Torre's Blog
Tashlikh 
Saturday, September 19, 2009, 10:41 AM
(casting off sins)

Lord:
You are the Ganges!
You are the fountain at Lourdes!
And I have bathed in You
Only to pick up my burdens again.
Put on the same old clothes
With the same old sorrows in the cuffs,
Same old cares in the creases,
And the same old sins in the pockets.

Beloved:
I cast my cares to You,
Make a barge of my burdens
That You may carry them.
This time I turn out my pockets,
And drown my sorrows in Your depths.
And this time I will drink You
And be full of living water,
Clothe myself in Your Word.
This time I will caste off my sins
So they may drift away in Your vastness.
This time I will open my mouth
And your Word will pour fourth
like silver water.


- Torre DeVito


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Uwharrie 
Tuesday, August 18, 2009, 08:20 PM
Latest version:

Uwharrie

Sunlit patterns on pine needles:
Filtered light shines on the trail
The air is warm, and full of birdsong,
A doe in the clearing flicks her tail.

Ants find a beetle in the leaf mold,
A warm breeze stirs the long-leaf pine.
I crouch in the shadows with my camera
To capture this moment and make it mine.

And there in the gravel at my feet
I spot an oddly leaf-shaped stone:
A spearhead, a perfect clovis-point
Some deft and ancient hand had honed.

What had this forest looked like then?
Northern trees? Jack pines, and spruce?
Yet much the same, I keenly feel:
Home to quail, grouse, and goose.

And along the ridge, as evening fell,
Was the mournful cry of a coyote pack
Muffled by snow, thick on the boughs?
Was the ground criss-crossed with animal track?

Were deer in the clearing then, as now?
Did the ancient hunter crouch here too?
Did he capture the moment with atlatl and spear
And know this land, as I now do?

Torre DeVito

-------------------------------
Original:

Uwharrie

Sunlit patterns on pine needles:
Filtered light shines on the trail
The air is warm, and full of birdsong,
A doe in the clearing flicks her tail.

Ants find a beetle in the leaf mold,
A warm breeze stirs the long-leaf pine.
I crouch in the shadows with my camera
To capture this moment and make it mine.

And there in the gravel at my feet
I spot an oddly leaf-shaped stone:
A spearhead, a perfect clovis-point
Some deft and ancient hand had honed.

What had this forest looked like then?
Northern trees? Jack pines, and spruce?
Yet much the same, I keenly feel:
Whispering trees, a call of a goose.
Did the ancient hunter crouch here too?
And know this land, as I now do?

Torre DeVito


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Lorca, and the abandoned church revisited 
Tuesday, July 28, 2009, 12:16 PM
Ths is an interpretation, not a translation. It is more cohesive than anything else I have read on the subject, but it definately is not exactly what Lorca was trying to say. It maintains his imagery but not necesarily the meaning of his poem.

The Abandoned Church
(A Ballad of The Great War)

Translated and further interpreted by Torre DeVito
from "IGLESIA ABANDONADA" by Federico García Lorca

I had a son who was named John.
I lost a son whom I look for in
the ruins of the church one All-Hallows eve.
I see him playing on the steps during a mass long since ended,
Dipping his little tin pail into the well of the priest's heart.
I beat the coffins for my son (My son!) and cast
chicken bones during a full moon to try and understand

I had a vision that my little child was a fish
left where they move the vendor's carts away.
I had a little child, a fish that died
in the ashes of incense burners.
And in my vision I was the sea. What? My God! A vast sea!

During his funeral I rang the bells,
but the bells have decayed like wormy fruit.
and I lit the candles, now devoured:
eaten like the spring wheat.

And in the wine, I saw the invisible reaper which
plucks the black heads of anguished soldiers:
in those trays with rubber housings
in which they pass arround cups filled with tears.

Amongst the holy flowers of the offertory you will find my heart
when the priest raises the host like one who lifts
a mule or an ox with his strong arms. He does this to
scare away the toads that come out at night to haunt
the frozen landscape of the chalice.

I had a son who was a giant,
but the dead are stronger than the living
and they know how to devour pieces of heaven.

