I’ve been a bit slow on the translation front. I’ve been working on a selection of poems from Cuba’s Georgina Herrera. This writer really captivated my interest when I was studying in Cuba for my doctoral research. Her slim paperback volumes were on display at UNEAC in the Vedado and my favourite poetry bookstore in La Habana, Fayad Jamis, in old Havana. Here is a latest attempt from me!
El pájaro amarillo vuelve a la rama verde
el pájaro amarillo.
más que posado está sobre la rama verde.
Semeja un cajigal que trina y se alza desde
uno a otro sitio.
El pájaro amarillo es una flor insólita,
un sol que se estremece
y cabe entre mis manos.
Deja en mí
no sé por qué, este pájaro,
un gozo inacabable.
Suave, entonces, me llenan unas ganas grandes
de verlo así, posado siempre
sobre la tristeza de todos, como
en mi corazón y
allí en la rama verde.
Yellow Bird (Trans. Kaushalya Bannerji)
The yellow bird returns to the green branch
It has returned
the yellow bird.
Perched more than posed on the green branch
She seems a conquering Cajigal that trills and flits
from one place to another.
The yellow bird is an insolent flower,
a sun that quivers and fits between my hands.
It leaves in me,
I don’t know why, that bird,
Softly, then I’m filled with great desire
to see it again, posing always
on the sadness of everyone, just as it is now,
in my heart and
there on the green branch.
(The name Cajigal refers to a Spaniard who subdued Venezuela among other places in the early 19th century. Wikipedia says, “In 1819 he was appointed captain general of Cuba and oversaw the restoration of the Spanish Constitution of 1812 in 1820. That same year he resigned due to health problems and retired to Guanabacoa, where he died in 1823.” My friend tells me that in her family, her Spanish Cuban grandmother used the word to mean a chaotic place. Further, many speculate it may be a species of tree deriving its name from an Aboriginal, perhaps Taino, language. I have picked the Governor’s name as it seems in keeping with Herrera’s theme.