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News and comments and events relating to Granada, 'the city where anything is possible, Granada, 'la bella y la bestia, and Federico Garcia Lorca's complicated love-hate relationship with the city, etc

Verdad es

poetryPosted by Simon Sun, January 19, 2014 13:40:27

Juan Gelman gave this previously unpublished and hand-written poem to Joaquín Sabina when he was in Mexico last autumn. And I've tried to translate it.

Verdad es

Cada dia

me acerco más a mi esqueleto.

Se está asomando con razón.

Lo metí en buenas y en feas sin preguntarle nada,

él siempre preguntándome, sin ver

cómo era la dicha o la desdicha,

sin quejarse, sin

distancias efímeras de mí.

Ahora que otea casi

el aire alrededor,

qué pensará la clavícula rota,

joya espléndida, rodillas

que arrastré sobre piedras

entre perdones falsos, etcétera.

Esqueleto saqueado, pronto

no estorbará tu vista ninguna veleidad.

Aguantarás el universo desnudo.

The truth is

Each day

brings me closer to my skeleton.

His appearing is no surprise.

I took him for what he was, asking nothing of him,

he always asking me, with no consideration

of fortune or misfortune,

without complaining, with no

ephemeral distances between us.

Now that the air around

practically watches from above,

what will the broken collar bone think,

splendid jewel, knees

which I scraped on stones

among false forgive-me’s, etcetera.

Plundered skeleton, soon

there will be nothing to spoil your view.

You will face the universe naked.

Juan Gelman

La Condesa DF

28 October 2013

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Eduardo Lizalde - Lorca Prize 2013

poetryPosted by Simon Mon, October 14, 2013 19:41:45


La regla es ésta:
dar lo absolutamente imprescindible,
obtener lo más,
nunca bajar la guardia,
meter el jab a tiempo,
no ceder,
y no pelear en corto,
no entregarse en ninguna circunstancia
ni cambiar golpes con la ceja herida;
jamás decir "te amo", en serio,
al contrincante.
Es el mejor camino
para ser eternamente desgraciado
y triunfador
sin riesgos aparentes.


The rule is this:
give just what is absolutely necessary,
get the most in return,
never let your guard down,
get your jab in first,
don’t give in,
fight hard,
and don’t give yourself away under any circumstances
or continue exchanging blows with an injured brow;
never say “I love you” and mean it
to your opponent.
It is the best way
to be eternally wretched
and victorious
with no apparent risks.

[I did the translation.]

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poetryPosted by Simon Mon, February 18, 2013 00:10:14

We all have a voice. To raise.

But their buttoned-down lie

Will not be undone;

the sensual lip

of the military man

says how it will be;

as the lie of Authority

would prescribe how we live and die;

each fresh calamity

has been

ordained by a hierarchy of hate;

and anger allows no choice

to the soldier or the mob:

we must kill one another, then die.

Stranded under the night’s comfortless veil

the low-born scan the sky

for a tell-tale trail of fire.

Sober dots of light

flash out where the unruly meet,

swapping gestures of hope

and burning outrage.

As if I was one of them,

foundering in the same flare

of despair and disgust,

unable to mourn more dead,

I shed off my uniform of indifference

and move with the millions

towards, against, beyond

our uncivil government.

After W.H. Auden: September 1, 1939.

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Poemas inéditos de Tomás Segovia

poetryPosted by Simon Sun, December 19, 2010 01:53:07

A veces pienso desoladamente

Que es en la vida misma

Es en su limpia página

Donde se me derrama el borrón de la muerte

Pero miro allá abajo

Donde luce el frescor recién vertido

En el cuenco frugal de la mañana

A los perros nerviosamente alegres

Que en mi lugar y en nombre mío

Retozan entre sí

Tan exhibicionistamente vivos

Y sé que hay todavía cosas

Que hay que aprender a poner en su sitio.

- Dated 21 Sep 08

Lo único que siempre he sabido hacer bien

No es hacer

Es no mover un músculo

Dejar quieta la lengua

Cuidarme mucho de no ir a hacer ruido

De que no se me escape un gongorismo

Quedarme inmóvil para no estorbar

Y dejar que se vaya hinchando

Enriqueciendo impacientando

Algo que sin remedio va a decirse

Y que revienta al fin trayendo entre nosotros

Con emoción pero sin susto

Y por supuesto silenciosamente

Una innegable detonación de luz.

