jueves, 9 de febrero de 2017


Eugene Field

Eugene Field (2 septiembre 1850 a 4 noviembre 1895) fue un estadounidense escritor, más conocido por su poesía para niños y ensayos humorísticos. Era conocido como el "poeta de la infancia."

Nació en St. Louis, Missouri en 634 S. Broadway donde hoy su casa de la infancia está abierta al público como Eugene Field House y St. Louis Museo del Juguete. Después de la muerte de su madre en 1856, fue criado por un primo en Amherst, Massachusetts. 

El padre de Field, abogado, era famoso por su representación de Dred Scott, el esclavo que demandó por su libertad. 

Una nana de Eugene Field: Versión en castellano

Estatua de Wynken, Blynken y Nod en Washington Park. Fotografía de Matt Wright, 30 de marzo de 2006.

Hace cosa de un año encontré por casualidad en un diario inglés el poema (la nana, para ser más precisos) titulado Wynken, Blynken and Nod del escritor americano Eugene Field. Desde el primer momento me cautivó con su suave ritmo, y la adormecedora repetición de los nombres de los tres marineritos. Es una magnífica nana que juega con la imaginación del oyente para llevarlo a ese espacio y tiempo mágicos en el que sus ojos se cierran y el sueño les abre los ojos a la fantasía.

Llevaba tiempo trabajando en una traducción al castellano. Como suele ser habitual en la traducción de poesía, surgen en el proceso de transferencia lingüística tantos problemas que las soluciones que encontraba nunca me terminaban de satisfacer. Para empezar, los nombres de los tres marineros (el título inicial del poema era 'Dutch Lullaby', es decir, 'la nana holandesa') estaban fuera de lugar y perdían todo su sentido en una versión en otra lengua.

De manera que dejé aparcada la traducción durante unos cuantos meses, y recientemente la retomé con nuevo ímpetu. Opté por rebautizar a los tres niños del poema: Poncho, Soñoliento y Dormilón. Aunque he buscado de alguna manera incluir alguna insinuación de rima, he preferido no forzarlas, y dejar que el poema fluyera con la corriente de ese río de aguas centelleantes que lleva a Poncho, Soñoliento y Dormilón hasta el mar de los sueños.

Poncho, Soñoliento y Dormilón

Versión en castellano del poema de Eugene Field

Una noche, Poncho,
y Dormilón
se embarcaron en un zapatito de madera.
Salvando las aguas de un río cristalino
arribaron a un mar lleno de rocío.
“¿A dónde vais? ¿Cuál es vuestro deseo?”
les preguntó a los tres la vieja Luna.
“A pescar arenques hemos venido,
los ricos peces de este mar tan bello.
¡Redes de oro y plata hemos traído!",
le respondieron Poncho,
y Dormilón.

Rió la vieja Luna, y entonó su canción;
cabeceando en su zapatito de madera,
toda la noche el viento les impulsó,
enarbolando olas de puro rocío.
Eran las estrellas lindos pececillos
que vivían en aquel hermoso mar.
“Echad ya vuestras redes, allá donde queráis.
¡Ningún miedo les tenemos!”,
gritaron las estrellas a los tres marineros:
y Dormilón.

Aquella noche atraparon en sus redes
mil estrellas de centelleante espuma.
Descendió del cielo el zapatito de madera,
y trajo a los marineros de vuelta a casa:
La travesía fue perfecta, si bien les pareció
que en verdad, nada les había sucedido.
Y hubo incluso quien pensó
que un sueño fue, que soñaron
que zarpaban por aquel hermoso mar.
Te diré yo pues el nombre de los tres marineros:
y Dormilón.

Poncho y Soñoliento son tus dos ojitos,
Dormilón es tu cabecita,
y el zapatito de madera que cruzó los cielos
es ésta, la camita de mi muchachito.
Cierra pues los ojos, que Mamá te canta
canciones de hazañas asombrosas,
y podrás ver todas las cosas hermosas
mientras en este mar te acunas,
allí donde el mar meció a los tres marineritos:
y Dormilón.

(c) De la traducción, J. Salavert, 2013.

