On the spot where I write all this hodgepodge of verses
stands Edward Hopper, in fact, who engenders them
and who, neatly transcending space-time, sends me
His self-portrait is,
as would delight the fantasist Borges,
a mirror that reproduces not so much
the painter’s face as the static reflection
of my image. Make no bones about it:
Hopper and I form a single person.
His pose, untroubled and serious,
the curves of the face, the surfeit of enchantment
that shaped his eyes without a doubt
are my concerns. If Goethe was reincarnated in Kafka,
Hopper in a transmigration most apt
pulled it off in me and thus, assuming
a poet’s body, he will succeed
in extending his artistic legacy in time
(in the end, only the word remains,
The man in the picture no longer is
that painter thin as a sliver of onion
who came to Europe young to break the ice,
but the married painter, his life settled,
who will exhibit his personal world profusely
reflecting cities, landscapes, women.
(“I’m just trying to paint myself,” he said.)
You’re off the track to see representations
of North America where what really stirs
is the agitation of human solitude,
where we intuit the fears, obsessions, anxieties,
dilemmas or states of mind of the artist
and Jo appears, the omnipresent wife.
Like the framed painting, the scads
of windows and doors are mirrors too.
“I’m just trying to paint myself.”
Don’t poets express their own thoughts?
With all and sundry condemned to be a single thing,
he and I were fused in a living creature:
his anxieties and states of mind are mine
and mine, in the same breath, belong to everybody
in the light of the same moon all over the world.
Translation of “Self-Portrait, 1929-1930.” First published in Edward Hopper (Barcelona:Viena Editions, 2006). Copyright Ernest Farrés. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2007 by Lawrence Venuti. All rights reserved.