Translated by Paz

A conversation with Roger Moore reminded me of the poetry of Octavio Paz. (Is it a coincidence the name translates to Peace?) He was considered by some to be a surrealist poet. This morning, I read “Entre ir y quedarse,” translated either as “Between going and coming” or “Between going and staying.” It expressed perfectly my wish to live in two places as well as my discomfort with this time between seasons and the concept of “liminality.” I decided to try my own version. Below it is the original with a link to an analysis using a different translation.

Entre irse y quedarse, Octavio Paz
Translation by Denise DeVries

The day hesitates, receding and abiding,
enraptured with translucence.

Spiraling dusk becomes a tide
lulling the world with its to and fro.

Everything is visible, fully evanescent,
within reach and unreachable.

Los papeles, el libro, el vaso, el lápiz
rest in shadows of translated names.

Time ticks in my temple, resounds
in blood’s insistent monotone.

On indifferent walls in different light
rebounds a spectral spectacle.

I find myself in the lens of an eye,
its unseeing gaze reflecting me.

The instant dissipates. Becalmed,
I stay and I go: I am a pause.


Entre irse y quedarse, Octavio Paz

Entre irse y quedarse duda el día,
enamorado de su transparencia.

La tarde circular es ya bahía:
en su quieto vaivén se mece el mundo.

Todo es visible y todo es elusivo,
todo está cerca y todo es intocable.

Los papeles, el libro, el vaso, el lápiz
reposan a la sombra de sus nombres.

Latir del tiempo que en mi sien repite
la misma terca sílaba de sangre.

La luz hace del muro indiferente
un espectral teatro de reflejos.

En el centro de un ojo me descubro;
no me mira, me miro en su mirada.

Se disipa el instante. Sin moverme,
yo me quedo y me voy: soy una pausa.

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