Every man would have
as Rilke wished
a personal death:


well deserved, like
love, private,
contained, a seed, the same
as childhood’s
secret desires.

Every man deserves
to have the idea
of another life
where he might finally

But there are condemned men

and this sentence
has stripped the satrap
of his chance
to force obedience
to a final command. He gained
not the pardon he would have claimed
in his arrogance
but entry, knowingly,
into darkness.

"La Oscuridad," Originally published in País. Fundación Bigott, Caracas 2007. ©Yolanda Pantin. Translation © 2014 by Katherine Silver. All rights reserved.

Todo hombre tendría,
como quiso Rilke,
una muerte propia:


merecida, como
el amor, privada,
dentro de sí,
contenida, una semilla, igual
a los secretos deseos
de la infancia.

Todo hombre merece
tener la idea
de otra vida
donde pueda finalmente

Pero hay condenados

y esta sentencia
le ha quitado al sátrapa
de hacer cumplir
una última orden. Obtuvo

no el perdón que hubiese pretendido
en su arrogancia,
sino entrar, sabiéndolo,
a la oscuridad.

Yolanda PantinYolanda Pantin

Yolanda Pantin (Caracas, 1954) is one of the most distinguished poets of her generation. Her poems introduced in Venezuelan poetry an undaunted woman’s voice devoid of rhetorical emphasis and pretentiousness, brimming with normal daily experiences, bent on courageously exploring previously uncharted territories of memory and desire. Her work has been partially translated to French, English, Portuguese, Italian, German, and Dutch. She has published ten books of poetry, collected in Poesía reunida 1981-2002 (Otero Ediciones, 2004). She is also the author of remarkable children’s books. Pantin was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2004. She lives in Caracas.

Translated from SpanishSpanish by Katherine SilverKatherine Silver

Katherine Silver is an award-winning translator of literature from Spanish and is the co-director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre (BILTC) in Alberta, Canada. Her most recent translations include works by Martín Adán, Daniel Sada, Horacio Castellanos Moya, César Aira, Rafael Bernal, Jorge Luis Borges, and Marcos Giralt Torrente.