Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Childhood of William Blake by Heberto Padilla

The Childhood of William Blake
Heberto Padilla
transladed by J.M. Cohen


Woman , put down your lighted lamp,
open the door and cover him.
The visitors interrupted his sleep,
ther are breaking up at the usual hour.
" Goodnight , Mrs. Blake......Oh, just look
what a frost : the first of the year...."
Show cover the roof , piles up to the height
of the porch ( it is like this in Lambeth )
And in the far - away house
neither the familiar magic nor the beating of the rain,
nor your steps as they come near.
driving away the sharp terror
of the dusk , could comfort those eyes,
only the Woodland dog
raising his grey head among the wild

The thing that is falling an creaking
( among the damp leaves it makes a loud
and lonely sound ) points at you
from the farthest place in the world.
Frightened you pause, woman, in the remotest
and doorways.
Not a doubt that the flames alarm you,
All that you can remember is difficult speech.


They said to you :
Children like you, William,
will be refused by the angel;
you have a dirty face;
you blaspheme, you rob the larder;
you are always carrying ciphers
and prints
and plates......

You bent you body and smiled.
Oh , Blake, the twentieth century
isn`t a simple engraving
of a battle between the archangel and the devil.
It is this snare
in which we struggle , it is this rain
that blinds us. They have pulled down the larders,
and there are no signs
or ciphers
that are not understood by
the War Ministry.

Come in. we are still awake.
One day or another
they call to me from the door:
' A man with an umbrella , if you please, sir'
You cannot know this . It is of our time.
One day or another
they walk into my room,
' He showed his badges, sir,
One day or another
they compel me to come out into the street,
they beat me, they throw me like a rat
somewhere or other.
( You cannot know this. It is of this epoch )
An inspector of heresies testifies against me.

1967 Writers in the New Cuba
an anthology edited by J.M. Cohen
Stories, poems and a play

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