Manuel José Othón (1858-1906): Mexican Landscape: from ‘Savage Idyll’

Translated by Timothy Adès

Paisaje: from ‘Idilio Selvaje’

Mira el paisaje: inmensidad abajo,
inmensidad, inmensidad arriba;
en el hondo perfil, la sierra altiva
al pie minada por horrendo tajo.

Bloques gigantes que arrancó de cuajo
el terremoto, de la roca viva;
y en aquella sabana pensativa
y adusta, ni una senda ni un atajo.

asoladora atmósfera candente
de se incrustan las águilas serenas
como clavos que se hunden lentamente.

Silencio, lobreguez pavor tremendos
que viene sólo a interrumpir apenas
el balope triunfal de los berrendos.

Look at the landscape: vastness down below,
vastness on vastness in the sky. Between,
sapped at their footing by the wild ravine,
the high sierras rise, a distant show.

Look, where the grim half-burnt savannah broods:
gigantic block upon gigantic block,
torn by the earthquake from the living rock.
Never a track and never a path intrudes.

A desolate and burning atmosphere,
studded with eagles, high, ethereal,
like nails on which unhurried hammers fall.

Tremendous darkness, and tremendous fear
and silence, interrupted if at all
by the triumphal gallop of the deer.

Published in Agenda: Ekphrastic, online supplement 2019 and in Poetry Atlas

Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

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