If my child was a bear,
I would not be afraid of the alligator's stealth,
nor would I have seen the sea tied to the trees
to be ravished and trampled by regiments.
If my child was a bear!

I wrap my child in stiff fabric to dispell the cold of the mosses.
I know very well that I will get a sleeve or an armband;
but in the middle of the funeral I will break the rudder
we will drift to a rock in the sea - full of the madness of
penguins and seagulls, and it will cause those who sleep and
those who sing from the street-corners to cry:
He had a son. A son! A son!

I had a son! Not that he was more than my son,
but because he belongs to us all now, they cry:
Our son, our son, our son...

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A poem entitled "Translations" 
Tuesday, July 28, 2009, 10:25 AM
Translations
by Torre DeVito

A young woman passes my booth
In the "Bamboo Garden""

Five Chinese woman snapping beans
At the table next to me
Have been gossiping about her
In Cantonese.

I cannot understand them, but
I know from their faces that it
Is a juicy bit of news about
One who is younger, and prettier.

Nor do I understand the busboy's
Comment in Spanish as she passes,
But I know he voices desire.

When she returns to her seat
She involuntarily, meets my smile with her own,
Then, remembers to frown at the stranger.

So much can be conveyed
Through actions, posture,
A look in the eye.




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Translating Darwish 
Wednesday, July 22, 2009, 07:11 PM
Mahmoud Darwish (13 March 1941 - 9 August 2008) was an award-winning poet and author. He is regarded as the Palestinian national poet. This is my interpretation of translations of this work.
-----------------

A Soldier Dreams Of White Lilies
By Mahmoud Darwish
Interpreted by Torre DeVito

He dreams
Of white lilies,
An olive branch,
And her breasts
In evening blossom.
He dreams of a bird,
He tells me,
And of lemon flowers.
He does not intellectualize
About his dream.
He understands things
Only as far as he
Senses and smells them.


He tells me:
"For me, my country is this:
Drinking my mother's coffee,
And coming home safely at dusk."

"And your homeland?"

"I don't know a homeland," he said.
"I don't feel it in my flesh and blood,
The way they describe in the poems."

Suddenly I saw the land through his eyes
As one might see a grocery store,
a street, or a newspaper.
"But don't you love your homeland?"
I ask him.

"My love is a picnic," he said,
A glass of wine, a love affair."

"Would you die for your country?"

"No!
All my attachment to my country
is no more than a story
or a fiery speech!
They taught me to love it,
But I never felt it in my heart.
I never knew its roots and branches,
Or the scent of its grass."

"But what about patriotism?
Doesn't it burn in you like suns and desire?"


He looked straight at me and said:
"I love my country with my gun,
Not by unearthing feasts
In the garbage of the past.
Patriotism is a deaf-mute idol,
Whose age and meaning
Are unknown."

He told me about leaving for the war,
How his mother silently wept when they
Led him to the front,
How her anguished voice gave birth
To a new hope in his flesh:
That doves might flock
Through the Ministry of War.

He drew on his cigarette
And said, as if fleeing
From a swamp of blood:
"I dreamt of white lilies,
An olive branch,
A bird embracing
The dawn in a lemon tree."

"But what did you see?"

"I saw what I did:
Not an olive branch, but
A blood-red boxthorn.
I blasted men in the sand....
In their chests....
In their bellies."

"How many did you kill?"

"It's impossible to tell.
I only got one medal."

Pained, I asked him to
Tell me about one of the dead.


He shifted in his seat,
Fiddled with the newspaper,
and then said, as if chanting:
"He collapsed like a tent on stones,
Embracing shattered planets.
His high forehead was crowned with blood.
His chest was empty of medals.
He was not a well-trained fighter,
But seemed instead to be a peasant -
A worker, or a peddler.
Like a tent he collapsed and died,
His arms stretched out
Like dry creek-beds.
When I searched his pockets
For a name, I found two photographs,
One of his wife, the other of his daughter."

"Did you feel remorse?" I asked.

