Saturday, 30 April 2016

Jorge Guillén: The Horses

Shaggy and heavily natural, they stand
Immobile under their thick and cumbrous manes,
Pent in a barbed enclosure which contains,
By way of compensation, grazing-land.

Nothing disturbs them now. In slow increase
They fatten like the grass. Doomed to be idle,
To haul no cart or wagon, wear no bridle,
They grow into a vegetable peace.

Soul is the issue of so strict a fate.
They harbor visions in their waking eyes,
And with their quiet ears participate
In heaven’s pure serenity, which lies
So near all things—yet from the beasts concealed.
Serene now, superhuman, they crop their field.

Tr. Richard Wilbur. Guillén stressed a sense of good which might lead to simple joy, but also carried a parallel sense of imperfection and chaos. In other words, the most basic driver and contradiction of poetry. “The Horses” comes from the human envy of the anthropomophized animal, content to graze.