To Colombia, a poem by Julio Florez

Julio Florez (1867-1923) was a Colombian poet who wrote in the late 19th and early 20th century. For many years he was forced into exile from Colombia, living in Venezuela, Central America and Mexico before returning in his old age to settle in a town a few hours from Barranquilla. He is one of the most celebrated Colombian poets. One of his poems, To Colombia, seems to reflect the feelings brought on from his years of exile. Here it is in Spanish, followed by my attempt to translate it into English:


A Colombia

Golpea el mar el casco del navío
que me aleja de ti, patria adorada.
Es medianoche; el cielo está sombrío;
negra la inmensidad alborotada.

Desde la yerta proa, la mirada
hundo en las grandes sombras del vacío;
mis húmedas pupilas no ven nada.
Qué ardiente el aire; el corazón qué frío.

Y pienso, oh patria, en tu aflicción, y pienso
en que ya no he de verte. Y un gemido
profundo exhalo entre el negror inmenso.

Un marino despierta… se incorpora…
aguza en las tinieblas el oído
y oigo que dice a media voz ¿Quién llora?

To Colombia

The sea beats against the hull of the ship
that is taking me from you, beloved homeland.
It is midnight; the sky is dark;
black is the stormy immensity before me.

From the stiff prow, my gaze
sinks into the deep shadows of the emptiness;
my damp eyes see nothing.
How scorching the air; how cold the heart.

And I think, oh homeland, about your sorrow, and I think
about how I will no longer see you. And I exhale
a deep moan within the infinite blackness.

A sailor awakes… he sits up…
he pricks up his ears in the darkness
and I hear him whisper “Who is crying?”


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