Intensidad by Mario Benedetti
July 5th, 2022
A convolution of a common Spanish idiom: 'Quien mucho abarca, poco aprieta'. This phrase has a rough idiomatic equivalent in the English, 'Jack of all trades, master of none'. This parallel meaning is lost with Benedetti's switch of the words 'mucho' and 'poco', meaning 'more/much' and 'less/little', respectively.
Translations & annotations on the words used: Quien: who. This particular usage would most likely be translated in conjunction with a pronoun so that it may enact a verb, in accordance with the most common English conventional usage of the word. i.e. "he who grasps...", "one who takes in..." etc. Pecho: chest, breast. Commonly used literarily in the same way 'heart' is in English; signifying a place of emotion, intuition, and secrets. Abarcar: to cover, extend over, take in, take on, contain. Loco: crazy, mad, insane, foolish/wild, mentally ill. Apretar: to grasp, squeeze, clutch, grip, tighten.
1 Nov 2021
I suppose the real fact of the matter is - I am madly in love with everyone I care about. Just head over heels, wildly, and passionately, in love. Much heartbreak have I. But much rapture, too.
I've just reread the poem by Benedetti at the start of my journal. I could not translate it for my class. How to translate something that resonates so deep in the soul- there are only those five words. Any more would be a disgrace. So full, yet so bare. Not only does it convey the meaning, but it carries the sentiment of the scarcity and the grasping for meaning that it forewarns.
I know it intimately, this poem. It is my life. Aprieto con todo que tengo, pero al fin, what is it that I have? Tis not to say that abarcar con pecho sea en vano or without its moral complexities, its arte, its divinity. Pero todo tiene precio, tiene consecuencia. Not in a capitalist fashion, but rather in the constant and universal game of push and pull. To face it all con pecho, with the ravenous carnality that is strong emotion, that is love, an equal and opposite reaction can always be expected.
Though, this is not the sole reading one can take. The deseo por consumir in and of itself - in other words abarcar con pecho - could be exactly the locura with which one would apretar. A prophecy, a curse, a promise, an observation; opposites, equals, cause and effect, action and adverb. Innumerables las interpretaciones, all correct in equal parts.
Pecho abarco, y loca aprieto.