Cutting me off, he said,
"Mahmoud, my friend, remorse is a white bird
That does not come near a battlefield.
For a soldier, remorse is a sin.
In that place, I was like a machine:
Spitting hellfire and death,
And turning space into a black bird.

He told me about his first love,
and later, about distant streets,
about reactions to the war in the
radio and the press.

As he hid a cough in his handkerchief
I asked him: "Shall we meet again?"

"Yes, but in a city far away."

When I filled his fourth glass,
I asked jokingly:
"Are you leaving? What about war and victory?"

"Give me a break," he replied.
"I dream of white lilies,
Streets of song,
A house of light.
I need a kind heart,
Not a bullet.
I need a bright day,
Not a mad, fascist
Moment of triumph.
I need a child to cherish,
A day of laughter,
Not a weapon of war.
I came to live for rising suns,
Not to witness their setting."

He said goodbye
And went looking
For white lilies,
And a bird
Welcoming the dawn
On an olive branch.

He understands things
Only as far as he senses
And smells them. "For me," he said,
"My country is To drink my mother's coffee,
Or to return to my home safely, at dusk."


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Homecoming 
Friday, July 10, 2009, 10:42 AM
Our soldier has returned, and we are glad
That you are safe, and sound, and whole, and home.
We cannot know the time that you have had
Nor know the many struggles you have known.

The battle now is peace, and we must cross
This gulf that lies between us, now you're near,
To overcome the nagging sense of loss
Upon regaining all that we hold dear.

And we who give you prayers and praise
For the terror that you've kept from our fair shore,
Are caught up in our thoughtless daily ways,
And blissfully remain untouched by war.

Though there be many thoughts you cannot share
Please do not let our ignorance intrude
Our words seem hollow, if we even dare
Express concern and love and gratitude

We cannot know the time that you have had
Nor ever know the struggles you have known.
Thank God for you're return, and we are glad:
That you are safe, and sound, and whole, and home.

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Free Will 
Wednesday, June 17, 2009, 12:35 AM
The scientists tell us that everything that happens has a cause, and that every cause has an effect. Observation shows that as we remove variables and keep the cause consistent, we can accurately predict the effect. Indeed quantum physics seems to follow this general principal as well, all lending credence to the philosophical principle known as determinism. The more variables one introduces into a system, the more random it appears. Yet, according to determinists, no matter how complex the system, if one can identify the variables, one would learn that any event observed could not have occurred any differently.

By extrapolation, we humans must also be the products of a determining set of causes. The very neurons in our brains firing along paths laid down in the only way possible, our DNA made up of a pre-determined set of material donated by two individuals who were fated to meet. We go through our lives believing in free will, while playing our parts in an unchangeable script, with only the illusion of choice and chance. This of course presupposes that there is no randomness built-in to the physical world.

But what if choice and will are not the effects of processes in a corporeal brain? What if, instead, they are products of a spiritual mind whose laws are not the same as those that govern the physical world? Unfortunately this in no way removes the possibility of determinism. The spiritual world could as easily be a determined stream of cause and effect. The age-old argument stands: If God is Omniscient, and knows how everything will turn out, is it not fated (or pre-determined) to turn out just so? But God is also Omnipotent, if he wanted man to have free will, couldn't he make it so? This is sort of like the old conundrum: if God can do anything, can he make a boulder so heavy that he can't pick it up?

Determinism and free will are not mutually exclusive, though they may seem to be. Perhaps (As the character "Forest Gump" says in the movie of that same name) "both are going on at the same time". Certainly we seem to have free will, but an awful lot of things happen to us and around us that are beyond our control. This is "Compatibilism" a very Hobbesian1 take on the problem of free will that asserts that determinism and free will can coexist.

