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This Day That is the Whole of My Life

You were waiting for me within this gold
that the morning brings from the hill
of my elms in autumn (an immense wing
resting on the most hidden trunk)
to tell me, warm and serene,
that one must live in gold the whole day.

This day that is the whole of my life.

I n   t h e   o r i g i n a l   S p a n i s h

Este Día Que Es Toda la Vida

Me estabas esperando en este oro
que la mañana entra por el oto
de mis olmos de otoño (un ala inmensa
que se posa en el tronco más recóndito)
para decirme, cálido y sereno,
que hay que vivir en oro todo el día.

Este día que es toda la vida.

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This poem is a previously unpublished one at the time of the creation of this compilation, God Desired and Desiring, the last collection of poetry by Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881 – 1958).  The collection was published originally in 1964, and in this bilingual edition in 1987. The translator is Antonio T. de Nicolás, and the bracing Introduction is by Louis Simpson.

Jiménez was a prolific and influential Spanish poet, editor, critic and teacher. Leaving Europe at the outbreak of the Civil War in Spain in 1936, he and his wife lived in Cuba, Florida, Washington D.C. and also Puerto Rico, where they eventually settled.
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This collection was composed throughout a propitious period of the poet’s later life. It marked the zenith of a lifelong odyssey in search of finer understanding of truth, experience of meaning. In his Notes, which Jiménez wrote as he was preparing this compilation for publication (and which appear after the poems in it), he tells us that poetry for him has been subjective, inseparable from his being, and a development of his relationship with ‘god’—or, as he puts it, “the development of an encounter with an idea about god”. His progress through life and his life’s work has been “a progress towards god, for I was creating a world which had to have as an end a god.” Though “deeply religious”, his is “that immanent religion without absolute dogma which I have always professed; . . . god has treasured himself within me as a finding, as a reality of what is exact and sufficiently true.”

As I read him in the Notes, knowledge of truth can exist most fully only together with consciousness of the beautiful. Through vital awareness of the glory that is creation, and in our response to it by expression / (re)creation of beauty through our “lived life”, we draw near to—even become one with—its source, the loving-consciousness that is the divine / god.

Jiménez was unable to sustain this considerable serenity as he approached still nearer the end of his life.  With a long susceptibility to depression, he succumbed again to its desolation and torment, exacerbated now by the illness and death of his wife, his four decades-long soulmate and collaborator.  (A poet in her own right, Zenobia Camprubi Aymar was the Spanish translator of the work of Rabindranath Tagore.)  Jiménez was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature just two days before her death. He was unable to truly recover his health, and died within two years.

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Immanent in the religious sense refers to a divinity which permeates and sustains the universe; often implying a pantheistic perspective, regarding the universe as a manifestation of God.  Might be contrasted with transcendent.

Thanks to Steven Schwartzman at www.portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com for introducing me to the work of this poet.

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