By Rafael Alberti
Translated by A.S. Kline:
WHAT I LEFT, FOR YOU
For you I left my woods, my lost
Grove, my sleepless dogs,
My important years, those banished
Almost to my life’s winter.
I left a tremor, a shock
A brilliance of un-extinguished fire,
I left my shadow on the desperate
Blood-stained eyes of farewell.
I left sad doves beside a river,
Horses in the sand of the arena,
I left the scent of the sea, I left to see you.
For you, I left everything that was mine.
Give me, Rome, in exchange for my pains,
All I have left in order to attain you.
LO QUE DEJÉ POR TI
Dejé por ti mis bosques, mi perdida
arboleda, mis perros desvelados,
mis capitales años desterrados
hasta casi el invierno de la vida.
Dejé un temblor, dejé una sacudida,
un resplandor de fuegos no apagados,
dejé mi sombra en los desesperados
ojos sangrantes de la despedida.
Dejé palomas tristes junto a un río,
caballos sobre el sol de las arenas,
dejé de oler la mar, dejé de verte.
Dejé por ti todo lo que era mío.
Dame tú, Roma, a cambio de mis penas,
tanto como dejé para tenerte.
The dove was wrong.
The dove was mistaken.
To travel north she flew south,
Believing the wheat was water.
Believing the sea was sky,
That the night was dawn.
That the stars were dew,
That the heat was snowfall.
Your skirt your blouse,
Your heart her home.
(She fell asleep on the shore,
You at the tip of a branch.)
SE EQUIVOCÓ LA PALOMA
Se equivocó la paloma.
Por ir al norte, fue al sur.
Creyó que el trigo era agua.
Creyó que el mar era el cielo;
que la noche, la mañana.
Que las estrellas, rocío;
que la calor; la nevada.
Que tu falda era tu blusa;
que tu corazón, su casa.
(Ella se durmió en la orilla.
Tú, en la cumbre de una rama.)
PEÑARANDA DE DUERO
Why look so serious, dear road?
You have four grey mules,
A horse in front,
A carriage with green wheels,
And the road,
All to yourself,
What more do you need?
PEÑARANDA DE DUERO
¿Por qué me miras tan serio,
Tienes cuatro mulas tordas,
un caballo delantero,
un carro de ruedas verdes,
y la carretera toda
¿Qué más quieres?
Today’s poems were translated by A. S. Kline © 2012 and appear here for non-commercial purposes with permission from the translator.
Rafael Alberti Merello (1902–1999) was a Spanish poet. A member of the Generation of ’27, he is considered one of the greatest literary figures of the Silver Age of Spanish Literature. After the Spanish Civil War, he went into exile because of his Marxist beliefs. On his return to Spain after the death of Franco, he was named Hijo Predilecto de Andalucía in 1983 and Doctor Honoris Causa by the Universidad de Cádiz in 1985. (Annotated bio courtesy of Wikipedia, with edits.)
Editor’s Note: It is easy to read the poetry of Rafael Alberti and see that he and Lorca were cohorts. Beyond and through their shared love of poetry and theater, both men were political activists in the Spanish Civil War. When Lorca lost his life for his words, Alberti and his family went into exile. “I left a tremor, a shock / A brilliance of un-extinguished fire, / I left my shadow on the desperate / Blood-stained eyes of farewell.” Like Lorca, Rafael Alberti blends the surreal with the natural world until what is simple becomes what is devastatingly profound (“Peñaranda de Duero”) and the natural order of things is turned on its head (“The Dove”).
Want to read more by and about Rafael Alberti?
Poetry in Translation: Twenty Poems by Rafael Alberti Translated by A.S. Kline
Spain is Culture
NY Times In Memoriam