The Good Doll


This deceptively simple poem carries a big emotional punch that is menacing, despairing and sad all at the same time. we looked up ‘roly-poly doll’ on Wikipedia and found that it was indeed the doll we’d all imagined that most of us remembered from childhood.

Again, Serafina’s literal version was a word-for-word translation that was a pleasure to translate. Most of the time, we simply turned to the colloquial english version, such as changing ‘the olds’ to ‘the grown-ups’. We moved away from the literal in the second half of the first stanza with ‘that fat red doll conspired’ which chimes with the Spanish ‘siempre termina por estar derecho’, with the punchy four stressed single syllables of ‘that fat red doll’ echoing the force of the original.

The second stanza is very poignant as the poet confesses that the game has turned him ‘into a big roly-poly doll… // weighted between the legs’ that ‘always ends upright’ however hard he’s struck. But his strategy ‘displeases the adults’. And the final three lines find him transformed into a ‘Good Doll’, the proof of which is demonstrated by his sad request to ‘hit me in the head’.

Sarah Maguire, Workshop Facilitator