04 December 2007

Poem: "Self-Portrait at Twenty Years" by Roberto Bolaño

(Author Photo from Latinoamerica- online)

It's been a while since I've posted a poem, and thought I'd put this up, since the subject of translation has been one some friends and I have been discussing recently. This is by the amazing Chilean author, Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) whose work the angels at New Directions have been issuing in English in recent years. Bolaño's massive, glorious novel, The Savage Detectives has made most if not all of the "Best of 2007" booklists I've seen (both the New York and Los Angeles Times, for example).

An excerpt from Bolaño's 'fictional dictionary' Nazi Literature in the Americas, appeared in the wonderful Virgina Quarterly Review's "South America in the 20th Century" issue; a short story, Álvaro Rousselot's Journey appeared in The New Yorker, his poem "Godzilla in Mexico" appears in a recent issue of The Nation., and this one, reprinted on the New Directions site, first appeared in Harpers (Take THAT "The Magazine is Dead" people)

!Que viva Bolaño!


"Self-Portrait at Twenty Years"

I set off, I took up the march and never knew
where it might take me. I went full of fear,
my stomach dropped, my head was buzzing:
I think it was the icy wind of the dead.
I don't know. I set off, I thought it was a shame
to leave so soon, but at the same time
I heard that mysterious and convincing call.
You either listen or you don't, and I listened
and almost burst out crying: a terrible sound,
born on the air and in the sea.
A sword and shield. And then,
despite the fear, I set off, I put my cheek
against death's cheek.
And it was impossible to close my eyes and miss seeing
that strange spectacle, slow and strange,
though fixed in such a swift reality:
thousands of guys like me, baby-faced
or bearded, but Latin American, all of us,
brushing cheeks with death.

Roberto Bolaño (translated from the Spanish by Laura Healy)

5 comments:

BronzeBuckaroo said...

This poem hit a home run for me. It hit close to home period!

ReggieH said...

I felt the same way too! It really spoke to me (I feel that quite often with Latin American works...I was probably Latino/Hispanic in a former life!) And there's something about that repeated "I set off," as if he had to 'start out' over and over again....very moving.

WhozHe said...

Deeply insightful poem.

J. Haley said...

Can someone please offer their explication/understanding of this poem? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

徵信, 徵信網, 徵信社, 徵信社, 感情挽回, 婚姻挽回, 挽回婚姻, 挽回感情, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信, 捉姦, 徵信公司, 通姦, 通姦罪, 抓姦, 抓猴, 捉猴, 捉姦, 監聽, 調查跟蹤, 反跟蹤, 外遇問題, 徵信, 捉姦, 女人徵信, 女子徵信, 外遇問題, 女子徵信, 外遇, 徵信公司, 徵信網, 外遇蒐證, 抓姦, 抓猴, 捉猴, 調查跟蹤, 反跟蹤, 感情挽回, 挽回感情, 婚姻挽回, 挽回婚姻, 外遇沖開, 抓姦, 女子徵信, 外遇蒐證, 外遇, 通姦, 通姦罪, 贍養費, 徵信, 徵信社, 抓姦, 徵信, 徵信公司, 徵信社, 徵信公司, 徵信社, 徵信公司, 女人徵信,

徵信, 徵信網, 徵信社, 徵信網, 外遇, 徵信, 徵信社, 抓姦, 徵信, 女人徵信, 徵信社, 女人徵信社, 外遇, 抓姦, 徵信公司, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 女人徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 女子徵信社, 女子徵信社, 女子徵信社, 女子徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信社,

徵信, 徵信社,徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 外遇, 抓姦, 離婚, 外遇,離婚,

徵信社,徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信,徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信, 外遇, 抓姦, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社,徵信,徵信, 徵信, 外遇, 抓姦

Followers