The Huntress

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, we present this work by one of the city of Puebla’s finest poets.

José Joaquín Pesado
1801 – 1861


In hot career or ranging far and wide,
gentle huntress, you speed your onward way,
abandoning upon the gusty air
the tossing feather of your gallant hat.

Over brake and barrier, without pause,
panting, your impetuous courser bounds,
and across the arid torrents storms,
beating the boulders with his thudding hooves.

And before you, chaser of the wild,
the peopled mountain yields, and in its glass
the tarn exhibits you victorious.

The mob breaks forth in turbulent applause,
and to the sudden clamour of your name
the mighty forest, sonorous, made reply.

Translation by Samuel Beckett

from Death Without End

We present this work in honor of the 50th anniversary of the poet’s death.

José Gorostiza
1901 – 1973


Filled with myself, walled up in my skin
by an inapprehensible god that is stifling me,
deceived perhaps
by his radiant atmosphere of light
that hides my drained
my wings broken into splinters of air,
my listless groping through the mire;
filled with myself—gorged—I discover my essence
in the astonished image of water,
that is only an unwithering cascade,
a tumbling of angels fallen
of their own accord in pure delight,
that has nothing
but a whitened face
half sunken, already, like an agonized laugh
in the thin sheets of the cloud
and the mournful canticles of the sea—
more aftertaste of salt or cumulus whiteness
than lonely haste of foam pursued.
Nevertheless—oh paradox—constrained
by the rigor of the glass that clarifies it,
the water takes shape.
In the glass it sits, sinks deep and builds,
attains a bitter age of silences
and the graceful repose of a child smiling
in death, that deflowers
a beyond of disbanded
In the crystal snare that strangles it,
there, as in the water of a mirror,
it recognizes itself;
bound there, drop with drop,
the trope of foam withered in its throat.
What intense nakedness of water,
what water so strongly water,
is dreaming in its iridescent sphere,
already singing a thirst for rigid ice!
But what a provident glass—also—
that swells
like a star ripe with grain,
that flames in heroic promise
like a heart inhabited by happiness,
and that punctually yields up
to the water
a round transparent flower,
a missile eye that attains heights
and a window to luminous cries
over that smoldering liberty
oppressed by white fetters!

Translation by Rachel Benson

The Orange Trees

We present this work in honor of the 130th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Ignacio Manuel Altamirano
1834 – 1893


Come, embrace me, never remove
your arms from round my neck,
never hide your lovely face
from me,
don’t run away shyly.
Let our lips meet
In an endless, burning kiss.
Let the hours, slow and sweet,
Flow by just like this.
Doves fall silent
in green tamarind trees;
spikenards have exhausted
their supply of scents.
You’re growing languid;
your eyes close with fatigue,
and your bosom, sweet friend,
is trembling.
On the river bank
Everything droops and swoons;
The rosebays on the beach
Grow drowsy with the heat.
I’ll offer you repose
on this carpet of clover,
in the perfumed shade
of orange trees in bloom.

Translation by Enriqueta Carrington

The Song by the Way

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 160th birthday.

Francisco A. de Icaza
1863 – 1925


A solitary pilgrim I,
Through foreign lands I stray;
Yet am I not alone—my song
Goes with me all the way.

And if the night around be black.
I make it bright as day;
I sing, and then the song lights up.
The darkness of the way.

I do not sigh for weariness,
However far I stray;
The heavenly staff of song makes short
The long, out-stretching way.

Ah, sad indeed that pilgrim’s fate
Who goes alone all day
Nor has for comrade of his march
A song along the way!

Translation by Alice Stone Blackwell

To the Admirable Transubstantiation of the Roses Into the Marvelous Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe… the Roses Vanquish the Phoenix

We present this work in honor of the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Luis de Sandoval y Zapata
d. 1671


The Luminary of the Birds expires,
of the wind that winged eternity,
and midst the vapors of the monument
burns a sweet-smelling victim of the pyre.

And now in mighty metamorphosis
behold a shroud, with every flower more bright;
in the Cerecloth, reasonable essence,
the vegetable amber dwells and breathes.

The colours of Our Lady they portray;
and from these shades the day in envy flies
when the sun upon them shines his light.

You die more fortunate than the Phoenix, flowers;
for he, feathered to rise, in ashes dies;
but you, Our Blessed Lady to become.

Translation by Samuel Beckett

To Glory

Salvador Diaz Miron
1853 – 1928


Don’t try to talk me out of clumsiness
with the delusions of your crazy mind:
my reason is both light and firmness,
firmness and light like rock crystal.

Like the nocturnal pilgrim,
my immortal hope does not look at the ground;
seeing nothing but a shadow on the road,
only contemplate the splendor of the sky.

