Translations from the Spanish


Carmen Matute

Address to the Lover

Feeling my way
through your skin
I forgot the parched skin
of my country.
I stopped wandering its roads,
never made it to the villages.
I ignored the hunger and violence
while immersed in bottomless pleasure.
And so I turned into a seashell,
I turned into a turtle
hiding in the depths of the house.
I lived without purpose,
chirping away like the cricket in the fable.
My house lacked doors and windows.
My monumental selfishness
covered me like a chrysalis.
But our loving grew—
our loving, a dialogue of years,
of kisses, blows and bites—
to become a huge basket of bread,
enough for everyone.
You know it, love.
Today, under our sheets
I find all the women and the men
and the children of our village.
Let us agree:
from now on
let there be room for everyone!

(Translated from the Spanish by Pablo Medina)


Federico Garcia Lorca

Kassida of the Sleeping Woman

To see you naked is to know the earth,
smooth, clean of horses,
the earth without rushes, pure form
closed to the future: confines of silver.

To see you naked is to understand the anguish
of rain that searches for a feeble shape
or the fever of the huge-faced sea
without finding the light of its cheek.

Blood will rush through the bedrooms
and approach with flaming swords,
but you will never know where
the toad’s heart and the violet are hidden.

Your womb is a struggle of roots
and your lips are a dawn without contours.
Under the bed’s warm roses
the wailing dead await their turn.

(Translated from the Spanish by Pablo Medina)


Federico Garcia Lorca

Gacela for a Dead Child

Every afternoon in Granada,
every afternoon a child dies.
Every afternoon the water sits
to chat with her friends.

The dead wear moss wings.
The cloudy wind and the clean wind
are two pheasants flying past the towers
and the day is a wounded boy.

Not even a fragment of lark remained in the air
when I found you in the grottoes of wine.
Not even a cloud’s crumb was left on the earth
when you drowned in the river.

A giant of water fell on the mountains
and the valley went rolling with dogs and lilies.
Shadowed violet by my hands, your body was,
dead on the shore, an archangel of winter.

(Translated from the Spanish by Pablo Medina)


Alfonsina Storni

Two Words

Tonight at my ear
you have said two simple words.
Two words tired of being said.
Words so old they are new.

Two such sweet words
that the moon dripping through the branches
lands in my mouth. So sweet
these two words that I let an ant
wander down my neck without moving.

Such sweet two words that I say
without trying — How beautiful life is!
So sweet, so tame,
they spill like aromatic oils on my body.

So sweet and so beautiful
that my nervous fingers
move toward the sky like scissors
wanting to cut out the stars.

(Translated from the Spanish by Pablo Medina)