Julio Herrera y Reissig: In the Evening

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Julio Herrera y Reissig (standing, far left) at a family gathering on an estate outside Montevideo, Uruguay, on November 17, 1901. 

Here is my translation of a poem entitled ‘La velada’ by Julio Herrera y Reissig (1875-1910). It first appeared in the literary journal ‘El Diario Español’, Buenos Aires, on April 2, 1905. In Spanish a ‘velada’ is an evening gathering or soirée, in this case the time a family spends together after the evening meal.

In the Evening

Dinner has ended: vegetables, brown bread
And grapes still lustrous with virginal dew…
They’re praying now. The moon snows serene whiteness
And the lake withdraws with a milky chill.

Uncle has finished an entertaining tale
And the group breaks up with goatish pleasure…
While off in the distance, in kindly silence,
The emaciated fields grow gray with cold.

Lux sings. Lidé runs about. Palemón jumps high in the air.
Everyone laughs…Grandmother demands quiet,
Anfión the dog, by the blind old man,

Inclines guide-dog eyes, familiar and frank…
And their white hearts beat in unison now
To the sound of chestnuts leaping in the fire.

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