Poetry Sunday: Yesterday and Today (Lo que va de ayer a' hoy) by Narciso Tondreau (translated by Agnes Blake Poor)

When I read this poem last week, it immediately made me think of the much more famous poem, Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley. I don't know if the poet was consciously mimicking Shelley. After all, who can really say from where a writer's inspiration comes?  But see what you think. Does it remind you of Shelley?

Yesterday and Today

by Narciso Tondreau (translated by Agnes Blake Poor)

Prone lies at length the statue once so fair;
Headless and armless, on the weedy lawn;
Yet still some lovely curve shows here and there
Through clustering ivy like a mantle drawn.

The cracked, stained pedestal of ages tells.
From every cranny lined with velvet moss,
The hum of bee, the chirp of cricket swells;
And silently the lizard darts across.

How long ago, by summer breezes fanned,
Here stood the newborn Venus, fresh and fair;
All palpitating from the master’s hand,
The last touch of his chisel lingering there.

“And surely this shall last!” he proudly thought;
“Fixed in immortal marble is my fame!”
Just here, where human hand has surely wrought,
Some crumbling letters may have spelled his name.


  1. It does have a Shelleyian (perhaps I just invented a word!) about it, but I wonder if one would have the same reaction when reading the original. Translation of prose is difficult enough; no doubt poetry much more so.

    1. I'm not fluent enough to be a fair judge, of course, but the translation appeared to me to be fairly literal.

  2. brilliant translation! for some odd reason it reminds me of Hawthorne: his aura of abandoned cemeteries or parks. maybe i'm thinking about "The Marble Faun"...

    1. As I said, who knows what inspires writers? Maybe it was Hawthorne.

  3. Replies
    1. Yes, this addresses the hubris of the sculptor in thinking his work will last for the ages and Ozymandias addresses the hubris of the subject of the sculpture. That was the similarity that struck me.

  4. I love the translation! I think it does have a very Shelley-ian feel!

    1. I thought the translation was very true to the spirit of the original.


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