On Poetry and Culture Shock

Juliet Wilson

Juliet Wilson’ s work is an excellent example of how incredibly difficult it is to write political poetry, by which I mean poetry about "issues", not just about whether you vote this or that party. It is very easy, if you want to take poetry beyond the personal, to become boring or preachy: having a worthy cause to defend has nothing to do with an ability for creating interesting language. Personally, I stay self-consciously away from political poetry because I think I’d suck at it. Prose satire, maybe. But I don’t think I can put the thoughts of my prose satire in verse. Alexander Pope managed to rhyme sarcasm well enough and there’s no point at me copycatting.

Anyway, back to Juliet. In her case, political means environmental. I’ve read about fifty of her poems and there’s always an air of melancholy, of a forest very slowly losing the battle against asfalt, and the cries of seagulls in a landfill, but never losing rhythm and original images. Even so, the poem by her that I read again and again and that I feel like translating is not political at all. It has the best of lyrical poetry:so well-written I don’t care if it is autobiographical. It must be because it is so intense. It can’t be because no one can analyse their own feelings so painfully.

Making of a Muse

There was urgency, then,
in my love for you.
Sudden in the sunlight,
your beauty and laughter,
tight-reined passion
followed me, ghostlike,

I sensed your feelings, recognised
love that could not speak,
to dare being too brave
in such strange circumstance.

I loved you well enough to know
my silence kept you safe;
knew there was no easy way
to tell you how I felt.

Now continents and years away,
your likeness sits here in my soul,
a symbol, cipher, set in stone
for e to bring to mind
when I find a word or line
on which to hang another poem
of unrequited love.

La Creación de una Musa

Había ansia, entonces,
en mi amor por ti.
Súbita e iluminada,
tu belleza, tu risa,
pasión refrenada
me seguía fantasmal
a todas partes.

Intuía tus emociones, reconocía
un amor con miedo a hablar,
a atreverse a ser valiente
en circunstancias extrañas.

Te quería y sabía que mi silencio
era tu seguridad,
sabía que no había palabras fáciles
para decir cómo me sentía.

Ahora, tras años y continentes,
Tu imagen se sienta en mi alma,
un símbolo, un código, grabado en piedra
para que lo recuerde
cuando encuentro una palabra o una frase
en los que colgar otro poema
de amor no correspondido.

1 comentario

Juliet Wilson -

Thank you so much Nia, both for your comments about my work and for the translation. Best wishes
Juliet (Crafty Green Poet)