A Poem from Chile

June 1, 2022
translated by Mary Crow
A cropped photo of a Greek statue against a white background
Photo by Vlad Kutepov / Unsplash

Echo of Another Sonata

                In your opinion one love erases another
and so it is, dear, yet in love not everything
belongs to the dart and quiver—
false starts—or is part of the wound that bewilders
all pleasure, all grief
twin of death, metaphor for birth
                The victims of Eros survive the crime
that, joyfully, they’re passive agents of
its authors in a mysterious moment and they don’t forget
at least I don’t: my memory of you
remains, independent of love
as in that painting by Magritte where the dawn sky
still hasn’t dissolved night in the street
nor its precious moon: a light curdled
in the streetlight that darkly illuminates that road
                It’s true, the oxymoron
is no more than a figure of speech
and can be guilty of premeditation
Not so myself, at least I hope not, if I tell you:
one love doesn’t erase another
Memory, also, in its way loves
and, as someone said, “There is no forgetting.”

Translation from the Spanish

Enrique Lihn (1929–1988) was a Chilean playwright, novelist, poet, and actor well known in Latin America. English translations of Lihn’s poems have appeared in many literary journals and anthologies as well as in the collections The Dark Room and Other Poems, translated by Jonathan Cohen, John Felstiner, and David Unger, and in Figures of Speech, translated by David Oliphant. An article about his meeting with novelist Roberto Bolaño appeared in the New Yorker in December 2008.

Mary Crow has published poetry as well as translation. Her translations include From the Country of Nevermore, by Jorge Teillier (Chile); Engravings Torn from Insomnia, by Olga Orozco (Argentina); Vertical Poetry: Recent Poems; and Vertical Poetry: Last Poems, both by Roberto Juarroz (Argentina). Crow received the Translation Award for her anthology of Latin American women poets from Columbia University’s Translation Center. She served on PEN USA’s Translation Committee and as secretary-treasurer for the American Literary Translators Association.