27 May 2010

We are all ships

Sometimes it is very enlightening to compare our lives to moving objects that come and go. Our lives can certainly be compared to a ship that is in constant movement and whose speed and trajectory depend very much on aspects such as the weather, the wind, the captain´s skills, the crew and so on.

Good weather can make our trip very pleasant. Bad weather conditions can reduce the speed of the ship and spoil our plans to be on time. A favourable wind can increase the speed of the ship and inprove our efficiency, but the complete absence of wind can reduce once more our chances to stick to our deadlines. Only the ability of a skillful captain and his helpful crew can make of our trip a lovely experience.

I am the captain of my own ship, my life. So are you.

We are all ships returning home

by Max Ehrmann (1872-1945)

We are all ships returning home
laden with life's experience,
memories of work, good times and sorrows,
each with his special cargo;
And it is our common lot
to show the marks of the voyage,
here a shattered prow, there a patched rigging,
and every hulk turned black
by the unceasing batter of the restless wave.

May we be thankful for fair weather and smooth seas,
and in times of storm have the courage
and patience that mark every good mariner;
And, overall, may we have the cheering hope of joyful meetings,
as our ship at last drops anchor
in the still water of the eternal harbor.

23 May 2010

More Lorca

On Feb, 6 I published an entry containing a very musical poem from Lorca's Gypsy Ballads (1928). The poem, which is very well-known to students of Spanish literature, has been translated into English several times by different people and today I am including a translation that I find very accurate and worth reading.

by Federico García Lorca (1898-1936)

Verde que te quiero verde.
Verde viento. Verdes ramas.
El barco sobre la mar
y el caballo en la montaña.
Con la sombra en la cintura
ella sueña en su baranda,
verde carne, pelo verde,
con ojos de fría plata.
Verde que te quiero verde.
Bajo la luna gitana,
las cosas le están mirando
y ella no puede mirarlas.


Verde que te quiero verde.
Grandes estrellas de escarcha,
vienen con el pez de sombra
que abre el camino del alba.
La higuera frota su viento
con la lija de sus ramas,
y el monte, gato garduño,
eriza sus pitas agrias.
¿Pero quién vendrá? ¿Y por dónde...?
Ella sigue en su baranda,
verde carne, pelo verde,
soñando en la mar amarga.


Compadre, quiero cambiar
mi caballo por su casa,
mi montura por su espejo,
mi cuchillo por su manta.
Compadre, vengo sangrando,
desde los montes de Cabra.
Si yo pudiera, mocito,
ese trato se cerraba.
Pero yo ya no soy yo,
ni mi casa es ya mi casa.
Compadre, quiero morir
decentemente en mi cama.
De acero, si puede ser,
con las sábanas de holanda.
¿No ves la herida que tengo
desde el pecho a la garganta?
Trescientas rosas morenas
lleva tu pechera blanca.
Tu sangre rezuma y huele
alrededor de tu faja.

Pero yo ya no soy yo,
ni mi casa es ya mi casa.
Dejadme subir al menos
hasta las altas barandas,
dejadme subir, dejadme,
hasta las verdes barandas.
Barandales de la luna
por donde retumba el agua.


Ya suben los dos compadres
hacia las altas barandas.
Dejando un rastro de sangre.
Dejando un rastro de lágrimas.
Temblaban en los tejados
farolillos de hojalata.
Mil panderos de cristal,
herían la madrugada.


Verde que te quiero verde,
verde viento, verdes ramas.
Los dos compadres subieron.
El largo viento, dejaba
en la boca un raro gusto
de hiel, de menta y de albahaca.
¡Compadre! ¿Dónde está, dime?
¿Dónde está mi niña amarga?
¡Cuántas veces te esperó!
¡Cuántas veces te esperara,
cara fresca, negro pelo,
en esta verde baranda!


