Pilar Rodriguez Aranda

One World, One Body

It’s always a challenge to choose one’s own poem, or write one, given a certain theme. For this issue, it was particularly difficult for me to choose one text (although I did at the end), and at some point I thought it’d be easier to find a Mexican or Latin American poet who had already reflected this issue’s theme: “One World, One People.” But, once I had embarked on this, I realized I’d gotten “lost at sea,” an immense sea of literature. So, it was pretty much aleatory that I ran into a poem by Pablo Neruda, its title caught my attention.

Neruda was a communist Chilean Nobel prize winning poet, who, at 34 years of age was already considered Chile’s greatest poet. Thanks to his prestige, he was able to save almost 2,000 Spanish patriots who were in French internment camps; by leasing a boat (“The Winnipeg”) with the help of the president of Chile, and other supporters like the Quakers, the Spanish migrants were all transported to safety. Neruda would always proclaim that the Winnipeg had been his “most beautiful poem.” This anecdote shows Neruda’s experience and commitment for those who are forced to migrate, recognizing, as the theme of this issue asserts, that we are in one world, and therefore, we should all be one people.

Attempting a version of Neruda’s poem, without being a scholar on his work, could seem intimidating, but one must allow oneself to perform these exercises. Translating the masters is truly a wonderful school, unending and revealing. As writers, translators, word-slingers, our responsibility is to develop our vocabularies, learn and listen permanently and insistingly, always thinking of “the other,” the one who will be reading our words; how can we impact with honest emotion rather than with mere argument? What kind of images will we choose to create and follow in an attempt to engage in communication, and transcend beyond the soliloquy? What words will we choose to do so, not by telling, but by showing and feeling?

Questions are infinite, and writing needs them because, just like life, it is an interminable process of decision making, of taking sides, yielding, assuming and committing. The greatest writers are passionate, usually very political people; those who are apathetic rarely leave a mark on us. Neruda’s choice of words, takes the readers, seamlessly, from the realm of nature to the realm of universal empathy, as he starts to bestow emotions to the flock, and highly praise the process by which all the birds become one, just like the feathers conform the wing, just as we all are “joined…by blood, by thirst, by hunger…by the erotic urgency of life.”

After reading and translating such a powerful and subtle (and long) poem, I wasn’t sure if I should submit mine, but I decided I’d take advantage of DoveTale’s digital issue, because I felt my poem touches upon another aspect of who we are as one people. As Neruda says of the birds, whether we do it consciously or not, we humans are all one huge body: we are birds and rocks; feet and bridges; hands and bodies. We are interconnected. Even if we all assume different roles, we can relate to the other’s role, accept our divergences, and build on them. The path we lead, perhaps, as the poet would suggest, needs to be based on instinct, nature, and trust.

Pablo Neruda

Migration

ALL day long a line and another line,
a squadron of feathers,
a ship
throbbing in the air,
crossing
the small infinite
of the window from where I search,
interrogate, work, stalk, wait.

The tower of the sand
and the marine space
are joined there, resolving
the song, the movement.

Above, the sky opens up.

So it happened like this: straight, acute,
throbbing, they went by
to where? Towards the North, towards the West,
towards the clarity,
towards the star,
towards the rock of solitude and salt
where the sea dismantles its clocks.

It was an angle of birds
led
such latitude of iron and snow
advancing without truce
on its rectilineal path:
it was the devouring rectitude
of an obvious arrow,
the numbers in the sky traveling
to procreate in line
by urgent love and geometry.

I insisted on looking until losing
my eyes and I have not seen
but the order of flight,
the multitude of the wing against the wind:
I saw serenity multiplied
by that transparent hemisphere
crossed by the obscure decision of
those birds in the firmament.

I saw nothing but the path.

Everything remained celestial blue.

But in the crowd of birds
straight to their destiny
a flock after another drew
triangular
victories
joined by the voice of one single flight,
by the unity of fire,
by blood,
by thirst, by hunger,
by cold,
by the precarious day which cried
before being swallowed by night,
by the erotic urgency of life:
the unity of the birds
flew
towards the toothless black coasts,
dead crags, yellow islands,
where the sun lasts longer than its journey
and develops in the warm sea
the plural pavilion of sardines.

On the rock assaulted
by the birds
the secret got ahead of itself:
rock, humidity, excrement, solitude
will ferment and under the bloody sun
sandy creatures will be born
who someday will fly back
towards the hurricane-light of the cold,
towards the Antarctic feet of Chile.

