Herrera y Reissig: The Angelus

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José Cuneo. ‘Suburbios de Florida’. Oil on Canvas, 1931.

Here is my English translation of a sonnet by the Uruguayan Julio Herrera y Reissig. The Spanish original first appeared in the journal El Diario Español in Buenos Aires on December 16, 1906.

 

The Angelus

The trembling earth scatters, opens and steams
Like torn flesh beneath the fertile slashing;
The curved plough quivers to the oxen’s beat,
And the bosom of the land bursts forth into life.

More arduous and lengthy than ever the trial…
The woman who zealously prepares the meal
Comes distracted in solicitous mode, imparting
To the child the sweet tepid liquor which cools.

Suddenly to the bell the whole valley responds:
The mother on her knees hides her chaste breast;
The laborer pauses, bares his head, and his gaze

Burns in prayer of entreaty for pious counsels…
The oxen turn toward the bell tower. In the distance
The clamor of the river brings life to the evening. 

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