Morphine (“Morfina”)

   Jonathan Simkins lives in Denver, Colorado. He is the author with artist Justin Ankenbauer of the ekphrastic chapbook, Translucent Winds (Helikon Gallery & Studios, 2016). The title poem of his second chapbook, This Is The Crucible (The Lune, 2017), received a Best of the Net nomination. His poems have appeared in various publications, including Crack The Spine, Gingerbread House Literary MagazineLiterary Orphans, Requited Journal, and Wilderness House Literary Review, among others, and his translations of Ernesto Noboa y Caamaño have appeared or are forthcoming in The Bangalore ReviewHinchas de Poesía, and here at Visitant.

Below is part in a series of translated poems.

Ernesto Noboa y Caamaño (1889-1927) was an Ecuadorian poet and member of the “Generación Decapitada” (Decapitated Generation). Influenced by the French symbolists and the modernismo of Rubén Darío, he is one of the most widely read poets in Ecuador. Most of his poetry was collected in a single volume, Romanza de las Horas (Romance of the Hours), published in 1922.



De las almas tristes celeste beleño,
fuente inagotable para todo ensueño,
eficaz alivio de todo sufrir.

Bálsamo piadoso para toda herida,
de los soñadores dulce prometida
que nos indemnizas del mal de vivir.

Tú sabes secretos de fakires magos,
para las dolencias, para los estragos,
para los embates de toda aflicción.

Al contacto leve de tus manos buenas
se cura la angustia, se mata las penas,
y nos nacen alas en el corazón.

Muchos compadecen a los que te amamos,
los pobres no saben por qué te buscamos
y por qué es tu culto nuestro único amor.

Culto bondadoso de los que soñamos,
de los que sufrimos, de los que lloramos,
de los predilectos hijos del Dolor.

De los que llevamos el secreto anhelo
de batir las alas y emprender y vuelo,
lejos de este mundo, lejos de este suelo,
donde tiene un trono la vulgaridad.

Y para la inútil vida cotidiana,
tú tienes consuelos como una hermana,
como una Hermana de la Caridad.

¿Tú fuiste, acaso, el fruto prohibido
que entre los follajes se hallaba escondido
del árbol del Bien y del Mal?

¿Por qué Dios al hombre desdichado le hizo?
Pero ya tenemos otro paraíso,
aunque éste sea artificial!

Tú idealizas todas las cosas grotescas
y por ti vivimos en aladisnescas
ciudades de oro, nácar y marfil.

Del joyel del sueño nos abres los broches
y es la vida un cuento de Mil y Una Noches,
y es la vida un sueño de un cuento de abril.


dame tus caricias para resistir
el amargo acíbar de nuestra existencia,
dame tu veneno, dame tu inconciencia,
porque ya sin ellos no puedo vivir



Holiest and wholesome Morphine!

Irresistible henbane, black and gorgeous,
infinite fountain feeding every dream,
effective cure for every torment.

Celestial salve for every wound, sweet
unconscious bliss that compensates
us for the evil of living.

You know the secrets of fakirs
and sorcerers, of the black ruinous
flower and its blinding star.

At the touch of your hands
the rabbit hole of memory dies,
and we fly with the winged heart.

Many pity those who love you
(your worship is our only love),
but they’ve never tasted your kiss.

It’s the pacifist worship of the dreamers,
of the melancholy people cursed at birth,
of the beloved children of Pain.

Of those who kindle the secret desire
to take to the sky with six limbs,
to leave this rotten wheel of death
where vulgarity has a throne.

And for the useless moments of
useless daily life your sacred sisters
speak their peace in our blood.

Hidden in the old sheets
your sap from the first tree,
that scripture of the flowers.

Raise the artificial man
and the woman from a gutter
into blank space paradise.

Bring the grotesque, hideous things
to our plastic beds of ivory,
gold, and mother-of-pearl.

From the jewelry of dreams your lockets open for us,
and life is the story of A Thousand and One Nights,
and life is the sweet haze of a vision in April.

Holiest and wholesome Morphine!

Reach inside me to the deepest earth
and give me your life obliterating honey,
give me your venom and oblivion,
because without them I cannot live.

2 thoughts on “Morphine (“Morfina”)

    1. Thank you, Mary, the pleasure is all mine! I absolutely love how it has been presented at Visitant! As far as I can tell, this is the first time a Noboa y Caamaño poem has been published in English translation. I feel so lucky to have discovered his poetry!


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