A perfume, immense and living.

Media_http1289510414c_rghbf

_________

Te dehojé, como una rosa,
para verte tu alma,
y no la vi.

Mas todo en torno
– horizontes de tierras y de mares –,
todo, hasta el infinito,
se colmó de una esencia
inmensa y viva.

– Juan Ramon Jiminez

_____________

I took off petal after petal, as if you were a rose,
in order to see your soul,
and I didn’t see it.

However, everything around –
horizons of fields and oceans –
everything, even what was infinite,
was filled with a perfume,
immense and living.

– Translation by Robert Bly

______________

My own attempt at translation:

I stripped you,
like I would strip a rose of its leaves,
in order to see your soul

And I did not see it. But everything around –
horizons of earth and of ocean – everything, out to infinity
was filled with your perfume
immense and alive.

Mine is a less beautiful way. But I really think there is something specific in the choice of “dehoje” in the first bit. The word is literally ‘to de-leaf,’ maybe best translated as “defoliate.” This seems a very specific choice – the poet is not saying he tore away the PETALS of the rose, but its LEAVES. I like the idea that a rose’s soul is found not in the heart of the flower, but under its leaves….this implies that the soul of the rose is the thorn….That said, I adore the translation on “esencia” as “perfume.” Gorgeous, gorgeous – it could have been “essence,” which is much more abstract and less haunting than perfume.

____________

Poetry by Juan Ramon Jiminez.
Translation by Robert Bly.
Kindly made public by As It Ought to Be.

http://asitoughttobe.com/2010/03/13/saturday-poetry-series-presents-juan-ramo…

Photo by Kyle Griffith, 2001. Accessed through the Cities and Buildings Database of the University of Washington Digital Collection.

http://128.95.104.14/buildingsweb/index.html

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1 comment
  1. S said:

    My own attempt at translation:

    I stripped you,
    like I would strip a rose of its leaves,
    in order to to see your soul

    And I did not see it. But everything around –
    horizons of earth and of ocean – everything, out to infinity
    was filled with your perfume
    immense and alive.

    —-

    A less beautiful way. But I really think there is something specific in the choice of “dehoje” in the first bit. The word is literally ‘to de-leaf,’ maybe best translated as “defoliate.” This seems a very specific choice – the poet is not saying he tore away the PETALS of the rose, but its LEAVES. I like the idea that a rose’s soul is found not in the heart of the flower, but under its leaves….this implies that the soul of the rose is the thorn….That said, I adore the translation on “esencia” as “perfume.” Gorgeous, gorgeous – it could have been “essence,” which is much more abstract and less haunting than perfume.

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