A Poem by Amado Nervo

am at La Mexicana’s house now shamelessly currying favor with her. One of the items in my self-congratulatory entry entitled “I’m Content” celebrated the fact that I receive no bills. Within two days of writing that, I received an unanticipated utility bill from my landlord, electricity for two months and a full tank of propane.

That is how life works, is it not? You get wrapped up in how cool you are, and the next thing you know life hammers you. Fernsy described this phenomenon in a hip way in one of her comments on a previous post here that I cannot find.

In any event La Mexicana must feed me for a few days later in the month as I await my next modest payday. I am working toward taking up that subject with her with all the charm that I can muster.

To the subject immediately at hand. Upon reading my earlier post “I’m Content,” La Mexicana kindly sent me the poem by Amado Nervo that follows.

Artifex vitae artifex sui

Muy cerca de mi ocaso, yo te bendigo, Vida,
porque nunca me diste ni esperanza fallida,
ni trabajos injustos, ni pena inmerecida;

Porque veo al final de mi rudo camino
que yo fui el arquitecto de mi propio destino;
que si extraje las mieles o la hiel de las cosas,
fue porque en ellas puse hiel o mieles sabrosas:
cuando planté rosales coseché siempre rosas.

…Cierto, a mis lozanías va a seguir el invierno:
¡mas tú no me dijiste que mayo fuese eterno!

Hallé sin duda largas las noches de mis penas;
mas no me prometiste tan sólo noches buenas;
y en cambio tuve algunas santamente serenas…

Amé, fui amado, el sol acarició mi faz.
¡Vida, nada me debes! ¡Vida, estamos en paz!

Later, she found a translation in English on line that she considered unsatisfactory. Working together, we have fashioned our own translation that follows. It was fun.

Artifex vitae artifex sui
(Creator of himself, of his destiny.)

Very near my sunset, I bless you, Life
Because you gave me neither false hope
Nor unfair work nor undeserved sorrow.

Because I see at the end of my rough path
That I was the architect of my own destiny,
And if I extracted honey or bile from things,
It was because I put in them bile or delectable honey.
When I planted rose bushes, I always harvested roses.

Winter will surely follow my lush growth,
But You did not tell me that May was eternal.
I found of course long nights of sorrows.
Yet You did not promise me only pleasant evenings.
In return I have had some sacredly serene ones.

I loved; I was loved; the sun caressed my face.
Life, you owe me nothing! Life, we are at peace!

To which I can only add that I am content.

Guess Where, New Year’s Eve, 2009

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