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Saturday, March 11, 2017


by Salvador Díaz Mirón 
from his 1901 collection Lascas [Stone Chippings]; 
translation by Julie Steiner

Iraqi children giggle at the body of a half-buried Islamic State militant while talking to an Iraqi soldier in the al-Barid district in Mosul, Iraq. Photo: AP via Metro, December 19, 2016.

The flyblown corpses of Islamic State militants have been rotting along a main street in north Mosul for two weeks, a health risk for passersby.  . . . Islamic State has executed thousands of Iraqi soldiers and policemen, and their comrades are eager for revenge. "We leave them in the street like that so the dogs eat them," said soldier Asaad Hussein. "We also want the citizens to know there is a price for supporting terrorists.". . . A few streets away, a group of young boys walked towards three more Islamic State corpses. "The bodies should stay. Daesh killed lots of people so why should they be buried," said Salem Jamil, 13, . . . but a man who approached said the bodies should be buried because that is everyone's right. —“Iraqi forces wage psychological war with jihadist corpses” Reuters, February 6, 2017

Brandished from a tree-branch, the cadaver was decaying
as if it were a gruesome fruit still dangling from its stalk:
a testament to judgment whose absurdity would shock;
a pendulum intruding on the roadway with its swaying.

The nudity’s indecency, the stuck-out tongue displaying,
and hair that formed a jester’s coxcomb, lock by upright lock,
gave him a buffoonish look; and where my horse should walk,
a group of ragged children mocked, derisive laughter braying.

And the melancholy carcass, with its head inclined to yaw—
abominable, bloated, on a gibbet leafy-green—
spread odors on the breeze (which was a wind, in fact, and raw)

as it rocked with swings like censer-passes, solemn and serene.
And the sun went on ascending through a blue without a flaw,
and the landscape was idyllic, a Tibullus-lyric scene.

por Salvador Díaz Mirón (de su colección Lascas, 1901).

En la rama el expuesto cadáver se pudría,
como un horrible fruto colgante junto al tallo,
rindiendo testimonio de inverosímil fallo
y con ritmo de péndola oscilando en la vía.

La desnudez impúdica, la lengua que salía
y alto mechón en forma de una cresta de gallo,
dábanle aspecto bufo; y al pie de mi caballo
un grupo de arrapiezos holgábase y reía.

Y el fúnebre despojo, con la cabeza gacha,
escandaloso y tumido en el verde patíbulo
desparramaba hedores en brisa como racha,

mecido con solemnes compases de Turíbulo.
Y el sol iba en ascenso por un azul sin tacha,
y el campo era figura de una canción de Tíbulo.

Salvador Díaz Mirón (1853-1928) was a Mexican poet from Veracruz. Julie Steiner (1968- ) is a translator in San Diego, California.