“The Elegy” by Miguel Hernández

Elegy (XXIX: From ‘El Rayo Que No Cesa’)

(In Orihuela, his town and mine, Ramon Sijé, whom I loved so much, has died like struck by lightning, he and I.)

 

I want to be, friend of my soul,

the peasant who cries

on the earth you so early dwell and fertilize.

 

Feeding rains, snails

and organs, my useless pain,

to the hopeless poppies

 

I’ll give your heart for food.

So much pain gathers on my side

that for mere pain even my breath hurts.

 

A strong slap, a frozen blow,

a fatal and invisible axe stroke,

a ruthless punch has made you fall.

 

Nothing bigger than my wound,

I cry for my disgrace and its likes

and I feel your death deeper than my life.

 

Walking on dead bodies’ grass,

and hopeless and abandoned

I wander from my heart to my tasks.

 

Too early death took off,

too early morning dawned,

too early you roll on the floor.

 

Cannot forgive death in love,

cannot forgive careless life,

cannot forgive the earth or the naught,

 

With my hands I lift a storm

of rocks, noisy axes and lightning strokes,

which of catastrophes will never have plenty of.

 

Want to use my teeth to dig the ground,

with dry and hot bites

want to open the earth with a wide wound.

 

Want to drill the land until I find you,

and kiss your noble skull

and resurrect and unleash you.

 

You’ll be back at the orchard and fig tree of mine:

on the high scaffolds of my flowers

your beekeeper soul like birds will fly

 

over heavenly labors and waxes.

You will return to the lovesick ploughmen’s

lullaby at their ladies’ houses.

 

You will enlighten my shadowy brows

and from side to side your blood will go

as your beloved and the bees for it will fight in war.

 

Your spoilt-velvet heart,

to an almond-foaming field

my greedy lover’s voice calls.

 

To the winged souls of the creamy

almond blossoms I summon you,

we’ve so much to speak of,

friend of my soul, me and you.

 

10th January 1936

Poem by the Spanish poet Miguel Hernández

Translated by Féliz Mañueco Egido

licencias cc

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