Poetry
A Brief History of Music

A Brief History of Music

Breve historia de la música

Eduardo Chirinos

Translated by  G. J. Racz

Paxarico tu te llamas

(Anonymous Sephardic Song.  Sarajevo, c. 1500)

The foam of the Adriatic

swirls about our feet

 

The twilight gleams red

……..and frightening

 

Soon the blazing sun above

the mountains will sink into the sea

 

We don’t speak this language

this people’s

blood is not our own

 

So tell me little birdie

can we six strings

live together?

 

Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2

He’s beautiful the old guy

his long white

    ……..hair

cascading over his shoulders

and those hands

……..oh the dignity in those hands

on the Bible

…….. the keyboard

the fruit stand

the duchess’s body

the chorus girl

the Empress of Hungary

that one who abandoned everything

and went mad in Martinique

……..That blue

and ebon gaze

that stare

hard as the stones

the Danube laves

those warts

                   for which she would give her soul

if only she could sell it

if only she could

 

I can’t picture him riding

but I do imagine horses

herds

……..of wild horses

over never-ending meadows

and gypsies

……..families of gypsies

playing cards

on boiling nights

……..like this

where the knife is king

the half moon curved

like a violin’s bow

like red sweat

down a person’s back

……..like a whip

over streets of stone

where I hear prostitutes

thugs and drunks

……..singing

Come they say

sit and listen to the story

……..stop

moving your feet

Then

……..I mark the page in my book

with a dried flower

……..tracing

a line in the dust

on the piano’s lid

while I repeat

……..in a low voice

you’ll

never be one with those hands

  ……..you’ll

never be one with those hands

 

Children’s Corner

Come with me

            my darling child

and listen to this

                tell me now

what do you see?

I see

……..my doll’s

long

……..braids

I see

……..her big

round eyes

……..and the snow

dancing

……..its very

white very

        sad fluff

falling

……..over the meadow

the ocean

…….. my pillow

I also see

…….. Doctor Gradus

Won’t you please

…….. tell him

to go away

and never come back?

……..Now silly goose

close your eyes and tell me

…….. what do you see?

I see

……..nine ladies

each holding a cake

……..I see

a cabin of slaves

dancing in African

…….. but singing in English

It looks like a party

……..an artistic event

with very tall buildings

and the Statue of Liberty


Beneath the moonlight

a Russian nursemaid kisses

a young olive vendor

The little shepherd boy

……..feels so alone

how sadly

……..the rain

falls

……..on his cabin

his dappled

……..cow

the pompom

……..of its tail

its long

  ……..eyelashes

your friend

……..Stéphane’s

bushy moustache


Tell me daddy

that tune you’re playing

……..……..is it a serenade

for my doll?

 

*These poems belong to the book A Brief History of Music by Eduardo Chirinos.

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