Charon: I’ll be a scandal in your bark.
Those other souls may pray, lament or cry
beneath your evil patriarchal eye,
while timid spirits murmur in the dark.

Not I. I’ll be the lark that flits and sings.
I’ll flaunt my savage musk, and I will beam
my bright blue lantern on the bleak black stream,
sailing above the crossing on my wings.

You may not like it; and although you glare
at me with baleful eyes, I just don’t care.
Charon, in your boat I’ll be a scandal.

Then, when I’m cold and weak and fight no more,
your arms will drop me on the other shore —
vanquished — like the captive of a Vandal.

(original, “Rebelde”, in Las lenguas de diamante, 1918, Juana de Ibarbourou)


Death Sonnet (I)

Men placed your body in an icy niche, but I
will lower it to the humble, sunny earth.
They did not understand that, when I die,
we two must share one pillow, dream in death.

I’ll lay you gently in the soft warm ground,
as a mother puts her sleeping son to bed,
the soil so soft upon your every wound,
a cradle for a child, though he be dead.

Then I will sprinkle rose dust with the loam,
and underneath the moon’s blue-tinted glow,
your slight remains shall stay. In joyous tones

I’ll sing my sweet revenge as I turn home,
because no other woman’s hand shall claw
so deep to claim from me your meager bones!

(Gabriela Mistral, from Los sonetos de la muerte, 1914)


One thought on “Catherine Chandler

  1. Both poems are intensely moving. I have no way of knowing how close these are to the originals but Catherine’s translations are beautiful and profound.
    They are music in themselves.

    Thank you!

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