Translations: Bolivian poet Adela Zamudio (1854-1928)

Here’s another chapter from my (unpublished) anthology, Spanish American Women Poets (1880-1930).

Adela Zamudio was a Bolivian poet, essayist, novelist, teacher, and school director. She was also an activist and an advocate of women’s higher education. In her early years, her poems were published under the pseudonym “Soledad” (Aguirre Lavayen 12). Throughout her life, well into her sixties, Zamudio fought for divorce laws, secularization, women’s labor movements, and other feminist liberal causes. She was also a painter, though most of her paintings are lost. Zamudio wrote a long narrative poem, “Loca de hierro” ‘Iron madwoman.’ She was one of the founding members of Feminiflor, a Bolivian feminist magazine.

Her publications include: Ensayos poéticos (1887); Ensayos politicos (1887); Intimas (1912); Peregrinando (1912); Ráfagas (1912); and Cuentos breves (1921). Her books were published in Bolivia, Paris, and Buenos Aires. Íntimas was a romantic epistolary novel about and for women, meant to expose the hypocrisy of the upper classes (García Pabon vii).

Her poems, romanticist and controversial, were called “virile” and “rationally masculine” by her contemporaries; they considered her a “mujer-macho” (Cajías Villa Gómez 38). She read and admired Byron, de Musset, Becquer, José Zorrilla, and José Espronceda. The all-male La Paz Literary Circle, who considered themselves to be romanticists, elected her an honorary member in 1888. An entry in the Diccionario de Mujeres Celebres of 1959 lists her as a leader of the women poets and novelists of Bolivia, who included: Hercilia Fernández de Mujía (“la ciega Mujía”), Lindaura Anzoátegui, Mercedes Belzu, Sara Ugarte, and Amelia Guijarro. In 1926 she was given a medal by the president of Bolivia (Sáinz de Roblez 1200). October 11th, her birthday, is Bolivian Women’s Day.

There are biographies of Zamudio written by Gabriela de Villarreal, Alfonsina Paredes, Augusto Guzmán, and Sonia Montaño.

Much of her work remains unpublished.

She compiled a spelling book in Quechua for use in schools, and composed many poems in Quechua, among them “Wiñaypaj Wiñayninkama” ‘Para siempre / Forever’ (Taborga de Villarroel 181). Her translation of the poem into Spanish puts it into octosyllabic lines, a romance de arte menor. I have translated it from Spanish. Though I do not know Quechua, I include the original here because it was useful to refer to the word patterns. For example, the original used repetition in a way that the Spanish version does not duplicate.

“Nacer Hombre,” her most famous short poem, was published in 1887. It is a poem “pie quebrado,” ‘broken meter,’ with verses of octosyllabic lines and one line shortened to four or five syllables, and thus is de arte menor, in a popular form for poetry and folk song.



Nacer Hombre


Cuánto trabajo ella pasa
Por corregir la torpeza
De su esposo, y en la casa,
(Permitidme que me asombre).
Tan inepto como fatuo,
Sigue él siendo la cabeza,
Porque es hombre!

Si algunos versos escribe,
De alguno esos versos son,
Que ella sólo los suscribe.
(Permitidme que me asombre).
Si ese alguno no es poeta,
Por qué tal suposición
Porque es hombre!

Una mujer superior
En elecciones no vota,
Y vota el pillo peor.
(Permitidme que me asombre).
Con tal que aprenda a firmar
Puede votar un idiota,
Porque es hombre!

El se abate y bebe o juega.
En un revés de la suerte:
Ella sufre, lucha y ruega.
(Permitidme que me asombre).
Que a ella se llame el "ser débil"
Y a él se le llame el "ser fuerte."
Porque es hombre!

Ella debe perdonar
Siéndole su esposo infiel;
Pero él se puede vengar.
(Permitidme que me asombre).
En un caso semejante
Hasta puede matar él,
Porque es hombre!

Oh, mortal privilegiado,
Que de perfecto y cabal
Gozas seguro renombre!
En todo caso, para esto,
Te ha bastado
Nacer hombre.

To be born a man


She works so hard
to make up for the sloth
of her husband, and in the house
(Pardon my surprise.)
he's so inept and pompous,
that of course he's the boss
because he's a man!

If some poems get written,
a person must have written them,
but she just transcribed them.
(Pardon my surprise.)
If we're not sure who's the poet,
why assume it was him?
Because he's a man!

A smart, classy woman
can't vote in elections,
but the poorest felon can.
(Pardon my surprise.)
If he can just sign his name
even an idiot can vote
because he's a man!

He sins and drinks and gambles
and in a backwards twist of luck
she suffers, fights, and prays.
(Pardon my surprise.)
That we call her the "frail sex"
and him the "strong sex"
because he's a man!

She has to forgive him
when he's unfaithful;
but he can avenge himself.
(Pardon my surprise.)
In a similiar case
he's allowed to kill her
because he's a man!

Oh, privileged mortal
you enjoy lifelong
honor and perfect ease!
For this, to get all this,
it's enough for you
to be born a man.

Wiñaypaj wiñayninkama Para siempre


Ripunaykita yachaspa Al saber que ya te irías
Tuta-p'unchay yuyask'ani noche y día me atormento,
Sonqoy ukhu pakasqapi y sangra mi corazón
Waqaspa tukukusqani. como una sombra en tormento.

Ripuy, ripuy waj llajtaman Véte a ciudades lejanas,
Waj kausayta kausarqamuy anda a vivir otra vida,
Kaypi ñak'arisqaykita, y lo que yo haya sufrido
Chay kausaypi qonqarqamuy. olvídalo en tu existencia.

Ya(. . .)huyu, lakha phuyu Nubes negras, celajes oscuros
Uyaykipi rikukusqan se aborrascan en tu frente,
Chay shhika llakikusqayki y el dolor que he sentido
Llakiyniywan tantakusquan. brota en cascada de lágrimas.

Rejsisusqaymanta pacha Desde el día en que te vi
Wasiykita saqerpariy, nimbé mi alma en tus ojos,
Sonqoyki rumiyachispa y saturé mi corazón
Waj kausayta kausarqamuy! con unos pétalos rojos.

T'ikachus sonqoypi kanman, Si en mi pecho hubieran flores
Umphu sonqoy ch'akisqapi desde este corazón lánguido
T'kata t'akarpariyman, y marchito, alfombraría con pétalos
Purinayki yan patapi. el pasar de tu camino.

Ripuy, ripuy waj llajtaman, Véte a esas tierras lejanas,
Waj kausayta kausarqamuy, corre a vivir otra vida,
Ripuy, ripuy qonqarqamuy y sepulta en el olvido
Tukuyta kaypi kaj kama. todo cuanto aquí ha existido.

Forever


Knowing that you're leaving
torments me night and day
my heart bleeds
like a damned soul in hell.

Depart, depart for distant cities
keep on living your other life
and forget whatever I've suffered
as you enjoy existence.

Black mists, jealous clouds of darkness
obscure your brow in storm,
and the pain that I've felt
bursts forth in a torrent of tears.

Since the day I saw you
my soul glows haloed in your eyes
and my heart is full
of scarlet petals.

If in my chest there could be flowers
since this heart languishes, withering,
it would carpet with petals
the road where you walk.

Depart, depart for distant lands
go on living your other life
and bury in forgetfulness
everything that's existed here.

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One Response to Translations: Bolivian poet Adela Zamudio (1854-1928)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi, I respect and love poems of Adela Zamudio.
    Nacer hombre.. So real!
    bye!
    Za

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