A quick attempt at Salome

I’m really digging Salomé Ureña de Henríquez, and though this is a rough draft of about the first third of a long poem, I thought I’d share it with you. When I come to a more final version I’ll post the whole thing. My translation is very rough. I’d like to polish it up to reflect Ureña’s rhythmic invocations, which are very beautiful in Spanish! Very fancy-languaged and high-toned. This poem is like Krishna’s call to action when he’s talking to Arjuna… a little bit… I remember someone, maybe my friend Humberto, telling me I’d like Urena’s work a nd now I see why. She praises tumult, destruction, and hubris! Cool.

Urena (1850-1897) was a fiercely political writer and a feminist.

In defense of Society (1)

Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people. (Isaiah 62:10)

Creator spirit, fertile genius
you who with inexhaustible activity widen the making
of miracles from your sublime power,
you who perennially shine
in your good works, you who grasp
regions without end in your thoughts
and you who, with your love, extend from world to world
the laws of eternal movement:

Can it be be that the ultimate reward
offered by your august hand
would be condemnation to the repose of nothingness?
Would you have us be lethargic
before your show of active power,
indolent idleness spent in
admiring you – oh Lord – to pass one’s life?

No: wake up, all you who from pleasant fields
in the flowery cushions
only hope for a serene spirit
for hours of peace in ignorant shade.
Rise up, all you who follow
the current of agreeable fashion,
be anathema to the popular uproar,
let out a shout, break the dreams of the most happy.

It’s not pride – all you who raise up to heaven
a grand pyramid
and who exalt yourselves, aspiring to infinite flight:
it’s the immortal spark, that huge and powerful
immense great work,
and in constant travail and internal labor
you create, so that man in his delirium will follow
something of greatness, to stand forever.

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