Permanence of a dazzling green
that pretends to be always relaxed
masking strength with restraint
so typical in the false surf
of the unmoving waters of the East.
Their tiny leaves rise in revolt
immortal they plough up the creases
of the last drop of sand.
Tempi nonexistent in the absence
of music, they revert to the silence
that weaves wreaths of olives.
Notes on this poem
Alicia Aza is a poet with a voice I first heard in Serbia because she ranges widely in the world, but a voice distinctively Peninsular Spanish. The thirty poems of her 2010 Book of Trees, which was a finalist for the Andalusia Critics award, are rooted in Madrid and Cordoba, while they draw their nourishment from other voices and foreign music. Of the poems represented here, the poet has said, ‘I use the image of the tree to get at feelings, to talk about moods through landscape. Hence the tree appears as an object of my lyrical projection.’ But elements of romanticism, realism and surrealism do not defi ne her work. My translations of these poems are an arrogant exercise as well as a humbler homage, my first serious a empt to translate from Spanish without a direct collaborator (although with a collaborator in translating Spanish for more thirty years, I’m working on another of Aza’s books).