Antique Portrait – Ernesto Noboa y Caamaño, translated by Jonathan Simkins


Antique Portrait

You have the high-born, mysterious, mournful air
of those noble ladies Pantoja portrayed,
the searing silk dark hair, the listless gaze,
the pitchfork O of that mouth, Luciferian and red.

In the pits of your eyes the mystery sinks,
the dream bird birthed from your forehead,
and on the snow pale hand clutching a rose
shines the miraculous pearl of the Orient.

A smile divine Leonardo would have dreamed,
phantasmagoric eyes, the Fornarina’s two hands,
the Dogaressa’s aura, the neck of Mary Stuart,

formed from the blood of sun and moon,
a flower of light awaiting its sacred blade,
a bouquet of lilies glowing beneath a guillotine.


Retrato Antiguo

Tienes el aire altivo, misterioso y doliente
de aquellas nobles damas que retrató Pantoja:
y los cabellos oscuros, la mirada indolente,
y la boca imprecisa, luciferina y roja.

En tus negras pupilas el misterio se aloja,
el ave azul del sueño se fatiga en tu frente,
y en la pálida mano que una rosa deshoja,
resplandece la perla de prodigioso oriente.

Sonrisa que fue ensueño del divino Leonardo,
ojos alucinados, manos de Fornarina,
porte de Dogaresa, cuello de María Estuardo,

que parece formado -por venganza divina-
para rodar segado como un tallo de nardo,
como un ramos de lirios, bajo la guillotina.



Ernesto Noboa y Caamaño (1889-1927) was an Ecuadorian poet and member of the “Generación Decapitada” (Decapitated Generation). Influenced by the French symbolists and the modernismo of Rubén Darío, he is one of the most widely read poets in Ecuador. Most of his poetry was collected in a single volume, Romanza de las Horas (Romance of the Hours), published in 1922.

Jonathan Simkins lives in Denver, Colorado. He is the author with artist Justin Ankenbauer of the ekphrastic chapbook, Translucent Winds (Helikon Gallery & Studios, 2016). The title poem of his second chapbook, This Is The Crucible (The Lune, 2017), received a Best of the Net nomination. His poems have appeared in various publications, including Crack The Spine, Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, Requited Journal, Visitant, and Wilderness House Literary Review, among others.

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