First, Eve’s contribution to the general enterprise of warblogging:
TWO WAR LINKS. How to pray the rosary. How to go to Confession. “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” —Matt. 25:13Second, she reproduces Christopher Smart’s “My Cat Jeoffry”, by way of encouraging readers to buy a particular children’s poetry anthology she’s high on. A sample thereof:
For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.This pleases me. It’s a night in need of civilization.
For he is the servant of the Living God, duly and daily serving him. …
For having considered God and himself he will consider his neighbor.
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
For when his day’s work is done his business more properly begins.
For he keeps the Lord’s watch in the night against the adversary.
For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.For he purrs in thankfulness when God tells him he’s a good Cat.
Earlier this evening I was in search of a poem by Garcia Lorca. This is one of the best things about the web, that you can find partly-remembered songs and poems that have haunted you for years. I’ve been gradually working through my backlog.This time it was a poem from my junior high school Spanish textbook, something about a horse and rider travelling toward Cordoba: unforgettable, but alas, not fully remembered. I fed “poem Spanish Cordoba” into Google, and like a good reference librarian it informed me that what I wanted was “Canción del Jinete” (“The Rider’s Song”) by Garcia Lorca:
Canción del JineteI can understand the Spanish far better than I could when I first encountered it, but I still fall short, so I went looking for the translation I remembered. I didn’t find it. I found a bunch of others, though.
Lejana y sola.
Jaca negra, luna grande,
y aceitunas en mi alforja.
Aunque sepa los caminos
yo nunca llegaré a Córdoba.
Por el llano, por el viento,
jaca negra, luna roja.
La muerte me está mirando
desde las torres de Córdoba.
Ay qué camino tan largo!Córdoba.
Ay mi jaca valerosa!
Ay que la muerte me espera,
antes de llegar a Córdoba!
Lejana y sola.
It turns out that, as one site put it, “Canción del Jinete” has enchanted and humbled translators into every language. It’s a beautifully clear and simple little poem, and it’s impossible to get it exactly right in any other language.
It’s not the same effect if your language doesn’t use a single word to express both “to wait” and “to hope”, as Spanish does. In some places you have to pick one meaning and lose another; Aunque sepa los caminos doesn’t specify whether it’s the rider or the horse that knows the way. And La muerte me está mirando, a plain clear construction in Spanish, can be taken to mean that Death is looking for me, looking at me, watching me, watching out for me, and asst’d other interpretations; so this being poetry it means all those things not otherwise ruled out by the rest of the poem.Herewish, my best reconstruction of the translation I read in that long-ago Spanish textbook. How much it owes to the mutations of memory, or to the other translations I’ve subsequently read, I can’t begin to say:
The Rider’s SongOne of the sites where I found a translation of “Canción del Jinete” struck me to the heart. There’s no getting away from the troubles of the moment. Barry Tobin is a litterateur of various sorts, a retired librarian born in Ireland but now living in Cardiff in Wales. On his home page, a large block of boldfaced type says:
Black my pony, full the moon,
and olives in my saddlebags.
I know this road and yet I know
I shall not get to Cordoba.
Through the plains and through the wind,
Black my pony, red the moon.
Death is looking out at me
from the towers of Cordoba.
O, the road is long!Cordoba.
O, my pony brave!
O, that death waits for me,
before I get to Cordoba!
But then, after that, he’s added:
I wish to express deep sympathy with all those affected by the terrible events of Tuesday 11 September 2001, especially the families and friends of the victims.
I also wish to express my unreserved admiration for the members of the New York fire and police departments—and other emergency services—who lost their lives with such amazing courage and uncalculating selflessness. Who can forget how they climbed up the stairs of the doomed Twin Towers past the office staff as they made their way down to safety.
We can and must be critical of many aspects of United States policy in today’s divided world. However, the unimaginable heroism of that day in New York was, is and will continue to be of another order where debate falls silent, where only praise is heard and where the only feelings are those of wonder and compassion.
Ar dheis Deó go raibh a n-anamacha dedlse.
Heddwch i’w llwch.May they rest in peace.
My god, this is terrible. I wrote him a letter, which I reproduce here because I can’t get it to send to the e-mail address on his page:
The launch of a war against Iraq in the face of worldwide opposition marks the opening of a new and sadder phase in the history of the relations between the USA and the rest of us. Many people of my generation recall the years when the USA was the welcome and admired leader of the free world but feel deeply disappointed, even alarmed, as an erstwhile role model turns into a domineering, hectoring and selfish one man band. The USA no longer considers itself bound by any international laws, treaties, usages or customs and sees itself as being solely concerned with looking after its own interests leaving the rest of us to flounder in a leaderless world. It has become another example of the old story of “Every man for himself and God for us all”
as the elephant said when it danced among the chickens.
How do you do, Barry Tobin? I found your page because I was looking for translations of the Cancif3n del Jinete. I like yours, and your brief remarks on Garcia Lorca.And so good night to you all, and sleep well.
Thank you for your kind words about 9/11. I live in New York City. Would you believe me if I told you that almost all the people I know here are deeply unhappy about the attack on Iraq? It feels like a bereavement; like our flags should be flying at half-mast. We know it wasn’t Iraq that attacked us, and that that idiot fratboy and his advisors don’t care.
(He stiffed the FDNY, you know, after getting all those great photo ops standing next to them. He made lavish promises of help while the cameras were running; but last I heard, they hadn’t even gotten enough to replace the equipment that was destroyed on the day.)
These days I’m taking courage from small things: That our military (which isn’t stupid) have gone into Iraq with a sober attitude and no flags flying. That the State of New Mexico’s legislature passed a resolution abrogating the so-called Patriot Act, instructing its state police to neither use nor enforce the act’s provisions, nor cooperate with federal officers who seem likely to do so. That there were candlelight anti-war vigils in the towns of Logan and Kanab in Utah, which in the past I would have reckoned as likely as pigs taking wing.
Where these loud hectoring near-fascists are coming from is a mystery. They claim they represent the majority, but the people I know don’t believe that. We’d know more of them personally if they were anything close to a majority. Their true aims and beliefs are likewise a mystery. I suppose we’ll all find out, sooner or later.
Anyway, I just wanted to say that America is still here, and we’re appalled.
Cheers —Teresa Nielsen Hayden