Friday, January 30, 2015

Poem for the Weekend: Rafael Alberti


I've been thinking about ancestry and roots, and how we get to the places we find ourselves. Rafael Alberti had Italian and Irish ancestry but his home was Spain. He was a painter, a playwright, and a one-time Communist, but he is best known as one of the major Spanish poets of the 20th century. Here is a poem he wrote, translated, and then in its original, beautiful language. Look here for more biographical information.

by Rafael Alberti (1902-1999)
For you I left my woods, my lost
Grove, my sleepless dogs,
My important years, those banished
Almost to my life’s winter.
I left a tremor, a shock
A brilliance of un-extinguished fire,
I left my shadow on the desperate
Blood-stained eyes of farewell.
I left sad doves beside a river,
Horses in the sand of the arena,
I left the scent of the sea, I left to see you.
For you, I left everything that was mine.
Give me, Rome, in exchange for my pains,
All I have left in order to attain you.
Dejé por ti mis bosques, mi perdida
arboleda, mis perros desvelados,
mis capitales años desterrados
hasta casi el invierno de la vida.

Dejé un temblor, dejé una sacudida,
un resplandor de fuegos no apagados,
dejé mi sombra en los desesperados
ojos sangrantes de la despedida.

Dejé palomas tristes junto a un río,
caballos sobre el sol de las arenas,
dejé de oler la mar, dejé de verte.

Dejé por ti todo lo que era mío.
Dame tú, Roma, a cambio de mis penas,
tanto como dejé para tenerte.


  1. Thanks for sharing this poem and the bio of R Alberti. Poignant. The poem flows better with the lower case beginnings of lines in the Spanish version. Not that I know Spanish, only a little. I love the sound of the language.


"As soon as we express something, we devalue it strangely. We believe ourselves to have dived down into the depths of the abyss, and when we once again reach the surface, the drops of water on our pale fingertips no longer resemble the ocean from which they came...Nevertheless, the treasure shimmers in the darkness unchanged." ---Franz Kafka