Rain in the Night

Homero Aridjis
Mexican
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

Fraternal Inscription

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 105th birthday.

Margarita Michelena
Mexican
1917 – 1998

 

I

I have not come to say goodbye, sister,
Although surroundings affirm your death.
One evidence of you has been cancelled,
One only: your body,
That indication that united and contained you
—dark net of time—
Like the closed womb of the flower imprisons
Its immortal family and in a precise dream
Prepares its face of constant splendors.
A certain morning, a finger of air
Touches the arranged wall,
Penetrates the heanvenly armor,
Mocks mirrors.
Alone, naked now,
Lacking a foundation
For its house of aromas,
The tiny fist enlarges
Its secret energies,
Tears up its mystery
And gives the wind everything it has:
A laughing border of earth’s gown,
A certainty of beauty.
There it will have for the eye only a long silence.
And beyond, working in the spring,
Green living memories, May vocations.

So I’m thinking of you now,
Thus I explain your passage,
That’s how I know you have left
One of your appearances,
Left your summer hair,
Left your smile and your flashing openness,
Left your eyes
Where the sea, in morning dress,
Laughed wave by wave and tossed off
Gentle flashes of foam.

Now you multiply in warm hollows
In gardens of sweet humidities,
In places of tenderness,
In fields ringing with clover and bees,
In time-lapses of blood,
In circles of shadow softening the midday,
In stones warmed by afternoon sun.

You shall return voices of child, cheek of girl,
Tree of double kingdom—roots
In hidden tasks,
Music in the happy madness of the breezes—.
By fruit and grasses you shall make your way
And you shall draw near in their fragrance.
You shall be the company the recluse meets
Passing through the midnight of his soul
And through one of these walls rising in the field
And upon which moss installs its long softnesses.
You shall be that born by groan and happiness
And shall be in the joy of violated bone.

You shall come in each spiraling trill,
In each thing morning returns to us,
In the shy mirror of the poplar leaf,
In the dry and happy whisper of wings,
In the child who leaves with a kiss on its brow:
You knew beforehand the dawn’s occupation.

II

Goodbye to the sad ones, the obscure.
Not to you, sister.
To live as you did was to deny death,
To see a plant thrive on bare rock.
Goodbye to the closed one, to the dried.
Never goodbye to the rain.
Till soon. Till soon.
Until a child’s radiance.
Until a rose.

To Laugh While Crying

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 170th birthday.

06-29 Dios Peza
Juan de Dios Peza
Mexican
1852 – 1910

 

Watching Garrik – an actor from England –
the people would say applauding:
“You are the funniest one on earth
and the happiest one…”
And the comedian would laugh.

Victims of melancholy, the highest lords,
during their darkest and heaviest nights
would go see the king of actors
and change their melancholy into roars of laughter.

Once, before a famous doctor,
came a man with eyes so somber:
“I suffer – he said -, an illness so horrible
as this paleness of my face”

“Nothing holds any enchantment or attractiveness;
I don’t care about my name or my fate
I die living an eternal melancholy
and my only hope is that of death”.

– Travel and distract yourself
– I’ve traveled so much!
– Search for readings
– I’ve read so much!
– Have a woman love you
– But I am loved
– Get a title
– I was born a noble

– Might you be poor?
– I have richnesses
– Do you like compliments?
– I hear so many!
– What do you have as a family?
– My sadness
– Do you go to the cemeteries?
– Often, very often.

– Of your current life, do you have witnesses?
– Yes, but I don’t let them impose their burdens;
I call the dead my friends;
I call the living my executioners.

– It leaves me – added the doctor – perplexed
your illness and I must not scare you;
Take today this advise as a prescription
only watching Garrik you can be cured.

-Garrik?
-Yes, Garrik… The most indolent
and austere society anxiously seeks him;
everyone who sees him, dies of laughter;
he has an amazing artistic grace.

– And me? Will he make me laugh?
-Ah, yes, I swear it;
he and no one but him; but… what disturbs you?
-So – said the patient – I won’t be cured;
I am Garrik! Change my prescription.

How many are there who, tired of life,
ill with pain, dead with tedium,
make others laugh as the suicidal actor,
without finding a remedy for their illness!

Ay! How often we laugh when we cry!
Nobody trust the merriment of laughter,
because in those beings devoured by pain,
the soul groans when the face laughs!

If faith dies, if calm flees,
if our feet only step on thistles,
the tempest of the soul hurls to the face,
a sad lighting: a smile.

The carnival of the world is such a trickster,
that life is but a short masquerade;
here we learn to laugh with tears
and also to cry with laughter.

 

Translation by Marga Lacabe

You, Azure Bird

We present this work in honor of the 550th anniversary of the poet’s death.

06-04 Nezahualcoyotl
Nezahualcoyotl
Mexican
1402 – 1472

 

You, azure bird, shining parrot, you walk flying. Oh Highest Arbiter, Life Giver: trembling, You extend Yourself here, filling my house, filling my dwelling, here.

