Poems for staying at home (Day 10)

Jorge & Blanco

Jorge Fondebrider & Richard Gwyn, Puerto Madryn, Patagonia, 2013


For today’s reading we join the inimitable Jorge Fondebrider at home in Buenos Aires for a reading of ‘Clearing out the house’, that sad activity most of us will carry out at some point in our lives, following the death of a parent.


You can listen to Jorge reading ‘Desmantelar la casa’ here.

You can listen to Jorge reading ‘Closing up the house’ here.


Closing up the house

Beyond the absence and the tremendous absurdity of what follows
– habits, such as calling every day,
for example, are hard to banish –
I am not sure if there is any such thing
as the true measure of death
until the house is empty, because
what once had a meaning and, of course, a story
can barely be summarized in an inventory:
two paintings, an armchair, the stove,
the bed and the sideboard.
The English china already doesn’t count,
nor the crystal glassware, the silver,
first editions of nothing that now matters.
They are old things,
objects that hover about the rooms with no purpose.

(Translated by Richard Gwyn)


Desmantelar la casa

Más allá de la ausencia y del enorme despropósito que sigue
–costumbres que cuesta desterrar,
como llamar todos los días, por ejemplo–
no estoy seguro de que haya algo así
como la verdadera medida de la muerte
hasta que la casa se vacía, porque entonces
lo que tenía un sentido y por supuesto historia
apenas se resume en inventarios:
dos cuadros, un sillón, el samovar,
la cama y el bargueño.
La porcelana inglesa ya no cuenta,
ni el baccarat, la plata,
primeras ediciones de nada que ahora importe.
Son cosas viejas,
objetos que boyan en los cuartos sin razón.


Jorge Fondebrider (1956, Buenos Aires) is an Argentinian poet, critic and translator. Alongside his own collections, and several anthologies and studies of Argentinian poetry, he has published widely on such diverse topics as a history of Lycanthropy, a study of Argentinians in Paris, and books on Patagonia,  Buenos Aires and Dublin. Fondebrider is also a well-known music journalist, and a translator from both French and English, notably of recent Irish writing. A bilingual Selected Poems, The Spaces Between, translated by Richard Gwyn, is available from Cinnamon (2013). His Collected Poems were published in 2016 as La extraña trayectoria de la luz (Buenos Aires: Bajolaluna).

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