Pecado de omisión [Sin of omission] por Ana María Matute (Traducción en inglés/English translation)

Aquí tiene una traducción breve de un cuento de Matute que acabo de estudiar por mi cuenta para la clase de literatura española en la universidad. No es una traducción buena porque hay elementos en la historia que en este momento de escribir, todavía no entiendo. Entonces, disfruta la traducción y ¡usa con cuidado! ¡OJO! (no es siempre se traduce palabra a palabra, sino por la comprensión).


His mother, the only thing he had left in his life, died when he was thirteen. Left as an orphan, it had already been at least three years since he had not attended school as he had to look for his day’s wages from one place to another. His only relative was the cousin of his father, one Emeterio Ruiz Heredia. Emeterio was the mayor and had a two-story house overlooking the plaza of the town, round and red under the sun of August. Emeterio had two hundred heads of livestock grazing through the slopes of Sagrado, and a young daughter, bordering on twenty, brunette, robust, smiling and somewhat foolish. His wife, thin and hard like a black poplar was rather coarse of language and knew how to command. Emeterio Ruiz did not get along well with his distant cousin, and to his widow, for the sake of doing “the right thing”, had helped her look for extraordinary wages. Later, to the little boy, although he [the mayor] had taken him in once as an orphan, without inheritance or trade, [the mayor] did not look on  him with sympathy. And such it was that he was received at the house [“Y como él los de su casa”. ¡¿Qué es esto?!  It means: “everyone in the house felt the same way”. Thanks Meredith!].

Lope [the orphan] slept under the corn loft the first night he spent at the house of Emeterio.  He was given dinner and a glass of wine. The following day, while Emeterio was tucking his shirt into his pants and the sun has barely risen to the song of the roosters, he called down the stairwell to his liege, chasing the chickens that were sleeping between the gaps in the stairs:


Lope descended, barefooted, with sleep in his eyes. He was a little bigger in his thirteen years than others of his age, and had a big head with closely cropped hair.

“You are going to become the shepherd of Sagrado.”

Lope found his boots and put them on. In the kitchen, Francisca, the daughter, had heated up the potatoes with paprika. Lope devoured them hurriedly, his aluminum spoon dripping with every bite.

“You already know the trade. I believe you walked one spring through the hills of Santa Auera with the goats of Aurelio Bernal.”

“Yes, my lord.”

“You will not be going alone. Around there Roque el Mediano walks also. You will be together.”

“Yes, my lord.”

Francisca put a loaf of bread in his knapsack, along with an aluminum quart, goat fat, and cured  meat.

“Get going.” said Emeterio Ruiz Heredia.

Lope looked at him with his black eyes, round and shining.

“What are you looking at? Hurry!”

Lope left, knapsack on his shoulders. Before, he had picked up his crook, thick and shiny with use, that he kept, like a dog, supported by the wall.

He was already climbing the hill of Sagrado when don Lorenzo, the teacher, saw him. In the afternoon of the tavern, don Lorenzo lit a cigarette together with Emeterio, who was throwing back a cup of licorice-flavoured liqueur.

“I saw Lope,” He said. “He was heading towards Sagrado. Poor kid.”

“Yes.” said Emeterio, wiping his lips with the back of his hand. “He is going to be a shepherd. Already he knows that one must earn his own living. Life is hard. The unlucky of Pericote did not leave him even a wall to lean on before they dropped dead.”

“The horrible thing,” said don Lorenzo, scratching an ear with a large and yellow nail. “Is what the kid is worth. If he had the means, his abilities could be tempered [literally: he could be harnessed]. He is smart, very smart. At school…”

Emeterio cut him off with his hand in front of his eyes:

“Well, well! I do not say otherwise. But one must earn his own living. Life is getting worse with every day that passes.”

He ordered another glass of liqueur. The teacher nodded in agreement.


