The Theater of the Lowly


José Cuneo Perinetti (1887-1977). ‘Rancho y Luna II’. Oil on canvas on board, 57 x 38.5 inches. Private collection.

This sonnet by the Uruguayan Julio Herrera y Reissig first appeared in ‘El Diario Español’ in Buenos Aires on May 12, 1907 as one of the poems of the series entitled ‘Extasis’ (‘Ecstasy’). The author’s original Spanish follows my English translation here. 

The Theater of the Lowly

A guileless page from the Bible is the landscape…
Evening on the mountain in dying reclines,
And the sun threads a last flash, like a fine needle,
Through the ghostly lacy look-outs of the towers.

A vapor of infinite wild throatiness,
Of abstruse dissonance, ascends on the sly…
Night smiles sweetly before the village
Like a fine death with dawn-white conscience.

Over the great green-blue and olive-colored land
The sheep-folds curdle in vague nebulous waves;
A hundred exuberant stars have opened one by one.

A cricket scrapes the silence perfumed with roses…
The mill in the distance, embracing the moon,
Breathes olden days of romance into things. 


El teatro de los humildes

Es una ingénua pagina de la Biblia el paisaje…
La tarde en la montaña, moribunda se inclina,
Y el sol postrer un lampo, como una aguja fina,
Pasa por los quiméricos miradores de encaje.

Un vaho de infinita guturacion salvaje,
De abstrusa disonancia, remonta a la sordina…
La noche dulcemente sonrie ante el villaje
Como una buena muerte a una consciencia albina.

Sobre la gran campaña verde azul y aceituna
Se cuajan los apriscos en vagas nebulosas;
Cien estrellas lozanas han abierto una a una;

Rasca un grillo el silencio perfumado de rosas…
El molino en el fondo, abrazando la luna,
Inspira de romantico viejo tiempo las cosas. 


2 comments on “The Theater of the Lowly

  1. Leif, I haven’t been able to read all your posts, they look so intriguing, and one that caught my eye was about one of the “group of seven” Tom Thomson, there is a book about him, his work…. by David Sikox and Harold Town called “The Silence and the Storm”

    • leifhendrik says:

      Jane, thanks for visiting my blog and for the book tip. I’ll investigate it! I really did have a very enthusiastic reaction to Tom Thomson and the other Canadian landscape painters of his era. Their work is quite astonishing. Their lives must have been too.

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