Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books

martes, junio 28, 2011

A Haiku Pas De Deux

Octavio Paz (1914-1998)

What a collaboration. What a great pas de deux. First, we have a poem, actually a series of Haiku, by Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz, fashioned after the 17th Century master, Basho. Paz’s poem:

Basho An

El mundo cabe
en diecisiete silabas:
tu en esta choza.

Troncos y paja:
por las rendijas entran
Budas e insectos.

Hecho de aire
entre pinos y rocas
brota el poema.

vocales, consonantes:
casa del mundo.

Huesos de siglos,
penas ya penas montes:
aqui no pesan.

Esto que digo
son apenas tres lineas:
choza de silabas.

What a wonderful poem, and one that is girded with the 17-syllable rule. Making Haiku in English is a challenge, but in Spanish it’s harder because words have so many more syllables than in English, because of endings. But that’s not all. Here’s the collaborative part, a translation of the poem into English that faithfully retains both the 17-syllable structure and the meaning. Translation by Eliot Weinberger:

Basho An

The whole world fits in-
to seventeen syllables,
and you in this hut.

Straw thatch and tree trunks:
they come in through the crannies:
Buddhas and insects.

Made out of thin air,
between the pines and the rocks
the poem sprouts up.

An interweaving
of vowels and consonants:
the house of the world.

Centuries of bones,
mountains: sorrow turned into stone:
here they are weightless.

What I am saying
barely fills up the three lines:
hut of syllables.

When I find something this stunning, I feel compelled to post it. Please enjoy it thoroughly.

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