Idilio Muerto (extracto de Vallejiana)

Qué estará haciendo esta hora mi andina y dulce Rita de junco y capulí;
ahora que me asfixia Bizancio, y que dormita
la sangre, como flojo cognac, dentro de mí.

Dónde estarán sus manos que en actitud contrita
planchaban en las tardes blancuras por venir;
ahora, en esta lluvia que me quita
las ganas de vivir.

Qué será de su falda de franela; de sus
afanes; de su andar;
de su sabor a cañas de mayo del lugar.

Ha de estarse a la puerta mirando algún celaje,
y al fin dirá temblando: «Qué frío hay… Jesús!»
y llorará en las tejas un pájaro salvaje.

Los heraldos negros (1919)

What would she be doing now, my sweet Andean Rita
of rush and tawny berry;
now when Byzantium asphyxiates me, and my blood
dozes, like thin cognac, inside of me.

Where would her hands, that showing contrition
ironed in the afternoon whitenesses yet to come,
be now, in this rain that deprives me of
my desire to live.

What has become of her flannel skirt; of her
toil, of her walk;
of her taste of homemade May rum.

She must be at the door watching some cloudscape,
and at length she’ll say, trembling: “Jesus…it’s so cold!”
And on the roof tiles a wild bird will cry.

–Trans. Eshleman (2007)

I should compare this translation to some of the others. At the moment I tend to agree with RGE: it is good but not great.

Axé.

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