Thursday, March 1, 2012

César Vallejo

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Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, a 1925 photograph by Andre Kertesz (1894-1985)

‘Today I like life much less…’ composed and revised between 1923 and 1937 by César Vallejo (born 16 March, 1892; died 15 April, 1938)

Today I like life much less,
but I like to live anyway: I have often said it.
I almost touched the part of my whole and restrained myself
with a shot in the tongue behind my word.

Today I touch my chin in retreat
and in these momentary trousers I tell myself:
So much life and never!
So many years and always my weeks!…
My parents buried with their stone
and their sad stiffening that has not ended;
full length brothers, my brothers,
and, finally, my Being standing and in a vest.

I like life enormously
but, of course,
with my beloved death and my cafe
and looking at the leafy chestnut trees in Paris
and saying:
This is an eye, that one too; this a forehead, that one too… and repeating:
So much life and the tune never fails me!
So many years and always, always, always!

I said vest, said
whole, part, yearning, said almost, to avoid crying.
For it is true that I suffered in that hospital close by
and it is good and it is bad to have watched
from below up my organism.

I would like to live always, even flat on my belly,
because, as I was saying and I say it again,
so much life and never! And so many years,
and always, much always, always, always!

(translated by Clayton Eshleman)

***

Hoy me gusta la vida mucho menos,
pero siempre me gusta vivir: ya lo decía.
Casi toqué la parte de mi todo y me contuve
con un tiro en la lengua detrás de mi palabra.

Hoy me palpo el mentón en retirada
y en estos momentáneos pantalones yo me digo:
¡Tánta vida y jamás!
¡Tántos años y siempre mis semanas!…
Mis padres enterrados con su piedra
y su triste estirón que no ha acabado;
de cuerpo entero hermanos, mis hermanos,
y, en fin, mi ser parado y en chaleco.

Me gusta la vida enormemente
pero, desde luego,
con mi muerte querida y mi café
y viendo los castaños frondosos de París
y diciendo:
Es un ojo éste, aquél; una frente ésta, aquélla… Y repitiendo:
¡Tánta vida y jamás me falla la tonada!
¡Tántos años y siempre, siempre, siempre!

Dije chaleco, dije
todo, parte, ansia, dije casi, por no llorar.
Que es verdad que sufrí en aquel hospital que queda al lado
y está bien y está mal haber mirado
de abajo para arriba mi organismo.

Me gustará vivir siempre, así fuese de barriga,
porque, como iba diciendo y lo repito,
¡tánta vida y jamás! ¡Y tántos años,
y siempre, mucho siempre, siempre, siempre!
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