October 12, 2011

Alberto Girri (Argentina) 1919-1991

Alberto Girri (Argentina)

Alberto Girri was born in Argentina in 1919, and died in the same city in 1991. Although he is generally spoken of in the Argentine context as a poet of the Generation of 40, his personal style did not fit any particular movement. Writing in a highly lyrical and elegiac tradition, Girri sought out anonymity and isolation throughout much of his life.
     He contributed regularly to the magazine Sur and to the literary newspaper supplement La Nación, but his work was generally described as highly ascetic and related to philosophical throught.
   Beginning in 1946 with Playa Sola, Girri published some 30 volumes of poetry, including Coronación de las espera (1947), El Tiempo que destruye (1950), Penitencia y el mérito (1957), Quien habla no esta muerto (1976), El motivo es el poema (1976), Lo propio lo de todos (1980), Lírica de percepciones (1983), and Juegos alégoricos (1993).
     Girri was the Spanish-language translator of T. S. Eliot, Stephen Sepnder, Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost and William Carlos Williams. In 1971 Girri, with William Shand, wrote the libretto to Alberto Ginastera's opera Beatrix Cenci, which at its premiere at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.


 Playa nova (Buenos Aires: Editorial Nova, 1946); Coronación de la espera (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Botella al Mar, 1947); Trece poemas (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Botella al Mar, 1950); El tiempo que destruye (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Botella al Mar, 1951); Escáandolo y soledades (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Botella al Mar, 1952); Línea de la vida (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sur, 1955); Examen de nuestra causa (Editorial Sur, 1956); La penitencia y el mérito (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sur, 1957); Propiedades de la magia (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sur, 1959); La condición necesaria (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sur, 1962); Elegías italianas (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sur, 1962); El ojo (Buenos Airies: Editorial Losada, 1963); Poemas elegidos (Buenos Aires: Editorial Losada, 1965); Envíos (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1967); Casa de la mente (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1968); Antología temática (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1970); Valores diaríos (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1970); En la letra, abigua selva (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1972); Poesía de observación (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1973); Quien habla no está muerto (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1975); Galería personal (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1975); El motivo es el poema (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1976); Bestiario (Benos Aires: La Garza, 1976); Obra poética, I (Buenos Aires: Editorial Corregidor, 1977); Árbol de la estirpe humana (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1978); Obra poética, II (Buenos Aires: Editorial Corregidor, 1978); Lo propio, lo de todos (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1980); Obra poética, III (Buenos Aires: Editorial Corregidor, 1980); Homenaje a W. C. Williams (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1981); Líraca de percepción (1983)

The Monkeys

In any event,
the provocative strength,
the freedom
we wielded as it pleased us
to screech, to form couples,
and even to let them crucify us
like sacrificial victims,
now lacks an object,
and above all the other species,
above our flattened noses,
the hard claws,
the prehensile feet,
we raise with great honor
to the one who deposes and succeeds us,
understanding master, clever guardian
helping with fire, insults, shackles,
so that our nature as
relatively cruel and savage beasts,
relatively adaptable and sensitive,
gains confidence, perceives
how we improve and prevent
our differences from growing larger,
if in spite of not constructing nests,
not being industrious,
not possessing a vocabulary to name
the heavenly furies
and the earthly varieties,
we grasp
the passionate human vocation
for exchanges and offerings,
and something
of their revealing art of harmonies,
something of what in their myths
signifies affection.

And what more promising
than this cage, this attempt
at imitation and coming together
supplanting the masquerade of the jungle;
we accept it
after having come from so far away
to await the fatal old age of man
and for the generosities and arrogance
to fall from his great dreams,
ah, all our time
so that before dying out
that refined corpse
shall recognize us,
shall gaze at us as in a mirror.

 —Translated from the Spanish by Jason Weiss

 Ars Legendi

Of rapid movement,
plain in words and style,
direct and simple,
noble in ideas,
          our Homer is Homer
because of the overall effect,
not for its isolated details,
          but the professors disagree,
they silence opposition with the principle
that the classics contain too much
for the elemental enthusiasm of laymen
with no other weapons than good faith,
curiosity and innocence,
                                 and they subject the reading
to the rack of exactitude,
questioning epithets, versions,
twisting around ideas,
the manner obscure,
                                an artificial
and urbane Homer,
in service of academic committees,
dressed up, free of fantasy,
         the bloodless corpse
that justifies Voltaire's lament
indicating that human letters
are usually mistreated by stupidity
as tedious, inhuman.

 —Translated from the Spanish by Jason Weiss

English language copyright ©1996 by Jason Weiss

1 comment:

Rusty Kjarvik said...

I am as a stargazer beneath this sky of great poetic breadth, and delving within this formidable enigmatic blessing of a foreign poet and his entire life's work before my most innocent mind's eye I am purified with warm reproach in his meaningful voice full with purpose enough to shock normalized human thought into the all-awakening gasp that remains always in each human lap, to incite in the loose, open mind a way beyond history into a recognition with the Lonely Laws of Poetry, breaking upon the membranes of my cerebral Thanksgiving, to with the elegance of Argentine grace enlighten myself towards a humbling in recognition of one solace-bent creator of mind itself, yet laughably and with eager expression I merge again in the nameless maw of poetic tragedy in forgetting the Creator's final kiss with that once romantic hint in touching upon the human lip. To Girri.

My gratitude for adding examples of his mountain of work.

I am drawn most to these lines as they prefigure a new dawning upon the mortal encounter with "dream"

"after having come from so far away
to await the fatal old age of man
and for the generosities and arrogance
to fall from his great dreams"