Alfonsina Storni

(1892 – 1938)

Alfonsina Storni, a major Latin American poet, immigrated with her family from Switzerland to Argentina in 1896. She became a teacher, actress, playwright and journalist as well as a distinguished poet and a founder of the Argentine Society of Writers. She bore and raised her son on her own, moving to Buenos Aires so she could live and work as a single mother. Her portrayal of men was deeply ironic, even cynical; at the same time, her poems could be heterosexually erotic and deeply sensual. She won literary recognition with her first book, La inquietud del rosal, The Restless Rose Garden (1916), and popular success with her second, El dulce daño, The Sweet Injury (1918). 

In the 1920s she  turned to journalism and plays. In the 1930s, influenced by Federico García Lorca among others, she returned to poetry, publishing El mundo de siete pozosI, The World of Seven Wells, (1934) and Mascarilla y trébol, Mask and Trefoil (1938). She was suffering from incurable breast cancer; despair is a theme in much of her later work, and she committed suicide in 1938. A collection of her Obra poetica complete, Complete Poetical Works, was published in 1961.


A Eros 

He aquí que te cacé por el pescuezo
a la orilla del mar, mientras movías
las flechas de tu aljaba para herirme
y vi en el suelo tu floreal corona.

Como a un muñeco destripé tu vientre
y examiné sus ruedas engañosas
y muy envuelta en sus poleas de oro
hallé una trampa que decía: sexo.

Sobre la playa, ya un guiñapo triste,
te mostré al sol, buscón de tus hazañas,
ante un corro asustado de sirenas.

Iba subiendo por la cuesta albina
tu madrina de engaños, Doña Luna,
y te arrojé a la boca de las olas.

To Eros 

I caught you by the neck 
on the shore of the sea, while you shot 
arrows from your quiver to wound me 
and on the ground I saw your flowered crown. 

I disemboweled your stomach like a doll’s 
and examined your deceitful wheels, 
and deeply hidden in your golden pulleys 
I found a trapdoor that said: sex. 

On the beach I held you, now a sad heap, 
up to the sun, accomplice of your deeds, 
before a chorus of frightened sirens. 

Your deceitful godmother, the moon 
was climbing through the crest of the dawn, 
and I threw you into the mouth of the waves.

Translated by Kay Short

Dos palabras 

Esta noche al oído me has dicho dos palabras
Comunes. Dos palabras cansadas
De ser dichas. Palabras
Que de viejas son nuevas.

Dos palabras tan dulces que la luna que andaba
Filtrando entre las ramas
Se detuvo en mi boca. Tan dulces dos palabras
Que una hormiga pasea por mi cuello y no intento
Moverme para echarla.

Tan dulces dos palabras
—Que digo sin quererlo— ¡oh, qué bella, la vida!—
Tan dulces y tan mansas
Que aceites olorosos sobre el cuerpo derraman.

Tan dulces y tan bellas
Que nerviosos, mis dedos,
Se mueven hacia el cielo imitando tijeras.
Oh, mis dedos quisieran
Cortar estrellas.

Two words 

Tonight at my ear
you have said two simple words.
Two words tired of being said.
Words so old they are new.

Two such sweet words
that the moon dripping through the branches
lands in my mouth. So sweet
these two words that I let an ant
wander down my neck without moving.

Such sweet two words that I say
without trying-How beautiful life is!
So sweet, so tame,
they spill like aromatic oils on my body.

So sweet and so beautiful
that my nervous fingers
move toward the sky like scissors
wanting to cut out the stars.

Translated by Pablo Medina

Voy a dormir

Dientes de flores, cofia de rocío,
manos de hierbas, tú, nodriza fina,
tenme prestas las sábanas terrosas
y el edredón de musgos escardados.

Voy a dormir, nodriza mía, acuéstame.
Ponme una lámpara a la cabecera;
una constelación; la que te guste;
todas son buenas; bájala un poquito.

Déjame sola: oyes romper los brotes…
te acuna un pie celeste desde arriba
y un pájaro te traza unos compases

para que olvides… Gracias. Ah, un encargo:
si él llama nuevamente por teléfono
le dices que no insista, que he salido…

I Am Going to Sleep

Teeth of flowers, hairnet of dew,
hands of herbs, you, perfect wet nurse,
prepare the earthly sheets for me
and the down quilt of weeded moss.

I am going to sleep, my nurse, put me to bed.
Set a lamp at my headboard;
a constellation; whatever you like;
all are good: lower it a bit.

Leave me alone: you hear the buds breaking through . . .
a celestial foot rocks you from above
and a bird traces a pattern for you

so you’ll forget . . . Thank you. Oh, one request:
if he telephones again
tell him not to keep trying for I have left . . .

Translated by anonim


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