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  • from Atardi 1 [from Evening]
  • Joseph Sickman Corsen (bio)
    Translated by Francis R. Jones (bio)
Ta pakiko, mi no sa; Why it comes, I have no notion:
Ma esta tristu mi ta bira, why a sadness enters me
Tur atardi ku mi mira every evening, when I see
Solo baha den laman. the sun go down beneath the ocean.
Talbes ta un presentimentu, Perhaps it’s some presentiment,
O ta un rekuerdo kisas; perhaps a distant memory,
Podisé n’ ta nada mas perhaps it all might only be
Ku un kos di temperamentu. a product of my temperament.
P’adilanti podisé Or in the future--who can tell--
Mi ta mira na kaminda perhaps upon my road I’ll see
Un doló ku n’ nase ainda a pain that’s not yet come to be,
Ma ku lo mi konosé? though soon I’ll know it all too well.
Te aworó? Ma henter anochi See you soon? But first, the night--
Esta largu anochi ta; a night that’s long and very slow;
Kuantu kos ku nos no sa how many things that we don’t know
E ta skonde den su skochi. are hidden in its breast from sight?
Promé solo bolbe hari, Before the sunlight laughs next day,
Tempu tin pa hopi kos; so many things can change outright:
I Dios sa kuantu di nos when death waylays us in the night,
Morto den anochi a bari. God knows who will be snatched away.
Kousa mi doló no tin; I know no reason for my pain,
Ma esta tristu mi ta bira why this sadness enters me
Semper ku mi para mira every evening, when I see
Dia yega na su fin. the day draw near its end again.
Joseph Sickman Corsen

Joseph Sickman Corsen, a native of Curaçao, lived from 1853 to 1911. Although he wrote most of his poetry in Spanish, he is remembered as the poet who established Papiamentu as a language in which poetry could be written.

Francis R. Jones

Francis R. Jones, a poet and freelance translator, teaches at the University of Newcastle, United Kingdom. His publications include a translation of Hans Faverey’s work, Against the Forgetting (1994). In addition, he has translated Vyacheslav Kupriyanov’s In Anyone’s Tongue (1992) and most recently Ivan Lalic’s Fading Contact (1997). He was the joint winner of the European Poetry Translation Prize in 1997, a prize he had also been awarded in 1991. In addition he has received the second prize of the British Comparative Literature Association Translation Award in 1994 and honorable mention in the James S. Holmes Memorial Awards (Columbia University) in 1989. He is currently at work on a study of foreign language acquisition.


1. Cultureel Mozaïek van de Nederlandse Antilleu, ed. René A. Römer (Zutphen, 1977), 118–19.


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