LETE, Xabier:
Some poems

Those Poets

                                             They are taking the man

                                             prisoner.

What did he say?
What did he do?

HE ASKED FOR
           BREAD
FOR HIS CHILDREN.

           And the poet
           And the poet
                       kept silent,
      trapped in fear.

They are taking
the man
            prisoner.

            What did he say?
            What did he do?

            HE ASKED
            FOR JUSTICE

      And
The poet
      and the poet kept silent
                  locked inside
                  his house.

                        They
                               beat the man with a whip

What did he say? What did he do?

                        HE ASKED
                              FOR LIBERTY

            And the poet and the poet
            is silent doors closed

            Oh, poet!
                  The Day
                        of Freedom
                              will be harsh
                                    for you.

Egunetik egunera orduen gurpillean (From Day to Day on the Wheel of Hours) (1968).





An endless naming of things

Poetry
is a way of naming things.

So
I will not
show you
rich and abundant gardens
nor
reveal
the order of the stars.

Our path does not lead
to the promised city
it is simply a path:
an endless naming of things.

Our path
simple path,
and our language
like a warm rain
that wets
the arid ground of men in chains.

Bigarren poema liburua (Second Book of Poems) (1974).





And life

And life
slips through our fingers
like fine sand.
It slips by
with
the blue smoke of the fields
and the echo of singing waters:
like the melancholy of old loves.

And there was a garden,
a garden full of sweet smells.

And there was a desire,
overflowing with insatiable imagination
the first desire to explode over us.

It was a smell of sex
that dazzled us.

Bigarren poema liburua (Second Book of Poems) (1974).





Sons of Nothingness

We
sons of nothingness
unseated horsemen of sweeping doubt
in these times of blood and mud
held in the lap of nostalgia...

our history
is one of those written in tiny letters
and our future
a problematic non-paradise of grey clouds.

For a long time the old suitcase that holds memories
has been full of holes
from which flow
hopes
fantasies
ludicrous hates...

We who spent afternoons at the door of winter
counting our solutions one by one
to the point of boredom...
but no one can tie the threads of feelings
they way they should be tied,
tight together.

The cart of reason
goes around and around its axle
without stopping,
and the heart
is nothing but a creaking machine
full of masked mechanisms
afternoons at the door of winter.

Bigarren poema liburua (Second Book of Poems) (1974).





Beyond a scorched land

I would like to meet you
beyond a scorched land?
Beyond all the
words
gestures
laughter
tears
attitudes
burnt by fire.
On the other side of the scorched land,
where there would be nothing
but the blue powder of the stars
and a long seashore.
In our original nakedness,
relishing the smell of mint,
playing with innocent sex
making infinite love...

And the sea
with its watery eyes
like a salty rainbow
bursting and bursting
in a thousand colors.

I would like to meet you
beyond this scorched land...

Bigarren poema liburua (Second Book of Poems) (1974).





And the word will be pain

And the word
will be pain.
Pain will heal
our wounds,
draw out the pus.
And in healing,
the days will keep
flowing
over one another
as gently as can be.

Bigarren poema liburua (Second Book of Poems) (1974).





Stardust

Stardust one day
became sustenance,
somehow we were born
of that unexpected dust.
And we live like this
making our choices over and over
without respite:
we move forward by working
all together in the same chain
tied tightly together.

Man must conquer
a rugged territory,
he lives in this battle and
this is his truth.
He searches and searches,
cannot stop his efforts,
knowledge and light:
barely finding dark pathways
sometimes giving birth to new laws
risking his life to do this.

Knowledge is the work of men:
changing by knowing,
becoming one with nature and
starting relationships.
And letting our strength take root
our roots dig deep into the ground
there to endure:
creating assent from dissent
taking negation to be law
always going on.

He who has nothing knows well
how good it is to possess,
man always lives
wanting to satisfy his needs.
We are also something and
from where we are right here
let us try to see:
leaving crazy dreams behind
burning dirty brambles once and for all
finding a good path.

From the very trunk from which we were born
others will emerge
young shoots
that will carry on the fight.
The ones who will
make their own choices
and get up again after a fall:
those who will realize
our dream immaculately
with the strength and light of events.

Bigarren poema liburua (Second Book of Poems) (1974).





Blame laid

If you want to find me
in the deserts of desolation
follow your path to the spring of childhood,
seek there helpless eyes
full of surprise,
wounded roots withered by winter cold,
orphaned feelings that have suffered so much pain.

Ask pain
why it became so early the master
of the shadowy rooms of life,
what the broken hands of hope were like
blame laid on beaten flesh.

Look not to histories in which the present speaks
for we have learned
sticking together scattered pieces
how to wander from street to street,
how to use smiles in defense,
how to look upon death finally with love.

There was a moment
at the very beginning
before rules and regulations were set in place
when everything was possible,
for each his own name, his own essence,
for we were born for freedom.
But our history has been disintegrating
ever since its cursed beginning
for fear was law at the dawn of time
and we are its children in the worst of ways.

This is why the child will never grow up
and his eyes flee
to a forgotten distant past,
he tries to remember
something possible
that he was once forbidden forever,
from the moment of birth there is a slash
that no insane effort can heal.

It is useless now
to go there,
when the child has lost his way
and is afraid,
when he has forgotten
the word happiness
when the storms of life
bring night
to the grey hell
of fallen angels.

Urrats desbideratuak (Missteps) (1981).





You will steal my life

You will steal my life
with the cowardly weapon of cruel refusal.
You will steal
my dignity and courage,
when you take my history and reason,
denying me love and conquest
with a heartless gesture.
But no one will exile me
from the signs of beautiful times
that lie lavishly before the senses:
colors and smells
dew and fog
of the wondrous calligraphy of shadowy forests?
And when the exact time arrives to say ?let it be so?
I will return a humble pride
to the beloved seeds of my awe.
They will rouse me
in that last futile moment,
and leaving to all what belongs to all
I will be sure
that you have not managed to obscure my gaze.

Urrats desbideratuak (Missteps) (1981).





The coming winter does not frighten me

The coming winter does not frighten me
because I know in the heat of summer
that the present also persists
in the future
in a motionless chain
a line of moment after moment
until everything becomes the present
in the roots of being.

The frost with its white breath
does not scare me at dawn
when wide nature
seems lifeless
for the heart holds the light
of the beautiful sun of those who have left
as memories of the past hold
the thousand seeds of the senses.

Losing my breath
at the last minute does not worry me
even if the humble path is blocked
by the briars of the chasm,
the new wine will improve
the old shoots in the vineyards
our present justified
by the future of others.

Picking the last flowers in the garden
does not sadden me
nor does wandering breathless
seeking the reason for all limits
nor surrendering all my senses
to the full light of the afternoon
for dying forever
brings a sleep full of dreams.

Urrats desbideratuak (Missteps) (1981).





Now I love the darkest hours of my existence

Now I love the darkest hours of my existence
for they were the bitter anvil of my conscience,
when the flowery garden of the woken senses is about to be extinguished,
because I cannot sow seeds in barren land covered with salt.

I am a full-grown tree that throws a silent shadow on the grave,
a chance dream that a youth once made a song:
if perhaps rest were lasting and sleep familiar
the man of earth would be radiant in his calm.

The old ingredients of exaltation will return
the fleeting images made by a song in the beautiful summer:
bodies, laughter, golden vineyards, shouts of joy.

The deaf-mute will not write in the old book
when his multicolored eyes are confused in dizziness:
we will pay old debts with our last living breath.

Zentzu antzaldatuen poemategia (Poems of the Transformed Senses) (1992).





Š Translation: Kristin Addis