Translation of a poem by Rafael Alberti. Enemy Moon (Luna Enemiga)


This was one of a number of my translations from various poets that I used to read two decades ago. It is one of the only ones I have found amongst about fifteen poems that I had attempted to translate. All the rest seem to have been thrown away or lost.  A few months spent in Barcelona in the autumn of 1993 I spent on trying to rewrite my lost translation of Arlt, to learn Spanish and to discover more Spanish writers. One of these was Rafael Alberti. I purchased a book of his which including both his ‘Sobre los Angeles’ (About the Angels) and another collection of poems about early cinema ‘Yo era un tonto, y lo que he visto me ha hecho dos tontos’ (I was a fool and that which I have seen has made me become two fools). I loved the charm and playfulness as well as the absurd chants of the second collection but for me the poem from the first collection ‘Luna Enemiga’ had the most powerful impact on me. Of course, I am not a very capable translator of poetry (and I don’t think that any of my translations captured much more than a fairly accurate transposition of sense while losing much else). So it’s mainly for a sentimental reason that I’m posting this and out of a fear that even this one will be lost (or discarded) like all the others unless I post it somewhere. The loss of my translation of Cesar Vallejo’s ‘Los Heraldos Negros’ (The Black Heralds) which I rewrote at least six times and some poems from the last collection of Cesare Pavese – one of which I was almost satisfied with – particularly grieve me (even if the actual quality of translations left much to be desired).

Rafael Alberti:


As though unseeing at the clashing of the stars against my breast

I went submerging my shoulders into past skies

Ten autumnal kings rebelled against me

Angels and betrayals always quicken the falls

A leaf. A man.

In your orbit my blood was consumed by fire,

Enemy moon.

Save me from the years in their nebulous state

From the mirrors declaring dresses and vanished pages,

From the hands stamped in yawning memories.


They are burying us in the enemy wind.

And it seems that my soul has forgotten the rules.


Here is the original Spanish:



Como al chocar los astros contra mi pecho no veía,
fui hundiéndome de espaldas en los cielos pasados.
Diez reyes del otoño contra mí se rebelaron.
Ángeles y traiciones siempre aceleran las caídas.
Una hoja, un hombre.
En tu órbita se quemaba mi sangre, luna enemiga.

Salvadme de los años en estado de nebulosa,
de los espejos que pronuncian trajes y páginas desvanecidos,
de las manos estampadas en los recuerdos que bostezan.
Nos entierran en viento enemigo.

Y es que mi alma ha olvidado las reglas.

About afoniya

I am a translator, language teacher, independent film scholar who is interested in many aspects of culture. I have my own blog on Russian and Soviet cinema at and I have also written for journals such as Film Philosophy and Bright Lights as well as Ribbed magazine. Outside of film my interest runs to language, politics, literature and my world is centred around the Meditteranean, Russia, Southern Ukraine as well as the UK.

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