Ruben Darío: Symphony in Gray Major (From Spanish)

Symphony in Gray Major
By Ruben Darío
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

The sea like a vast quicksilver crystal pane
reflects a rolled zinc sky's sheet metal plate 
faraway there are flocks of birds that stain 
the glossed background of a pale shade of gray.

The sun, a piece of glass, opaque and round
walks to the zenith at a sick man's pace;
the sea wind takes its rest in shadow, using 
for a pillow its black trumpets as they play.

The waves that move their bellies made of lead
seem to be moaning underneath the quay. 
Sitting upon a cable, his pipe puffing,
there is a mariner musing about beaches
of some country, foggy and faraway.

He's an old man, this sea-dog. Burning beams
of Brazil's sun have toasted his crisp face. 
The toughest of the China Sea's typhoons
have seen him sipping gin amid the spray.

Nitrate and iodine fecundate the foam 
that knows his red nose well from the old days, 
his curly hair, too, and his two athlete biceps, 
his canvas cap, his drill shirt frayed away.

He in the midst of the tobacco smoke-clouds
discerns that country, foggy and faraway,
for which one warm and golden afternoon,
his brigantine weighed anchor and set sail.

Tropical siesta. The sea-dog sleeps, 
all wrapped up in a gamut of the gray. 
It seems a gentle giant paper-stump 
would smudge the curved horizon's edge away.

Tropical siesta. The old cicada
tries out his senile, raucous guitar's strain. 
And the cricket strikes a solo monotone
on the one-stringed violin it has to play.

The Original:

Sinfonía en Gris Mayor

El mar como un vasto cristal azogado
refleja la lámina de un cielo de zinc;
lejanas bandadas de pájaros manchan
el fondo bruñido de pálido gris.

El sol como un vidrio redondo y opaco
con paso de enfermo camina al cenit;
el viento marino descansa en la sombra
teniendo de almohada su negro clarín.

Las ondas que mueven su vientre de plomo
debajo del muelle parecen gemir.
Sentado en un cable, fumando su pipa,
está un marinero pensando en las playas
de un vago, lejano, brumoso país.

Es viejo ese lobo. Tostaron su cara
los rayos de fuego del sol del Brasil;
los recios tifones del mar de la China
le han visto bebiendo su frasco de gin.

La espuma impregnada de yodo y salitre
ha tiempo conoce su roja nariz,
sus crespos cabellos, sus biceps de atleta,
su gorra de lona, su blusa de dril.

En medio del humo que forma el tabaco
ve el viejo el lejano, brumoso país,
adonde una tarde caliente y dorada
tendidas las velas partió el bergantín ...

La siesta del trópico. El lobo se duerme.
Ya todo lo envuelve la gama del gris.
Parece que un suave y enorme esfumino
del curvo horizonte borrara el confín.

La siesta del trópico. La vieja cigarra
ensaya su ronca guitarra senil,
y el grillo preludia un solo monótono
en la única cuerda que está en su violín.

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