Sobre el rostro del aljibe
se mecía la gitana.
Verde carne, pelo verde,
con ojos de fría plata.
Un carámbano de luna
la sostiene sobre el agua.
La noche su puso íntima
como una pequeña plaza.
Guardias civiles borrachos,
en la puerta golpeaban.
Verde que te quiero verde.
Verde viento. Verdes ramas.
El barco sobre la mar.
Y el caballo en la montaña.

Green, how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship out on the sea
and the horse on the mountain.
With the shade around her waist
she dreams on her balcony,
green flesh, her hair green,
with eyes of cold silver.
Green, how I want you green.
Under the gypsy moon,
all things are watching her
and she cannot see them.

Green, how I want you green.
Big hoarfrost stars
come with the fish of shadow
that opens the road of dawn.
The fig tree rubs its wind
with the sandpaper of its branches,
and the forest, cunning cat,
bristles its brittle fibers.
But who will come? And from where?
She is still on her balcony
green flesh, her hair green,
dreaming in the bitter sea.

My friend, I want to trade
my horse for her house,
my saddle for her mirror,
my knife for her blanket.
My friend, I come bleeding
from the gates of Cabra.
If it were possible, my boy,
I'd help you fix that trade.
But now I am not I,
nor is my house now my house.
My friend, I want to die
decently in my bed.
Of iron, if that's possible,
with blankets of fine chambray.
Don't you see the wound I have
from my chest up to my throat?
Your white shirt has grown
thirsy dark brown roses.
Your blood oozes and flees a
round the corners of your sash.

But now I am not I,
nor is my house now my house.
--Let me climb up, at least,
up to the high balconies;
Let me climb up! Let me,
up to the green balconies.
Railings of the moon
through which the water rumbles.

Now the two friends climb up,
up to the high balconies.
Leaving a trail of blood.
Leaving a trail of teardrops.
Tin bell vines
were trembling on the roofs.
A thousand crystal tambourines
struck at the dawn light.

Green, how I want you green,
green wind, green branches.
The two friends climbed up.
The stiff wind left
in their mouths, a strange taste
of bile, of mint, and of basil
My friend, where is she--tell me--
where is your bitter girl?
How many times she waited for you!
How many times would she wait for you,
cool face, black hair,
on this green balcony!

Over the mouth of the cistern
the gypsy girl was swinging,
green flesh, her hair green,
with eyes of cold silver.
An icicle of moon
holds her up above the water.
The night became intimate
like a little plaza.
Drunken "Guardias Civiles"
were pounding on the door.
Green, how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship out on the sea.
And the horse on the mountain.

You can also read the entire poem in Spanish here and in English here.

Moreover, there have been quite a few musicians who have put music into Lorca´s poems. One of my guitar men who did so with the poem above was "Manzanita". Enjoy it.

11 May 2010

The Guitar and Lorca

Technically, the guitar is a musical instrument of the chordophone family. It has a body, a neck and six strings or more. Many of them are made of wood or other materials and even some modern guitars are made of more advanced materials such as polycarbonate.

Deep down, I hate technical definitions to describe objects that are more than that. A guitar speaks, a guitar sings, a guitar touches your soul, a guitar makes you dream. Its sound gives me life.

For Lorca, the guitar and the sounds it produce is poetry per se. He compares it to 6 dancing virgins, three are made of flesh and three are made of silver. Dreams and Greek mythology with the help of Poseidon, Cyclopes and Homer´s Odyssey go hand in hand to produce sounds in unison that go beyond human comprehension. That is the guitar.


by Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936 )

En la redonda
seis doncellas
Tres de carne
y tres de plata.
Los sueños de ayer las buscan,
pero las tiene abrazadas
un Polifemo de oro.
¡La guitarra!

I am not translating the poem. How could I dare !

5 May 2010

April Entry List

Today I am including the April Entry List in case you missed any of the poems that I chose for April.

·John Keats and the Pacific Ocean

· A simple life (Alexander Pope´s Ode on Solitude)

· A time to mourn (Based on Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, by King Solomon)

· Book Day
(based on four different poets who are said to have died on the same day)

· Solitude (A John Milton´s verse taken from Paradise Lost)
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