- Dated 21 Sep 08

Lo que quisiera yo es subirme a las ramas

Y sin que lo notaran

Meterme entre las hojas más menudas

Para espiar lo que se están diciendo

Entre sí tan en secreto

Y llevármelo a casa en la memoria

Para decírmelo a mí mismo luego

Con picardía pero sin malicia.

- Dated 21 Sep 08

A lo lejos la noche masculla su tormenta

Esa pululación de tenues fogonazos

Y ese apagado desgranar de truenos

Visiblemente traman alcanzarnos

La tormenta galopa hacia nosotros

Con lentitud de sueño

Y tal vez se desmaye antes de haber llegado

Pero cómo negar si nos alcanza

Que mientras dura su impulsivo abrazo

Es también ella una gran casa

En la que caben nuestras casas.

- Dated Night of the 21-22 sep 08

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Poems by Tomás Segovia - my translations

poetryPosted by Simon Sun, December 19, 2010 01:25:38

At times I think desolately

That it is on life itself

On its clean page

that the blot of death is spilt

But I look down there

at the recently tipped freshness

resplendent in the frugal morning bowl

For the nervously cheerful dogs

Which in my stead and in my name

Frolic about

So exhibitionistically alive

And I know there are still things

That I have to learn how to put in their place.


The only thing that I've always known how to do well

Is not to do

Is not to move a muscle

Let the tongue be still

Take great care not to go and make a noise

From which a gongorismo might slip out

Remain motionless so as not to get in the way

And let something which is inevitably going to be said

Swell up growing richer and more impatient

And in the end burst bringing forth

Excitingly but not frighteningly

And of course silently

An undeniable explosion of light.


What I would like to do is climb up to the branches

And without anyone noticing

Get in among the smallest leaves

To eavesdrop on what they are saying

Among themselves so secretly

And take it home with me in my memory

To say it to myself then

With mischievous but not malicious intent.


In the distance the night mutters its storm

That proliferation of faint flashes

And that muffled threshing of thunder

Are visibly plotting to reach us

The storm gallops towards us

In dreamlike slow motion

And perhaps it loses heart before arriving

But who can deny that if it reaches us

That while its impulsive embrace lasts

It is itself a great house

With room for all our houses.


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poetryPosted by Simon Sun, November 07, 2010 20:24:33

70 years after the event, and in time for his centenary on 30 October this year, the Spanish Government have ruled that socialist poet Miguel Hernandez’ death sentence, issued by a military court in the first year of Franco’s forty-year dictatorship, was unjust. Wow! What insight! And ‘only’ 30-odd years after establishing democracy in modern post-Franco Spain. The Government has duly offered an official apology to his family and its belated recognition of his innocence.

In January 1940 Hernandez was charged with being a traitor to the regime (Franco’s) and a poet of the people. Hernandez certainly was not innocent of either of these charges. Indeed, in his declaration to the court, he proudly admitted that he was an antifascist poet who wrote to serve the people of Spain, calling on them defiantly to resist Franco’s nationalist uprising.

Hernandez, born 1910, left school at 14 and worked as a shepherd before realising his vocation as a poet. It was his closeness to the beauty of the natural world that soon inspired him to start writing poetry. His instinctive solidarity with the oppressed was radicalised during the period of the Republic in the 1930s and on the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War he joined the Republican Army to fight against Franco’s rebellion on several Fronts, finding, nevertheless, some time to dedicate himself to cultural-political issues as a creative writer. ‘While other poets wrote without conviction and paraded their left politics through Madrid in their carefully-ironed boiler suits, Hernandez was the only one who fought and wrote on the battlefield.’ This was the harsh but fair judgement of Juan Ramón Jiménez, alter ego and father figure of the brilliant contemporary generation of Spanish poets.

At the time of his trial, unsuccessful attempts were made to get Hernandez to renounce his political ideas in exchange for his life and make a public confession that he had been led astray by ‘the enemies of Spain’. Then, prompted no doubt by the international repercussions that had followed the disappearing of the more widely acclaimed Republican poet Garcia Lorca some years before, Franco commuted Hernandez’ death sentence to 30 years in prison. The regime did not want another martyr. But the condemned poet held out for little more than two years of his prison spell before succumbing to the effects of an untreated lung infection in March 1942.

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