I am working on a translation of a poem. My current versions is:

Leaping toward first light

I left my body nearby
singing the sorrows of that born.

My problem is in the last line, "of that born." In the original, the reference is clearly to what is left over after the writer's body is left (behind). So a more complete translation might be:

singing the sorrows of that which was born

but I really don't like that. I have also thought of "of those born" but that would refer to all (people) born which is not the intent. Another suggestion was "of newly born" but (for me) that doesn't work either.

So, do I just leave it as is, or are there other options? TIA. Beto

  • My initial interpretation of your poetic "sorrows of that born" would be "sorrows born (ie, created) as a result of that". I gather this is not the interpretation you'd like.
    – Hot Licks
    May 21, 2019 at 0:04
  • 1
    of what was born might suit your meter and register better than of that which was born May 21, 2019 at 0:08

3 Answers 3


Thank you all for your responses. I have given this question a great deal of thought and had difficulty in making a decision.

To clarify the situation, the original Spanish for born is nace, "nacer, to be born as in the birth of a child or to be created, as in the birth of a star. In which case the born as suggested by FUHL would be fine.

However, the suggestion of StoneyB more closely fits my understanding of the original author's intent which is the sorrows of what is left over (the soul) after leaving the body behind. But that which was born or what was born are to my ear a little awkward.

I also tried of the one born and of one born as suggested by a correspondent.

So, after much soul-searching, so to speak, I have for now decided upon of the one born however I think that I will revisit this question again.

So the version I now have is:

Leaping toward first light
 leaving my body nearby I sing the sorrows of the one born.

Again, thank you all for your help.

BTW, the verse is the first poem in the collection Árbol de Dianna, by Alejandra Pizarnik.


  • junto a la luz is not nearby and the last line is: what is born. of the one born is not the meaning of the Spanish and sounds awful in English. de lo que nace: of what is born.
    – Lambie
    May 25, 2019 at 18:52
  • Thanks, @Lambie for your input., I am aware that junto a la luz can be translated as near the light. The same is true of de lo que nace: of what is born. However, my goal is not to reproduce the results of google translate which are next to the light and of what is born". My goal is to provide an original rendition of the sense, the intent, of the original work in the target language. Beto
    – beto
    May 26, 2019 at 20:52
  • Allow me to share something with you: my Spanish is fluent, I'm an interpreter (Sp<>Eng) and translator (Sp>Eng) but I would not dare translate poetry into Spanish.Do not for one second think anything I have said comes from Google translate. It comes from my head. Obviously, you may do as you like. I understand the meaning in Spanish. I have written poetry for decades. After the soul has left the body, the sadness is about what remains. You have said in English= Canto las tristezas de aquél que nasció. That does not sound like the meaning in Spanish of the original. Happy trails.
    – Lambie
    May 26, 2019 at 22:32
  • Hello @Lambie! Allow me to apologize if my tone was somewhat curt. That was not my intention. I guessed (correctly) that you are fluent in Spanish and I appreciate your comments. I certainly did not mean to imply that you had google translated. I too have translated (mostly German - English) for many years and have written poetry since the mid-'60s. I have been greatly influenced by the Beatniks in the late '50s when I spent considerable time in SF North Beach. At present I have a Spanish advisor (prof of Spanish lit) and an English advisor and we have all been stuck on the last line. more...
    – beto
    May 27, 2019 at 17:07
  • Personally, I have an antipathy re "what" which is the reason I used "that" initially but got talked into "of the one" or "of one" which I don't care for either. As I'm sure you noticed, the original is written in pres perf tense which I also do not care for. I am curious why you used the future (nasció)? But, what do you think of "that" as a replacement for "what" in your original suggestion? I would very much enjoy discussing this offline but there does not seem to be any way of gaining direct contact on this site. In any event, thanks for your input. Beto
    – beto
    May 27, 2019 at 17:22

If the idea is to capture the sentiments of what is left over, that is, the corpse or the flesh minus its soul, that sentiment is common to all those born. Universal. So,

Leaping toward first light

I left my body nearby

singing the sorrows of the born.

Not much different than your "that born" right? But "that born" could also be interpreted as "something carried," as "born" is also the variation on the past tense of bear (borne). If the original was intended to carry both meanings (noun and verb), "that born" would be fine. If you want it only to carry the meaning of the noun, "the born" does that better.



He dado el salto de mí al alba.
He dejado mi cuerpo junto a la luz
y he cantado la tristeza de lo que nace.

I've made the jump from myself into the dawn.
I've left my body alongside the light
And sung the sadness of what is born.

That's my version. [no need for upvotes or downvotes, I just needed a place to write it.]

The present perfect is good because of its relationship to the present....

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