LA EXTRANJERA THE FOREIGNER
Gabriela Mistral trans. Arthur McHugh

A Francis de Miomandre

Habla con dejo de sus mares bárbaros,
con no sé qué algas y no sé qué arenas;
reza oración a dios sin bulto y peso,
envejecida como si muriera.
Ese huerto nuestro que nos hizo extraño,
ha puesto cactus y zarpadas hierbas.

Alienta del resuello del desierto
y ha amado con pasión de que blanquea,
que nunca cuenta y que si nos contase
sería como el mapa de otra estrella.

Vivirá entre nosotros ochenta años,
pero siempre será como si llega,
hablando lengua que jadea y gime
y que le entienden sólo bestezuelas.
Y va a morirse en medio de nosotros,
en una noche en la que más padezca,
con sólo su destino por almohada,
de una muerte callada y extranjera.

To Francis de Miomandre

 She talks with an accent of her savage seas
that have who-knows-what kind of seaweed and sand;
she says a prayer to God without form or weight
looking old, old, as if she was going to die.
That garden of ours, which she made odd to us,
has produced cactus and grasses that scratch you.

Her breathing is the breath of the wilderness,
she has loved with a passion that makes her blanch,
which she never mentions and which would be like
the map of another star if she told us.

She will live among us for eighty years, but
she will always be as if she had just arrived,
speaking a gasping, whining sort of language
that only little animals understand.
One night when she is suffering more, she will
die among us, with only her destiny
for a pillow: her death will be hushed, foreign.


We believe this poem is in the public domain - if anyone disputes this, please contact us. Trans. Copyright © Arthur McHugh 2007


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