One thing that seems to be beyond argument is that we as human being have the appearance of free will. That we make choices (be they predetermined or not) and can decide on how we will react to a given stimulus. In "Man's Search for Meaning" Victor Frankl puts it this way: "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."2

In other words: the only human freedom exists between the stimulus and the response. This is profound and liberating. No one can make us angry, happy, sad, or anything else. We have the freedom to determine our own actions and attitudes, despite our circumstances, and despite what happens to us.
From a Christian standpoint if free-will exists, it explains a lot of the harder concepts of doctrine. If God gave us free will, then it makes perfect sense that salvation is a choice. It also explains the problems of pain and suffering in this physical world as byproducts of cause and effect and personal choices, and other peoples choices inflicted upon us.
________________________________________
1 Thomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679) Source: Leviathan, Page 136-137
2 Viktor Frankl (1905 - 1997) Source: Man's Search for Meaning, Page: 104-105;

FREEDOM

Though life may be fleeting and fast
The present is shaped by the past.
Thus tomorrow will grow
From decisions we sow.
For our choice is the seed that we cast.

Now here's where true freedom exists:
In the space of an instant, amidst
The provocative fact
And the way we react,
In the choice that we make or resist.
- Torre A. DeVito


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Barbeque 
Friday, June 12, 2009, 01:34 PM
Well, my youngest child just graduated high school, and with family and guest dropping in throughout the day on Friday and Saturday, I have been giving my new grill a work out. I won't argue with anyone about whether barbeque is a noun or a verb, in my opinion it is both. I barbeque ribs, and I eat pork barbeque. I also don't care if the word barbeque is from the French "barb a queue" meaning whiskers to tail. All I know is that the secret to good barbeque is a good rub, moist slow cooking with a good hardwood smoke and a savory mopping sauce, and perhaps finishing with a thick sweet glazing sauce.

Here are the recipes I use:


===== Rub Recipes =====

Torre's Basic Rub
4 parts garlic powder
4 parts onion powder
1 part paprika
1 parts black pepper
1 parts chili powder
1 part brown sugar
1 part salt (or Adolf's Meat Tenderizer)

Torre's Greek Rub
(similar to Cavender's Greek Seasoning
but w/o the mono sodium glutamate or
corn starch)
4 parts oregano
4 parts garlic powder
4 parts onion powder
4 parts thyme
4 parts basil
4 parts marjoram
2 parts dill
2 parts parsley
2 parts rosemary
2 parts cinnamon
2 parts nutmeg
1 part salt (or Adolf's Meat Tenderizer)

Torre's Cajun Rub
(similar to Zatarain's)
-9 parts basic rub + 2 parts each turmeric, red
pepper, and chili powder + 1 part black pepper or:
4 parts garlic powder
4 parts onion powder
2 parts Turmeric
2 parts black pepper
2 parts chili powder
2 parts cayenne pepper
2 parts paprika
1 part salt (or Adolf's Meat Tenderizer)
1 parts sugar

Torre's Rib Rub
- equal portions of Greek Rub & Cajun Rub, or:
8 parts garlic powder
8 parts onion powder
4 parts oregano
4 parts thyme
4 parts basil
4 parts marjoram
2 parts Turmeric
2 parts black pepper
2 parts chili powder
2 parts cayenne pepper
2 parts paprika
2 parts dill
2 parts parsley
2 parts rosemary
2 parts cinnamon
2 parts nutmeg
1 parts brown sugar*
1 parts salt (or Adolf's Meat Tenderizer)*

===== Smoke =====

The secret to great smoke
is to soak hickory chips in
equal parts of water, beer,
and apple juice for 24 hours.
Place the chips in a metal pan
and place the pan in the fire.
Spray the chips frequently with
water as you slow-cook your food.
Pouring a little beer in the fire
to make a little beer steam is
also good.

===== Mop Recipes =====
A mop is a basting sauce, and should be
thinner than traditional barbeque sauce

Torre's "Doctor Bud" sauce
12 parts Texas Barbeque Sauce Glaze**
4 part soy sauce
4 part Dr Pepper
4 part Beer
1/16 part hot sauce

Lamb Mop:
2 parts peppermint schnapps
1 parts Texas Barbeque Sauce Glaze**
1 parts mint jelly

** see glaze recipes
(or use bottled barbeque sauce - I recommend Sweet Baby Ray's)

Hot & Sweet
( Great as a Carolina style pulled pork BBQ sauce)
4 parts apple cider vinegar
2 parts maple syrup
2 part soy sauce
1/16*** part hot sauce

