a Esther Zemborain de Torres
All things are words belonging to that language
In which Someone or Something, night and day,
Writes down the infinite babble that is, per se,
The history of the world. And in that hodgepodge
Both Rome and Carthage, he and you and I,
My life that I don’t grasp, this painful load
Of being riddle, randomness, or code,
And all of Babel’s gibberish stream by.
Behind the name is that which has no name;
Today I have felt its shadow gravitate
In this blue needle, in its trembling sweep
Casting its influence toward the farthest strait,
With something of a clock glimpsed in a dream
And something of a bird that stirs in its sleep.
Translated by Robert Mezey
All things are words of some strange tongue, in thrall
To Someone, Something, who both day and night
Proceeds in endless gibberish to write
The history of the world. In that dark scrawl
Rome is set down, and Carthage, I, you, all
And this my being which escapes me quite,
My anguished life that's cryptic, recondite,
And garbled as the tongues of Babel's fall.
Beyond the name there lies what has no name;
Today I have felt its shadow stir the aim
Of this blue needle, light and keen, whose sweep
Homes to the utmost of the sea its love,
Suggestive of a watch in dreams, or of
Some bird, perhaps, who shifts a bit in sleep.
Translated by Richard Wilbur