Three Poems in English and Spanish of Alberto Blanco

Jun 26 2018 4.00




Lying with the truth is not the same

as telling the truth with a lie.



is a game of give and take

that gives as much as it takes away.


Poetry is different though

since it inspires an unoffending truth,

without pretense, without bias,

without pointlessly complicating words.


But it’s one thing to be,

another thing to do,

and something quite different indeed to be different...


And if, in the end, it's not possible to be neutral

it's vital to be, at the very least, positive.


--- Jean Renoir


[Translated from Spanish by Maria Bartlett and Ronald J. Friis]



La gran ilusión


No es lo mismo mentir diciendo la verdad

que decir la verdad con la mentira.


El uso del lenguaje

es como un toma y daca

que regala lo mismo que nos quita.


Diferente es el uso poético

que inspira a decir la verdad sin ofender a nadie,

sin fingir, sin ser parcial,

sin complicar el verbo sin motivo.


Pero una cosa es ser,

otra es hacer,

y otra cosa muy distinta es ser distinto…


Y si resulta imposible ser neutral

habrá que ser – al menos – positivo.


[Original version of the Spanish poem]





When I want to escape time,

my refuge is space.


When I want to escape space,

my refuge is time.


When I want to escape both space
and time, I am my refuge.


When I want to escape myself,

the only refuge is God.


--- Terrence Malick

[Translated from Spanish by Maria Bartlett and Ronald J. Friis]


El árbol de la vida


Cuando quiero huir del tiempo,

mi refugio es el espacio.


Cuando quiero huir del espacio,

mi refugio es el tiempo.


Cuando quiero huir del espacio

y del tiempo, mi refugio soy yo.


Cuando quiero huir de mí,

el único refugio es Dios.


[Original version of the Spanish poem]




Almost tell me everything

and I will almost do the same:

life, in a sense,

is a midnight sun

a light in the abyss.

--- Bille August

[Translated from Spanish by Maria Bartlett and Ronald J. Friis]


Sol de medianoche


Cuéntame tú casi todo

que yo casi haré lo mismo:

pues la vida de algún modo

es un sol a medianoche

y una luz en el abismo.


[Original version of the Spanish poem]


NOTE ON THE POEMS: Medio Cine / Cinemap by Alberto Blanco contains forty poems in conversation with well-known film directors. For the purposes of this submission, these directors (Jean Renoir (1894-1979, France), Terrence Malick (born 1943, United States), and Bille August (born 1948, Denmark)) are listed in italics after each poem. In the book, the directors appear in an appendix.


About The Authors


Alberto Blanco (Mexico City, 1951) is the author of more than 70 books of poems, essays about visual arts, and literary translations whose work has been translated into 15 languages. He has received Rockefeller, Guggenheim, and Fulbright grants and has won major literary prizes in Latin America such the Premio Carlos Pellicer and the Premio Xavier Villaurrtia. Among his seven books of poems in translation are A Cage of Transparent Words (The Bitter Oleander Press, 2007) and Dawn of the Senses, a selected poems, available from City Lights (2001).


Ronald J. Friis is a Professor of Spanish at Furman University in Greenville, SC. He is the author of José Emilio Pacheco and the Poets of the Shadows (Bucknell UP) and co-author of the textbook Doble vía (Cengage). He has published articles on Mexican and Chilean poetry and is currently writing a book about Mexican poet Alberto Blanco. His translations of Blanco are accepted or forthcoming in The Bitter Oleander and Ezra.


Maria E. Bartlett studied Spanish and Applied Mathematics at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. Her translations of Mexican poet Alberto Blanco are forthcoming in Ezra.