===== Glaze Recipes =====

Texas Barbeque Sauce Glaze
8 parts tomato paste
4 parts honey
2 parts garlic powder
2 parts Maple Syrup
1 part Soy Sauce
1/16*** part hot sauce

Mint Glaze
- 2 parts Texas Barbeque Sauce Glaze
to 1 part mint jelly or:
9 parts mint Jelly
8 parts tomato paste
4 parts honey
2 parts garlic powder
2 parts Maple Syrup
1 part Soy Sauce
1/16 part*** hot sauce

* If you combine Greek and Cajun, you end up with 2 parts salt,
and white sugar not brown sugar but otherwise the same.

** see glaze recipes
(or use bottled barbeque sauce - I recommend Sweet Baby Ray's)

***(if a part is an ounce, then about 3 drops)


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Magnetic Poetry. 
Saturday, May 30, 2009, 04:02 PM
Two of my published poems, "Vampire" and "Poetry Juice", started life as magnetic poetry. It is a great way to get the creative humors flowing. Pull a few words out of the heap and meaning and metaphor will begin to coalesce before your eyes - run with it. Add your own words, pollish it up a bit.

Here is one I just came up with:

tired,
she eats
the peach;
talks to a
butterfly;
drinks
moon and night.

His need is
everywhere,
But for her
that quiet house
is you.

Read Poetry Juice

Read Vampire

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Freedom isn't free. 
Sunday, May 24, 2009, 01:54 AM
As we approach memorial day, I thought I'd share a poem that always brings home to me the terrible price of liberty, and shames me for taking it for granted. That poem is In Flanders Fields by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
John McCrae

------------------------------------

That and these lines from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:

"...from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

------------------------------------

GETTYSBURG

The trees are full, and red, and gold
And pregnant with the autumn
Above the fields of all the battles
And graves of those who fought 'em

Plows still turn up cannon balls
From that War Between the States
Small monument to men, who fought,
For here they met their fates.

The signs are here, in the very air,
If you know how to read 'em:
Blood sacrifice: the awful price
Of this precious thing called "Freedom"

Torre DeVito



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Time 
Tuesday, May 19, 2009, 12:39 PM
Time seems to be slipping away from me
Capriciously. Waiting for me to sit
At my computer to slip behind my back
And out the door, and down the street
To play with the children. The children
Who have all the time in the world.

The task at hand glowers at me from
behind the task that I am doing,
And the one behind that is trying to
Distract me until the hours have
Sped, and the day has fled away
Into restless nights.

Then the unfinished tasks
Crawl into bed with me. They place
Their cold feet against my back
Or perch upon my chest, purring
Contentedly as they suck
My breath away.

Torre DeVito

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Limericks 
Monday, May 18, 2009, 11:17 PM
Poetry should be fun, and accessible to everyone, and in my opinion the form of poetry that best meets these criteria is the limerick. I especially like bawdy limericks, so, if you are under the age of 18, go away. You aren't missing anything, my dear minors, this material will bore you to tears.

Note: The following limericks were written by me, (copyright 2009 by Torre DeVito) and though intentional politically incorrect, are meant to be in good fun, and not intended to hurt anyone's feelings, or to be mean spirited. The famous literary figures that I poke fun at in my limericks are those that I deeply respect, so please don't send me gobs of hate mail! For that matter, don't send me gobs of fan mail unless you include gobs of cash. Thanks!

Literary Limericks:

Shakespeare
The plays of one William Shakespeare
Are held by the world to be dear,
But, far too amused
By a certain Will Hughes,
All his sonnets appear to be queer.

Byron
Of poets romantic, the best:
Robert Gordon, Lord Byron, was blessed
With a personal muse
(And the passion of Zuess,
for poetry, lust, and incest).

Romantic Poets
The romantics (except Robert Browning)
Died young, with achievements crowning.
Lord Byron, poor chap
Died for Greece, of the clap,
Keats of TB, and Shelley by drowning.

Haiku
A japanese man name of Woo
And a peice of paper or two:
A lotus in bloom,
The light of the moon,
It's a limerick about Haiku.

