inner_v0ice: (***tomoe)
Inner Voice ([personal profile] inner_v0ice) wrote in [community profile] forkedtongues2010-04-20 08:20 am

España, by Marra PL Lanot

This is a poem by Marra PL Lanot, a Filipina poet. In her book Witch's Dance, which includes poems in three languages (English, Tagalog, and Spanish), she employs a sort of non-translation strategy for the Spanish poems by providing short prose summaries in English.

The Spanish language has been slowly dying out in the Philippines for nearly a century (ever since they left, obviously), and at this point is restricted to a few members of upper-class families. Writing a poem in Spanish guarantees that only a microscopic fraction of the population will be able to read it. And yet, Lanot has deliberately chosen to write poems in Spanish, and is unwilling to let the reader simply bypass the Spanish poem by providing a full translation in English or Tagalog. Instead, she provides short prose summaries that give an idea of the poem's meaning, while ensuring that the readers have to go to the original Spanish for form and--if they can puzzle it out--for the full meaning.
(note: Lanot herself learned Spanish by taking an M.A. in it at the University of the Philippines, not by speaking it at home.)


España, como no te conozco
quiero conocer tus sierras,
tus montañas, tus colinas.
Quiero saber las raíces de los árboles
que rezan en las cumbres.
Quiero conocer el otro país
de nuestros heroes como Rizal y Luna,
la Mamá del pasado,
la Reina de Filipinas
que nunca nos abandonó.
Quiero entender los gritos de alegría
sobre la sangre de los pobrecitos toros.
Quiero oír las canciones de los gitanos,
comprender el fuego del flamenco.
Quiero ver las olas que abrazan las piedras
y escuchar el silencio de las estrellas.
Quiero saber el sello en el escudo
de los siglos después del perdido
de las armadas
Quiero comprender porqué los colonizados
sueñan viajar a tu tierra
a pesar de la espada y de la cruz,
a pesar de todo.

Because I do not know you, Spain, I want to know your mountains, your trees, your Mother. I want to understand the cries of joy at bullfights, the gypsy songs, etc. I want to know why the colonized dream of seeing Spain.

however, to satisfy the curious, I've provided a full (extremely literal) translation of the Spanish...

Spain, because I do not know you
I want to know your mountain ranges,
your mountains, your hills.
I want to know the roots of the trees
that pray on the summits.
I want to know the other country
of our heroes like Rizal and Luna,
the Mother of the past,
the Queen of the Philippines
who never abandoned us.
I want to understand the shouts of joy
over the blood of the pitiable bulls.
I want to hear the songs of the gypsies,
understand the fire of the flamenco.
I want to see the waves that embrace the stones
and listen to the silence of the stars.
I want to know the seal on the coat of arms
of the centuries after the loss*
of the armadas.
I want to understand why the colonized
dream of going to your land
in spite of the sword and the cross
in spite of everything.

*as far as I can tell this is actually a grammatical errror, should be "de la perdida" insted of "del perdido"? The professor of the class where we read this did tell us that Lanot was a bit prone to errors in Spanish...

So, the question the colonized who long to see Spain simply have Stockholm Syndrome or colonial mentality? Or are they legitimately trying to claim a part of their heritage in the form of a country that played such an enormous role in shaping their culture? (most of U.P.'s History Department would probably say the former, while the professor who taught "Philippine Literature in Spanish in English Translation" would argue the latter...)

[shameless pimp] Also, guys, speaking of Rizal--go and listen to the song I uploaded in my previous entry! It's gorgeous, I promise, but hardly anyone has downloaded it yet! [/shameless pimp]

dhobikikutti: earthen diya (Default)

[personal profile] dhobikikutti 2010-04-20 05:09 am (UTC)(link)
This is fascinating... there is so much to say about subversion and reclamation and the politics in the idea of an non-translation.
jolantru: (Default)

[personal profile] jolantru 2010-04-20 10:33 am (UTC)(link)
Beautiful and fascinating.