,
a gilded mote on blue velvet-
I mean this, our great earth.
This earth will grow cold one day,
not like a block of ice
or a dead cloud even
but like an empty walnut it will roll along
in pitch-black space …
You must grieve for this right now
-you have to feel this sorrow now-
for the world must be loved this much
if you’re going to say “I lived” …

Nazim Hikmet
February, 1948
Trans. Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk – 1993


Evening Prayer – Arthur Rimbaud

July 10, 2008

Je vis assis, tel qu’un ange aux mains d’un barbier,
Empoignant une chope à fortes cannelures,
L’hypogastre et le col cambrés, une Gambier
Aux dents, sous l’air gonflé d’impalpables voilures.

Tels que les excréments chauds d’un vieux colombier,
Mille rêves en moi font de douces brûlures :
Puis par instants mon coeur triste est comme un aubier
Qu’ensanglante l’or jeune et sombre des coulures.

Puis, quand j’ai ravalé mes rêves avec soin,
Je me détourne, ayant bu trente ou quarante chopes,
Et me recueille pour lâcher l’âcre besoin :

Doux comme le Seigneur du cèdre et des hysopes,
Je pisse vers les cieux bruns très haut et très loin,
Avec l’assentiment des grands héliotropes.


I spend my life
seated in bars
like an angel in the hands
of a barber, clinging
to a beer mug. My belly
hangs over and my neck is bent,
a cheap pipe, between my teeth,
fills the air with fleeting sails
of smoke-cloud.

The thousand dreams still within me
sweetly scald my supple skin.
They are like hot piles of bird crap
left on the bottom of some old pigeon coop.

But, sometimes my sad heart
is like a piece of soft wood
that’s been cut off but still bleeds
gold where the branch was torn
and is still fruitful.

And after I’ve carefully drunk
down my dreams, after about thirty or forty
drinks, I get up to take a long piss,
an offering to the god
of hyssop and cedar.

I piss into the dark sky
a great golden stream
very high and very far
that blesses all the plants
that turn towards the sun.

Translated by ME.


Paloma Negra – Chavela Vargas

June 15, 2008

I’m tired of crying.
And I wish to never wake up.
I don’t know if I should curse you or pray for you.

I’m afraid to look for you
or worse find you
where my friends tell me
you go.

There are moments I wanted to forget you
and tear from myself
the nails of my grief

But my eyes would die if I saw you again.
My affection for you returns with hope
at the dawn of a new day.

But you would rather be out partying.
Black Dove
Black Dove
Where, where you will walk?

Don’t play with my honor
If your caresses are mine
then they are nobody else’s.

And although I love you,
And it’s making me crazy
You don’t return, Black Dove.

Black Dove, you are the bars
that keep me in prison.

I want to be free to live my life
with whom I want.
God give me the strength.
It’s killing me to not look
for you.

But you,
You would rather be in the bars,