Oct. 11, 2010: POEMA PARA LA EXORCISTA or POEM FOR THE EXORCIST (Mario Vargas Llosa, trans. Matthew Lamberti)

How psyched was I to find out that Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa was born in Arequipa, Peru? The second city, la ciudad blanca, the town at the foot of the Andes whose geography looks as if it was sculpted by the crater left when the moon separated from the earth, the home of Arequipeña, and my home during July-August 2008. Vargas Llosa has made his name more as a politically-engaged novelist, but I managed to find this somewhat recent poem, which appears first in Spanish and then in English. Have a good week, -ed.


Poema para la Exorcista

Mi vida parece sin misterio y
a quienes me ven
de paso a la oficina
en las mañanas apuradas.
La verdad es muy distinta.
Cada noche debo salir a pelear
contra un espíritu malvado
que, valiéndose de
disfraces -perro, grillo,
nube, lluvia, vago,
ladrón- trata de
infiltrarse en la ciudad
para estropear la vida humana
la discordia.
A pesar de sus disfraces yo
siempre lo descubro
y lo espanto.
Nunca ha conseguido engañarme
ni vencerme.
a mí, en esta ciudad
todavía es posible
la felicidad.
Pero los combates nocturnos me
dejan exhausta y magullada.
En pago de mis
refriegas contra el enemigo,
les pido unas sobras
de afecto y amistad.

Nueva York, 2001

Poem for the Exorcist

My life seems to be without mystery and
to those who come to me,
stepping into my office
these hectic mornings.
The truth is quite different:
Each night I spend fighting
a malevolent spirit
that, valiant in
disguises–dog, cricket,
cloud, rain, idleness,
thief–tries to
infiltrate the city
to spoil human life,
sowing discord.
Mulling its disguises, I
always discover it
and scare it away.
It has never deceived
or defeated me.
to me, happiness
is always possible
in this city.
But these nightly battles
leave me bruised and exhausted.
As pay for my
scuffles with the enemy,
I plead with it for any leftovers
of affection and friendship.

New York, 2001
trans. M. Lamberti

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