martes, 31 de julio de 2012

D.Q.

Rúben Darío

While I'm going to have to say adiós to Spanish Lit Month with about a half a dozen books and probably an equal number of poems and short stories in progress but all still unfinished, here's a final project style parting gift of sorts to all who have read along with us throughout July: a transcription of Rúben Darío's 1899 short story "D.Q." with an accompanying translation from yours truly.  Hope the "Englishization" of this tale makes up for my rather primitive translation skills and thanks again to Stu for inviting me to co-host the month-long fiesta with him in the first place.  I had a blast.  Cheers!

D.Q.
por Rúben Darío
Nicaragua, 1899

1

Estamos de guarnición cerca de Santiago de Cuba.  Había llovido esa noche; no obstante el calor era excesivo.  Aguardábamos la llegada de una compañía de la nueva fuerza venida de España, para abandonar aquel paraje en que nos moríamos de hambre, sin luchar, llenos de desesperación y de ira.  La compañía debía llegar esa misma noche, según el aviso recibido.  Como el calor arreciase y el sueño no quisiese darme reposo, salí a respirar fuera de la carpa.  Pasada la lluvia, el cielo había despejado un tanto y en el fondo oscuro brillaban algunas estrellas.  Di suelta a la nube de tristes ideas que se aglomeraban en mi cerebro.  Pensé en tantas cosas que estaban allá lejos; en la perra suerte que nos perseguía; en que quizá Dios podría dar un nuevo rumbo a su látigo y nosotros entrar en una nueva vía, en una rápida revancha.  En tantas cosas pensaba...

¿Cuánto tiempo pasó?  Las estrellas sé que poco a poco fueron palideciendo; un aire que refrescó el campo todo sopló del lado de la aurora y ésta inició su aparecimiento, entre tanto que una diana que no sé por qué llegaba a mis oídos como llena de tristeza, regó sus notas matinales.  Poco tiempo después se anunció que la compañía se acercaba.  En efecto, no tardó en llegar a nosotros.  Y los saludos de nuestros camaradas y los nuestros se mezclaron fraternizando en el nuevo sol.  Momentos después hablabámos con los compañeros.  Nos traían noticias de la patria.  Sabían los estragos de las últimas batallas.  Como nosotros, estaban desolados, pero con el deseo quemante de luchar, de agitarse en una furia de venganza, de hacer todo el daño posible al enemigo.  Todos éramos jóvenes y bizarros, menos uno; todos nos buscaban para comunicar con nosotros o para conversar, menos uno.  Nos traían provisiones que fueron repartidas.  A la hora del rancho, todos nos pusimos a devorar nuestra escasa pitanza, menos uno.  Tendría como cincuenta años, más también podía haber tenido trescientos.  Su mirada triste parecía penetrar hasta lo hondo de nuestras almas y decirnos cosas de siglos.  Alguna vez que se le dirigía la palabra, casi no contestaba; sonreía melancólicamente; se aislaba, buscaba la soledad; miraba hacia el fondo del horizonte, por el lado del mar.  Era el abanderado.  ¿Cómo se llamaba?  No oí su nombre nunca.

2

El capellán nos dijo dos días después:
-Creo que no nos darán la orden de partir todavía.  La gente se desespera de deseos de pelear.  Tenemos algunos enfermos.  Por fin, ¿cuándo veríamos llenarse de gloria nuestra pobre y santa bandera?  A propósito: ¿ha visto usted al abanderado?  Se desvive por socorrer a los enfermos.  Él no come; lleva lo suyo a los otros.  He hablado con él.  Es un hombre milagroso y extraño.  Parece bravo y nobilísimo de corazón.  Me ha hablado de sueños irrealizables.  Cree que dentro de poco estaremos en Washington y que se izará nuestra bandera en el Capitolio, como lo dijo el obispo en su brindis.  Le han apenado las últimas disgracias; pero confía en algo desconocido que nos ha de amparar; confía en Santiago; en la nobleza de nuestra raza; en la justicia de nuestra causa.  ¿Sabe usted?  Los otros seres le hacen burlas, se ríen de él.  Dicen que debajo del uniforme usa una coraza vieja.  Él no les hace caso.  Conversando conmigo, suspiraba profundamente, miraba el cielo y el mar.  Es un buen hombre en el fondo; paisano mío, manchego.  Cree en Dios y es religioso.  También algo poeta.  Dicen que por la noche rima redondillas, se las recita solo, en voz baja.  Tiene a su bandera un culto casi supersticioso.  Se asegura que pasa las noches en vela; por lo menos, nadie le ha visto dormir.  ¿Me confesará usted que el abanderado es un hombre original?

-Señor capellán -le dije-, he observado ciertamente algo muy original en ese sujeto, que creo, por otra parte, haber visto no sé dónde.  ¿Cómo se llama?

-No lo sé -contestóme el sacerdote-.  No se me ha ocurrido ver su nombre en la lista.  Pero en todas sus cosas hay marcados dos letras: D.Q.

3

A un paso del punto en donde acampábamos había un abismo.  Más allá de la boca rocallosa, sólo se veía sombra.  Una piedra arrojada rebotaba y no se sentía caer.  Era un bello día.  El sol caldeaba tropicalmente la atmósfera.  Habíamos recibido orden de alistarnos para marchar, y probablemente ese mismo día tendríamos el primer encuentro con las tropas yanquis.  En todos los rostros, dorados por el fuego curioso de aquel cielo candente, brillaba el deseo de la sangre y de la victoria.  Todo estaba lista para la partida, el clarín había trazado en el aire su signo de oro.  Íbamos a caminar, cuando un oficial, a todo galope, apareció por un recodo.  Llamó a nuestro jefe y habló con él misteriosamente.  ¿Cómo os diré que fue aquello?  ¿Jamás habéis sido aplastados por la cúpula de un templo que haya elevado vuestra esperanza?  ¿Jamás habéis padecido viendo que asesinaban delante de vosotros a vuestra madre?  Aquélla fue la más horrible desolación.  Era la noticia.  Estabámos perdidos, perdidos sin remedio.  No lucharíamos más.  Debíamos entregarnos como prisioneros, como vencidos.  Cervera estaba en poder del yanqui.  La escuadra se la había tragado el mar, la habían despedazado los cañones de Norteamérica.  No quedaba ya nada de España en el mundo que ella descubriera.  Debíamos dar al enemigo vencedor las armas, y todo; y el enemigo apareció, en la forma de un gran diablo rubio, de cabellos lacios, barba de chivo, oficial de los Estados Unidos, seguido de una escolta de cazadores de ojos azules.  Y la horrible escena comenzó.  Las espadas se entregaron; los fusiles también...  Unos soldados juraban; otros paledecían, con los ojos húmedos de lágrimas, estallando de indignación y de vergüenza.  Y la bandera...  Cuando llegó el momento de la bandera, se vio una cosa que puso en todos el espanto glorioso de una inesperada maravilla.  Aquel hombre extraño, que miraba profundamente con una mirada de siglos, con su bandera amarilla y roja, dándonos una mirada de la más amarga despedida, sin que nadie se atreviese tocarle, fuese paso a paso al abismo y se arrojó en él.  Todavía de lo negro del precipicio devolvieron las rocas un ruido metálico, como el de una armadura.

4

El señor capellán cavilaba tiempo después:

-"D.Q."...  De pronto, creí aclarar el enigma.  Aquella fisonomía, ciertamente, no me era desconocida. 

-D.Q. -le dije-  está retratado en este viejo libro.  Escuchad: "Frisaba la edad de nuestro hidalgo con los cincuenta años; era de complexión recia, seco de carnes, enjuto de rostro, gran madrugador y amigo de la caza.  Quieren decir que tenía el sobrenombre de Quijada o Quesada -que en esto hay alguna diferencia en los autores que de este caso escriben-, aunque por conjeturas verosímiles se deja entender que se llamaba Quijano".

"D.Q."
by Rúben Darío
Nicaragua, 1899

1

We were on guard duty near Santiago de Cuba.  It had rained that night; however, the heat was excessive.  We were awaiting the arrival of a company of replacements sent from Spain so that we could abandon that spot where we were starving to death without fighting, full of desperation and rage.  The company was due to arrive that same night according to the dispatch that we'd received.  As the heat was intensifying and sleep didn't want to provide me any rest, I left the tent for some fresh air outside.  The rain over, the sky had cleared up a little and some stars were shining in the depths of the darkness.  I gave free reign to the cloud of melancholy ideas that were gathering in my brain.  I thought about so many things that were far away there, about the rotten luck that was dogging us, about how maybe God could give a crack of the whip and send us down a new road and permit a rapid retaliation.  I was thinking about so many things...

How much time went by?  I know that the stars were slowly growing dimmer.  An air that refreshed the entire countryside brought dawn with it, while a reveille which I'm not sure why arrived in my ears as if tinged with sadness scattered its morning notes.  A short time later, it was announced that the company was arriving.  Indeed, it didn't delay in reaching us.  And the greetings of our comrades and our own troops mixed freely, fraternizing in the morning sun.  Moments later we were speaking with our compañeros.  They brought us news from the homeland.  They knew of the havoc unleashed by the most recent battles.  Like us, they were devastated--but with the burning desire to fight, to stir things up in a fury of revenge, of inflicting all possible harm on the enemy.  We were all young and gallant, save one; we all looked for each other to communicate or to chat, save one.  They brought us provisions that were handed out.  At mess hour, we all set ourselves to devouring our meager rations, save one.  He was probably something like 50 years old, but he could have also passed for something like 300 years old.  His mournful glance seemed to penetrate to the bottom of our souls and tell us things of centuries gone by.  Once a word was directed to him, he hardly answered; he smiled melancholically, drew away, searched for solitude.  He looked into the depths of the horizon, by the seaside.  He was the standard-bearer.  What was he called?  I never heard his name.

2

The chaplain told us two days later: "I don't think that they'll give us the orders to leave just yet.  The people are dying to fight.  We have some sick and wounded.  Also, when would we see our poor and blessed flag win its share of glory?  Speaking of which: have you seen the standard-bearer?  He goes out of his way to help the invalids.  He doesn't eat; he takes his food to the others.  I've spoken with him.  He's a strange and miraculous man.  He seems brave and noble of heart.  He has spoken to me of unrealizable dreams.  He believes that before long we will be in Washington and that our flag will be flown on the Capitol--as the bishop said in his toast.  The most recent misfortunes have pained him, but he puts his faith in some unknown thing that's bound to help us.  He trusts in St. James, in the nobility of our race, in the justice of our cause.  You know something?  The other men make fun of him, they laugh at him.  They say that underneath his clothing he wears an old cuirass.  He doesn't pay them any attention.  Talking with me, he was sighing deeply, intently watching the heavens and the sea.  He's a good man at heart: a countryman of mine, from La Mancha.  He believes in God and is a religious man.  Also something of a poet.  They say that in the evenings, he rhymes quatrains, reciting them to himself in a low voice.  He has an almost superstitious reverence for his flag.  One would swear that he spends his nights on watch; at the very least, nobody has seen him sleep.  Will you confess to me that the standard-bearer is a true original?"

"Reverend Father," I told him, "I have certainly observed something very original in that subject, who, for that matter, I seem to have seen somewhere before.  What's his name?"

"I don't know," the priest replied.  "It hadn't occurred to me to look for his name on the list.  But there are two letters marked on all his things: D.Q."

3

One step away from where we were encamped was an abyss.  Beyond its stony mouth, only shadows could be seen.  A rock thrown would ricochet away and couldn't be heard hitting bottom.  It was a glorious day.  The sun heat up the atmosphere with tropical warmth.  We had received the order to get ready to march, and probably that same day we'd have our first encounter with the American troops.  A thirst for blood and victory shone in all the faces made golden by the curious fire of that burning sky.  Everything was in order for the departure, the bugle had traced its golden notes in the air.  We were ready to march when an official, at full gallop, appeared in a bend in the road.  He called our commander over and spoke with him mysteriously.  How can I tell you what that was like?  Have you ever been crushed by the dome of a temple which has elevated your spirits?  Have you ever suffered the misfortune of seeing your mother killed before your eyes?  That was the most distressing thing.  It was the news.  We were lost, lost without a hope.  We wouldn't be fighting any longer.  We needed to turn ourselves in as prisoners, as the vanquished.  Cervera was in the hands of the Yankees.  The sea had swallowed up the squadron, the North American cannons had torn it to pieces.  There no longer remained anything of Spain's in the world that she had discovered.  We were to turn in our arms and everything else to the enemy conquerors, and the enemy appeared in the form of a great blonde devil with straight hair and goat whiskers--an official, followed by a squad of blue-eyed hunters.  And the horrible scene commenced.  Swords were turned in and rifles, too...  Some soldiers were cursing.  Others were turning pale with their eyes moist with tears, breaking down in indignation and shame.  And the flag...  When the time for the flag arrived, something was observed that gave everybody who witnessed it the glorious fright of an unexpected marvel taking place.  That strange man with his red and yellow flag, who was staring with the gaze of centuries, giving us a look of the most bitter farewell, without anybody daring to touch him, went step by step to the abyss and threw himself down into it.  The rocks returned a metallic noise from the darkness of the pit like the sound of a suit of armor.

4

A short time later, the Reverend Father was pondering the initials:  "D.Q."

Suddenly, I believed I'd solved the mystery.  Those features certainly weren't unknown to me.

"D.Q.," I told him, is portrayed in this old book.  Listen: "Our hidalgo was somewhere around 50 years old.  He was of a severe aspect, with dry skin, lean in the face, a great early riser, and a friend of the hunt.  They say that he bore the family name of Quijada or Quesada--although in this there is some debate among the authors who write on the subject--while other conjectures lead us to understand that it was most likely Quijano."

