Thursday, June 18, 2015

Luis Cernuda

Luis Cernuda [ABCdesavilla]

from Luis Cernuda's Written in Water: The Prose Poems, translated by Stephen Kessler:


You've always had the desire for a home, your home, to envelope you in a friendly atmosphere for work and for doing nothing. But at first you didn't know (because you would learn it later, after living among strangers) that behind your desire, and blended with it, was another: that of a refuge with the friendship of your things. Everything else would wait outside, but inside would be you and what was yours.

One day, when you'd already begun to wander the world, dreaming of your home but without one, an unexpected event at last presented you with the chance to have one. And you began to set it up around you, simple, comfortable, full of light: table, books, lamp — an atmosphere filled with the scent of the season's flowers.

But it was too easy, and your life too unsettled, to last very long. One day, another day, it disappeared as unexpectedly as it had come. And you went on wandering across so many lands, some that you hadn't even wanted to know. How many plans for a home you've had since then, nearly realized another time only to be lost again later.

Just four walls, a space as cozy as a ship's cabin, but yours and full of what's yours, even as you know its shelter could be transitory; light and silent and solitary, without the presence and the bothersome noise of those strangers with whom it's so often been your fate to share your living arrangements; tall, with its windows open to the sky and the clouds above the crowns of some trees.

But that's a dream you've abandoned now as impossible, even though for others it's a reality you can't aspire to. Your existence is too poor and always changing — you tell yourself, as you write these lines standing up, because you don't even have a table; your books (the ones you've kept) piled in a corner, like your papers. In the end, you don't have much time left, and who knows if it isn't better to live like this, stripped of possessions, perpetually ready for departure.

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