Before I Could Call Myself Ángel Gonzalez
By Angel Gonzalez
Translated by Steven Ford Brown
Before I could call myself Ángel Gonzalez,
before the earth could support the weight of my body,
a long time
and a great space were necessary:
men from all the seas and all the lands,
fertile wombs of women, and bodies
and more bodies, incessantly fusing
into another new body.
Solstices and equinoxes illuminated
with their changing lights, and variegated skies,
the millenary trip of my flesh
as it climbed over centuries and bones.
Of its slow and painful journey,
of its escape to the end, surviving
shipwrecks, anchoring itself
to the last sigh of the dead,
I am only the result, the fruit,
what’s left, rotting, among the remains;
what you see here,
is just that:
tenacious trash resisting
its ruin, fighting against wind,
walking streets that go
nowhere. The success
of all failures. The insane
force of dismay…
Angel Gonzalez (1925-2008) was one of the most important Spanish poets of Twentieth century. I have been reading his selected poetry titled “Astonishing World", brilliantly translated by Steven Ford Brown.
Like Neruda, the range of his poetry is quite vast and varied. A sense of solitude, an awareness of losses caused by time (and love too), a search for solutions based on the intensity of living on the one hand and on solidarity among people on the other are some of the recurring motifs in his poems. There are in this collection beautiful poems on love, nature, music, philosophy, science, politics (the failure of Spanish Republic under Franco) and history.
The above poem is outstanding as it traces his own evolution through epochs overcoming many odds by his strength of resistance and his survival after many geological, biological and political changes