Simple Singer

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 135th birthday.

José Eustasio Rivera
1888 – 1928


Simple singer of a great discontent,
Among the shrubs the canopy keeps hidden,
Troubling the foliage with soft lament,
Nibbling myrtle, sour grape pips – wood pigeon!

Sings coo-roo-roo, glimpsing day’s first ascent
And later evening’s brief reflected vision,
Sees from the gúaimaro’s¹ overspreading tent
Silent peace fill the slopes, that tree’s dominion.

Half-open the wings iridescent in the light,
Solitude – poor soul! – saddens its delight,
And it fluffs up its head feathers, a light hood.

To the maternal heartbeat of domains it holds
In its own entrails, it croons to mountains, folds
Them in sleep; light drowns in a dark wood.

Translation by Ranald Barnicot and Felipe Botero Quintana

One thought on “Simple Singer

Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.