Harsh World and Other Poems:

Harsh World and Other Poems:

by Angel Gonzalez
     
 

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Although seven volumes of his poetry are available in Spanish, the work of Ángel González has not been widely translated into English. This bilingual edition, introduced by the poet, presents selections from Palabra sobre palabra (Word upon Word), his definitive collection. Included are poems from Grado elemental (Elementary Grade),

Overview

Although seven volumes of his poetry are available in Spanish, the work of Ángel González has not been widely translated into English. This bilingual edition, introduced by the poet, presents selections from Palabra sobre palabra (Word upon Word), his definitive collection. Included are poems from Grado elemental (Elementary Grade), which won the Antonio Machado Prize for Poetry.

Born in Oviedo, Spain in 1925, Ángel González published his first book in 1956 to immediate acclaim. His poetry is characterized by striking imagery and deeply personal statement that is often sad and sardonic.

Of his work González writes, "'Experience,' 'reality', and 'preciseness of expression' are probably...the boundaries that limit the space, on a horizontal plane, in which my poetic intentions move. Upon this plane, trying to add another dimension, I attempt to erect my creative and imaginative possibilities....In some of these poems, written and published in Spain, the result of a determined desire to bear witness will have to be sought not in what the words say but in what they imply, in the spaces of shadow, of silence of anger, or of helplessness that they discover or uncover."

Originally published in 1977.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691616650
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
03/08/2015
Series:
Lockert Library of Poetry in Translation Series
Pages:
184
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

"Harsh World" and Other Poems


By Ángel González, Donald D. Walsh

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS

Copyright © 1977 Princeton University Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-691-06326-3



CHAPTER 1

    Áspero mundo

    Te tuve
    cuando eras
    dulce,
    acariciado mundo.
    Realidad casi nube,
    ¡cómo te me volaste de los brazos!

    Ahora te siento nuevamente.
    No por tu luz, sino por tu corteza,
    percibo tu inequívoca
    presencia.
    ... agrios perfiles, duros meridianos,
    ¡áspero mundo para mis dos manos!


    Cumpleaños

    Yo lo noto: cómo me voy volviendo
    menos cierto, confuso,
    disolviéndome en aire
    cotidiano, burdo
    jirón de mí, deshilachado
    y roto por los puños.

    Yo comprendo: he vivido
    un año más, y eso es muy duro.
    ¡Mover el corazón todos los días
    casi cien veces por minuto!

    Para vivir un año es necesario
    morirse muchas veces mucho.


    Eso no es nada

    Si tuviésemos la fuerza suficiente
    para apretar como es debido un trozo de madera,
    sólo nos quedaría entre las manos
    un poco de tierra.
    Y si tuviésemos más fuerza todavía
    para presionar con toda la dureza
    esa tierra, sólo nos quedaría
    entre las manos un poco de agua.
    Y si fuese posible aún
    oprimir el agua,
    ya no nos quedaría entre las manos
    nada.


    Me falta una palabra ...

    Me falta una palabra, una palabra
    sólo.
      Un niño pide pan; ijo pklo menos.
    Una palabra dadme, una sencilla
    palabra que haga juego
    con ...
      Qué torpes
    mujeres sucias me interrumpen
    con su lento
    llorar...

      Comprended: cualquiera de vosotros,
    olvidada en sus bolsos, en su cuerpo,
    puede tener esa palabra.
      Cruza más gente rota, llegan miles
    de muertos.

    Lanecesito: ¿No veis
    que sufro?
      Casi la tenia ya y vino ese hombre
    ceniciento.

    Ahora ...
      ¡Una vez más!
        Así no puedo.


    Muerte en la tarde

    De los cientos de muertes que me habitan,
    ésta de hoy es la que menos sangra.
    Es la muerte que viene con las tardes,
    cuando las sombras palidas se alargan,
    y los contornos se derrumban,
    y se perfilan las montafias.

    Entonces alguien pasa pregonando
    su mercancía bajo la ventana,
    a la que yo me asomo para ver
    las últimas farolas apagadas.

    Por la ceniza de las calles cruzan
    sombras sin dejar huella, hombres que pasan,
    que no vienen a mí ni en mí se quedan,
    a cuestas con su alma solitaria.

    La luz del día huye hacia el oeste.
    El aire de la noche se adelanta,
    y nos llega un temor agrio y confuso,
    casi dolor, apenas esperanza.

    Todo lo que me unía con la vida
    deja de ser unión, se hace distancia,
    se aleja más, al fin desaparece,
    y muerto soy,
      ... y nadie me levanta.


    A qué mirar ...

    A qué mirar. A qué permanecer
    seguros
    de que todo es así, seguirá
    siendo... Jamás pudo
    ser de otra forma, compacto
    y duro,
    este — perfecto en su cadencia —
    mundo.
    Preferible es no ver. Meter las manos
    en un oscuro
    panorama, y no saber
    qué es esto que aferramos, en un puro
    afán de incertidumbre, de mentira.
    Porque la verdad duele. Y lo único
    que te agradezco ya es que me enganes
    una vez más ...

      — "Te quiero mucho ...'


    Todos ustedes parecen felices ...

    ... y sonríen, a veces, cuando hablan.
    Y se dicen, incluso,
    palabras
    de amor. Pero
    se aman
    de dos en dos
    para
    odiar de mil
    en mil. Y guardan
    toneladas de asco
    por cada
    milímetro de dicha.
    Y parecen — nada
    más que parecen — felices,
    y hablan
    con el fin de ocultar esa amargura
    inevitable, y cuántas
    veces no lo consiguen, como
    no puedo yo ocultarla
    por más tiempo: esta
    desesperante, estáril, larga,
    ciega desolatión por cualquier cosa
    que — hacia donde no sé —, lenta, me arrastra.


    Adiós ...

    Adiós. Hasta otra vez o nunca.
    Quién sabe qué será,
    y en qué lugar de niebla.
    Si habremos de tocamos para reconocernos.
    Si sabremos besarnos por falta de tristeza.
    Todo lo llevas con tu cuerpo.
    Todo lo llevas.
    Me dejas naufragando en esta nada
    inmensa.
    Cómo desaparece el monte
    — me dejas... —,
    se hunde el río
    — ... en esta ... —,
    se desintegra la ciudad.

    Despiertas.


    Por aquí pasa un río ...

    Por aquí pasa un río.
    Por aquí tus pisadas
    fueron embelleciendo las arenas,
    aclarando las aguas,
    puliendo los guijarros, perdonando
    a las embelesadas
    azucenas ...

      No vas tú por el río:
    es el río el que anda
    detrás de ti, buscando en ti
    el reflejo, mirándose en tu espalda.

    Si vas de prisa, el río se apresura.
    Si vas despacio, el agua se remansa.


    El otoño cruzaba ...

    El otono cruzaba
    las colinas de débiles
    temblores. Cada
    hoja caída
    estremecia toda una montaña.

    Leve rumor de luces y de brisas
    rodaba por el valle, se acercaba.
    Los pájaros dejaban bruscamente
    temblorosas las ramas
    cayéndose hacia el cielo, arrebatados
    por una fuerza extraña.
    Las carnosas ortigas
    se apretaban
    como un rebaño
    inquieto. Levantaban del agua
    su cabeza, los juncos.
    Las verdinegras zarzas
    se erecían.

    Imperceptibles, más delgadas
    por la tensa postura de su espera,
    las hierbas, anhelantes ...

      Tú llegabas,
       y una amarilla paz de hojas caídas
    reponía el silencio a tus espaldas.


    Lluvia sobre la nieve en primavera

    Exhumando ateridas margaritas,
    la lluvia
    recupera el color para la tarde.
    Ninguna
    cosa ha desaparecido:
    la piedra vuelve pura
    — más que antes —
    y la tierra es la tierra como nunca.

    El frío se corrompe por los bordes,
    se fatiga, se ensucia,
    pierde gracia y materia, sobrevive
    en improbable espuma.

    Desesperado esfuerzo de la nieve
    que aún intenta aferrarse a la blancura,
    son esas huellas de tus pies, intactas,
    que el agua va llenando de ternura.


    Perros contra la luna ...

    Perros contra la luna, lejanísimos,
    llevan hasta los ámbitos
    más próximos la inquietud de la noclie
    rumorosa. Claros
    sonidos, antes inaudibles,
    se perciben ahora. Ecos vagos,
    jirones de palabras, goznes
    agrios,
    desasosiegan el reeinto en sombra.

    Apenas sin espacio,
    el silencio, el inasible
    silencio, cercado
    por los ruidos, se aprieta
    en torno de tus piernas y tus brazos,
    asciende levemente a tu cabeza,
    y cae por tus cabellos destrenzados.

    Es la noche y el sueño: no te inquietes
    El silencio ha crecido como un árbol.


    Apoyas la mano ...

    Apoyas la mano
    en un árbol. Las hormigas
    tropiezan con ella y se detienen,
    dan la vuelta, vacilan.
    Es dulce tu mano. La corteza
    del abedul también es dulce: dulcísima.
    Una agridulce plata otoñal sube
    desde su raíz honda hasta ti misma.
    Mojada por la luz sucia y filtrada,
    peinada fríamente por la brisa,
    te estás quedando así: cada momento
    más sola, más pura, más concisa.


    Pájaros

    Detenían su vuelo
    sobre el árbol
    más próximo. Suspendían
    su canto
    para volver
    a reanudarlo
    de un modo distinto. Llegaban
    otros pájaros.
    Volaban. Los sostenía el viento.
    Un viento levantado
    desde las más profundas
    raices — cálido
    aliento de la tierra. Tropezaban
    uno con otro, como si algo
    les fuese limitando
    angustiosamente
    el espacio.
    Ya no cabían. La tarde entera
    se debatía estremecida bajo
    su peso.
    Y de pronto, callaron.
    El silencio
    iluminó de un fogonazo
    tu figura.
    Un eco dilatado
    apagó los rumores
    más lejanos.
      Ellos
    te estaban escuchando.


    Son las gaviotas, amor ...

    Son las gaviotas, amor.
    Las lentas, altas gaviotas.

    Mar de invierno. El agua gris
    mancha de frío las rocas.
    Tus piernas, tus dulces piernas,
    enternecen a las olas.
    Un cielo sucio se vuelca
    sobre el mar. El viento bona
    el perfil de las colinas
    de arena. Las tediosas
    charcas de sal y de frío
    copian tu luz y tu sombra.
    Algo gritan, en lo alto,
    que tú no escuchas, absorta.

    Son las gaviotas, amor.
    Las lentas, altas gaviotas.


    Milagro de la luz ...

    Milagro de la luz: la sombra nace,
    choca en silencio contra las montañas,
    se desploma sin peso sobre el suelo
    desvelando a las hierbas delicadas.
    Los eucaliptos dejan en la tierra
    la temblorosa piel de su alargada
    silueta, en la que vuelan fríos
    pájaros que no cantan.
    Una sombra más leve y más sencilla,
    que nace de tus piernas, se adelanta
    para anunciar el último, el más puro
    milagro de la luz: tú contra el alba.


    Bosque

    Cruzas por el crepúsculo.
    El aire
    tienes que separarlo casi con las manos
    de tan denso, de tan impenetrable.
    Andas. No dejan huellas
    tus pies. Cientos de árboles
    contienen el aliento sobre tu
    cabeza. Un pájaro no sabe
    que estas allí, y lanza su silbido
    largo al otro lado del paisaje.
    El mundo cambia de color: es como el eco
    del mundo. Eco distante
    que tú estremeces, traspasando
    las últimas fronteras de la tarde.


    Harsh World

    I held you
    when you were
    soft,
    cherished world.
    Reality almost cloud,
    how you have flown from my arms!

    Now I feel you again.
    Not through your light but through your skin,
    I sense your unequivocal
    presence.
    ... sharp profiles, hard meridians,
    harsh world for my two hands!


