Magazine September 19, 2011, Issue

Translating Camões

(Thomas White/Reuters)

It’s 1925, I sit in the chair
across from Capablanca. I’m here to replace
Herr Lasker, but the Cuban couldn’t care,
the clock is ticking; there’s sweat on my face.
I see that black’s a hopeless situation:
It’s middle-game, French Defense. But I ignore
the crush of infinite numbers, and calculation,
and push my little pawn to Queen’s Rook 4.
It’s 2001, I’ve read your poems and decide
to start with one about love — when you found
your Catharina — and though I’m mystified
by the endless permutations of words and sound,
I finally lift my pen, in frustration,
rhyming “creation” with …

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