William Auld: Julia on Pandateria (From Esperanto)

Julia on Pandateria
By William Auld
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Esperanto

Life on this isle sets slow on the horizon
In the long afternoons a dreary wind
Along the whispering sea's shore, exciting
My dress indifferently, will always grind
Upon my memories, and with every breath
Bear witness: Death, death, death...there's still no death.

A three-time wife, a night-time ravishing woman,
who only prized the present through the years
has come to this: the fluting of a gull,
a past in vain, a future full of tears.
An empty woman weakens pale, as would
A spirit starved of sacrificial blood.

And I conclude, here in this brutal crude
Place where the flesh will rot beneath a dew

Foreign and freezing, that the life of the roses,
Wine and perfume-crazed kisses that I knew
Was always empty and estranged. This one

Queen of the world was always a corpse alone.

When coupled I was most alone, yet sought
Happiness where I could, where I was bound
By the compulsions of a curious yearning.
Always the more I sought, the more I found
Only unhappiness in lovers' joys.
I always fell for all the same old ploys.

That was a different me- a legend heard
Once in a stranger's dream, and that is all.
What does Rome mean? It means the naked sand,
Rocks and the wind's rough hands, a crying gull,
While my sapped body wilts in apathy
And Rome is just a fever fantasy.

The Here and Now no longer matters. Time now

Consists of nothing but eternity
And the young body that I am, betrayed
And hammered overmuch by destiny,
Can flame no more, can touch no joy or drive,
And even death leaves me for dead alive. 

The Original:

Julia sur Pandaterio
William Auld

Sur ĉi insulo viv’ subiras lante.
Dum longaj posttagmezoj morna vento
apud’ la mar’ susura, agitante
al mi la robon kun indiferento,
miajn memorojn frotas, kaj atestas:
morto, morto, morto… mort’ ne estas.

Edzin’ trifoja, nokt-frandino rava,
kiu la nunon taksis solvalora,
venas al tio ĉi: flutado meva,
paseo vana kaj futuro plora;
virin’ malplena palas kiel spirito
al kiu mankas sang’ de oferito.

Kaj mi konstatas en ĉi loko kruda,
kie la karno putros sub la rosoj
fremdaj kaj frizaj, ke la vivo tuta
- kisoj parfumfrenezaj, vino, rozoj –
ĉiam malplena estis, kaj izola…
Monda reĝin’ kadavris ĉiam sola.

Plej sola dum duopoj, sed mi celis
mian feliĉon, kie mi nur povis
kien sopiro stranga ĉiam pelis,
des pli serĉadis mi, ju pli mi trovis
nur malfeliĉon en la ĝojoj amaj.
Ĉiam surprizis min embuskoj samaj.

Tiu estis alia mi – nur fablo
aŭdita iam en fremdula revo.
Kion signifas Rom’? Ja nuda sablo,
rokoj, krudmana vent’, krianta mevo,
dum mia korpo velkas, apatia,
kaj Romo estas febro fantazia.

Ne plu la nuno gravas. Nun la tempo
estas eterna, sen komenc’, sen fino,
kaj mia juna karno pro la trompo
kaj troa martelado de l’ destino
ne ardas plu, ne plu al ĝoj’ incitas.
Kaj morto mortvivantan min evitas…


  1. As a person I found Auld quite agreeable. His poem "Incitnudiĝo" (Striptease) suggests something quite the opposite of misogyny. I know nothing of the historical Julia. The poem's attitude toward Rome is not transparent to me. Rome is a dead thing, an object of imagination. The morose character of the narrator sounds dead himself, so what does it mean to fantasize about Rome? As for church, Auld was an atheist. I suspect that, if there is something wrong with this poem, it comes from following conventions more than anything else. For example, consider Auld's verse drama "Kvazaŭ Birdoj Konstruas": why would someone write banality like is at the time Auld wrote it? I suspect was because Auld was trying to be literary without a real purpose. Compare this sort of thing to the socially conscious poems he wrote from the early years up through LA INFANA RASO.

  2. I know he was an Atheist (c.f. Malnova Tombejo)- but viewed in the context of the historical Julia the poem sounds misogynistic. I never met the man (I was barely 17 when he died) but people have told me he was a very agreeable, if somewhat cynical, character- and I'm perfectly willing to believe it. I just find it bothersome when a woman who's been mistreated is made to imply in a poem that she deserved it- and whether or not its author was misogynistic, the poemo kiel tia nonetheless strikes me as such.

    Perhaps in my footnote I should have been clearer about this. I was pretty pissed off when I wrote it.

    I read it basically as : "Rome means being here and while fantasizing about Rome" it's a recursive image- like standing between two mirrors