With Your piety and grace one can live, oh Author of Life, on earth: trembling, You extend Yourself here, filling my house, filling my dwelling, here.

 

Translation by John Curl

from How the Sea Will Be

We present this work in honor of the 125th anniversary of the poet’s death.

03-02 Prieto
Guillermo Prieto
Mexican
1818 – 1897

Your name, or sea, resounds within me;
awakens my tired fantasy:
move, enlarge my soul,
of fervent enthusiasm fills it.
Nothing limited compresses me,
when I imagine contemplating your breast;
alluvial, melancholic and serene,
or august brow; thy mooing sublime.
You will be oh sea! magnificent and great
when you are sleeping in peace and quiet;
when your breast is still and dilated
caress the delicious atmosphere?

Pain

We present this work in honor of the 70th anniversary of the poet’s death.

z 02-19-22
Enrique Gonzalez Martinez
Mexican
1871 – 1952

 

Its gaze filled my abyss, its gaze melted
into my being, became so mine that I
am doubtful if this breath of agony
is life still or hallucinated death.

The archangel came, cast his sword
upon the double laurel flourishing
in the sealed garden….And that day brought back
the shadow and I returned to my nothingness.

I thought the world, witnessing man’s appal,
would crumble, overwhelmed beneath the ruins
of the entire firmament crashing down.

But I saw the earth at peace, at peace the heavens,
the fields serene, limpid the running stream,
blue the mountain and the wind at rest.

 

Translation by Samuel Beckett

Thoughts of a Little Girl

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 150th birthday.

01-19 Camarillo
María Enriqueta Camarillo
Mexican
1872 – 1968

I think flowers can see
and clouds play a game,
that when the wind whispers,
the leaves understand.
They sway and they dance
in the mad-cap breeze.

Sometimes in the morning
to the meadow I go,
where the daisies are playing
in the wind.

First the wind whispers,
then runs, jumps, and tickles their feet.
And the daisies, their heads sweetly nodding,
laugh, sway, and shiver in glee.

The Shadow of the Wing

In honor of the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, we present this work by one of modern Mexico’s most thoughtfully spiritual poets.

12-12 Nervo
Amado Nervo
Mexican
1870 – 1919

 

You who think I don’t believe
when we two feud
do not imagine my desire,
my thirst, my hunger for God;

nor have you heard my desolate
cry that echoes through
the inner place of shadow,
calling on the infinite;

nor do you see my thought
laboring in ideal genesis,
frequently in distress
with throes of light.

If my sterile spirit
could own your power of birth,
by now — I would have columned heaven
to perfect your earth.

But tell me, what power stows
within a flagless soul
to carry anywhere at all
its torturer — who knows? —

that keeps a fast from faith,
and with valiant integrity
goes on asking every depth
and every darkness, why?

Notwithstanding, I am shielded
by my thirst for inquiry —
my pangs for God, cavernous and unheard;
and there is more love in my unsated
doubt than in your tepid certainty.

 

Translation by Isabel Chenot

The Foreigner

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 105th birthday.

12-11 Garro
Elena Garro
Mexican
1916 – 1968

 

There where we find the lost
There where what was had goes
There where the dead are dead
and there are days when they revive and repeat
the actions prior to their death
There where cried tears are cried
again without a cry
and where intangible lips seek each other
and are found already without a body
There where we are suddenly children
and we have a house
and where cities are photographs
and their monuments reside in the air
and there are pieces of gardens attached to some eyes
There where the trees are in the void
where there are lovers and relatives mixed
with familiar objects
There where celebrations come after mourning
births after deaths
rainy days
after sunny days
There, lonely, without time, without childhood,
comet without origin, a foreigner to the landscape
strolling among strangers
There you reside,
where memory resides.

 

Translation by
Adele Lonas,
Olatz Pascariu,
Silvia Soler Gallego,
and Francisco Leal

Legislator

In honor of Revolution Day, we present this work by one of contemporary Mexico’s cleverest poets.

Francisco Hinojosa
Mexican
b. 1954

 

Having just heard, my love,
that you won a seat by popular vote,
I am overwhelmed with joy
for you and your electorate
and because I know you well
I am sure you will legislate with courage and devotion
making your voters feel represented
forget these household chores a while
you don’t have a spouse for nothing
and focus on the legislative charge assigned you
receive the citizens’ demands
attend the sessions
ascend the podium
assert your views
hear out your committee chairman
be yourself
and above all
legislate, legislate, legislate
our bed will not feel the void caused by
all those nights you work late, legislating
you will receive a salary
and they will give you bonds and business trips and cell
phones and chauffeurs
and try, my love, not to be corrupted
try to stay honest
because you, Honorable Representative
woman of laws and convictions
our advocate
you are our voice in Congress
although I did not vote for you
forgive me
but I never thought you’d win.

 

Translation by Tanya Huntington Hyde