Introduction and translator’s notes


The original of this work was written by Óscar de León (1996) about 5 years ago. It is published here with the kind permission of Isaac Uribe, the director/publisher of the volume Quinto Derrotero in which the work was originally published. Therefore muchas gracias Isaac!

If you can recall what life was like when you were in high school, at an age of 16 or 17, then you may recall the anger and despair you may have had at that time. I know that I certainly can remember that period of my life.  The original version of Poema para niña contains all of that. All of the sturm und drang common in youths of that age.

In the first version of my translation(s) I chose to interpret the original work as I would have written it. Thus it is an original work inspired by that of Óscar. You will notice that I have left out some of the lines in the original Spanish and also the second imagination. I felt that these lines detract from the central image. Thus this interpretation is an imagination of what my experience would have been.

In my second version, I attempt to understand the experience of a youth, as expressed by Óscar, in the present time at the age of 16 or 17. I lay no claim to a genuine understanding of Óscar’s experience, only to my imagination of it. Perhaps I can meet with him at some time and gain more insight.

I have also included a mechanical, computer translation from Google Translate, without editing. I find it interesting, some of it actually quite good. But somehow awkward, at least to my ear. Recall if you will, that one of the major differences between poetry and text is that the former is written for the ear, the latter not. Poetry should be read aloud and be pleasing to the ear.

As a translator of poetry I have never attempted to capture the rhythm of the original nor to even come close to a word for word version. I do not believe that is in the interest of the original work nor of the translation. Therefore all poetry I translate is an attempt to express in English what is expressed in the original language, in this case, Spanish, particularly the Mexican vernacular.


Original Bob

For a Young Woman / Para una Chica

Original Bob


The trembling of a leaf ecstatic with calm:
throughout the day my desire follows


your existence, foreign to rules,
your indwelling rebellion
giving voice  to my words.


You torment me, building me up tearing me down.
You entice me with your hunger for passion, obvious and innocent.


I pursue your soul and grow weary.
I crave the movement of your body, 
each caprice, each vagary,
each secret desire.
I yearn for your touch, my desire 


© Original  Bob
12 February 2018

For a Young Girl / Para una Niña

Original Bob


A leaf trembling slightly, feebly attached:
throughout the day wanting, following you

Original Bob


posed as a Modigliani revised by Basquiat.
your mole misplaced, your lips tightened.
you, and your defenses.


your life outside the rules,
your rebelliousness
stealing  my words.


You torment me, building me up tearing me down.
You entice me, your hunger for passion, obvious and immature.


I pursue your soul ’til transfixed.
I crave the movement of your body,
each caprice, each vagary,
each grotesque desire.
I yearn for you to take me and


Throw Me To The Spiders, Magdalena


Original  Bob
© 12 February 2018

Poem or a Girl / Para una Niña

Google Translate


Sabines says:
“Leaf that barely moves and feels detached:
I’m going to follow you wanting. All day.”


And there you are, posed as a Modigliani edited by Basquiat.
With your mole badly located and your lips almost nil.
There you are and your defense mechanisms.


You exempt yourself from all norms,
that you are the owner of your own rebellion,
that you are the owner of my verbiage.


You besiege me, you give me and you kill me.


You imbibe my reason with your sexual hunger so obvious and so puerile.
I want to lick your psyche until I’m impaled.
I want to know the mechanics of your arrhythmic body, alien;
and your most grotesque hobbies
I want you to take me by the neck and cut my head.


Throw Me to Spiders, Magdalena

Poema para Niña

Óscar de León


Sabines dice:

“Hoja que apenas se Mueve ya se siente desprendida:
Voy a seguirte queriendo. Todo el día.”

Y ahí estás, posada como un Modigliani editado por Basquiat.
Con tu lunar mal ubicado y tus labios casi nulos.
Ahí están tú y tus mecanismos de defensa.

Tú que te eximes de toda norma, 
que eres dueña de tu propia rebelión, 
que eres dueña de my verborrea.

Me asedias, me dotas y me tumbas.

Entumes mi razón con tu hambre sexual 
tan obvia y tan pueril.
Quiero lamer tu psique hasta empalagarme.
Quiero conocer la mecánica de tu cuerpo arrítmico, ajeno; 
y tus aficiones más grotescas
Quiero que me tomes por el cuello y me cortes la cabeza.

Tira Me A Las Arañas, Magdalena


por Óscar de León
Quinto Derrotero