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The poet Delmira Agustini.

Delmira Agustini. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week’s showcase takes us to the streets of Uruguay, in South America, pursuing the work of one of Latin America‘s finest: Delmira Agustini.

One of the young modernists, Delmira was a daughter of immigrants and an unwavering pursuer of the creative: from the literary to the musical and even into the strokes of a painter’s brush. Yet her figure as a writer was as a coin–two-sided–reviewers and critics alike often noting a tendency toward powerful images of virginal and inspirational character, and yet at the same time, a powerful push toward potent, sexual imagery that hammered at the boundaries of the time’s society. At least, in regards to what was regarded as “proper” for women of the time.

Though she managed to craft several books of poetry over her short years, she would not live to see her final work published. She was killed in 1914–just 27 years old–at the hands of the husband she had left, who then turned the gun on himself.

Today, it is a pleasure to present one of her many works in both its English translation and original Spanish formats.

~Chris Galford

In the Light of the Moon (The Translation)

The moon is pallid and sad, the moon is bloodless and cold.
I imagine the half-moon as a profile of the dead…
And beyond the renowned and praised pallor
Of Arab pearls, I prefer the rose in recent bud.

In a corner of this land with the colors of earth,
I adore this pale moon, I adore this death mask!
And at the altar of the night, like a flower inflamed,
Inebriated by strange perfumes, my soul resigns.

I know of lips withered with blasphemy and wine;
After an orgy they kiss her trace in the lane.
Insane ones who die kissing her image in lakes…
Because she is light of innocence, because white things
Illuminate her mysterious light, things taking on white,
And even the blackest souls become uncertainly bright.

Al Claro De Luna (The Original)

La luna es pálida y triste, la luna es exangüe y yerta.
La media luna figúraseme un suave perfil de muerta…
Yo que prefiero a la insigne palidez encarecida
De todas las perlas árabes, la rosa recién abierta,

En un rincón del terruño con el color de la vida,
Adoro esa luna pálida, adoro esa faz de muerta!
Y en el altar de las noches, como una flor encendida
Y ebria de extraños perfumes, mi alma la inciensa rendida.

Yo sé de labios marchitos en la blasfemia y el vino,
Que besan tras de la orgia sus huellas en el camino;
Locos que mueren besando su imagen en lagos yertos…
Porque ella es luz de inocencia, porque a esa luz misteriosa
Alumbran las cosas blancas, se ponen blancas las cosas,
Y hasta las almas más negras toman clarores inciertos!

~Delmira Agustini