21 comentarios:

  1. A wonderful story - thanks for the translation :)

    ResponderEliminar
    Respuestas
    1. You're welcome--glad you enjoyed the story!

      Eliminar
  2. This story is full of words expressing such dark bleak themes (dare I think this would make it a favorite of yours?): desperation, rage, melancholy, rotten luck, tinged with sadness, havoc, devastated, unrealizable dreams, abyss, the misfortune of seeing your mother killed before your eyes, torn it to pieces, horrible scene, their eyes moist with tears, breaking down in indignation and shame... that I would make the guess that D.Q. is not a name at all, but rather a reminder to go to Dairy Queen to get a treat because the world is so f-ing depressing!

    ResponderEliminar
    Respuestas
    1. A Dairy Queen run sounds like a wonderful idea, Jill, but I should point out that you might feel a little blue yourself if your "team" had just lost the Spanish-American War (plus, Darío's artistry makes this a way less upsetting story than you make it sound!). Cheers!

      Eliminar
  3. I think you are vastly underestimating your translation skills. Wonderfully done.

    ResponderEliminar
    Respuestas
    1. Thanks, R.R.--it was wonderful material to experiment with!

      Eliminar
  4. Geez, it's superb. I considered writing about a 1905 poem titled "Letanía de nuestro señor don Quijote," in which DQ has become a saint. A recurring theme for Darío.

    Thanks for providing this story.

    ResponderEliminar
    Respuestas
    1. You're welcome, Tom--glad you enjoyed the story as much as you did. By the way, that DQ poem you mention was one of a couple of titles by Darío that was really calling my name about halfway through the month; however, I ended up with far more wishlist items than actual choices as usual. I ought to read more by him, I guess.

      Eliminar
  5. Great story and great translation, Richard. Thanks. Between this and Amateur Reader's posts on Darío I'm going to have to hit the library again today. Above all, a huge thanks for co-hosting Spanish Literature Month; I've found it a complete revelation and a joy to boot.

    ResponderEliminar
    Respuestas
    1. Thank you, Scott--very happy to hear that the accidental Wuthering Expectations/Caravana de recuerdos tag team has sparked your interest in Darío. Also delighted to hear that Spanish Lit Month was such a happening experience for you. Your three posts contributed to my own enjoyment greatly. Cheers!

      Eliminar
  6. Excellently done. Though the ending spoiled it for me.

    ResponderEliminar
    Respuestas
    1. Thanks, Rise. I guess you could consider the ending to be a little heavyhanded, but I still like the rest of it anyway.

      Eliminar
  7. Thanks, Richard - loved this. A great way to end SpanishLitMonth. The Don remained as the Wandering Jew - love it.

    ResponderEliminar
    Respuestas
    1. I picture him still trying to climb out of the abyss.

      Eliminar
    2. Glad you enjoyed the story, Séamus, and I got a kick out of your imagined "postscript" to the tale. Nice image!

      Eliminar
  8. I really enjoyed reading this, thank you so much for translating and posting it! I'd never heard of Darío before but will look out for him now.

    Thanks also for co-hosting Spanish Lit Month, it's been a great few weeks for learning about writers I'd never heard of. I hope you repeat it next year.

    ResponderEliminar
    Respuestas
    1. Darío's more famous for his poetry than his prose, Helen, but I'm glad you enjoyed the story and Spanish Lit Month in general. I'd love to host it again next year if Stu's up for it but maybe in a winter month instead (hellish weather here in July destroyed my motivation for a good two to three posts). P.S. Tom of Wuthering Expectations (on my blogroll) did a few posts on Darío at the end of July over at his blog--good reading. Cheers!

      Eliminar
  9. great story richard ,Sorry I dropped of near end of spanish lit month I got side tracked by work ,olympics and anniversary still got few left to review my self but that said been a great success I THINK ,ALL THE BEST STU

    ResponderEliminar
    Respuestas
    1. Glad you enjoyed the story, Stu, and thanks for inviting me to co-host SLM with you. People seemed to have a lot of fun with it. Congrats on your annivesary, by the way!

      Eliminar
  10. Thank you once again for co-hosting Spanish Lit Month with Stu! I didn't get as much read as I'd hoped (the story of my life), but found so many more titles to add to my list it's problematic. In a good way. Also, thank you for sharing the story and "Englishization." An enjoyable little read.

    ResponderEliminar
    Respuestas
    1. You're welcome on both counts, Amanda, and thank you for participating with your Borges selection! I have one more link list to put together for the last half week of Spanish Lit Month, but I didn't get to read as much as I would have liked either (books or SLM posts by others). Luckily, there's no harm in reading Spanish language lit in August or September. Cheers!

      Eliminar