Five Poems

translated by 

A thrashing figure in shadow immersed in water
Photo: Bash Fish/Unsplash

 

1

At what time must the birds lined up in gardens, trees, and cages sing?
Look to the law.

 

2

Let’s appoint the village madman. Chief Justice on the Court of Appeals, with vote and veto and a seat at the table, a sane example to the debating powers-that-be and the people who in their hours of contemplation rest in chairs set out on the sidewalk, when twilight bloodies the screen with scrolls and pictures to make us believe that, of course, here it is, the disgusting fleshy finale.

Let’s appoint the village madman.

 

10

If you put your ear to the naked earth, you will precisely hear the murderers’ names.

 

12

They have sent me to the bottom of the sea. Without oxygen, of course. In street clothes,
with blue envelope in hand.

 

15

“Noche, from the Latin nox, from the Greek nyntos, descended in turn from the Sanskrit nakta. In German one says nacht; in Portuguese, noite; in French, nuit, in Catalan, nit, in Walloon, nute.” In Chile, night is eternal.

Translations from the Spanish

Editorial note: From La Noche (Ediciones Altazor, 1999). Read Feitlowitz’s note on translating Moltedo.

Ennio Moltedo (1931–2012) spent his life in the small Chilean coastal cities of Valparaíso and Viña del Mar. A revered “poet’s poet,” he published eight collections and was director of the University of Valparaíso Press. 

Marguerite Feitlowitz teaches literature at Bennington College, where she is founding director of Bennington Translates. Recent publications include translations of Luisa Valenzuela, Liliane Atlan, and Salvador Novo.

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