Buttercup, Poppy, Forget-me-Not

Buttercup, Poppy, Forget-me-not---
These three bloomed in a garden spot;
And once, all merry with song and play,
A little one heard three voices say:
   "Shine and shadow, summer and spring,
      O thou child with the tangled hair
   And laughing eyes! we three shall bring
      Each an offering passing fair."
The little one did not understand,
But they bent and kissed the dimpled hand.

Buttercup gambolled all day long,
Sharing the little one's mirth and song;
Then, stealing along on misty gleams,
Poppy came bearing the sweetest dreams.
   Playing and dreaming---and that was all
      Till once a sleeper would not awake:
   Kissing the little face under the pall,
      We thought of the words the third flower spake;
And we found betimes in a hallowed spot
The solace and peace of Forget-me-not.

Buttercup shareth the joy of day,
Glinting with gold the hours of play;
Bringeth the Poppy sweet repose,
When the hands would fold and the eyes would close;
   And after it all---the play and the sleep
      Of a little life---what cometh then?
   To the hearts that ache and the eyes that weep
      A new flower bringeth God's peace again.
Each one serveth its tender lot---
Buttercup, Poppy, Forget-me-not.

At the Door

I thought myself, indeed, secure,
   So fast the door, so firm the lock;
But, lo! he toddling comes to lure
   My parent ear with timorous knock.

My heart were stone could it withstand
   The sweetness of my baby's plea,
That timorous, baby knocking and
   "Please let me in,---it's only me."

I threw aside the unfinished book,
   Regardless of its tempting charms,
And, opening wide the door, I took
   My laughing darling in my arms.

Who knows but in Eternity,
   I, like a truant child, shall wait
The glories of a life to be,
   Beyond the Heavenly Father's gate?

And will that Heavenly Father heed
   The truant's supplicating cry,
As at the outer door I plead,
   "'T is I, O Father! only I"?

Armenian Lullaby

If thou wilt shut thy drowsy eyes,
   My mulberry one, my golden sun!
The rose shall sing thee lullabies,
   My pretty cosset lambkin!
And thou shalt swing in an almond-tree,
With a flood of moonbeams rocking thee---
A silver boat in a golden sea,
   My velvet love, my nestling dove,
      My own pomegranate blossom!

The stork shall guard thee passing well
   All night, my sweet! my dimple-feet!
And bring thee myrrh and asphodel,
   My gentle rain-of-springtime!
And for thy slumbrous play shall twine
The diamond stars with an emerald vine
To trail in the waves of ruby wine,
   My myrtle bloom, my heart's perfume,
      My little chirping sparrow!

And when the morn wakes up to see
   My apple bright, my soul's delight!
The partridge shall come calling thee,
   My jar of milk-and-honey!
Yes, thou shalt know what mystery lies
In the amethyst deep of the curtained skies,
If thou wilt fold thy onyx eyes,
   You wakeful one, you naughty son,
      You cooing little turtle!

Ashes on the Slide

When Jim and Bill and I were boys a many years ago,
How gayly did we use to hail the coming of the snow!
Our sleds, fresh painted red and with their runners round and bright,
Seemed to respond right briskly to our clamor of delight
As we dragged them up the slippery road that climbed the rugged hill
Where perched the old frame meetin'-house, so solemn-like and still.

Ah, coasting in those days---those good old days---was fun indeed!
Sleds at that time I 'd have you know were paragons of speed!
And if the hill got bare in spots, as hills will do, why then
We 'd haul on ice and snow to patch those bald spots up again;
But, oh! with what sad certainty our spirits would subside
When Deacon Frisbee sprinkled ashes where we used to slide!

The deacon he would roll his eyes and gnash his toothless gums,
And clear his skinny throat, and twirl his saintly, bony thumbs,
And tell you: "When I wuz a boy, they taught me to eschew
The godless, ribald vanities which modern youth pursue!
The pathway that leads down to hell is slippery, straight, and wide;
And Satan lurks for prey where little boys are wont to slide!"

Now, he who ever in his life has been a little boy
Will not reprove me when he hears the language I employ
To stigmatize as wickedness the deacon's zealous spite
In interfering with the play wherein we found delight;
And so I say, with confidence, not unalloyed of pride:
"Gol durn the man who sprinkles ashes where the youngsters slide!"

