The Sunflower (Part II)

This is the second and last entry. The translation of Beyond Love [Más allá del Amor] by Muriel Rukeyser was consulted.

The objective of the present translation is to make available in the English language some of the most beautiful love poems from Paz’s youth. I hope this translations help the reader immerse herself into the deeper and more mature body of work of Octavio Paz.

Contents

  1. Written in Green Ink
  2. Visits
  3. Ashore
  4. Oblivion
  5. Beyond Love

Written in Green Ink

Green ink creates gardens, jungles, meadows,
foliage where letters sing,
words that are trees,
phrases that are green constellations.

Let my words, oh white one, descend and cover you
like a rain of leaves to a snowy field,
like ivy to a statue,
like ink to this page.

Arms, waist, neck, breasts,
forehead pure as the sea,
nape from autumn forest,
teeth biting a blade of grass.

Your body gets constellated with green signs
like new shoots in the body of a tree.
Do not be bothered by so many luminous little scars:
see the heavens and its green starred tattoo.

Visits

The countryside enters my room.
through the urban night of rock and drought
Extends his green arms with bird-bracelets,
leaf-bracelets.
Holding a river in his hand.
Countryside sky enters as well,
with a basket of recently picked jewels.
And the sea sits beside me,
extending on the floor his utmost white tail.
From silence springs a music tree.
From the tree all beautiful words are hanging,
they glow, ripen and fall.
Into my forehead, a cave inhabited by lightning…
But everything is suddenly filled with wings.

Ashore

All that glows at night,
necklaces, eyes, stars,
colorful fire streamers,
glows in your arms of meandering river,
in your neck of dawning day.

The bonfire kindled in the jungle,
the giraffe-necked light house,
the eye, sunflower of sleeplessness
are all tired of waiting and searching.

Put yourself out1,
to glow there is nothing like unseeing eyes2,
contemplate yourself in me who contemplates you.
Fall asleep,
forest velvet,
moss where I rest my head.

Night –with its blue waves– is erasing these words,
written light handedly in the palm of sleep.

Oblivion

Close your eyes and get lost in darkness
under the red foliage of your eyelids.

Sink in those ringing
spirals and fall off,
resonate there, remote,
where the tympanum lies,
like a deafened waterfall.

Sink yourself in the dark,
get drenched in your skin,
further, in your entrails;
to dazzle and blind your
bones, pale flare,
and among the pits and gulfs of darkness
the ghost-light opens its blue headdress.

In the liquid shadow of sleep
moist your nudity;
abandon your form, foam
ignoring who was left ashore;
lose yourself within, infinite,
in your infinite being,
sea losing itself in another sea,
forget yourself and forget me.

Everything is born anew in this ageless and bottomless oblivion
lips, kisses, love, everything:
stars are children of the night.

Beyond Love

Everything threatens us:
time, that in living fragments severs
who I was
                  from who I will become,
as the machete to a snake;
consciousness, transparency pierced through
blond gaze of looking oneself looking;
words, gray gloves, mental dust on the grass
water, skin;
our names, rising between you and me
void walls not to be torn down by any trumpet.

Not dreams and its people of broken images,
nor delirium and its prophetic foam,
nor love with its teeth and claws, are enough.
Beyond us,
in the frontier of being 3,
a life more alive claims us.

Outside, night breathes, extends,
full of large warm leaves,
of fighting mirrors:
fruits, claws, eyes, foliages,
glistening backs,
bodies making their way through other bodies.

Lie down here, ashore of so much foam,
of so much unaware and surrendering life:
you too belong to the night.
Extend, breathing whiteness,
throb, oh apportioned star,
goblet,
bread tilting the scale to the side of dawn,
pause of blood between this time and a boundless one.


1. The Spanish verb ‘apagar‘ means both to turn off an appliance or electric light or to put out a fire or a candle suggesting a variety of possible translations.

2. The verse is making reference to a popular Spanish proverb: ‘Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente‘ which can be transliterated as ‘To unseeing eyes, a numb heart’ or more properly translated as ‘Out of sight, out of mind’. It refers to the idea that people or situations are forgotten, dismissed or not grieved over when they are not in direct view. Although in Mexico the phrase is mostly used in reference to love situations in which the beloved is absent.

3. The original uses ‘el ser y el estar‘. The verb ‘ser‘ means ‘to be’, while ‘el ser‘ means ‘being’ in the philosophical sense. Spanish has another verb whose translation is also ‘to be’, namely: ‘estar‘. This verb refers to states of being in relationship to place or time, and hence is exclusively used to denote transient states of being. The phrase ‘el ser y el estar’ would mean something like the absolute state of being.

Paz, O. (1973). Early Poems 1935-1955. Indiana University Press.

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