modifying with ángel gonzález

This week’s poem comes from Spanish poet Ángel González. It speaks of the ways words modify and change what they are attached to. It’s the kind of poem that if you speak too much about it, it flies away, like the butterfly in the poem.

I offer my own translation from the Spanish with the full awareness that the act of translation itself lives in this territory of ephemeral, shifting meaning.

I offer it also as a belated valentine to Ani, as we happened to be apart last week. What’s in the date of a holiday, really?


A veces, un cuerpo puede modificar un nombre – Ángel González

A veces, las palabras se posan sobre las cosas
como una mariposa sobre una flor, y las
recubren de colores nuevos.

Sin embargo, cuando pienso en tu nombre, eres
tú quien le da a la palabra color, aroma, vida.

¿Qué sería tu nombre sin ti?

Igual que la palabra rosa sin la rosa:
un ruido incomprensible, torpe, hueco.


Sometimes, a body can modify a name – Ángel González
translated by José Angel Araguz

Sometimes, words pose themselves over things
like a butterfly over a flower, and they
cover them in new colors.

Nevertheless, when I think of your name, it’s you
that gives the word color, aroma, life.

What would your name be without you?

Same as the word rose without the rose:
an incomprehensible, clumsy, hollow noise.


Happy modifying!


4 responses to “modifying with ángel gonzález”

  1. Another week where Friday is a highlight. Thank you very much for sharing this one, for the translation, and for the reminder of the delicate role of a translator.

    1. My pleasure! Thanks for reading! Abrazos, José

  2. “What would your name be without you?” A shadow, a ghost. A rose is never just a rose. Wonderful!!

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