Some time last year, I translated Alfred Yuson’s well-known poem Dream of Knives into Spanish as part of my “self-medication” from literary barrenness.
Yuson, popularly known as Krip, is one of the most important personages in Filipino Literature in English today. He has authored several books in various genre and is also a founding member of the Philippine Literary Arts Council. Those who want to keep abreast of the latest news in the local literary scene follow his weekly column KRIPOTKIN which appears in The Philippine Star.
Dream of Knives is a usual staple in literary classes. It tells the story of a dreaming man who was excited to go home after a long journey to gift his son (that never was) with —of all things— a knife. The poem won for Yuson a Palanca Award (first prize) in 1985. It was also hailed by no less than National Artist Cirilo Bautista as one of the most beautiful poems in the English language. I thought it best to translate it into Spanish in order to give the essence of the poem a much wider readership (and, to my Hispanically inclined mind, make it more Filipino).
While Soledad Lacson-Locsín wrote that “the sparse clarity of English often robs translated Spanish of its original ambience and precision”, I thought that translating Dream of Knives to be rather undemanding not because it is not a work of prose (Lacson-Locsín was referring to prose translation when she wrote that observation) but that the poem was written in free verse. Had it followed the strict rules of versification (meter, rhyme, and all that poetic jazz), there would have been a compulsion from my part to do the same with my translation so as to at least reproduce the musicality of traditional verse (see Tarrosa Subido’s skillful English translation of Florante At Laura by Francisco Balagtás). Also, the poem’s style is rather prosaic. And since Dream of Knives is verse that is meant to be read like prose (rather similar to Nick Joaquín’s intention to have his celebrated play A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino to be read as a novel), Lacson-Locsín’s translational fears didn’t matter a bit because the dreamer’s story here was versified.
Without further fuss, here’s my Cervantine version: