Spanish Poets Inspired by Poe

parrots

Last week I attended a wonderful performance of dance and music, focusing on Spanish-speaking poets who were inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. The production was a cooperative venture between the Latin Ballet of Virginia and the Edgar Allan Poe Museum (poemuseum.org) of Richmond. The three featured Spanish poets, Pablo Neruda, Federico Garcia Lorca, and Alfonsina Storni wrote on sadness, shadows, self-reflection, and dreams, which were also themes that Poe also covered in his poetry. Poe’s poems were also recited by the Richmond Poe Museum’s Curator, Chris Semtner. Several beautiful works of these four poets were brought to life with music, audio-visual cinematography, and the fine choreography of the Latin Ballet’s Artistic Director, Ana Ines King. The three Spanish poets’ works were translated into English. See a sample below from each of these four poets:

Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973) wrote surrealistic poems, historical epics, political manifestos, a prose autobiography, and passionate love poems. He is often considered as one the greatest poets of the 20th century in any language.

 

butterfly(1)

 

Poema 15 (I like for you to be still)

I like for you to be still: it is as though you were absent,
and you hear me from far away and my voice does not touch you.
It seems as though your eyes had flown away
and it seems that a kiss had sealed your mouth.

As all things are filled with my soul
you emerge from the things, filled with my soul.
You are like my soul, a butterfly of dream,
and you are like the word Melancholy.

I like for you to be still, and you seem far away.
It sounds as though you were lamenting, a butterfly cooing like a dove.
And you hear me from far away, and my voice does not reach you:
Let me come to be still in your silence.

And let me talk to you with your silence
that is bright as a lamp, simple as a ring.
You are like the night, with its stillness and constellations.
Your silence is that of a star, as remote and candid.

I like for you to be still: it is as though you were absent,
distant and full of sorrow as though you had died.
One word then, one smile is enough.
And I am happy, happy that it’s not true.

© Translation: 1969, W.S. Merwin
From: Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair
Publisher: Penguin Books, New York, 1969

Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936) was born near Granada, Spain. He was a consummate poet, playwright, painter, and musician who had a big impact upon the Spanish arts.

Woodcutter.
Cut my shadow from me.
Free me from the torment
of being without fruit.

      Why was I born among mirrors?
Day goes round and round me.
The night copies me
in all its stars.

      I want to live without my reflection.
And then let me dream
that ants and thistledown
are my leaves and my parrots.

woodcutter(1)

Alfronsina Storni (1892-1938) was born of Italian parents in the Italian region of Switzerland. Her family relocated to San Juan Argentina in 1896. Storni is one of the most prominent Spanish women writers of the Twentieth Century. She wrote about the struggles of women in society.

You’re going crazy, Alfonsia, along with your loneliness

What kind of new poems did you go searching for?

An ancient wind made of wind and salt is shattering your soul

And taking you away

And you go there, as though it were a dream, asleep,

Alfonsina, dressed with the sea

the sea (1)

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was the first internationally famous poet and writer in America. He was the master of the Gothic fiction, and the originator of science fiction and detective fiction. His timeless and insightful poems, “The Raven,” “To Helen,” and “Annabelle Lee” are still recited in many languages all over the world.

A Dream Within a Dream

Take this kiss upon the brow!

And, in parting from you now,

Thus much let me avow —

You are not wrong, who deem

That my days have been a dream;

Yet if hope has flown away

In a night, or in a day,

In a vision, or in none,

Is it therefore the less gone?

All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.

 

I stand amid the roar

Of a surf-tormented shore,

And I hold within my hand

Grains of the golden sand —

How few! Yet how they creep

Through my fingers to the deep,

While I weep — while I weep!

O God! Can I not grasp

Them with a tighter clasp?

O God! Can I not save

One from the pitiless wave?

Is all that we see or seem

But a dream within a dream?

daynight

 

***************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Murray Ellison received a Master’s in Education (1973) and in English Literature (2015). He earned a Doctorate in Education in 1987. He is married and has three wonderful adult  daughters. He retired as the Virginia Director of Community Corrections for the Department of Correctional Education in 2009. Currently, he serves as a literature teacher, board member, and curriculum advisor for the Lifelong Learning Institute in Chesterfield, Virginia. He is the founder and chief editor of the literary blog, www.LitChatte.com, an editor for the Correctional Educator Journal, and editing a book of poetry written by an Indian mystic and meditation teacher. Murray also serves a board member and volunteer tour guide, poetry judge, and all-around helper at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond Virginia. You can write him at ellisonms2@vcu.edu or leave comments on the LitChatte.Com Blog. You can also leave your email on the sidebar on the right of this post to receive automatic postings of my Blog.

Murray Ellison at the Poe Museum

Please follow and like us:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Related posts

Leave a Reply