Puck
A crazy wood fairy named Puck
Was a sprite who was quite full of pluck
He could make a right ass
Out of folks, but alas
He invariably stepped in their muck.

Romance Novels
A girl who likes gothic romances
(With swooning, long gowns and dances)
Reads how passions are "slaked"
By heirs, heroes, and rakes
'Til her own heaving bosom draws glances...

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The Etymology of Entomology 
Saturday, May 2, 2009, 02:41 PM
One who studies
Words wonders:
Where in the
World the word for
One who studdies
Bugs Began?

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Stuff I'm Working on: Bilingual poetry 
Wednesday, April 8, 2009, 11:50 AM
Continuing with the theme of translation and communication, I am working on a mixed language poem. I consider it unfinished, but here it is so far:


Despedirse
(To Say Goodbye)

My friend Carlos and I
Stood outside the building
At the end of my watch.

"Your family is here?"
He asks.
"Si," I reply,
"mi Padre, y mi hermana,
"my father and sister.
"My mother passed away in oh-four."
He nods his head knowingly.

He says:
"Mi madre, en ninety-eight...
"Ten years last year..
"I can't believe.."

We contemplate the evening
Thinking our own thoughts
Each in our own language.

"See you tomorrow?" he asks.
"Si, hasta mañana..." I say
My words trailing off.
I cannot express the sense
Of connection I feel.
Not in Spanish or in English,

But Carlos can with his eyes.
"See you tomorrow, then."
He says.
I nod, and smile, and walk away.



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Federico García Lorca  
Saturday, February 21, 2009, 09:21 PM
I've been looking at the work of Federico García Lorca lately, trying to get a handle on it. He was a Spanish poet and a contemporary of painter Salvador Dali. You can read a bit more about him here:

See Wikipedia: Federico García Lorca

Most of the translations of his work that I have been able to get hands on are abysmal, so I attempted my own translation of one of his more famouse poems: "IGLESIA ABANDONADA" or "The Abandoned Church". Translating from the Spanish is quite dificult when a poem
contains this much imagery and alegory. The symbolism is abundant
and sometimes seems inconsistant. After spending several hours with
this poem, I have a deeper appreciation for it, but am not convinced that I truley have a better understanding of it.

Is it a poem about losing one's son to war? And exactly how does all
the Catholic symbology fit in? Is he likening the loss of his son
to Mary losing her Son?

Well here goes nothing:

================================
The Abandoned Church
(A Ballad of The Great War)

Translated by Torre DeVito
from "IGLESIA ABANDONADA" by Federico García Lorca

I had a son who was named John.
I had a son.
He was lost by the arches of the church one All-Saints Friday.
I saw him play on the final steps of the mass,
Dipping his little tin pail into the priest's heart.
I've beaten the coffins. My son! My son! My son!
Pulled out a chicken foot from behind the moon and then
I understood that my little child was a fish
near where they move the vendor's carts away.
I had a little child.
I had a fish that died in the ashes of incense burners.
I was a sea. What? My God! A sea!

I got to play the bells, but the fruit had worms.
and the dying candle flames
ate the spring wheat.

I have seen alcohol, an invisible stork
plucking the black heads of anguished soldiers
and seen those trays with rubber housings
in which they pass arround cups filled with tears.

Amongst the holy flowers of the offertory you will find my heart
when the priest raises the mule and the ox with his strong arms,
to scare away the nocturnal toads that haunt the frozen landscapes of the chalice.

I had a son who was a giant,
but the dead are stronger than the living
and they know how to devour pieces of heaven.

If my child was a bear,
I would not be afraid of the alligator's stealth,
nor would I have seen the sea tied to the trees
to be ravished and trampled by regiments.
If my child was a bear!

I wrap this stiff fabric tight to avoid the cold of the mosses.
I know very well that I will get a sleeve or an armband;
but in the center of the mass I will break the rudder and then
they will come to the rock - the madness of penguins and seagulls
And they will cause those who sleep and those who sing from the street-corners to say:
He had a son.
A son! A son! A son
That was not more than your son, because he was your son!
Your child! Your child! Your child!

