“España, aparta de mi este cáliz”

Oh Spain, Take this Cup from Me
by Cesar Abraham Vallejo Mendoza; translated by Guillermo Calvo Mahé (Translation © Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Ocala, Florida, 2006; all rights reserved)

Children of the world, I exclaim,
If Spain should fall (it’s an aphorism),
if from the sky below her tethered forearm,
two terrestrial engravings should plummet;
children: how old are the hollows that nestle the brow,
how early on in the sun, that which I was telling you,
how soon the ancient sound in your breast,
how old the “2” in the jotter!

Children of the world, mother Spain is
hauling her own womb behind her;
our teacher has her own birch rods,
she is mother and teacher,
cross and wood, because she gave you height,
vertigo, division and addition.  Unyielding parents
are with her, children!

If Spain should fall, I exclaim (it’s an aphorism),
if Spain should fall, sink from the earth;
children: how will you stop yourselves from growing,
how will the year punish the month,
how will your teeth be limited to ten;
how will the diphthong become the pothook, the medal
a sob, how will the lamb remain
tied by the foot to the great inkwell!
How will you descend the tiers of the alphabet
to reach the letter in which sorrow was born!

offspring of warriors; in the meantime,
lower your voice.  Right now Spain is dividing
its energy amid the animal kingdom,
blooming flowers, comets and men.
Lower your voice, which,
in its rigor is immense without
knowing what to do and in its hand
the skull is talking and it talks and talks,
the skull, the one which wore the braid;
the skull, the one that once held life!

Lower your voice, I tell you;
lower your voice, lower the chant of the syllables, the cry
of matter, the lesser rumor of the pyramids, and even
that of the brow’s temples which walk with two stones!
Lower your breath, and
if the forearm descends,
if the birch rods whistle, if it‘s night,
if the sky fits on two terrestrial limbs,
if there is noise within the sound of the doors,
if I delay,
if you don’t see anyone, if pointless pencils
frighten you, if mother
Spain should fall, I exclaim (it’s an aphorism):
Leave, children of the world, go and seek her! … I wish that I was there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s