poetry > spring 2016
Henry David Thoreau
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.
translated by Gina DeCagna
I walked to the Wawa because
I wished to indulge fortuitously,
to guzzle only the least nutritious of eats,
and discover if I could only chug what
it had in stock, and not, when
I thirsted to imbibe, discover that
I had nothing bagged. I did not wait
to guzzle down what was not wrapped, savoring
is so unnecessary; nor did I remember to use
utensils unless it was quite
viscous. I wanted to eat quick and
suck up all the juice of meat, to digest
so readily and cow-like as to put
to excrete all that was digestible, to cut a fine
cheese and walk out, to drive the body into
a corner, and slumber it to its fattest proportions.
This is a substitution translation. I took Thoreau’s famous opening lines to Walden and substituted the words for a satirical alternative that highlights the awkwardness of the syntactical structure by contemporary standards.
GINA DECAGNA, C'16, is an emerging artist, writer, and editor working across several different media. Since 2012, she has been the founder and editor-in-chief of Symbiosis, a creative community and publication of collaborating artists and writers dedicated to the interrelationship of the visual and literary arts.