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Stalked by Young Werther

Over the weekend, I was innocently reading my book of William Carlos Williams poems and their translations when I found an allusion to The Sorrows of Young Werther. I don’t particularly feel like commenting on the allusion right now, but I will include the poem, which is actually by José Asunción Silva.

THE DISEASE OF THE CENTURY

The Patient:

Doctor, a discouragement of life
which is in my intimate self rooted and born,
the disease of the century… that same disease of Werther,
of Rolla, of Manfred and of Leopardi.
A weariness with all things, an absolute
contempt for the human, an incessant
revolt at the vileness of existence
worthy of my master Schopenhauer;
a profound unrest which grows
with all the tortures of analysis.

The Doctor:

–This is a matter of regimen; walk
in the early morning; sleep long, take baths;
drink well; eat well; take good care of yourself;
the thing that ails you is hunger!

 

Y para ellas quien les importan cosas así (yo soy una de ellas), aquí está el poema en su lengua original.

EL MAL DEL SIGLO

El paciente:

Doctor, un desaliento de la vida
que en lo íntimo de mí se arraiga y nace,
el mal del siglo… el mismo mal de Werther,
de Rollo, de Manfredo y de Leopardi.
un cansancio de todo, un absoluto
desprecio de lo humano… un incesante
renegar de lo vil de la existencia
digno de mi maestro Schopenhauer;
un malestar profundo que se aumenta
con todas las torturas del análisis…

El médico

–Eso es cuestión de régimen; camine
de mañanita; duerma largo; báñese;
bebe bien; coma bien; cuídese mucho;
¡lo que usted tiene es hambre!

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