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John Howard Reid

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Dream of the Alligator
by John Howard Reid

Thursday, August 05, 2010
Rated "G" by the Author.
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Recent poems by John Howard Reid
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Following the success of my "A Salute to Spanish Poetry: 100 Masterpieces from Spain & Latin America", here is a poem from my follow-up book which will be released in late October, 2010.


El sueño del caimán


por José Santos Chocano


Enorme tronco que arrastró la ola,

yace el caimán varado en la ribera;

espinazo de abrupta cordillera,

fauces de abismo y formidable cola.


El sol lo enveulve en fúlgida aureola;

y parece lucir cota y cimera,

cual monstruo de metal que reverbera

y que al reverberar se tornasola,


Inmóvil como un ídolo sagrado,

ceñido en mallas de compacto acero,

está ante el agua extático y sombrío,


a manera de un príncipe encantado

que vive eternamiente prisionero,

en el palacio de cristal de un río.



Dream of the Alligator


 translated from the Spanish of José Santos Chocano




His gigantic body dragged along by the waves,

a stranded alligator straddles the river bank.

His spine is as steep as a mountain range.

His jaws are a deadly abyss;

his tail, a servant of death.


As the sun wraps him in a resplendent halo,

his armor and crest appear to shine.

He is a giant’s toy, a metal monster that reverberates,

and on reverberating, changes color.


Immobile as a sacred idol

wrapped in a mesh of solid steel,

he faces the river, ecstatic and somber.


He is an enchanted prince,

condemned to an eternal prison

in the crystal palace of the river.



John Howard Reid

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Reviewed by Paul Judges 8/6/2010
A great poem.
Reviewed by George Carroll 8/5/2010
This poem has a layer of wrapping, like an onion that shines brighter with each peel.
Reviewed by Debashish Haar 8/5/2010
"Dream of an alligator" is a metaphorical phrase, and the central metaphor has been expanded to deliver a profound social message on our times. Alligator is a symbol of power, magnificence, glory, and at the same time cruelty, and in the image of the alligator the narrator perhaps envisions a control over the "absolute power" that can so very well "corrupt absolutely". It has several layers of thought to read and re-read!
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