Astoria, the Gnocchi

Today’s prompt was to “find a poem in a language that you don’t know, and perform a “homophonic translation” on it”, which is essentially translating the poem based on how it sounds. Decided to “translate” History of the night by Jorge Luis Borges, an Argentine writer whose work we read a lot of in high school. It was a bit challenging since the original language is Spanish, which I already know a bit of and Borges presents a lot of abstract concepts. The original poem is below. Anyway, Borges is probably rolling in his grave over this translation…


A large generation amiss
lust, brace, irrigation gnocchi

In principal see guru, say no
spines or lozenge for dispute
the more the less lobs.

Nuns sober keen on forging lapels and bras
but intervene with sambar
ok, divide, lost us crepes
in space they straight

Others in guard Amite

I see her on mad parcels, tranquil
ten is dusty now
Eli sacrificed Iban in Vegas
alley, prestige stuffed in

Those who say cases, they hear on cold
infinite Mondays,
Hexameters latins modern
and terror of Pascal

Lean on patriots
in Antigua with wine
and contemplate sins with vertigo
and time cards for eternity

Pence no exists
instruments, oh hoes.


Original Spanish:

A lo largo de sus generaciones
los hombres erigieron la noche.

En el principio era ceguera y sueño
y espinas que laceran el pie desnudo
y temor de los lobos.

Nunca sabremos quién forjó la palabra
para el intervalo de sombra
que divide los dos crepúsculos;
nunca sabremos en qué siglo fue cifra
del espacio de estrellas.

Otros engendraron el mito.

La hicieron madre de las Parcas tranquilas
que tejen el destino
y le sacrificaban ovejas negras
y el gallo que presagia su fin.

Doce casas le dieron los caldeos;
infinitos mundos, el Pórtico.
Hexámetros latinos la modelaron
y el terror de Pascal.

Luis de León vio en ella la patria
de su alma estremecida.

Ahora la sentimos inagotable
como un antiguo vino
y nadie puede contemplarla sin vértigo
y el tiempo la ha cargado de eternidad.

Y pensar que no existiría
sin esos tenues instrumentos, los ojos.
English translation:

Throughout the course of the generations
men constructed the night.

At first she was blindness;
thorns raking bare feet,
fear of wolves.

We shall never know who forged the word
for the interval of shadow
dividing the two twilights;
we shall never know in what age it came to mean
the starry hours.

Others created the myth.

They made her the mother of the unruffled Fates
that spin our destiny,
they sacrificed black ewes to her, and the cock
who crows his own death.

The Chaldeans assigned to her twelve houses;
to Zeno, infinite words.

She took shape from Latin hexameters
and the terror of Pascal.

Luis de Leon saw in her the homeland
of his stricken soul.

Now we feel her to be inexhaustible
like an ancient wine
and no one can gaze on her without vertigo
and time has charged her with eternity.

And to think that she wouldn’t exist
except for those fragile instruments, the eyes.


One thought on “Astoria, the Gnocchi

  1. Very interesting and funny phrasing: “Nuns sober keen on forging lapels and bra”. I suppose those might be good sources of revenues. Kinda like those Belgian monks who make beer 🙂


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