Dawn Outside the City Walls

By Juan Ramón Jiménez 1881–1958 Juan Ramon Jimenez

Translated By Robert Bly

You can see the face of everything, and it is white—
plaster, nightmare, adobe, anemia, cold—
turned to the east. Oh closeness to life!
Hardness of life! Like something
in the body that is animal—root, slag-ends—
with the soul still not set well there—
and mineral and vegetable!
Sun standing stiffly against man,
against the sow, the cabbages, the mud wall!
—False joy, because you are merely
in time, as they say, and not in the soul!

   The entire sky taken up   
by moist and steaming heaps,
a horizon of dung piles.   
Sour remains, here and there,   
of the night. Slices
of the green moon, half-eaten,
crystal bits from false stars,
plaster, the paper ripped off, still faintly
sky-blue. The birds
not really awake yet, in the raw moon,
streetlight nearly out.   
Mob of beings and things!
—A true sadness, because you are really deep
in the soul, as they say, not in time at all!

Juan Ramón Jiménez, “Dawn Outside the City Walls” from Lorca and Jiménez: Selected Poems. Translation copyright © 1973 by Robert Bly. Reprinted with the permission of Beacon Press.

Source: Lorca and Jimenez: Selected Poems (Beacon Press, 1973)

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Poet Juan Ramón Jiménez 1881–1958


Subjects Nature, Stars, Planets, Heavens

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Juan Ramón  Jiménez


A prolific Spanish poet, editor, and critic, Juan Ramón Jiménez won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1956. He was born in Moguer i Andalusia, an area that he depicted in Platero y Yo (Platero and I, 1914) a collection of prose poems about a man and his donkey. Jiménez’s other books of poetry include Elejías puras (Pure Elegies, 1908), La soledad sonora (Sonorous Solitude, 1911), Poesía (Poetry, 1923), and Belleza (Beauty, . . .

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SUBJECT Nature, Stars, Planets, Heavens


Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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