Friday, March 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, Celia!

A big, warm happy birthday to a very special friend, way way down, in a land of sunflowers and innards, of cobblestones and culture. 

I've known Celia, wow, for over 20 years, when I was working in Buenos Aires in the same office, and we became close friends. Celia knows so many interesting things, about Argentina and the world. It was like working with a wonderful walking treasure chest. : - )

 Celia sent me some wonderful pictures of her - but request that I not post them! So, instead, some pictures of Alfonsina Storni, an Argentine poet and free thinker from the 20s and 30s, a national jewel, that, sadly, ended like Virginia Wolff...

Alfonsina was actually born in the Italian section of Switzerland, daughter of an Argentine beer producer; when the beer went bust, the family resurfaced in Rosario, a charming university town about 5-6 hours north of Buenos Aires. 

In her late teens she got her teaching degree and acted with a traveling theater company. She had a child out of wedlock. She began to write, and win prizes and acclaim. 

But, in her 40s, depressed, lonely, and stricken with cancer, she ended her life by walking into the ocean... Hours before, she wrote her last poem, 'I'm going to sleep'

Here's that poem, my own translation, in honor of Celia's birthday:

'Flower petals, film of dew, hands of grass, you, my fine wet nurse, lent me your earthy savannahs and their quilt of moss.  I'm going to sleep, my wet nurse, put me to bed.  Put a lamp at my night table, a constellation, any one you like - they are all good, dim the lamp a bit.  leave me alone, you the buds breaking, you're molded by a celestial foot from above, and a bird traces you some rhythms so you may forget.   Thank you.. Oh, one favor - if he phones again, tell him to stop insisting, tell him that I've left.'

Below, a sad ballad she inspired, 'Alfonsina and the Ocean,' sung by legendary Argentine folk singer Mercedes Sosa...

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