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  #1  
Unread 01-03-2019, 01:44 PM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Default Villaurrutia, Pomegranate Sonnet

Xavier Villaurrutia (Mexico, 1903-1950)


ENGLISH VERSE TRANSLATION (Draft Two, with tweaks on 1/28 and 2/1):

Pomegranate Sonnet

My love's a dark material,
like honeycombs of shadow-meat
that pomegranates generate
within their curved, hermetic wall.

Silently I swallow all
my thirst—the thirst I never sate—
and freeze it solid, to await
relief that stays eventual.

Perhaps some mouth that doesn’t know
the ache I’ve secretly repressed
will find the blood I don't let flow

and the cold, hard flesh that I confine,
and use my sweet and acrid taste
to satisfy its thirst with mine.


L3 was:
that pomegranates fabricate
then:
that pomegranates tesselate
then:
that pomegranates formulate
L7 was:
and store it frozen, to await


SPANISH ORIGINAL:

Soneto a la granata

Es mi amor como el oscuro
panal de sombra encarnada
que la hermética granada
labra en su cóncavo muro.

Silenciosamente apuro
mi sed, mi sed no saciada,
y la guardo congelada
para un alivio futuro.

Acaso una boca ajena
a mi secreto dolor
encuentre mi sangre, plena,

y mi carne dura y fría,
y en mi acre y dulce sabor
sacie su sed con la mía.


LITERAL ENGLISH PROSE CRIB

Sonnet to the pomegranate

My love is like the dark
honeycomb/hexagon of shadow incarnate
that the hermetic/airtight/mysterious pomegranate
forms within its concave/curved/hollow wall.

Silently I press/purify
my thirst, my thirst not satisfied,
and it I guard/keep frozen
for a future relief.

Perhaps a mouth alien
to my secret pain
may encounter my blood, (which is) full,

and my flesh hard and cold,
and in my acrid/bitter/pungent/tangy and sweet flavor
may satisfy its thirst with mine.


ENGLISH VERSE TRANSLATION (Draft One, tweaked):

Pomegranate Sonnet

My love's like something tangible:
dark hexagons of shadow-meat
that pomegranates fabricate
within their curved, hermetic wall.

Silently distilling all
my thirst—the thirst I never sate—
I store it frozen, to await
relief that stays eventual.

Perhaps some mouth that doesn’t know
the ache I’ve secretly repressed
will find the blood I’ve not let flow

and find my flesh—kept hard and cold—
and in my sweet and tangy taste
indulge its thirst with mine of old.

The final tercet was later changed to:

and the cold, hard flesh I yet confine,
and there, within my tart-sweet taste,
will satisfy its thirst with mine.

Then L13 was changed to:
and there, in my sweet and tangy taste,

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 02-01-2019 at 11:14 AM. Reason: "generate" in L3
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  #2  
Unread 01-03-2019, 02:04 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Julie, for the rhythm would you consider a last line of "to slake it with the thirst I hold"?

Susan
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Unread 01-03-2019, 09:58 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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I would suggest dropping "its" as unnecessary in the last line and maybe trying "slake:"

to slake thirst with the thirst I hold
to sate thirst with the thirst I hold
?


(some mouth will) use my sweet and tangy taste
to slake thirst with the thirst I hold.
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  #4  
Unread 01-03-2019, 11:37 PM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Thanks, Susan and Aaron. Above I've substituted some alternate versions of LL1-2 and LL13-14. Do you like those better?

Aaron, I think "its thirst" is supposed to be an emphatic foil for "mine," but your response tells me that I failed to convey that because I hadn't included the "mine" at all. The alternate version should work better for that reason.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 01-03-2019 at 11:54 PM.
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Unread 01-04-2019, 02:33 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Julie, I prefer your original final line to the revision. I think, if you can't end that line on an emphatic "mine," you should downplay the contrast between "su" and "mia" in the translation.

Best,

Aaron
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Unread 01-04-2019, 07:46 AM
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Michael F Michael F is offline
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Hi Julie,

What a strange, sad, lovely poem. I hear it as flowing accentual trimeter in Spanish -- do I have that right?

‘Fabricate’ is an ugly word to me, I hate that you end a line on it. Sorry.

‘Apuro mi sed’ in Spanish can also have the sense of ‘I drink up my thirst’. I love the paradox of it. Yes, it’s also there with ‘distill’, but ‘drink up’ is so direct.

Thanks for posting this poem, unknown to me. I love these gems in Spanish.
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  #7  
Unread 01-04-2019, 01:52 PM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Susan and Aaron--I'm still working on the ending. Aaron, I think I like the original ending better, too, but it's still not right, either metrically or in terms of simplicity. I will probably need to change rhymes.

Michael F--Hmmm, in addition to the connection to thirst, "I swallow" has the right connotations of repression, too. I'll try that for "apuro." Thanks! (I had wanted to hang onto the "I purify" or "I refine" possibility, but one can't have everything. I still like the industrial vibe of "fabricate," though, in part because the narrator isn't allowing himself to be human.)
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Unread 01-04-2019, 04:13 PM
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Michael F Michael F is offline
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Julie, 'swallow' is brilliant for 'apurar'. I just made the connection. Not such a strange poem, after all. Forgive me, laziness is one of my vices.

M
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Unread 01-04-2019, 08:32 PM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Michael, you asked about the meter. I'm hearing four beats (bolded below, but some of them shown in gray to show that they're somewhat weaker) per seven-syllable line. I say seven because syllables after the final stress aren't reckoned in Spanish poetry, which is why I've shown those in parentheses. Except for a hiatus in L13, adjacent vowels are elided into a single syllable, which I've shown below joined with underlining.

Es mi amor como el oscuro…….-u-u-u-(u)
panal de som-bra encarnada…….u-u--u-(u)
que la hertica granada…….-u-u-u-(u)
labra en su cónca-vo muro.…….-u--uu-(u)

Silenciosamente apuro…….-u-u-u-(u)
mi sed, mi sed no saciada,…….u-u--u-(u)
y la guardo congelada…….-u-u-u-(u)
para un alivio futuro.…….--u-uu-(u)

Acas-o una boca ajena…….u--u-u-(u)
a mi secreto dolor…….--u-uu-
encuentre mi sangre, plena,…….--uu-u-(u)

y mi carne dura y fría,…….-u-u-u-(u)
y en mi acre y dulce sabor…….-u-u-uu-
sacie su sed con la a.…….-u-u-u-(u)

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 01-08-2019 at 03:23 PM.
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Unread 01-05-2019, 07:54 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Julie, it feels wrong to say that someone "indulges" a thirst. I think "slake," "quench," "sate," or "satisfy" all sound more accurate. You could put "may" before any of those to get the rhythm right.

Susan
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