    Birthday

    I notice it: how I am slowly getting
    less certain, confused,
    melting in the daily
    air, rough
    tatter of myself, frayed
    and ragged at the cuffs.

    I understand: I have lived
    another year, and that is very hard to do.
    Moving one's heart every day
    nearly a hundred times a minute.

    To live a year one has to die
    many times and many deaths.


    That's Not Anything

    If we had strength enough
    really to squeeze a piece of wood,
    only a little earth
    would be left between our hands.
    And if we had still more strength
    to press that earth with all our might,
    only a little water
    would be left between our hands.
    And if we could manage to compress
    the water even more,
    between our hands would now be left
    nothing at all.


    I'm lacking one word

    I'm lacking one word, just one
    word.
      A child begs for bread; I beg for less.
    Give me one word, a simple
    word that will
    match ...
      How clumsy!
    dirty women interrupt me
    with their slow
    weeping ...

      Understand: any one of you,
    left forgotten in his pockets, on his body,
    can have that word.
      More ragged people cross by, thousands
    of dead arrive.

    I need it: Don't you see
    that I'm suffering?
      I almost had it then and that ash-colored
    man showed up.

    Now ...
      Not again!
     I'm through.


    Death in the Evening

    Of the hundreds of deaths that inhabit me,
    today's is the one that bleeds the least.
    It's the death that comes with the evenings,
    when the pale shadows lengthen,
    and the contours collapse,
    and the mountains show off their profiles.

    Someone walks by then
    crying his wares beneath the window,
    to which I go to watch
    the last street lamps going out.

    Along the ashes of the streets pass
    shadows that leave no trace, men who go by,
    who don't come to me or stay in me,
    with their solitary souls upon their backs.

    The daylight flees toward the west.
    The night air comes forward,
    and to us comes a bitter and befuddled fear,
    almost grief, scarcely hope.

    Everything that united me with life
    ceases to be union, becomes distance,
    goes farther off, finally vanishes,
    and I am dead,
      ... and no one lifts me up.


    Why look? ...

    Why look? Why continue to be
    convinced
    that everything is like that, will go on
    being ... It never could have
    been in any other shape, compact
    and hard,
    this — perfect in its cadence —
    world.
    It's better not to see. To thrust our hands
    into a dark
    landscape, and not to know
    what this thing is that we are clutching at, in a stark
    yearning for uncertainty, for falsehood.
    Because truth hurts. And the only thing
    I now thank you for is that you will deceive me
    one more time ...

      —"I love you very much ..."


    You All Seem Happy.

    ... and you smile, at times, when you speak.
    And you even tell each other
    words
    of love. But
    you love
    in couples
    and you
    hate in
    thousands. And you store up
    tons of disgust
    for each
    inch of happiness.
    And you seem — merely
    seem — happy,
    and you talk
    to try to hide that inevitable
    bitterness, and so often
    you don't manage to, just as
    I cannot conceal it
    any longer: this
    desperate, sterile, long,
    blind grief because of something
    that slowly drags me to an unknown end.


    Farewell

    Farewell. Until another time or never.
    Who knows what it will be,
    and in what misty place.
    If we'll have to touch to recognize each other.
    If we'll know enough to kiss for want of sadness.
    You carry everything away with your body.
    You carry everything away.
    You leave me sinking into this enormous
    nothingness.
    How the mountain disappears —
    you leave me ... —
    the river sinks —
    ... into 'this ... —
    the city crumbles.

    You awake.


    Through here a river passes

    Through here a river passes.
    Through here your footsteps
    went burnishing the sands,
    brightening the waters,
    polishing the stones, forgiving
    the enraptured
    lilies ...

      It is not you who follow the river:
    it is the river that flows
    after you, seeking in you
    its reflection, watching itself at your back.

    If you go swiftly, the river quickens.
    If you go slowly, the water forms a pool.


    Autumn sent

    Autumn sent
    slight shivers through
    the hills. Each
    fallen leaf set
    a whole mountain trembling.

