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The City of the Sun

Charged as fabulists and cast out of the city,
we wander back and forth, sleeping now in caves,
now in the open, feeding on herbs and roots,
and when we’re lucky enough, honeycomb.
Our women and children have come with us,
and when we gather around the evening fire
they turn, one after the other, to look at the city:
after all, we lived part of our lives there.
But reason insisted. How could they
stand for it, our calling the stones rivers? The trees stars?
How could they suffer us to name the bird magnolia?
Reason insisted. And now, from here,
we look sadly at the vast bronze gates,
at the tallest towers yet gilding in the sun;
and as the caravans come and go,
the merchants describe gold tables and cups,
altars magnificent with offerings,
and how, in every room, were stockpiled the missiles
that in the coming millennium, they say, will set the sky on fire.
Reason insisted. And now, primitive tribe,
we wander back and forth babbling our dialect,
our language of the lost city that nobody
understands. How could they
stand for it, our calling fire fish, water dove?
How could they suffer us to name the rose destiny,
those, who continue to believe that acorns are acorns?  


Translation of “La ciudad del sol.” Copyright the estate of Horacio Castillo. Translation copyright 2011 by Samuel Gray. All rights reserved.