A. Scott Britton

Four Translations from the Spanish

Translator's Note
Vicente Huidobro (1893 - 1948), a Chilean writer, was the founder of the avant-garde Creacionismo movement. Huidobro’s most significant book, and the vehicle for Creacionismo’s grand debut, was a collection of typographically innovative poems published in 1918, titled Poemas árticos (Arctic Poems). Two of the poems appearing here, ‘Time,’ and ‘the Moon,’ are taken from that book.

Gerardo Diego (1896 - 1987), a Spanish poet, was highly impressed by Huidobro’s Creacionismo theories. Diego appreciated the challenges posed by Creacionismo, and incorporated many of its tenets in the creation of Spain’s radical Ultraismo movement. The fourth poem here, ‘Zortziko,’ comes from Diego’s famous Ultraismo/Creacionismo book from 1922, Imagen.

Vicente Huidobro

(or, a manifesto in verse for
the Creacionismo movement)

Let poetry be like a key
that unlocks a thousand doors.
A falling leaf, a bird in flight—
concept should become reality,
and the reader will be shaken.

Create new worlds, but mind your words;
the adjective, when not giving life, can take it.

Nerve, now, is in control
and muscle on display,
an exhibit of the past;
but we are none the weaker—
true strength
lies within the mind.

Poets! Why simply praise the rose
when you can actually make it bloom?

Everything under the Sun exists
for us.

The poet is a little God.


Nothing little town
Train stopped on the plains

Mute stars sleep
                                 in every puddle
Water trembling
Sheets in the wind

                                      Night hangs in the grove

Stars bleed from

A thriving drip
                                 along a vine-riddled bell tower

                A ripe moment
                                                plummets toward life

the MOON

Life had become so distant
That a breeze could make us sigh


We set out aimlessly
Winter fell before us
And obscured our path with
Generations of dry leaves

                            We’ve smoked so much beneath the canopy
                            That the almond trees now smell of smoke


And the moon has lost the hours

Gerardo Diego


A palsied old mazurka
withered and toothless
told me

The path
is shaded by candles

                                              And a village woman
                                           hefts fruit in her umbrella

                                   In the town’s square
                                      I saw the zortziko
it was a five-cornered sheet

A. Scott Britton is a poet, translator, and linguistic researcher living in Washington, DC. His work has been focused primarily on experimental literature (especially its translation) and the preservation and cataloging of the world’s “less-appreciated” languages and their literature. His most recent book, a guide to the language and culture of Spain’s Catalonia, is forthcoming from New York reference publisher, Hippocrene Books.

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