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Clade Song 4

The Spirit of the Language

You could not speak bird

You could not speak wind

You could not speak sea

You would miss

                            I think

the spirit of the language

What they have said the wave     the air     the blackbird

admits no discussion

You on the other hand twist      

                                                 wring the words


read by Terry Ehret

Spanish Version


Terry Ehret

Nancy Morales

John Johnson

Celebrated in Mexico and Latin America, the work of Ulalume González de León has not yet been published in English, except for a small selection of her prose poetry. Born in 1932 in Montevideo, Uruguay, González de León became a naturalized Mexican citizen in 1948. Her work "opens a pathway" (Gloria Vergara) for a generation of Mexican poets in the 1970's, particularly women writers experimenting with language and challenging the traditions of identity. She published essays, stories, and poems, and worked on the editorial boards of  the journals Plural and Vuelta, under the direction of Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz. Her poetry earned her many awards, including the Xavier Villaurrutia Prize, the Flower of Laura Poetry Prize in 1979 (the Center for International Studies) and Alfonso X Prize. Octavio Paz called Ulalume González de León “the best Mexican poet since Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz,” recognizing the visionary quality of her work.

The team of translators includes:

Terry Ehret, one of the founders of Sixteen Rivers Press. Terry has published four collections of poetry, most recently Night Sky Journey from Kelly’s Cove Press. Her literary awards include the National Poetry Series, California Book Award, Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize, Nomination for the Northern California Book Reviewer’s Award, and five Pushcart Prize nominations. From 2004-2006, she served as the poet laureate of Sonoma County where she lives and teaches writing.

Nancy Morales, who earned her Bachelor's degree from Rutgers College, a Master's in teaching English as a Second Language from Adelphi University, and a Doctorate in Education from Teachers College at Columbia University. She has taught at Dominican University and College of Marin, California State University, Sonoma, and other schools, from elementary to graduate levels.

John Johnson, an award-winning poet whose work has appeared in many print and online journals, including BOXCAR Poetry Review, Chaparral, Clade Song, Triggerfish Critical Review, and Web Conjunctions.