My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I was really looking forward to reading this one off my Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2017 list to check-off “collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love.” I wanted to read this one so bad, because it was a bilingual edition! So what I did was read it once in English, read it out loud to get the flow in the Spanish and then compared the English and Spanish to expand my own Spanish vocabulary. Even doing this, I didn’t fully “get” the point of probably 80% of the verse. Which I think is just the linguistic and cultural divide there. My Spanish language and culture knowledge is in Mexico and Spain… not Chili, where the author is from. I did make sure I read the introduction, for that reason. I do not think this disconnect was a result of shoddy translation. There’s just not a good way to translate the art and flow of the natural language. Even in my gringa tongue, the Spanish sounded beautiful when spoken aloud. Now that I’m thinking of it, perhaps it was the mysticism influence that contributed most to the disconnect. The introduction mentioned that Mistral drew inspiration from Teresa de Avila, a 17th century Spanish mystic nun, whom I have read and likewise didn’t understand. So because I wasn’t gaining much understanding in either English or Spanish, I put this one down about half way through. I did expand my Spanish vocabulary. I also noted several words that Mistral liked to repeat, those being albatross and demented. Overall, I probably won’t come back to this one and would choose something else to work on my Spanish vocabulary.