Friday, 15 April 2016
Pedro Salinas: What Birds?
Is there only one bird in the world
flying with a thousand wings, singing
in innumerable trillings, always alone?
Are land and sky mirrors? Is air
a mirror of air, and does the great unique
its solitude in myriad appearances?
(Is that why
we call it birds?)
Or maybe there isn't one bird?
And are they
fatal plural immense, like the sea,
a numberless band, a surge of wings,
where one seeks a vision and the soul wants
to separate the truth of one lone bird
from its unending essence, from the one
Tr. Willis Barnstone. Salinas (1892-1951) is known as one of modern Spain's great love poets and as a poet fascinated by the absolute. He mastered that direct register which somehow seems more attainable in Spanish than in English.