The Spanish Riveter: THE SWIFT by Harkaitz Cano, translated by Elizabeth Macklin

If I were a swift,
a swift among swifts,
I’d go to sleep 
in a trice.

When a swift falls asleep
it keeps on flying:
to heal its wounds,
the air a salve.

Beating its wings
to throw off raindrops:
love, they say,
is made in heaven.

‘There’s no other way’
they inform us
and us, poor things,
captives of Earth …

Earth is a heavy heaven,
light earth the sky;
no matter what happens choose

Heaven and earth,
the centre’s branches:
we swing in the trees,
us nonconformists.

Up to the branches
don’t touch the ground,
with the tip of a finger
pierce violet cloud.

Since the sky has 
muddied your fingertip,
now let me taste 
the mulberry there.

Where does this song
come from and what is hobbled?
If we’re waking or sleeping
is hard to know ...

Born crying and
by our calling black
we do resemble
the swift in that.

Life midway 
it’s strange how it is,
to try with one eye
to conclude this song.

By Harkaitz Cano

Translated by Elizabeth Macklin


by Harkaitz Cano

Translated by Elizabeth Macklin

Published by Zart (2019)

Read The Spanish Riveter here or order your paper copy from here.

Buy books from The Spanish Riveter through the European Literature Network’s The Spanish Riveter page.

Harkaitz Cano is a Basque poet, translator and writer of short stories, novels, poetry, chronicles and children’s and youth literature. He has won the Imajina Ezazu Euskadi award, the Donostia Hiria award and the Ignacio Aldecoa Award. He has won the Euskadi Literature Award twice: in 2005 for Belarraren ahoa and in 2012 for Twist.

Elizabeth Macklin is the author of You’ve Just Been Told and A Woman Kneeling in the Big City and the
translator of Kirmen Uribe’s works, including his novel,
Bilbao–New York–Bilbao. Her awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry and an Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, which she spent in Bilbao, Spain.

Category: The Spanish RiveterThe RiveterTranslations


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