By Leopoldo Maria Panero, translated by Andrew F. Giles

You, all of you, all
That meat that in the street
Piles up, are
My nourishment,
All those eyes
Covered in sleep, I feed off the ones who never
Wake up, I feed,
Watching without seeing, or maybe it’s just a thirst
For the stupid sanction from someone else’s gaze.
All of you
Are my nourishment, and the deep
Terror of having these glass
Eyes as my only mirror, that fog
Where the dead meet, that
Is the price I pay for my nourishment.

Note by the author:

The translation is from Leopoldo María Panero’s “El lamento del vampiro”.  Panero is a legend, but he has been for years in an institution in Spain. His poetry is incredibly dark and is an important voice from the Spanish movida that also bought us Almodóvar amongst others. I quite certain that this is the first translation of the poem into English.

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Blogger and writer ANDREW FARADAY GILES has spent the past ten years riding buses, planes and trains around the world. He's been a horse-back riding teacher in upstate New York, a cruise chef in Panamá, an English teacher and book critic in Madrid, a theatre producer alongside Hollywood great Michael Kearns and has made dog-food in Yorkshire, England. Dogs need to eat. In the good tradition of all hobos, he's got poems. Written on streets in Madrid. Published in pamphlets in Edinburgh (most recently lauded megazine Paper X) and in Poetry Scotland. He's working on English translations of Leopoldo María Panero's poetry - Spain's answer to Charles Bukowski - and a book about Quinsley the Booze-Cruise detective, a small-town sleuth with a penchant for rum. Otherwise, he is influenced by poets Ted Hughes, Michael Donaghy and Stevie Smith.

3 responses to “The Vampire’s Lament”

  1. Simon Smithson says:

    I’d never heard of Leopoldo María Panero before this, and Wikipedia tells me he’s renowned for his decadence, which is always something you want to hear about prospective new autors.

    I’ve always wondered if you can improve your own writing by deliberately exposing yourself to writers and cultures from around the world, if you can kind of learn new cadences and constructions that teach you more about the cadences and constructions you learn just by growing up in a certain region.

    Welcome aboard, Andrew!

  2. Simon,

    Panero is decadent is many ways: I wrote a small intro that precedes the monograph I’m supposed to be writing now which you can read here:
    It goes into his nihilistic tendencies and desire to break down the poetical canon; he creates an alternative space for the telling of Spanish history especially post-Franco and post-movida (the Spanish movement that brought rebellion – through music, sex and drugs – to the repressed Spanish masses).

    Translation for me has been a real help in breaking down the writing process. Although ironically Panero revels in denying the framework and construction of poetry, he relies heavily on imagery from 19th century writers such as Poe and Bierce which are classic texts. So his denial is, on some ways, totally false.

    Anyway, just like speaking another language, translation (called the attempt to find an ‘ur-language’ by one critic) relies on the appreciation of cultural cadences to actually GET IT. Like that Spanish phrase “poniendo los cuernos” (literally ‘putting the horns’ – cuckolding somebody) that could quite easily be misinterpreted. That on a linguistic level. On the level you are talking about, the level of poetic ‘construction’ etc, I think it definitely helps to read as many poets as possible, and try to deconstruct their methods and ‘accents’. If possible in the original language (if able). Although I was trying to plough through Mallarmé the other day, it was like wading in soup. But I didn’t get on much better in English either… Mmm. Maybe just me.

    Great to hear from you. Thanks for the kind welcome.


  3. Megan says:

    Bienvenido Andrew. Also have not heard of Panero but I did hear someone refer to translation as “beautiful treason” the other day. Don’t you love that?

    I’m doing some Rimbaud translations for school. We’re given a “crib” (the literal translation) to produce our poetry from. Have you ever used this method? It’s uncomfortable but in some way freeing too.

    Something like only 1% of new work published is in translation. Keep it up, it’s needed.

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