Bitter Song

“Do Not Disturb” hangs upon my self, but sadness seems to sneak its way past.
Shadow-heavy, this thing pummels me,
even though I used to grab fistfuls of stars
when now I can only clutch at agony.

More likely than not, it’s the loving caress of futility,
the endless misery of the poet’s existence,
to sing and to sing without ever being able to
tear tragedy away from life.

To be and not want to be? That is the divide,
the battle that dries up all hope,
discovering, with the soul about to breathe its last,
that the miserable body isn’t quite ready to give up the fight.

Forgive me, love, if I never give you a name.
Without your song these wings become dry and brittle.
If I close my eyes, will it be death who rocks me to sleep?
Singing to you, only you, is what keeps me awake.

By Julia de Burgos
translated, from the Spanish, by Dariush Azimi

Dariush Azimi is a Masters student in English literature at Queen Mary, University of London. Julia de Burgos (1914-1953) 1914-53), considered by many to be the greatest poet born in Puerto Rico, worked towards attaining civil rights for women and Afro-Caribbean writers until the day she died. Her poetry continues to be read and shared widely, making de Burgos one of Latin America’s greatest and most influential poets.