“A Prayer for my Daughter” (1)

St Jerome, patron saint of translators, by Bellini

Saint Jerome, patron saint of translators, by Bellini

“A Prayer for My Daughter” by W. B. Yeats
(Spanish translation by James Mansfield Nichols)


Celebrating recent renewal of contact with my long-lost daughter raised in Spain, I undertake this translation into Spanish of Yeats’s “Prayer for My Daughter.” This poem helped me through a long period of remorse and grief over the separation from her as a toddler. At one time I had it memorized and would recite it during long miles driven over South Texas as a salesman. I hope to share the poem and much else with her when I travel to Spain in the Fall.

I welcome suggestions from persons who know the two languages on how to improve my translation. I intend to devote more space here in future to the art and craft of translation, perhaps connecting with a handful of persons who share my interest in it.

Yeats’s poem has ten eight-line stanzas. I’ll deal with each stanza in a separate post in cumulative fashion so that the ending post will have the complete effort. Any attempt to impose regular rhyme or rhythm on my Spanish rendering is beyond my powers. My goal is to convey its sense as faithfully and naturally as possible.

A Prayer for My Daughter (1)

Once more the storm is howling, and half hid
Under this cradle-hood and coverlid
My child sleeps on. There is no obstacle
But Gregory’s Wood and one bare hill
Whereby the haystack and roof-levelling wind,
Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed.
And for an hour I have walked and prayed
Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.

Una Oración Para Mi Hija (1)

Una vez más la tormenta aúlla, y medio escondida
Debajo de esta capucha de cuna y la cubridora
Mi hija sigue durmiendo. No hay más obstáculo
Que el Bosque de Gregorio y una colina desnuda
Por el que el viento nivelador de techos y almiares,
Engendrado en el Atlántico, pueda ser detenido.
Y hace una hora que me paseo y rezo
A causa de la gran tristeza que llevo en la mente.

[Copyright (c) 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.]

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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2 Responses to “A Prayer for my Daughter” (1)

  1. That is wonderful news. Fathers are so important, and daughters are part of what makes life worth living. May you both be blessed as you become acquainted. Safe travels. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • JMN says:

      Thanks so much for your attention. This contact with my first-born is a major event for me. You’re right about daughters. The blessing is much appreciated. More exchanges in future, I hope.

      Liked by 1 person

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