Sunday Night Journal, May 6, 2018
Sunday Night Journal, May 13, 2018

52 Poems, Week 19: As One Listens to the Rain (Octavio Paz)


Listen to me as one listens to the rain,
not attentive, not distracted,
light footsteps, thin drizzle,
water that is air, air that is time,
the day is still leaving,
the night has yet to arrive,
figurations of mist
at the turn of the corner,
figurations of time
at the bend in this pause,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
without listening, hear what I say
with eyes open inward, asleep
with all five senses awake,
it's raining, light footsteps, a murmur of syllables,
air and water, words with no weight:
what we are and are,
the days and years, this moment,
weightless time and heavy sorrow,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
wet asphalt is shining,
steam rises and walks away,
night unfolds and looks at me,
you are you and your body of steam,
you and your face of night,
you and your hair, unhurried lightning,
you cross the street and enter my forehead,
footsteps of water across my eyes,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
the asphalt's shining, you cross the street,
it is the mist, wandering in the night,
it is the night, asleep in your bed,
it is the surge of waves in your breath,
your fingers of water dampen my forehead,
your fingers of flame burn my eyes,
your fingers of air open eyelids of time,
a spring of visions and resurrections,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
the years go by, the moments return,
do you hear the footsteps in the next room?
not here, not there: you hear them
in another time that is now,
listen to the footsteps of time,
inventor of places with no weight, nowhere,
listen to the rain running over the terrace,
the night is now more night in the grove,
lightning has nestled among the leaves,
a restless garden adrift--go in,
your shadow covers this page.

I have always thought that poetry was not very translatable. Reading this poem several times, the words flow very nicely for me. I suppose it is not the type of poetry where rhyme, meter, etc. is much of a concern. Everything I once knew about poetry was left back in college during the 80s so I only know what I like.

Octavio Paz is of interest to me because of the great novel by Roberto Bolano, The Savage Detectives in which he makes an appearance. I have therefore been interested enough to seek out some of his poetry to read in translation. I believe he only wrote in Spanish. Paz was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1990.

For some reason this one reminds me a little of Walt Whitman; it may just be me.

—Stu Moore lives on the Gulf Coast and suffers from existential angst.


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I'm very much of the view that poetry is untranslateable, but that doesn't mean that a poem can't be at least good in a language other than the one it was written in. This one does very well. I think these Latin poets who tend to go in for streams of slightly surrealistic images tend to travel better than some. This one also has a decent rhythm in English. I don't know what it's like in Spanish of course.

That's the text and recitation (with cheesy music unfortunately) in Spanish.

It's so peaceful. I really like it.

Week 19. Astounding.


Yeah, isn't it?

Here it is set to music, in English. About 30 seconds in I was smirking, but about 60 seconds in I was liking it.

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