Off topic: Off Topic - Adrienne Rich
Thread poster: Marcela García

Marcela García  Identity Verified
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Mar 27, 2003

Last night I was reading a book that quoted Adrienne Rich. This morning, while browsing thru the pages of another book at a suburban bookstore, I found another quote, introduced in a novel by another author whose book I was going to get...

Anyways, here\'s Adrienne Rich. I would like to know if any of you has translated her into other languages.

Rural Reflections

This is the grass your feet are planted on.

You paint it orange or you sing it green,

But you have never found

A way to make the grass mean what you mean.

A cloud can be whatever you intend:

Ostrich or leaning tower or staring eye.

But you have never found

A cloud sufficient to express the sky.

Get out there with your splendid expertise;

Raymond who cuts the meadow does not less.

Inhuman nature says:

Inhuman patience is the true success.

Human impatience trips you as you run;

Stand still and you must lie.

It is the grass that cuts the mower down;

It is the cloud that swallows up the sky.

Diving into the Wreck

First having read the book of myths,

and loaded the camera,

and checked the edge of the knife-blade,

I put on

the body-armor of black rubber

the absurd flippers

the grave and awkward mask.

I am having to do this

not like Cousteau with his

assiduous team

aboard the sun-flooded schooner

but here alone.

There is a ladder.

The ladder is always there

hanging innocently

close to the side of the schooner.

We know what it is for,

we who have used it.


it is a piece of maritime floss

some sundry equipment.

I go down.

Rung after rung and still

the oxygen immerses me

the blue light

the clear atoms

of our human air.

I go down.

My flippers cripple me,

I crawl like an insect down the ladder

and there is no one

to tell me when the ocean

will begin.

First the air is blue and then

it is bluer and then green and then

black I am blacking out and yet

my mask is powerful

it pumps my blood with power

the sea is another story

the sea is not a question of power

I have to learn alone

to turn my body without force

in the deep element.

And now: it is easy to forget

what I came for

among so many who have always

lived here

swaying their crenellated fans

between the reefs

and besides

you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.

The words are purposes.

The words are maps.

I came to see the damage that was done

and the treasures that prevail.

I stroke the beam of my lamp

slowly along the flank

of something more permanent

than fish or weed

the thing I came for:

the wreck and not the story of the wreck

the thing itself and not the myth

the drowned face always staring

toward the sun

the evidence of damage

worn by salt and away into this threadbare beauty

the ribs of the disaster

curving their assertion

among the tentative haunters.

This is the place.

And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair

streams black, the merman in his armored body.

We circle silently

about the wreck

we dive into the hold.

I am she: I am he

whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes

whose breasts still bear the stress

whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies

obscurely inside barrels

half-wedged and left to rot

we are the half-destroyed instruments

that once held to a course

the water-eaten log

the fouled compass

We are, I am, you are

by cowardice or courage

the one who find our way

back to this scene

carrying a knife, a camera

a book of myths

in which

our names do not appear.


smorales30  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
Adrienne Rich Mar 28, 2003


Adrienne Rich is one of my fave poets. It is extremely difficult to find her poems translated into Spanish, my mother tongue. However, a book with her poems from 1963-2000 has been recently published in Spain (Poemas, A Rich, Traducciones Sevilla 2002, Renacimiento, prólogo, traducción y notas de María Soledad Sánchez Gómez, a college professor specialized in Rich).

Not long ago, Rich visited Barcelona, Spain.

By the way, this compilation of poems is bilingual.


Marcela García  Identity Verified
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Thanks for the info Mar 28, 2003

Adrienne Rich is a wonderful poet.

I will try to get that book. I wonder if I can get it here in Buenos Aires, but if not, can you recommend a Spanish virtual bookstore where I can get it?

Thanks again!


smorales30  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
virtual store Mar 31, 2003

I think it will be a bit difficult to get because this is a university publication. However, the bookshop where I bought it from is on-line:

I am sure you can order it on-line. Also you will be able to order it at


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