Now they cross, populating the distance
barely moving their wings in the light
as if joined by a single heartbeat,

they fly without letting go

of the migratory

body

divided and dispersed

on land.

Over the water, in the air,
the innumerable bird goes flying,
the vessel is one
the transparent ship
builds unity among so many wings,
with so many eyes opened towards the sea
that it is one single peace crossing
and only one immense wing moving.

Bird of the sea, migratory froth, wing
of the South, of the North, wave wing
cluster spread by the flight,
hungry multiplied heart,
you will arrive, big bird, to shell
the necklace of delicate eggs
hatched by the wind and nourished by the sands
until a new flight multiplies
once again life, death, development,
wet cries, hot excrement, and
again be born, depart, far away
from the wasteland to another wasteland.

Far away
from that silence, flee, birds of the cold
to a vast rocky silence
and from the nest to the errant number,
arrows of the sea, leave me
the humid glory of the course,
the famed permanence of feathers
that are born, die, last and throb
creating fish by fish its long sword,
cruelty against cruelty its own light
and against-wind-and-sea, life.

*Translated by Pilar Rodríguez Aranda

 

Puente

By Pilar Rodriguez Aranda

“Sólo el puente conoce el río,”
dijo Dante
escritor de Guadalajara

Ser puente…
No estar ni en un lado
ni en el otro
sino en ambos
Dejar que crucen otros
Mirar hacia abajo
El correr del agua
-sobre lodo, sobre piedras
Movimiento gris
verde, café, amarillo
Canto aullido susurro
A veces silencio

Debajo del puente
meses secos
invisible la muerte
como invisible la vida cruzan cientos
pies, pasos, voces
Y cree que va y viene
pero son otros tantos
son sus zapatos
resonando

Uno como puente
permanece
aferrado a un lado
y al otro
El puente escucha, une, calla
 
Sobre la espalda
nada que nos quiebre
Pasan  los años
jóvenes y viejos

Reflejos sobre el agua
congelada en el invierno
su mirada
La arena, la tierra, el lirio
van cediendo
Nada es eterno

El puente no parece moverse
Pero cuánto tiene
por contar.

1992

 

Bridge

(Translated by the author)

“Only the bridge knows the river,” said
Dante
a writer from Guadalajara

To be bridge…
Not on one side
nor the other
but on both
Let others cross
Look down onto
The water running
-over the mud, the stones
Moving gray
green, brown, yellow
Song howl whisper
Sometimes silence

Under the bridge
dry months
invisible death
as invisible the life
of the insect

Crossed by hundreds
feet, steps, voices
And believing it’s coming and going
but it’s the others
their shoes
resounding

As a bridge
one stays
clinging on to
one side and the other
The bridge listens, joins, is quiet

Over our backs
nothing to break us
Years go by
young and old

Reflections on the water
frozen in the winter
of their eyes
Sand, earth, lilies
are giving away
Nothing is eternal

The bridge appears not to move
But has so much
to tell.

1992

*

[Editor’s note: The Neruda Foundation denied permission to publish the original poem. Here, we publish Pilar Rodriguez Aranda’s beautiful translation, which we believe falls within the fair use statutes of copyright law. For more information on fair use, see “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Poetry, ” by the Center for Media & Social Impact. Those who would like to read the original poem may find it here.]

____________________________________

Pilar Aranda in front of bookcase.Pilar Rodriguez Aranda is a poet, video artist, and translator. She was born in Mexico City, but lived in California, Texas, and New Mexico, for a total of 13 years; currently she resides in Tijuana, BC.

She has published in dozens of magazines and anthologies like Voices of Mexico, Poets in Nigeria, Mujeres de Maíz, The America’s Review, Bilingual Review, DoveTales, and Voces sin fronteras, to mention a few. Her published work includes: Asunto de mujeres (2012), Verdes Lazos (2014), Diálogos de una Mujer Despierta, 12 poems set to original live music (2016), Insistencia en el sueño (2018), and the bilingual eBook, Una familia más (2018), available in all digital platforms. Pilar has been part of several poetry conferences and festivals in Mexico, Brasil, Ecuador, Italy, Cuba and Egypt; her work has been translated into English, Arabic, Greek, Italian, Portuguese and German.

As a video artist she has received awards and grants; a retrospective exhibit of some her work is programmed to be shown at the Cineteca in Madrid this coming fall.

 

 

Copyright © 2019 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.