El verso arrebatado / Cantórbery Cuevas

The Seized Verse

Christmas and the year’s end that have now concluded found me on the agro-sylvan-pastoral estate of a young environmentalist entrepreneur and his wife and two daughters, in the village of Mucurandá, an extension of the mountain range of the community of Chacantá in the southern towns of Mérida, in the pleasant company of family and friends. I’ll write about this productive effort in one of Venezuela’s most isolated and beautiful places at an opportune moment. Today I’ll open up 2008 with the transcription of a sonnet* by an offspring of mine who was there. Even though he doesn’t tend to publish, he authorized me to print it in this newspaper, a gesture I appreciate.

More than anything, it’s a literary curiosity, and that’s why I’m bringing it to light. Inspired after a verse by Borges that itself refers to a line from a sonnet by Francisco Quevedo, my grandson’s poetic divertimento goes like this:

When watching the dusk, Quevedo
– musing absorbed and distracted
I clamored after you, already departed –,
without observing it, glowing red orb,

unsuspecting you prefigure
a line you will never write,
more if an old man with truncated sight
is unwittingly stealing yours.

A twist of fate seizes from you
that verse you own nonetheless,
forged in silence and murmurs.

Four centuries after your contrite walks
through Castilla, the other has written:
That moon of scorn and scarlet.

* * * * *

For the intelligence of the reader interested in the origins of this bagatelle, the two cited sonnets are “Memoria inmortal de don Pedro Girón, Duque de Osuna, muerto en prisión” [Immortal Memory of Don Pedro Girón, Duke of Osuna, Dead in Prison], and “A un viejo poeta” [To An Old Poet], by Quevedo and Borges respectively. Both can be easily downloaded on the Internet.

Happy New Year.

* Translator’s note: The original Spanish version follows.

Cuando al anochecer miras, Quevedo
– musitando absorto y distraído
Salí tras ti clamando y ya eras ido –,
sin observarlo, el bermejo ruedo,

no sospechas que estás prefigurando
una línea que no escribirás nunca,
mas sí un anciano de mirada trunca
quien sin saberlo te la está robando.

Un giro del destino te arrebata
ese verso que sin embargo es tuyo,
forjado en el silencio y el murmullo.

Cuatro siglos después de tu contrito
caminar por Castilla, el otro ha escrito:
Esa luna de escarnio y de escarlata.

{ Cantórbery Cuevas, Tal Cual, 17 January 2008 }

No comments: