Gerardo Diego

Home » Issue 86 » Gerardo Diego

Gerardo Diego


Translated from the Spanish by Francisco Aragón

            for Paul Dermée

The garden gate has crossed its arms

                                      The wind barks in a grove of trunks

A passing car whisks away the sobs
calming down the lake

You could say the sun
has made fun of the park

And here are three detectives
looking into the abduction
dusting the piano keys
for getaway prints

With every uncovered clue
a fake bird disappears into a building
and under intense questioning
a mute star stares down death

And on we go

The road never tires of departing
and returning alongside hills
It’s five in the afternoon
Water sprawls next to a stream
and a few miles away      spring

The moon rushes to get there first

Where are the lovers

City corners hardly
said goodbye
                        see you tomorrow
when you saw the sudden
night leap from an elbow
jutting treacherous from a passing car         

The clock on the tower enlarged its pupil
and confused cocks
lose track of the added hour

There’s a lump in every corner
and from the balcony hangs a lamp

With every step a passer-by takes
the light yields and the sky darkens

At last we’ve cornered the crook
A naïve clock confesses murder

And in the folds of the sobbing curtains
the moon bursts with passion

The city sleeps in the usual place

And at the scene of the crime
a spooked streetlight gazes at the jailed tree

Francisco Aragón reads “Novel”

A member of the so-called “generation of ’27,”  Gerardo Diego  (1896-1987) was the Spanish poet among his peers who first became interested in avant-garde poetics. The mode he adopted in his experimental poems was “creacionismo” or “literary cubism.” The piece published here was written in 1922 while living on the north coast of Spain in a bungalow on the beach. It forms part of his collection  Handbook of Foams. An accomplished pianist and music critic, Diego went on to publish many books, and was an active editor including as the first anthologist of his co-hort. He earned his living as a high school French teacher. In 1979 he shared the Cervantes Prize—Spanish letters’ highest honor—with Jorge Luis Borges.

Francisco Aragón  is the son of Nicaraguan immigrants. He is the author of  After Rubén  (Red Hen Press, 2020),  Glow of Our Sweat  (Scapegoat Press, 2010) and  Puerta del Sol  (Bilingual Press, 2005), as well as editor of the anthology  The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry  (University of Arizona Press, 2007). As a translator from the Spanish, Aragón has had a hand in a number of books, including volumes by Francisco X. Alarcón (1954-2016) and Federico García Lorca (1888-1936). More recently, he’s been rendering into English versions of Rubén Darío (1867-1916). His translations have appeared in  Beltway Poetry QuarterlyChainChelseaJacketNimrod, and  ZYZZYVA. For more information, visit: