José Manuel Cardona

Poem to Circe IV
January 28, 2016 Cardona Jose Manuel

Poem to Circe IV


Ancient bronzes, we reached the sea.
Missing is the man who says: the sea is mine.
Under this sea Phoenician amphorae
sleep their languid female curves.
Do you know amphorae? Have you
seen their figure, their elegance?
Beneath the waters their whiteness
laughs like spotless marble, indolence
wakens love, they expand.
For centuries they’ve slept between sands
like soft fish that escaped
the potter’s greedy love.
They already belong to the sea much as
drowned sailors at the bottom of the algae.
Foreign sailors from faraway
countries whose fragrance dissipates.

With floating and dispersed beards,
with beards in loops, extended
by the sea like golden curls.
Circe, I love amphorae. It hurts me
to see them out of the sea, without sea or sand.
They remind me of the drowned youth
who left at dawn and has forever been
sleeping blue beneath the waters.

From Birnam Wood (Salmon Poetry, 2018) by José Manuel Cardona,
Translation from the Spanish by Hélène Cardona


Fountain in the Passage of the Bonfire

                                                          Under the shadow of Ricardo

                                                       and the heralds of that time: Miguel,

                                                    Pablo, Juan, Mario, Julio and Rafael.

I will not name the fountain nor the bonfire,
the longing for the shared days
and these sunny hours, footsteps lost
behind the oblique murmur of the wait.

I will not say the word prisoner
of a time already distant, the heartbeats
a thousand times restrained, hurt today
beyond repair. Yet I would love —

at the edge of water, in the jasmine
guarding pillar as if it were
a light angel of kisses and dolphins —

to retain the splendor, to tell how yesterday’s
solitude was, the matins.
There is a mystery I should keep secret.

Paris, June 21, 1983

From Birnam Wood (Salmon Poetry, 2018) by José Manuel Cardona,
Translation from the Spanish by Hélène Cardona


Poema a Circe IV

Hemos llegado al mar bronces antiguos.
Falta el hombre que diga: el mar es mío.
Bajo este mar las ánforas fenicias
Duermen su languidez de hembras redondas.
¿Sabes qué son las ánforas, has visto

Qué gravidez la suya y qué elegancia?
Bajo las aguas ríe su blancura
Como un mármol limpísimo, despierta
Su indolencia al amor, se desperezan.
Hace siglos que duermen entre arenas.
Son como peces blandos que escaparan
Al codicioso amor del alfarero.
Son ya del mar lo mismo que marinos
Ahogados en el fondo con las algas.
Marinos extranjeros de países
Lejanos cuyo aroma desvanece.

Con las barbas flotantes y dispersas,
Con las barbas en bucles, extendidas
Como rizos dorados por el mar.
Circe, yo amo las ánforas. Me duele
Verlas fuera del mar, sin mar ni arenas.
Me recuerdan al joven ahogado
Que partió de alborada y se ha dormido
Eternamente azul bajo las aguas.


José Manuel Cardona,  El bosque de Birnam (Consell Insular d’Eivissa, 2007)


Fuente de la calle de la Hoguera

                                                          Tras las sombras de Ricardo

                                                      y los  heraldos de entonces: Miguel,

                                                    Pablo, Juan, Mario, Julio and Rafael.

No nombraré la fuente ni la hoguera,
el ansia de los días compartidos
y esas horas del sol, pasos perdidos
tras el rumor oblicuo de la espera.

No diré la palabra prisionera
de un tiempo ya lejano, los latidos
mil veces refrenados, hoy heridos
irreparablemente. Mas quisiera

en el umbral del agua, en los jazmines
que columna custodian cual si fuera
ángel leve de besos y delfines,

detener el fulgor, decir cómo era
la soledad ayer, y los maitines.
Hay un misterio qur callar debiera.

París, 21 de junio de 1983

José Manuel Cardona,  El bosque de Birnam (Consell Insular d’Eivissa, 2007)





Translated by Hélène Cardona — a poet, literary translator and actor, the recipient of numerous awards and honors including a Hemingway Grant and the USA Best Book Award. Her books include two translations: Beyond Elsewhere (White Pine Press, 2016), and Ce que nous portons (Editions du Cygne, 2014), and three bilingual poetry collections, most recently Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry, 2016) and Dreaming My Animal Selves (Salmon Poetry, 2013). She also translated Walt Whitman’s Civil War Writings for the Iowa International Writing Program’s WhitmanWeb.

She holds a Master’s in American Literature from the Sorbonne, taught at Hamilton College & Loyola Marymount University, and received fellowships from the Goethe-Institut & Universidad Internacional de Andalucía. She co-edits FulcrumAn Anthology of Poetry, contributes essays to The London Magazine, and is co-producer of the documentary Pablo Neruda: The Poet’s Calling. Publications include Washington Square, World Literature Today, Poetry International, The Irish Literary Times, The Warwick Review, TAB: The Journal of Poetry & Poetics, and elsewhere.

Acting credits include Chocolat, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Hundred-Foot Journey, etc. For Serendipity, she co-wrote with Peter Chelsom & Alan Silvestri the song Lucienne, which she also sang.


José Manuel Cardona (July 16, 1928 – July 4, 2018) was a poet from Ibiza, Spain. He is the author of El Vendimiador (Atzavara, 1953), Poemas a Circe (Adonais, 1959) and El Bosque de Birnam: Antología poética (Consell Insular d’Eivissa, 2007).

He was co-editor of several literary journals and wrote for many publications. He participated in the II Congreso de Poesía in Salamanca and belonged to the Cántico group.

The Franco regime forced him into exile in France. He held PhDs in literature and humanities (University of Nancy), and political sciences (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva). He wrote his thesis on the Mexican revolution at the Instituto de Cultura Hispánica de Madrid and was an attorney (University of Barcelona).

He worked for the United Nations most of his life, in Geneva, Paris, Rome, Vienna, Belgrade, Sofia, Kiev, Tbilisi, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Panama, among many places.