When the dust clears in the fields of twentieth century Spanish poetry, three icons will remain in the consciousness of the English speaking world: Federico García Lorca, Pablo Neruda and José Hierro. Lorca and Neruda have already attained widespread acceptance through translation. José Hierro is just now being recognized for the visionary that he was. His death in 2002 signaled the end of an era in Spanish letters.
Author José Hierro
Translation Gordon E. McNeer
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THIS poem has a sound to it
that doesn’t fit. Imagine
that we’re dancing a bolero.
But I don’t hear the music
that’s playing: it’s another rhythm,
another beat that warms my feet.
I’m dancing out of time, out of step.
My partner complains because
I’m stepping on her feet. How can I explain
to her I’m listening to a melody
I’ve heard before or never heard?
We take our seats. Our eyes don’t meet.
(We wouldn’t see each other.)
There’s a sound
to this poem that doesn’t fit:
we hear different melodies.
That’s why it doesn’t work for me.
and I should just desist.