I

It rains in the city

It rains at night in the City

It rains at night in the ancient City.

_

In the dark and crooked ancient City

it rains a soft

chain of eternity.

 

So that the gutters cry

forever and after

it rains in the city.

_

II

It rains in the village

It rains at dusk in the Village

It rains at dusk in the old Village

_

In the hypocritical and forgotten old Village

It rains a soft

eternal chain.

 

So that the branches of the trees cry

forever and after

it rains in the village.

(tr. Patrick Loughnane)

____________

 

Manuel Antonio (1900-1930), died on this date in Rianxo, Galicia.

Linked with galeguismo (Galician nationalism), republicanism and other social movements– it’s through his poetry he is best remembered.

While Galician literature at that time was undoubtedly flourishing, his avant-garde poetry was bringing it places it wouldn’t return to for some time. Indeed, its inspirations can be traced beyond the region’s borders.

Vicente_huidobro
Vicente Huidobro

One widely acknowledged influence was that of Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro‘s creacionismo (“creationism”). This essentially represented the belief that every poem is a new thing, created for its own sake– not to praise anything else, to please the reader or even be understood by its creator.

Nevertheless, you’ll hopefully get something out of this text. As Huidobro himself once said:

“… la poesía creacionista se hace traducible y universal, […] los hechos nuevos permanecen idénticos en todas las lenguas”

(“… creationist poetry makes itself translatable and universal, […] the new creations remain identical in every language”)

While it will be up to speakers of both Galician and English to judge the merits of the above translation, this feature is nevertheless reflected in its universal* images of ancient cities, old towns and (certainly for Galicia and Ireland) rain.

1928_maside_catroacatro
Title page of the first edition of “De catro a catro” (illustrated by Carlos Maside)

 

The poet’s most influential book (De catro a catro), written while at sea, was the only one published during his lifetime. Even though the above translation is from another (Sempre e máis dispóis)– its sombre, near claustrophobic mood could see it easily fit into the more celebrated collection.

Its repetition-heavy form gives a powerful sense of how long these places have continuously suffered the rain, and how it may well go on “forever and after”.

And as long as it does, people should be reading Manuel Antonio‘s poetry. No doubt there are gutters and branches all over Galicia crying for him tonight.

____________

The poet did manage to sneak in one completely untranslatable feature:
The Galician word “serán”, is defined by the Real Academia Galega as the “Part of the day that goes from the moment the sun first begins setting until it finally becomes night”.
Dusk, twilight, gloaming, nightfall… all get close, but can’t quite pin it down.