17 May 2010

Miguel Algarin

Here are lines from two poems by Miguel Algarin (I say two, because I believe that a translation is a different poem from its original), the first "My proposal is that," the second "Mi propuesta es que":

I want to live with you,
enjoy first, then procreate
children for the new century

Me gustaría vivir contigo,
gozar primero, después procrear
criaturas para el nuevo siglo

We can treat the two texts as translations (English to Spanish or vice-versa); that would be the usual way of dealing with them.  If we use multilingual literary criticism, however, we can look at the English text separately and realize, among other things, that (1) there is no rhyme, (2) the verb enjoy is used intransitively (which, though allowed in English, is not usual), and (3) procreate is an unusual word within the register or type of language being employed in the rest of the text.  These poetic characteristics will look like defects if we are not aware that the poet is really thinking in Spanish while writing in English (or as I like to say, following Bienvenido Santos and NVM Gonzalez, writing in Spanish using English words).  Notice that, if we go to the Spanish, (1) there is rhyme, (2) there is nothing wrong with the intrasitive use of gozar, and (3) procrear suits the register of the poem.  A reader reading only the English would have to use multilingual literary criticism to appreciate the beauty of the poem.  In fact, in English, the meter in the Spanish is lost, which then substantially diminishes the effect of the poem.

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