Julio Herrera y Reissig: Night

Image

Frederic Edwin Church. ‘El Rio de Luz’ (‘The River of Light’). Oil on canvas, 1877. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Here is my translation of another sonnet by the Uruguayan Julio Herrera y Reissig. The original first appeared on December 16, 1906, in the journal ‘El Diario Español’, Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Spanish text follows my own.

 

Night

Night on the mountain looks with the eyes
Of a shelterless hind at watch over her brood;
And, as if claiming a gift of prophetic speech,
The crude fields speak in inspired dream.

Three poplars in ecstasy edge the panorama
Like sharpened specters…A rooster raves,
Clock of midnight. The weighty moon extends
Things, which fill with mute charms.

Like the mountain’s pure conscience,
Unblurred by any shade, is the blue lake of sleep…
Even with gentle waters, which ripple as they breathe,

Albino, the mad shepherd, tries to kiss the moon.
A cradle-song quivers in the sleep-walking garden…
Howling at the devils are the convent dogs.

 

La noche

La noche en la montaña mira con ojos viudos
De cierva sin amparo que vela ante su cría;
Y como si asumieran un don de profecía,
En un sueño inspirado hablan los campos rudos.

Rayan el panorama, como espectros agudos,
Tres álamos en éxtasis…Un gallo desvaría,
Reloj de medianoche. La grave luna amplía
Las cosas, que se llenan de encantamientos mudos.

El lago azul de sueño, que ni una sombra empaña,
Es como la conciencia pura de la montaña…
A ras del agua tersa, que riza con su aliento,

Albino, el pastor loco, quiere besar la luna.
En la huerta sonámbula vibra un canto de cuna…
Aúllan a los diablos los perros del convento.

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