Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Poetry snippet

While looking for something completely different today, I came across this translation by Alastair Reid of a poem by the Mexican poet José Emilio Pacheco.
High treason

I do not love my country. Its abstract splendor
is beyond my grasp.
But (although it sounds bad) I would give my life
for ten places in it, for certain people,
seaports, pinewoods, fortresses,
a run-down city, gray, grotesque,
various figures from its history
(and three or four rivers).

Reid, who is Scottish, says that this so coincided with a poem he might have written himself that in translating it, he felt as if he was writing the original. Although I cannot say the same thing, in modestly copying and pasting his translation, I feel that I am at least endorsing the sentiment.


Notre Vie Juteuse said...

what a lovely poem!
We are coming to Bordeaux on Friday and leaving Sat. afternoon. My husband's friend lives there (20 years now) and we'll meet up with him on Friday. We are staying in town. ????

deborah said...

... and it is so obviously what most people must feel it makes you want to say 'But of course'!

My favourite bit is 'a run-down city'

My brother went to Valparaiso last year ... his description made me want to move there sooner or later.

nmj said...

I had not heard of Alastair Reid, I love that translating this poem made it feel like his own. It's beautiful.

Lesley said...

Alisa: I can't find your e-mail. Can you contact me at (but with just one @)

Deborah: Yes, obvious when somebody else puts it so eloquently. Although perhaps the laying down one's life is a little too Latin American. Must go and look for pics of Valparaiso.

nmj: Ooops, I see that I have spelled Alasdair the wrong way (or the right way, depending on how you look at it). His book "Weathering" is one of my all time favourites.

nmj said...

That is a good recommendation, thanks, I will get it from library, I am not a huge poetry reader, but like to dip in now & then. How can I not have heard of him, I have missed out!