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Poetry

For Antonio Gamoneda

By Juan Antonio Masoliver Ródenas
Translated from Spanish by Samantha Schnee
Maestro, I said, tell me, / reveal to me the secret of poetry.

I wanted to write like Antonio
Gamoneda, so I went to León
and, after visiting the cathedral
to ask God to forget me,
I arrived at the poet’s house.
Maestro, I said, tell me,
reveal to me the secret of poetry.
I’m no maestro, just a dealer
of useless things.  And among these things
poetry is like a frigid
goddess proffering her gifs.
Can you imagine? If you want to write
like I do, write
and erase and write again.
Write like yourself, if you can,
or go to the melon patch and steal one
and go home to savor
the sweet lament of melons.
Writing comes before
not writing.  Therein lies the secret
that has nourished poetry both great
and small and otherwise.  And here
in León there is a cathedral
and a few bars where God
is always, while I write
here, whether or not I’m alone,
I don’t know, whether or not I’m alone.

English Spanish

I wanted to write like Antonio
Gamoneda, so I went to León
and, after visiting the cathedral
to ask God to forget me,
I arrived at the poet’s house.
Maestro, I said, tell me,
reveal to me the secret of poetry.
I’m no maestro, just a dealer
of useless things.  And among these things
poetry is like a frigid
goddess proffering her gifs.
Can you imagine? If you want to write
like I do, write
and erase and write again.
Write like yourself, if you can,
or go to the melon patch and steal one
and go home to savor
the sweet lament of melons.
Writing comes before
not writing.  Therein lies the secret
that has nourished poetry both great
and small and otherwise.  And here
in León there is a cathedral
and a few bars where God
is always, while I write
here, whether or not I’m alone,
I don’t know, whether or not I’m alone.

a Antonio Gamoneda

Yo quería escribir como Antonio
Gamoneda, así que fui a León
y, tras visitar la Catedral
para pedirle a Dios que me olvidara,
llegué a la casa del poeta.
Maestro, le dije, dígame
o revéleme el secreto de la poesía.
Yo no soy maestro sino gestor
de bienes inútiles. Y entre estos bienes
está la poesía como una diosa
frígida ofreciendo sus dones.
¿Te imaginas? Si quieres escribir
como escribo yo, todo está escrito
y borrado y reescrito por mí.
Escribe como tú, si eso es posible,
o vete al melonar y roba alguno
y regresa a tu casa y saborea
el dulce lamentar de los melones.
Escribir es un gesto previo
al no escribir. He aquí el secreto
que ha alimentado a la gran poesía,
a la pequeña y a la otra. Y aquí
en León hay una catedral
y algunos bares donde siempre
está Dios, mientras yo escribo
aquí, no sé si solo,
no sé, no sé si solo.

© Antonio Masoliver. All rights reserved.

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