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Soliloquio del Individuo by Nicanor Parra, Translated by T Wignesan
Soliloquio del Individuo by Nicanor Parra, Translated by T. Wignesan (Homage to Nicanor PARRA, 1914-2018, the Chilean ANTI-POET, winner of the "Cervantes Prize" (the highest literary honour for writers in Spanish), four times nominated for the Nobel Prize, studied Physics (Brown University), Cosmology (Oxford University) and taught maths and physics for some 40 years, but styles himself as the Poet who writes "Anti-Poems" - a fresh chastising wind to debunk self-styled poets hardly born to the métier but drunk with their own effete and ephemeral voices. T. Wignesan, Paris, 2016. For the original stanzaic format of the poem, check the original, if you please.) The Individual’s Soliloquy I am the Individual At first I lived in a rock (there I carved some figures). Later I looked for a more appropriate place. I am the Individual. In the beginning I had to procure food for myself, find fish, birds, look for firewood (and other matters also took up my time). To start a bonfire, firewood, forewood, where to find a little firewood, some firewood to start a bonfire, I am the Individual. At the same time I asked myself, I escaped from an abyss full of air; a voice answered me: I am the Individual. Then I tried to live in another rock, there too I carved some figures, engraved a river, buffaloes, carved out a serpent, I am the Individual. But no, I became bored with the things I was doing, fire bothered me, I wanted to see more, I am the Individual. I went down a valley irrigated by a river, there I found what I needed, encountered a savage people, a tribe, I am the Individual. Saw that there they undertook some things, they carved figures on rocks, they kindled fires, Yes, they kindled fires also! I am the Individual. They wanted to know from where I hailed. I answered in the affirmative, that I entertained no fixed goals, I answered in the negative, that I would keep going. Good. I took hold of a piece of stone I found in a river and began to work on it, began to polish it made of it a part of my own life. But this is far too long. I felled some trees in order to set sail, looked for fish, looked for different things (I am the Individual). Until I began to get bored all over again. One gets bored with tempests, the thunder, the lightning, I am the Individual. Good. I forced myself into thinking a little while, stupid questions filled my head, false problems. So I began to wander through some woods. I arrived at a tree and yet another, I arrived at a fountain, I arrived at a pit where one could see rats: here it is I who comes, I then said, have you seen a tribe hereabouts, a savage people who know how to light a fire? In this manner I kept going towards a westerly direction in the company of other beings, or rather all alone. In order to see, one must believe, they said to me, I am the Individual. In the dark one could discern forms, perhaps clouds, perhaps one saw clouds, one saw lightning; all these things had already taken place some days past, I felt like I was dying; I invented some machines, manufactured watches arms, vehicles, I am the Individual. I had hardly enough time to bury my dead, hardly had I time to sow, I am the Individual. Some years hence, I conceived some things, some forms, crossed frontiers and remained stationary in a sort of niche, in a boat in which I rowed for forty days, forty nights, I am the Individual. Later on droughts set in, some wars ensued, varieties of colours appeared in the valley, but I must keep going, must keep producing. Invented the sciences, immutable truths, fashioned he tanagras*, published books running into thousands of pages, let my face swell, invented the phonograph, the sewing machine, then the first automobiles began to appear, I am the Individual. Somebody set apart the planets, trees segregated themselves! But I separated the set of tools, furniture, stationery for the writing desk, I am the Individual. They also built cities, roads, religious institutions went out of fashion, they looked for what was said, for happiness, I am the Individual. Later I spent the better part of my time travelling, in practising, in practising languages, languages, I am the Indiviidual. I peeped through a keyhole, Yes, I did, what am I to say, I did in order to opt out of doubt, I did look through, behind some curtains, I am the Individual. Good. Perhaps it would be best to return to that valley, to that rock where I lodged, and begin to carve sketches again, from back to front I engraved the world upside down. But no: life is devoid of meaning. *statues of human forms made in Tanagra of Boetia. © T. Wignesan – Paris, 2016 ,
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