I live, I die, I burn, I drown

I live, I die, I burn, I drown

The poem I live, I die, I burn, I drown is not written by Uruguayan poetess Delmira Agustini. This is her translation of a poem written by Louise Labé:  Je vis, je meurs : je me brule et me noye. Delmira is well known in Uruguay for the poems she published in several literary journals.

Delmira AgustiniAbout the poet

Agustini was born October 24 1886 in Montevideo. At an early age, she began to write poems. Her work was published in journals and she made fame with her society column under the pen name Joujou. Unfortunately it were the intellectuals in Latin America that did notice her, but only spoke about her beauty and her age. Her work was pretty much ignored. She kept a sane mind and never gave up. This lead to the publication of her first collection of poems in 1907 (El libro blanco (Frágil)). All the reviews she got on her first book, she included in her next book. This book, Cantos de la mañana was published in 1910. Just like the first book, many critics spoke out against her work.

In 1913 Agustini married Enrique Job Reyes. Amongst the wedding guests where Carlos Vaz Ferreira and Manuel Ugarte. The last one, she had a brief romantic affair with before she got married. This affair continued after the marriage. This marriage only lasted a few weeks, when Agustini wanted to be divorced. It was her husband, who caught her with her secret love and killed her on July 6 1914. This was just after she released her book Los cálices vacíos A new book would have been released under the title Los astros del abismo later that year.

Ten years after her tragic death, her complete works were published. This included also her never before published work. The title of this book was called El rosario de Eros.

I live, I die, I burn, I drown

By Delmira Agustini (/Louise Labé)

I live, I die, I burn, I drown

I live, I die, I burn, I drown
I endure at once chill and cold
Life is at once too soft and too hard
I have sore troubles mingled with joys

Suddenly I laugh and at the same time cry
And in pleasure many a grief endure
My happiness wanes and yet it lasts unchanged
All at once I dry up and grow green

Thus I suffer love’s inconstancies
And when I think the pain is most intense
Without thinking, it is gone again.

Then when I feel my joys certain
And my hour of greatest delight arrived
I find my pain beginning all over once again.

 

Read more about the original version of this poem.

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