Molly Weigel: Oliverio Girondo Translations

Oliverio Girondo has to be one of the most baffling poets of twentieth-century Latin American modernism. Among English readers, his works do not have the name recognition of Neruda, Borges, Vallejo, Paz, or Martí. Yet this Argentine word-slinger
provides some intoxicating abstractions in a language that resembles an alien life-form bursting out of vaguely Spanish words. This is especially the case in his 1957 collection  En la masmédula where his Frankensteinian practice of lexical vivisection reaches it apex. So contorted are some of these poems that the book was long left untouched by translators even after decades of Americans “discovering” Latino@ writers. Recently, however, there has been glimmers of interest in this neglected poet. Two years ago, translator Joseph Mulligan and myself had a dialogue on one of the poems from En la masmédula and what kinds of possibilites it offers translation:

However, neither Mulligan (who is currently working on a collection of Vallejo’s non-poetry corpus) nor myself has delved further into the mysteries of Girondo. That work has been bravely done by Molly Weigel who will be publishing In the Moremarrow, her translations of En la masmédula, this April: Weigel generously offers the Bug a sampler of her translations:


At the gravitating turning

In the begging

in the being

in the psyches

in the xes

in the exquisiphthisical replies

in the enmoonments

in the erect for the abcessed excesses of erofriction et cetera

or in the exhausted dreamencore of the “gimme take it give in all the way to the very

nape of your so desire”

in the unfaith that ruminates

in the vivisecond the dry psychic prospecting the metaphyserrata in elfabridgements

of the cosmic egogorgo

in each gesture graft

in any sunken polidented brrokenpurrpose flush with facing subrrubble exother


hearthless houndless coveless diveless headless storyless


by the mobile embryos of the gravitating turning under the starry itch

next to the lianamuses pulpy poresuckers and the no less polyp children of swamp


volunteers of the miasma

so violated

trampled among bad eggs nevers and admonitory hooks

one pit at a time nongoing swimming in the face of only too wandering fodders of final

flood-gates that inundate hope

with my graymite the sporious

the leopard yawns the daft babble

on the sore spot

at the deployment of the blood without midget introits in the ample plicoitus with each

sleepless dream and each wagered specter


I would lace

in the offspawned spring



More boorish daily threshold



lunatic fate

mobile carnivores’ driest thirst

and magic rapt cajolery of alb albatross aurora

most sacred flesh lay of hyperhoneyed vibratile pubescents order of sextomb gondola

in the gullet of the gully out of the fertile mother of godcome

although postedium stretches its crayfish beds out to eunuch oblivion

more mute limp psalms

hands lunar roads beauty marks

drinks of wings

more bitch of a blind hunt after truth volatile ineternal extraharlotree

more jaguars longing

prolix terraqueous liquidations in collapse extreme pansurrender from the bony fide

boughs to the panicky cornea

to each lodger dream of pre-not-to-be waning

to each stony hope

love-lorn gaudy born

taut swoon meeting over tibias oboes with sidekick spasms

since even the grease interulcerates the dry masticuline mammaries

and the very floor spilled is a preverse fetus foretold if mused in flight

most sacred sick bellyful pregnant with pap rich rhyme so much featherless

parrotgibbonish vaticrap

but truncated hyperhours unthought acephalous dubifetuses and impacts of total disgust

although the quotedium sugarsulphurs its packs of hounds absorbent airholes of yawns