A long time ago I posted a translation of a Pablo Neruda poem that I enjoyed quite a bit. That translation was not mine, and it has been a long time since I’ve tried any heavy translating, but I thought I would give it a quick try.

Los Pasos Perdidos, written by Alejo Carpentier, is one of my favorite novels in Spanish. This quote comes from a moment when the protagonist is struck by the seemingly purposeful beauty that surrounds him. Traveling on the River Orinoco, he thinks the following:

“Llego a preguntarme a veces si las formas superiores de la emoción estética no consistirán, simplemente, en un supremo entendimiento de lo creado. Un día, los hombres descubrirán un alfabeto en los ojos de las calcedonias, en los pardos terciopelos de la falena, y entonces se sabrá con asombro que cada caracol manchado era, desde siempre, un poema.”

And my translation:

“There are times when I wonder whether the superior forms of aesthetic emotion should not consist, simply, in a supreme understanding of creation. One day men will discover an alphabet in the eyes of chalcedony; in the velveted dun of the moth. And so it will be known, and wondered at, that each speckled snail’s shell was, from the beginning, a poem.”


I am unsure if I really captured it or not, but I still like it. Any suggestions on the translation? Please improve it!