But Deacon Frisbee long ago went to his lasting rest,
His money well invested in farm mortgages out West;
Bill, Jim, and I, no longer boys, have learned through years of strife
That the troubles of the little boy pursue the man through life;
That here and there along the course wherein we hoped to glide
Some envious hand has sprinkled ashes just to spoil our slide!

And that malicious, envious hand is not the deacon's now.
Grim, ruthless Fate, that evil sprite none other is than thou!
Riches and honors, peace and care come at thy beck and go;
The soul, elate with joy to-day, to-morrow writhes in woe;
And till a man has turned his face unto the wall and died,
He must expect to get his share of ashes on his slide!

Ballad of the Jelly-Cake

A little boy whose name was Tim
   Once ate some jelly-cake for tea---
Which cake did not agree with him,
   As by the sequel you shall see.
"My darling child," his mother said,
   "Pray do not eat that jelly-cake,
For, after you have gone to bed,
   I fear 't will make your stomach ache!"
But foolish little Tim demurred
Unto his mother's warning word.

That night, while all the household slept,
   Tim felt an awful pain, and then
From out the dark a nightmare leapt
   And stood upon his abdomen!
"I cannot breathe!" the infant cried---
   "Oh, Mrs. Nightmare, pity take!"
"There is no mercy," she replied,
   "For boys who feast on jelly-cake!"
And so, despite the moans of Tim,
The cruel nightmare went for him.

At first, she 'd tickle Timmy's toes
   Or roughly smite his baby cheek---
And now she 'd rudely tweak his nose
   And other petty vengeance wreak;
And then, with hobnails in her shoes
   And her two horrid eyes aflame,
The mare proceeded to amuse,
   Herself by prancing o'er his frame---
First to his throbbing brow, and then
Back to his little feet again.

At last, fantastic, wild, and weird,
   And clad in garments ghastly grim,
A scowling hoodoo band appeared
   And joined in worrying little Tim.
Each member of this hoodoo horde
   Surrounded Tim with fierce ado
And with long, cruel gimlets bored
   His aching system through and through,
And while they labored all night long
The nightmare neighed a dismal song.

Next morning, looking pale and wild,
   Poor little Tim emerged from bed---
"Good gracious! what can ail the child!"
   His agitated mother said.
"We live to learn," responded he,
   "And I have lived to learn to take
Plain bread and butter for my tea,
   And never, never, jelly-cake!
For when my hulk with pastry teems,
I must expect unpleasant dreams!"

Beard and Baby

I say, as one who never feared
   The wrath of a subscriber's bullet,
I pity him who has a beard
   But has no little girl to pull it!

When wife and I have finished tea,
   Our baby woos me with her prattle,
And, perching proudly on my knee,
   She gives my petted whiskers battle.

With both her hands she tugs away,
   While scolding at me kind o' spiteful;
You 'll not believe me when I say
   I find the torture quite delightful!

No other would presume, I ween,
   To trifle with this hirsute wonder,
Else would I rise in vengeful mien
   And rend his vandal frame asunder!

But when her baby fingers pull
   This glossy, sleek, and silky treasure,
My cup of happiness is full---
   I fairly glow with pride and pleasure!

And, sweeter still, through all the day
   I seem to hear her winsome prattle---
I seem to feel her hands at play,
   As though they gave me sportive battle.

Yes, heavenly music seems to steal
   Where thought of her forever lingers,
And round my heart I always feel
   The twining of her dimpled fingers!

Kissing Time

Tis when the lark goes soaring
   And the bee is at the bud,
When lightly dancing zephyrs
   Sing over field and flood;
When all sweet things in nature
   Seem joyfully achime---
'T is then I wake my darling,
   For it is kissing time!

Go, pretty lark, a-soaring,
   And suck your sweets, O bee;
Sing, O ye winds of summer,
   Your songs to mine and me;
For with your song and rapture
   Cometh the moment when
It 's half-past kissing time
   And time to kiss again!

So---so the days go fleeting
   Like golden fancies free,
And every day that cometh
   Is full of sweets for me;
And sweetest are those moments
   My darling comes to climb
Into my lap to mind me
   That it is kissing time.

Sometimes, maybe, he wanders
   A heedless, aimless way---
Sometimes, maybe, he loiters
   In pretty, prattling play;
But presently bethinks him
   And hastens to me then,
For it 's half-past kissing time
   And time to kiss again!


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