to measure the body or to neglect it

Language: Spanish
Poet: Hugo Gola
Translator: Hugo García Manríquez

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to measure the body
or neglect it

Two poems by Hugo Gola translated from Spanish by Hugo García Manríquez

Hugo Gola (1927–2015) taught literature in Argentina until 1975 when he left the country due to the imminent military dictatorship, moving to England and settling finally in Mexico. He returned to Argentina in 2011 and received the National Poetry Award the same year. As director of two influential journals published in Mexico, Poesía y Poética (1988–1990) and El poeta y su trabajo (2000–2010), Gola made available key works by crucial poets and artists of the 20th century, and he translated Gastón Bachelard, Paul Valéry and César Pavese, among others. In 2004, his collected poetry, Filtraciones, was published. Other titles include Prosas (2007), Retomas (2008), and Resonancias renuentes (2011).
Hugo García Manríquez (b. 1978) is a graduate student at UC Berkeley. His work as a translator includes William Carlos Williams’ Paterson, Clayton Eshleman’s Juniper Fuse: Upper Paleolithic Imagination & the Construction of the Underworld, and others.  He has published several books of poetry in Spanish and English. His most recent work is the bilingual book Anti-Humboldt: A Reading of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Litmus Press/Aldus Editorial, 2015).

Pintar

         los objetos
 su presencia
         erguida
      su forma huidiza
 o su sombra
 medir el cuerpo
 o descuidarlo
 Morandi recorre los bordes
 navega en un campo
 de violetas silvestres
 y sube hacia las cosas
   el jarrón
       la botella
         la taza vacía
             una y otra
           y otra vez
 caen de la sombra
       a la luz
 lucen en el espacio
   y tiemblan
       porque la mano
              tiembla
 y el ojo
         tiembla
 ante el vasto
       silencio
 del mundo

To Paint

       the objects
their erect
        presence    
     their flickering form
or their shadow
to measure the body
or to neglect it
Morandi walks along the boundaries
navigates a field
of wild violets
and rises toward things
        the vase
            the bottle
               the empty cup
               again and again
        and again
plunge from shadow
     into light
glow in the open
and tremble
        for the hand
        trembles
and the eye
        trembles
before the vast
        silence
of the world

Sin Conocer

        No puede
                 el ave
                  cantar?
 ¿O sí puede el ave?
 Cantar no es
        sino
        un sol
 ¿Sabe
        el ave
        de su sol?
 ¿Saber versa
        sobre
        lo que el ave
                 cantar
                 no puede?
 Pero igual
        el ave
        canta
        sin saber
 ¿Qué  es
        entonces saber?
 Si el ave
        sin saber
        canta
 el rio
        sin saber ríe
 el viento sin saber
        filtra
        su suave sonido
        entre las
                 ramas
 ¿sobre que versa el saber?
 ¿Sabe
       acaso
        el ave
 de dónde sube
            el sonido?
 Voz
        sonido
     silbo
 ¿sabe el que aprende?

Without Knowing

      Cannot
                 the bird
                 sing?
        Or can it—the bird?
 Singing is
        but
        a sun
 Does
        the bird
        know its sun?
 Is knowing versed
        in what the bird
                 cannot
                 sing?
 Nonetheless
        the bird
        sings
        without knowing
 What
        then is knowing?
 If the bird
        without knowing
                 sings
 the river
        without knowing laughs
 the wind without knowing
                 filters
        its sweet sound
        among the
                 branches
 In what is knowing versed in?
 Does the bird
        perchance
        know
where sounds
        come from?
 Voice
        sound
        whistle
 Does the learner know?