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John Howard Reid

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Supper and Party Time from A SALUTE TO SPANISH POETRY by John Howard Reid
by John Howard Reid

Saturday, September 04, 2010
Rated "G" by the Author.
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Recent poems by John Howard Reid
•  ROSALIA de CASTRO The Old Road Del antiguo camino
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           >> View all 155

I love these two poems! Over a hundred more are included in my book, A SALUTE TO SPANISH POETRY. You can now buy the Kindle edition as well as the regular trade paperback. And I'm giving away six paperback copies free of charge. Until September 30, you can enter your name at Good Reads. Full details at my website:




translated from the Spanish of Julio Herrera y Reissig




In a clamor of tin plates, the food goes round the table…

Drawing his ample body erect, the blacksmith commandeers

half the table, for he is a Pope in his own home,

at his own hearth. As he balances his spoon in his left hand

to relieve his right – he makes grave Papal announcements – canonical bulls – to his ravenous flock, who grind their teeth and wet their lips while savoring the winter delicacies

awaiting their attention on his table.


To repay their meritorious attention – and not for gluttony –

the blacksmith doubles their ration of cabbage and broth…


And after he has taken his accustomed place before the fire

and stimulated his digestive juices with a burp or two,

he lights his pipe. Then, enveloped in the swirling smoke,

he regales them with the choicest tidbits of the season:


The Princess and the Over-Talkative Frog,

Snow White and the Ant in the Apple,

Little Pointy Hood and the Wolf…


And his coddled children,

shivering with delight,

jostle each other,

as they lie, warm and snug,

beneath their mother’s cloak.     


Party Time


translated from the Spanish of Julio Herrera y Reissig




Supper is over – vegetables, brown bread

and grapes still resplendent with virgin dew.


Supper has been supped, prayers have been prayed,

the old man has finished an amenable anecdote,

and the group puts on their party clothes

with act-the-goatish pleasure.


Lydia runs in circles around the room.

Lux sings. Palemon walks on stilts.

Everyone is laughing,


Grandma calls for quiet: “Silencio!”

Near the blind old man, Anonymous, the dog,

lowers his guide dog eyes, intimate and frank.


Now that they can all hear the sound of chestnuts

jumping in the fire, their pure hearts beat in unison.


Meanwhile, in the generous silence outdoors,

emaciated fields turn white with the cold.


The moon casts a serene, snowy light;

and the lake shakes with a milky shiver.



John Howard Reid
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Reviewed by Michelle Mead 9/9/2010
There is a similiar feel to these, and they flow well. Knowing how hard it is to translate, this is very admirable. Some people think languages are no big deal, but maybe that is because they never tried to master one, lol. The second is my favorite because of the imagery and that delighful ending. Thanks for sharing the work of others you admire.

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