A poem about death. Light airy it uses lively words and colourful images to tell what the author thinks about his own inevitable passing. Cheerfully he starts to describe his surroundings and what effect his absence will have on them if any. As the poem progresses into the second stanza his mood becomes more gloomy as if already mourning for things he has yet to lose, but all the time remembering that nothing really will change without him and life will go on as it has before him as will always.
You would be forgiven to think the poet wrote this as he saw the end of his life draw near, but you’d be wrong. He wrote these verses with a good forty five years left of life in him; Jiménez was only thirty years old at the time of first publication. He went on to write ‘Platero y yo’ (Platero and me) a collection of stories revolving around a grey donkey, Platero, and a young child, me. ‘Platero y yo’ is held as one of the staples of children’s literature in Spain. There is even a (good) punk-ska band from Bilbao called ‘Platero y tu’.
Even though Juan Ramon Jiménez was exiled from Spain when the Civil War kicked off and spent most of his life in the USA (as a professor in Miami University) and in Puerto Rico he his considered the prodigal child of Spanish modernist literature for which he won the Nobel Literature Prize in 1956, three days before his wife died. His remains where brought back to rest in to his village in Moguer, Anadalucía when he died.
El Viaje Definitivo
by Juan Ramon Jimenez, published 1911
...Y yo me ire. Y se quedaran los pajaros cantando,
y se quedara mi huerto, con su verde arbol,
y con su pozo blanco.
Todas las tardes, el cielo sera azul y placido,
y tocaran, como esta tarde estan tocando
las campanas del campanario.
Se moriran aquellos que me amaron,
y el pueblo se hara nuevo cada año,
y en el rincon aquel de mi huerto florido y encalado,
mi espíritu errara nostaljico...
Y yo me ire, y estare solo, sin hogar,
sin arbol verde, sin pozo blanco,
sin cielo azul y placido...
y se quedaran los pajaros cantando.
The Definitive Journey
Translation by Lila Robertson, 2002
..and I will be gone. And the birds will still be singing,
and here will stay my field, with it’s tree so green
and it’s white well.
Every evening, the sky will blue and peaceful,
and the bells will play, like they play this evening,
together in the church tower.
Those, the ones who loved me, will die,
and the village will become new with each year,
and in that corner of my flowered and whitewashed field
my spirit will wander longingly...
And I will be gone, and I’ll be alone, with no home,
without any tree so green, without any a white well…
without a blue and peaceful sky…
And the birds will still be singing.