Saturday, October 12, 2013

Rubén Darío, "Tutecotzimí" (Fragment) [1890], trans. Greg Simon and Steven F. White

Digging in the topsoil of the ancient city
the pick's metallic point strikes something very hard:
some golden gem, perhaps, a stone that's been carved, 
an arrow, fetish, some god's ambiguity, 
or the enormous walls of some temple. My tools
open America's still undiscovered lands.

Let poetry's tools sing like harmonious jewels!
Let them discover fine, rich stones, gold, or opal, 
temples, or statue's hands.
And mysterious hieroglyphics that foretell
my own Muse. 

From the thick mist of time emerges the strangeness 
of annulled peoples' lives, and legends, once confused,
now shine. The mountain reveals its secret access 
to ruins underneath the plants of the jungle...

Then the ferocious cry
of the oppressors stopped. Their reviled leader's heart
would beat no more, his bloody body torn apart. 
And then, singing loudly, a person journeyed by.
He sang to earth and sky and used an Aztec song
to praise the gods and curse all wars as being wrong.
The people cheered: "Can you bring peace and work?"
"I can."
"Take this palace, these fields, arms, and huepiles, please; 
lead the Pipil nation and praise our deities."

That's how the reign of Tutecotzimí began.

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