Vain are the images that it carries
your child spirit, dark sanctuary.
Your soul, like gold on the mountain,
it is virginal and therefore impure.

Through this twitching vortex,
and eager to shine, I fly or crawl,
caterpillar in love with a spark
or eagle seduced by a star.

Useless is that with tenacious murmur
you exaggerate the set in which I get entangled:
I am haughty, and he who encourages pride
wears a buckler impenetrable to fear.

Trusting the instinct that pushes me,
I despise the dangers you point out.
“The bird sings even though the branch creaks:
like he knows what his wings are.”

Erect under the blow in the stubbornness,
I feel superior to victory.
I have faith in myself; adversity could
take away the triumph, but not the glory.

Let the vile pursue me!
I want to attract envy even if it overwhelms me!
The flower on which insects perch
It is rich in hue and perfume.

Evil is the theater in whose forum
virtue, that tragic, stands out;
is the sibyl with the golden word,
the shadow that makes the star stand out.

Lighting is burning! I’m on
It will be the raging fire that consumes me!
The pearl sprouts from the wounded mollusk
and Venus is born from the bitter foam.

The clear timbres of which I am proud
they must come out of the slander unscathed.
There are plumages that cross the swamp
and they don’t stain… My plumage is one of those!

Strength is that my passion suffers! The Palm
it grows on the shore that the waves whip.
Merit is the castaway of the soul:
live, sink; but dead, float!

Let go of your frown and let your voice lull me to sleep!
Comfort the heart of the one who loves you!
God said to the water of the torrent: it boils!
and to the river of the margin: embalm!

Make up, woman! We have come
to this valley of tears that brings down,
you, like the dove, for the nest,
and I, like the lion, for combat.

The Lives of Poets

Jose Emilio Pacheco
1939 – 2014


In poetry there’s no happy ending.
Poets end up
living their madness.
And they’re quartered like cattle
(it happened to Darío).
Or they’re stoned or wind up
flinging themselves to the sea or with cyanide
salts in their mouths.
Or dead from alcoholism, drug addiction, poverty.
Or worse: canonical poets,
bitter inhabitants of a tomb
entitled Complete Works.

Translation by Katherine M. Hedeen and Víctor Rodríguez Núñez

Invitation to a Landscape

Carlos Pellicer
1897 – 1977


To pose in my hand – I invite the landscape,
invite it to call itself into question,
and then give to it a dream of abyss for ingestion,
in the spiral hand of heavens with a human shape.

That by loosening the moorings in the river
the mountain to its marbles will speak
so that a frozen sigh leading to its peak
might hold the worth of fruit in a double summer.

To the cloud, I might proselytize
the risks posed by height and morning light,
then argue that the low tide is not on the rise,
but rather every hour, set alight.

To make a shadow tame
within a rosebush, at its very gut
(To add to love what is subtracted on its name
and feed the remains to a dovecote of naught).

What if the sea might abandon its pearls
and then step out its shell… !
What would happen to these frothy swirls
if instead of splashing all over, they lay forgotten?

Who knows if the stone
that at every turn is a wonder,
to join the exact exedra would be prone,

What if the benign lane
that comes, goes and is, becomes impassable
on account of a blunder without aim:
a magnetic waterfall that rendered it pliable.

Will the trees be able to put in motion
all their elementary schools of chirping?
(I feel my desires go mixing and mingling
Like townspeople at a wedding celebration).

Over there, the river is a boy, but it is a man here,
One that gathers dark leaves in a creek.
Everybody calls him by his name, without sneer
and strokes him like a dog, one that is meek.

Which season should my guests
want to get off at? In autumn or in springtime?
Or will they wait till the foliage speaks of harvests
like an angel announcing apples at its prime?

And when the guests
finally arrive – within myself –, the gentleness
to which every corner of my being attests
shall leave them alone and, as a sign of happiness,
will show a set of ten fingers that rests

Translation by Andrea Acle-Kreysing

Rain in the Night

Homero Aridjis
b. 1940


It rains in the night
on the old roofs and the wet streets

on the black hills
and on the temples in the dead cities

In the dark I hear the ancestral music of the rain
its ancient footfall its dissolving voice

More rapid than the dreams of men
the rain makes roads through the air

makes trails through the dust
longer than the footstep of men.

Tomorrow we will die
die twice over

Once as individuals
a second time as a species

and between the bolts of lightning and the white seeds
scattered through the shadows

there’s time for a complete examination of conscience
time to tell the human story

It rains
It will rain in the night

but on the wet streets and black hills
there will be no one to hear rain fall

Translation by George McWhirter