==================================
Notes on this translation:

Line 4:
"I Saw him playing on the final steps of the Mass"
"Le vi jugar en las últimas escaleras de la misa"
I am tempted to replace "final steps of the Mass" with "top step of the church"

Line 5:
"Dipping his little tin sand pail into the priest's heart."
"y echaba un cubito de hojalata en el corazón del sacerdote."
a more literal translation is "and throws the cube of tin in the heart of the priest" "echaba un cubito" could be a play on words to mean "throws the dice." I struggled with the translation here, and the meaning of this sentence eludes me. The "cubito de hojalata " is definitely a toy pail but what does the sentence mean? "Echaba" also hints of a spanish idiom that means to miss or mourn someone.

Line 8
"I understood that my little child was a fish"
The word for "little child" is more literally translated as daughter.
I think that the feminin ending here is meant as a diminutive, and chose to use it as such, because introducing a second child here seems to add nothing to this confusing poem.

Line 9
"near where they move the vendor's carts away."
"por donde se alejan las carretas."
More literally "where they move away the carts" I think Lorca is referring to a street market, but I have no way of proving this (see my note on line 40).

Line 14
"I got to play the bells, but the fruit had worms."
"Subí a tocar las campanas, pero las frutas tenían gusanos."
This is exactly what it says. I thought perhaps that bells might be a type of fruit, but frankly I find no connection or any reasonable explanation of the metaphore here. Perhaps some forgotten idiom of early 20th century Spain would link fruit to bells. Line 15 makes it clear that the things of the church are somehow blighting the narators crop (fruit of his loins) while it is still young.

I am tempted to rewrite this passage as:

"I got to ring the bells, but the bells were wormy fruit.
I got to light the candles, but the candles were maggots
That ate up all the spring wheat"

Line 18
"I have seen alcohol, an invisible stork"
"Yo vi la transparente cigüeña de alcohol"
More literally: "I have seen the transparent stork of alchohol"
OK, the Stork is a christian symbol of watchfullness. It is also a form of shackles that slowly tortures it's wearer. but the plucking/pruning imagery of the next line suggest the stork is somehow a metaphor for alcohol.

I think that I will write an "interpretation" rather than a translation - "I have known alchohal, that invisible reaper..."

OK here it is:

The Abandoned Church
(A Ballad of The Great War)

Translated and further interpreted by Torre DeVito
from "IGLESIA ABANDONADA" by Federico García Lorca

I had a son who was named John.
I had a son who was lost beneath the arches of the church
one All-Saints Friday.
I saw him playing on the steps as mass was ending,
Dipping his little tin pail into the priest's heart.
I've beaten the coffins for my son! My son!
Cast chicken bones during a full moon to try and understand
I had a vision that my little child was a fish
In a stall where they move the vendor's carts away.
I had a little child, a fish that died
in the ashes of incense burners.
And in my vision I was the sea. What? My God! A sea!

And I got to ring the bells, but the bells became wormy fruit.
and as I watched, dying candle flames
ate the spring wheat like maggots.

I saw alcohol, that invisible reaper which
plucks the black heads of anguished soldiers
in those trays with rubber housings
in which they pass arround cups filled with tears.

Amongst the holy flowers of the offertory you will find my heart
when the priest raises the host like one who lifts
a mule or an ox with his strong arms. He does this to
scare away the toads that come out at night to haunt the frozen landscape of the chalice.

I had a son who was a giant,
but the dead are stronger than the living
and they know how to devour pieces of heaven.

If my child was a bear,
I would not be afraid of the alligator's stealth,
nor would I have seen the sea tied to the trees
to be ravished and trampled by regiments.
If my child was a bear!

I wrap my child in stiff fabric to dispell the cold of the mosses.
I know very well that I will get a sleeve or an armband;
but in the middle of the chursh service I will break the rudder
we will drift to a rock in the sea - full of the madness of
penguins and seagulls, and it will cause those who sleep and
those who sing from the street-corners to cry:
He had a son. A son! A son! A son
Not that he was more than your son, but because he was your son!
Your child! Your child! Your child!










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