Cataclysm and Songs

by Conceição Lima

Happy what's left of me after I'm gone
If only one of the songs sung
Lives beyond the person singing in me now.
Yet I would not save from the slaughter
A single one of the songs I sang and sing.

Instead from the entrails of oblivion
I would steal the laughter of children
And the age of the proverb.

And so to those who come 
I would offer intact the enigma of light

The literal translation of this poem was made by Stefan Tobler

The final translated version of the poem is by The Poetry Translation Workshop


This small poem was by far the most complex of the three short poems by Conceição Lima we translated as a result of the compact nature and ambiguity of the original.

The opening lines were difficult to unpack, but we were pleased with the resulting 'S' sounds which matched the 'C' sounds in the original: this was why we fixed on 'slaughter', for example.

We changed the syntax of the final stanza to make it clearer in English.


  1. August 29th, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    Gerald Kithinji says:

    I wish you would show both the original and the translation. Some of us know several languages and would like to compare.

    The PTC Responds: And we wish you could READ! Our poems are published in THREE versions: the original, a literal translation and a final translation.

  2. June 14th, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Christy says:

    Keep it coming, this is good stuff.