Q is for Quedar



en lo que queda
después del fuego,
residuo, sola
raíz de lo cantable.


José Ángel Valente

in what remains
after the fire
residue, alone
root of what can be sung.
Translation by me. Corrections welcome.
* What I find interesting about the verb quedar (to stay) is that aside from simply meaning to remain in the same place, the word brings with it an idea of belonging, fitting, even of agreement. A good example of this can actually be found in the Clash song Should I Stay Or Should I Go, where the English lyrics are echoed in Spanish. One line translates easily (though for the sake of meter they switch the alternatives):
Should I stay or should I go? (Debo que ir or quedarme?)
But in another, the question of staying and belonging relate to something more symbolic:
Don’t you know which clothes even fit me? (Sabes que ropa me quedar?)
This isn’t actually all that different from English, where the word stay can mean multiple things, including to remain (‘stay put’) and to delay (‘stay of execution’). One of the biggest challenges of learning a new language is always the idiomatic expressions, and the more Spanish I learn, the more I learn about the fuzzy lines between formal and  idiomatic language – in both Spanish and English. It’s fascinating, really.


(More information on the Spanish poet José Ángel Valente here.)

(Edited to add – because how could I have forgotten this? – that you can see the video for Should I Stay Or Should I Go right here.)

(Phoenix picture via Internet Archive Book Images/University of California Libraries via Flickr.)

(Posted today as my Day 17 entry in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge)

This entry was posted in Challenges, Español, Poems, Videos and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Q is for Quedar

  1. I can see where translation can be a big challenge. I grope for the best word many times, and I only speak one language. I learned some Spanish in school but not enough to learn all the grey shades of language necessary to really speak it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for coming by and commenting. You are so right – finding the right word in English can be (often is) a major challenge. I’m enjoying my forays into Spanish very much, but it’s quite humbling sometimes.


  2. Pingback: Staying and Going | True story. Really.

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