Elegy Poem by Miguel Hernandez


Friend of my soul, I want to be
the tearful gardener of the earth
you occupy, and enrich, all too soon.
My grief without purpose feeding
the rain, the snail-shells and organs,
I’ll give your heart for food
to the desolate poppies.
Such sorrow gathers in my chest,
that I mourn with painful breath.
A harsh slap, an icy blow,
an invisible, murderous axe-stroke,
a brutal thrust has felled you.
There’s no expanse big enough for my hurt,
I weep for my misfortune and yours together
and I feel your death more than I do my life.
I walk on the tracks of the dead,
and without warmth from anyone, or consolation
I go from my feelings to my work.
Too soon death lifted in flight,
too soon the dawn broke,
too soon you’re surrounded with earth.
No forgiveness for lovesick death,
no forgiveness for thankless life,
no forgiveness for earth or nothingness.

A storm rises, in my hands,
of rocks, lightning bolts, harsh axes,
thirsty and hungry for catastrophes.
I want to gnaw at the earth with my teeth,
I want to take the earth apart bit by bit
with dry, burning bites.
I want to mine the earth till I find you,
and kiss your noble skull,
and un-shroud you, and return you.
You’ll return to my garden, my fig tree:
In the high trellises of flowers,
birdlike your soul, the hive
of angelic waxes and labours.
You’ll return to the cooing at windows
of farm-workers in their lovemaking.
You’ll brighten the shadow of my brow,
and your girl and the bees will go along,
on both sides, arguing over your blood.
My eager voice of a lover
calls from a field of foaming almonds,
to your heart, already ruined velvet.
I summon you to the winged souls
of the creamy almond blossoms,
we’ve so many things to speak of,
friend, friend of my soul.

Rosa Paredes 28 September 2016

Who translated this? Translating poetry is not an easy task, even for an experienced translator. This sounds very literal and it definitely misses the point too many times. The poem in its original language should be provided next to the translation, and the name of the translator should be stated.

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