Amado Nervo and the Answer to All Tragedy
The Personal Weblog of Edward W. Farrell   
Amado Nervo and the Answer to All Tragedy Wednesday, September 19, 2018
An old friend recently posted a poem by Amado Nervo, so I went looking for others. And there are many others, all in a Spanish I am sadly unable to translate with even a minimal sort of skill. And equally sadly, there seem to be very few English translations of his work--a few poems here and there seems about the extent of it. As near as I can tell from the few samples I've found, Nervo is one of those razor-like souls who is not made dumb and senseless by the terrible tragedies in his own life but rather relentlessly thrusts through every dark corner of that life for an answer to all tragedy. And the answer is God, but since he is "looking" one could assume he has not "found." On the one hand this sounds suspiciously like a typical modernist's mooning over a God who is merely rhetorical, but not in Nervo's case, where I think it would be a mistake to assume his "looking" represents a lack of faith. God for him is obviously not an abstraction. You don't complain to abstractions, nor do you accuse, nor plead--nor expect. And so I think his tone resembles more closely that of a king or even a prophet under the old Hebrew covenant.

by Amado Nervo

You who think I don't believe
when we two feud
do not imagine my desire,
my thirst, my hunger for God;

nor have you heard my desolate
cry that echoes through
the inner place of shadow,
calling on the infinite;

nor do you see my thought
laboring in ideal genesis,
frequently in distress
with throes of light.

If my sterile spirit
could own your power of birth,
by now - I would have columned heaven
to perfect your earth.

But tell me, what power stows
within a flagless soul
to carry anywhere at all
its torturer - who knows? -

that keeps a fast from faith,
and with valiant integrity
goes on asking every depth
and every darkness, why?

Notwithstanding, I am shielded
by my thirst for inquiry -
my pangs for God, cavernous and unheard;
and there is more love in my unsated
doubt than in your tepid certainty.

translated by Isabel Chenot (a remarkable poet in her own right; see her latest from Anima Poetry Press

Related Links
Wikipedia: Amado Nervo
Isabel Chenot: Tinderox Poetry Journal
Isabel Chenot: Anima Poetry Press
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