To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rafael Alberti (1902-1999): Buster Keaton Searches the Woods for his Sweetheart a Genu-ine Cow

1, 2, 3 & 4.
These four footprints don’t match my shoes.
If these four footprints don’t match my shoes,
whose four footprints can these footprints be?
Can they be from a shark?
from an elephant babe? from a duck?
from a flea? from a quail?

(Pee, pee, pee.)

Where have you gone?
I don’t hear you, Georgina!
What will your papa’s moustachios think of me?


Art thou or aren’t thou?

Firtree, where are you?
Alder, where are you?
Pinetree, where are you?

(Did Georgina pass by here?)

(Pee, pee, pee, pee.)

She passed by at 1:00 eating grasses.
The crow caught her eye with a mignonette blossom.
The screech owl with a dead rat.

Pardon me, boys, but I can’t keep from bawling.
(Wah, wah, wah.)

Now you’re missing only one horn
for a doctor’s degree in a usefully surefire bike race
with a mailman’s cap as a prize.

(Scree, scree, scree, scree.)

Even the crickets take pity on me
& when I’m in pain the ticks will come with me.
Have a heart for me in this tux
out here looking for you bawling in between rain squawls
with a derby too & so tender
to display you from bush unto bush.



Are you a sweet little girl or are you a genu-ine cow?
My heart always told me that you were a genu-ine cow.
Your papa that you were a sweet little girl.
My heart that you were a genu-ine cow.
A sweet little girl.
A genu-ine cow.
A girl.
A cow.
A girl or a cow?
Or a girl and a cow?
I never knew nuttin.
Bye bye, Georgina.
(Biff bam!)

[Translation from Spanish by Jerome Rothenberg, first published here & dedicated to Heriberto Yépez, who originally showed me the experimental, almost Dadaist range of Alberti’s early poetry]

1 comment:

Rusty Kjarvik said...

I was drawn to Alberti after listening to Soledad Bravo and reading that the two recorded an album together.

A most enjoyable voice. What gets me is the range in which utterance is conveyed, as a painting of the idiosyncrasies of a speaking voice magnetized under the poetic vision of a strong literary mind!

Free Language!