Let’s come to an agreement, poem.
I’ll stop forcing you to say what you don’t mean
and you won’t resist my desires.
We’ve wrestled a lot, you and I.
Why insist on creating yourself in my image
when you know things I’m ignorant of?
Free yourself from me
Run away and don’t look back.
Save yourself before it’s too late.
See, you always outdo me,
you know how to say what inspires you
and I don’t,
because you’re more than yourself,
and I’m just trying to recognise myself in you.
I have manifold desires
and you have none,
you just press on regardless
not looking at the hand that you move
and which thinks it owns you when it feels you spring forth
like matter new-created.
Impose your direction on the one doing the writing, all he
knows is how to hide,
to conceal novelty, to become less.
His lot is tired

push me aside.

"Las Paces," ©Rafael Cadenas. Translation © 2014 by Lucy Greaves. All rights reserved.

LLEGUEMOS a un acuerdo, poema.
Ya no te forzaré a decir lo que no quieres
ni tú te resistirás tanto a lo que deseo.
Hemos forcejeado mucho.
¿Para qué este empeño en hacerte a mi imagen
cuando sabes cosas que no sospecho?
Líbrate de mí.
Huye sin mirar atrás.
Sálvate antes de que sea tarde.
Pues siempre me rebasas,
sabes decir lo que te impulsa
y yo no,
porque eres más que tú mismo,
y yo sólo soy el que trata de reconocerse en ti.
Tengo la extensión de mi deseo
y tú no tienes ninguno,
sólo avanzas hacia donde te diriges
sin mirar la mano que mueves
y cree poseerte cuando te siente brotar de ella
como una sustancia que se erige.
Imponle tu curso al que escribe, él
sólo sabe ocultarse,
cubrir la novedad, empobrecerse.
Lo que muestra es una reiteración

apártame de ti.

Rafael CadenasRafael Cadenas

Rafael Cadenas (Barquisimeto, 1930) is Venezuela’s most renowned and celebrated living poet. Whether in the prose poems of the 1960s or his more condensed, at times aphoristic later production, Cadenas’ poetry always avoids grandiloquence and pathos. Poetry is here refined to its purest manifestation, and offers a unique approach to the human soul in all its glory and dejection. Cadenas is also the author of essays on various subjects, ranging from the uses and abuses of the Spanish language in Venezuela to the mysticism of St. John of the Cross. He has translated to Spanish the poetry of D. H. Lawrence and Walt Whitman. Cadenas’s poems have been published in anthologies in Venezuela, Spain, and France, and Fondo de Cultura Económica of Mexico has collected his poetry and prose in Obra entera. Poesía y prosa 1958-1998 (2000, 2009). Cadenas has been awarded the National Prize for Literature and the National Prize for Essay in his country. In 2009 he was awarded the FIL Guadalajara Award. He lives in Caracas.

Translated from SpanishSpanish by Lucy GreavesLucy Greaves

Lucy Greaves translates from Spanish, Portuguese, and French. She won the 2013 Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize and in 2014 was Translator in Residence at the Free Word Centre in London. Her work has appeared in Granta and The White Review, among other publications, and her translation of María Angélica Bosco’s Death Going Down will be published by Pushkin Press in late 2016. She lives in Bristol, UK.