Cataclysm and Songs
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.
© Poetry Translation Centre 2004-2015