Our house today is ‘The House in Tigre’, by Daniel Samoilovich. Tigre is a small town on the Paraná river, which, on its passage towards the ocean, is broken up by hundreds of small, wooded islands, many of them inhabited. The whole, vast area is a web of small estuaries, and the graveyard of three centuries’ worth of shipwrecks and abandoned dreams. As late as the 1870s the delta was the haunt of pirates, some of them women, including the famous Marica Rivera, who, with her band of bloodthirsty followers robbed and murdered travellers, although she also acquired the status of a kind of Robin Hood figure, occasionally distributing her booty among the needy. The people who live on these islands have a reputation for a kind of wistful lethargy, a condition known locally as ‘mal del sauce’ or ‘weeping willow sickness.’ I imagine it as the sort of listless melancholy that afflicts a person who spends too many hours gazing at the slow passage of water.
The House in Tigre
We have a house in South America.
Here are the dogs with no owner,
the river, palm trees, summer,
the little tangled bush
of wild roses,
slanting light in autumn.
Here’s where old clothes end up,
silence, non-matching glasses,
the most long-lived members
of different races, made siblings
by chance, by an oversight of death.
(Translated by Richard Gwyn)
La Casa del Tigre
Tenemos una casa en Sudamérica.
Aquí están los perros sin dueño,
el río, las palmeras, el verano,
el arbolito enmarañado
de las rosas silvestres,
las luces diagonales en otoño.
Acá vino a parar la ropa vieja, el silencio,
los vasos desparejos,
los miembros más longevos
de razas diferentes, hermanados
por el azar, por un descuido de la muerte.
Daniel Samoilovich was born in Buenos Aires in 1949. He has published a dozen collections of poetry since his first, Párpado, in 1973. A bilingual collection of his poetry has appeared in English, translated by Andrew Graham Yooll (Nottingham: Shoestring Press, 2007) and his Collected Poems, Rusia es el tema was published by Bajolaluna in 2014. He is a translator from Latin, Italian, English and French. He has translated, amongst others, the Latin poet Horace and Shakespeare’s Henry IV. Between 1986 and 2012 he directed the Buenos Aires cultural newspaper Diario de Poesía. Three of Samoilovich’s poems can be found in The Other Tiger.