Juan Ramón Jiménez, “The Moon”

28 Jul

Today I’m featuring a guest writer on the blog, with one of my favorite prose poems. It’s by the great Spanish poet Juan Ramon Jimenez, and it was written in (and about) New York in 1916. Jimenez was the Nobel laureate in 1956, the year I was born. At the time he was in San Juan, in exile from Franco’s Spain. The translator is H.R. Hays.

The Moon

Broadway. Evening. Signs in the sky that make one dizzy with color. New constellations: The Pig, all green, dancing and waving greetings to the left and right with his straw hat, the Bottle which pops its ruddy cork with a muted detonation against a sun with eyes and a mouth, the Electric Stocking which dances madly by itself like a tail separated from a salamander, the Scotchman who displays and pours his whiskey with its white reflections, the Fountain of mallow-pink and orange water through whose shower, like a snake, pass hills and valleys of wavering sun and shade, links of gold and iron (that braid a shower of light and another darkness…), the Book which illuminates and extinguishes the successive imbecilities of its owner, the Ship which every moment, as it lights up, sails pitching toward its prison, to run aground immediately in the darkness…and…

The moon! Let’s see! Look at it between those two tall buildings over there, above the river, over the red octave beneath, don’t you see it? Wait, let’s see! No…is it the moon or just an advertisement of the moon?

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