    A faint sound of lights and breezes
    rolled through the valley, came closer.
    The birds left the branches
    brusquely trembling
    and they swooped toward the sky, snatched up
    by an unfamiliar force.
    The plump nettles
    huddled
    like an uneasy
    flock. The reeds raised their heads
    from the water.
    The dark-green brambles
    swelled.

    Imperceptible, more slender
    through the rigid posture of their waiting,
    the grasses, yearning ...
      You were coming,
    and a yellow truce of fallen leaves
    was restoring silence at your back.


    Rain upon the Snow in the Spring

    Reviving daisies stiff with cold,
    the rain
    restores their color by the evening.
    No
    thing has disappeared:
    stone becomes pure —
    more than before —
    and earth is earth as it has never been.

    The cold rots at the edges,
    it becomes tired, dirty,
    it loses grace and substance, it survives
    as unlikely foam.

    Desperate endeavor of the snow
    that still attempts to cling to whiteness,
    those prints of your feet, intact,
    that the water slowly fills with tenderness.


    Dogs against the moon

    Dogs against the moon, far, far away
    bring to the closest
    regions the restlessness of murmuring
    night. Clear
    sounds, once inaudible,
    are now perceived. Vague echoes,
    shreds of words, creaking
    hinges,
    perturb the shadowed circle.

    With hardly any space,
    the silence, the ungraspable
    silence, hedged in
    by sounds, presses
    around your arms and legs,
    rises gently to your head,
    and falls along your loosened hair.

    It is the night and the dream: do not be uneasy.
    Silence has grown like a tree.


    You rest your hand ...

    You rest your hand
    upon a tree. The ants
    run into it and stop,
    turn around, hesitate.
    Your hand is soft. The birch
    bark is also soft: most soft.
    A bittersweet autumnal silver mounts
    from its deep root to where you are.
    Moistened by the dirty, filtered light,
    combed coldly by the breeze,
    you stand there: moment by moment
    more alone, more pure, more slender.


    Birds

    They would stop their flight
    upon the nearest
    tree. They would check
    their song
    to renew it
    again
    in a different way. Other
    birds would come.
    They would fly, upheld by the wind.
    A wind risen
    from the deepest
    roots — hot
    breath of earth. They would fly into
    one another, as if something
    were achingly
    shrinking
    their space.
    There was no room for them now. The whole afternoon
    struggled trembling beneath
    their weight.
    And suddenly they were still.
    With a burst of fire
    silence kindled
    your face.
    A swelling echo
    drowned the farthest
    murmurs.
      They
    were listening to you.


    They are the seagulls, my love.

    They are the seagulls, my love.
    The slow, lofty seagulls.

    A winter sea. The gray water
    stains the rocks with cold.
    Your legs, your sweet legs
    move the waves to pity.
    A dirty sky is overturned
    upon the sea. The wind blurs
    the profile of the sand
    dunes. The tedious
    pools of salt and cold
    copy your light and your shadow.
    They shriek something, up there,
    that you do not hear, lost in thought.

    They are the seagulls, my love.
    The slow, lofty seagulls.


    Miracle of light

    Miracle of light: the shadow is born,
    it strikes in silence against the mountains,
    it tumbles weightless upon the ground,
    keeping the delicate grasses awake.
    The eucalyptus trees leave upon the earth
    the trembling bark of their lengthened
    silhouette, over which fly cold
    birds that do not sing.
    A slighter and simpler shadow,
    born from your legs, comes forward
    to announce the ultimate, the purest
    miracle of light: you profiled by the dawn.


    Woods

    You walk across the dusk.
    The air,
    so dense, so impenetrable,
    you almost have to cleave it with your hands.
    You walk. Your feet
    leave no tracks. Hundreds of trees
    hold their breath above your
    head. A bird does not know
    that you are there, and he casts his far-flung
    song across the landscape.
    The world changes color: it is like the echo
    of the world. A distant echo
    that you set trembling, going beyond
    the farthest frontiers of the evening.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from "Harsh World" and Other Poems by Ángel González, Donald D. Walsh. Copyright © 1977 Princeton University Press. Excerpted by permission of PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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