Serene, Salinas, grows the air
and decks itself in beauty
and unaccustomed light
when consummate music sounds
steered by your knowing hand.

     Tr. Michael Smith
     Fray Luis de León, “To Francisco Salinas”

The music without sound,
The solitude that clamors
The supper that revives us and enamors.  

     Tr. Roy Campbell
     San Juan de la Cruz, “Spiritual Song”
Blackbird, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

     The Beatles, “Blackbird”

I didn’t see a single blackbird
that night
of Greek drunkenness
in a Berlin tavern
where you, Armando
Romero, and I drank
our fill
to speak insatiably
on this long path
of nights
that leads to friendship.
I didn’t see a single blackbird,
rather, in the reflection
of the alcohol, an ivory
hand which beckoned me.
And I didn’t see Nefertiti, instead
like on that bridge in Florence
the unforgotten waters of the Arno,
I saw Sònia in a transparent dress
and Armando awakening me
among blackbirds
you invented, like
those drunken nights
of eternal friendship
and lost loves
between sobs which she ignores
and which tomorrow, perhaps by dawn,
she’ll have forgotten,
in the glorious hangover
of song of the blackbirds and Eugenio

                El aire se serena
                y viste de hermosura y luz no usada,
                Salinas, cuando suena
                la música extremada
                por vuestra sabia mano gobernada.
                    Fray Luis de León, “A Francisco Salinas”.

                La música callada,
                la soledad sonora,
                la cena que recrea y enamora.
                   San Juan de la Cruz, “Canto espiritual”

                Blackbird, blackbird fly
                Into the light of the dark black night.
                   The Beatles, “Blackbird”

Yo no vi ningún mirlo
aquella noche
de ebriedad griega
en una taberna de Berlín
donde tú, Armando
Romero y yo bebimos
hasta la saciedad
para hablar insaciablemente
en este largo recorrido
de las noches
que llevan a la amistad.
Yo no vi ningún mirlo
sino, en el espejismo
del alcohol, una mano
de marfil que me llamaba.
Y no vi a Nefertiti sino,
como en el puente de Florencia,
aguas del Arno siempre recordadas,
a Sònia con un traje transparente
y a Armando despertándome
entre mirlos
inventados por ti, como se inventan
las noches de ebriedad
y de amistad eterna
y de amores perdidos
entre sollozos que ella ignora
y que mañana, ya no sé si al alba,
habré olvidado ya,
en la gloriosa resaca
de música de mirlos y de Eugenio

© Antonio Masoliver. All rights reserved.

Juan Antonio Masoliver RódenasJuan Antonio Masoliver Ródenas

Juan Antonio Masoliver Ródenas (Barcelona, Spain, 1939) was professor of Spanish and Latin American literature at the University of Westminster in London and currently teaches in the Masters of Creative Writing program at the University Pompeu Fabra. He lives in El Masnou (Barcelona). He is a literary critic for the Cultura/s supplement of La Vanguardia in Barcelona. In Mexico he is or has been contributor to Vuelta, La Jornada Semanal, Letras Libres, Fractal and Crítica, among others. A wide range of his articles and essays on Spanish and Mexican literature were collected in Voces contemporáneas (Contemporary Voices, 2004) and Las libertades enlazadas (Interlaced Freedoms, 2000), respectively. As an author he has published the story collections La sombra del triángulo (The Shadow of the Triangle, 1996), La noche de la conspiración de la pólvora (The Night of the Gunpowder Plot, 2006) and most recently La calle Fontanills (Fontanills Street, 2010), as well as the novels Retiro lo escrito (I Withdraw the Printed Word, 1988), Beatriz Miami (Beatriz Miami, 1991) and La puerta del inglés (The Englishman’s Door, 2001). He has translated Cesare Pavese, Giorgio Saviane, Carson McCullers, Djuna  Barnes, and Vladimir Nabokov, among others.  His poetic works are collected in Poesía reunida (Collected Poems, 1999). Subsequently he published La memoria sin tregua (Relentless Memory, 2002), Sònia (Sonia, 2008) and a book of poems in Catalan, El laberint del cos (The Laberinth of the Body, 2008).

Translated from SpanishSpanish by Samantha SchneeSamantha Schnee

Samantha Schnee is a founding editor of Words without Borders. She is the former senior editor of Zoetrope: All-Story, a literary journal founded by Francis Ford Coppola that won the 2001 National Magazine Award for fiction. She translates from the Spanish.