Translating Cernuda


Translating Cernuda on a cool summer morning, my body slowly warms as the sun clears the trees & begins beating on the porch. The cold drains out through my fingers & gets caught between the pages of the dictionary. A family of wrens — one adult & four juveniles — drops by to give me a thorough scolding. It’s true, I have no business doing this. To my ear, the words are single notes with few overtones, & I can rarely hear the whole music. The temperature climbs toward 70 degrees Fahrenheit — 22 degrees Celsius, according to the thermometer on the wall behind me — & I pull off my shoes & socks, prop my bare feet up on the railing & stare between my toes at a yard full of thistles. Two bees have already found the first purple bloom.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. To do those things that we have no business doing could in a sense be the business of life. Translating is difficult….somethings cannot be translated….just rearranged for a different linguistic point of view. By the way I liked your translation….have read it several times now.


  2. Thanks, Fred. I’m inclined to agree with your views on life and translation.


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