Lope arrived at Sagrado, shouting, to find Roque el Mediano. Roque was somewhat slow and had already been Emeterio’s shepherd for some 15 years. He was nearing 50 and almost never spoke. They slept in the same mud hut, under the oaks, taking advantage of the embracing branches. One cannot fit into the hut without bending over and they had to enter on all fours, half crawling, but at least it was cool in the summer and warm enough in the winter.

Summer passed, then autumn and winter. The shepherds did not go down to the town except on the day of the fiesta [el día de una celebración nacional en Barcelona, ¡gracias Abigail!]. Every 15 days, a young lad  brought up “rations”: bread, jerky, lard, garlic. Sometimes, a leather pouch of wine. The summits of Sagrado are beautiful, of a profound blue, terrible and blinding. The sun, high and round, like an unmoving pupil, reigned there. In the fog of dawn, when one cannot even hear the buzzing of flies or any rustling, Lope was accustomed to waking with the mud roof over his eyes. He would remain quiet for a while, feeling by his side the body of Roque el Mediano, like a breathing log. Later, he would crawl towards the corral. In the sky, crossed with runaway stars, shouts are lost, futile and grand. Only God knew where they would eventually fall. [estrellas fugitivas? why are “los gritos” useless and great?] Like the rocks. Like the years. One year, two, five.


5 years later, one time, Emeterio sent the lad for him. He made the doctor examine Lope, who saw that he was healthy and strong, grown like a tree.

“Go, oak!” said the doctor, who was new. Lope blushed and did not know how to answer.

Francisca was already married and had three small sons who were playing in the gateway of the plaza. A dog approached him, with his tongue hanging out. Maybe he remembered him. Then, he saw Manuel Enríquez, a schoolmate of his who had always lagged behind in his studies. Manuel was wearing a grey suit and tie. He passed by his [Lope’s] side and greeted him with his hand.

Francisca commented:

“Good career, that one. His father sent him to study and already he will become a lawyer.”

He arrived at the fountain and returned to find him. Suddenly, he wanted to talk to him. But his detained shout remained, like a ball, in his throat.

“Ah.” He said only. Or something like that.

Manuel turned around to look at him and recognized him. It seemed a lie: he knew him. He smiled.

“Lope! Man, Lope…!”

Who could have understood what he was saying? The accent so strange that men have, how strange were the words that left the dark holes of their mouths! The blood was clotting in his veins as he listened to Manuel Enríquez [literally: a thick blood was filling his veins].

Manuel opened a flat, silver case filled with the whitest, most perfect cigarettes than he [Lope] had ever seen in his life. Manuel handed one to him, smiling.

As Lope held out his hand, he realized how rough, how coarse, they were, like a piece of cured meat. His fingers were not flexible, were not meant for games. How strange the hand of the other: a refined hand, with fingers like worms, big, agile, white and dexterous. What a hand the other one had, of the colour of wax, with shining, polished nails. What a strange hand: not even the women had one like it. The hand of Lope fumbled, clumsy. At last, he took the cigarette, white and fragile, strange, in his hard and heavy fingers: useless, absurd, in his fingers. The blood of Lope remained, pulsing between his eyebrows. He had a clot of blood crowding, quietly, fermenting between his eyebrows. He crushed the cigarette with his fingers and turned around. He could not stay, not before the surprise of Manuelito who followed him, calling:

“Lope! Lope!”

Emeterio was seated on his porch in short-sleeves, watching his grandchildren play. He was smiling towards his oldest grandson, and resting from work, with a bottle of wine within reach of his hand. Lope went directly to Emeterio and saw his grey eyes questioning him.

“Go, boy, it is high time you return to Sagrado.”

In the plaza there was a squarish, red-tinted rock. One of those big rocks, like melons, that the lads transport from some torn-down wall. Slowly, Lope took it in his hands. Emeterio looked at him, at ease, with a mild curiosity. He had his right hand between his belt and his stomach. He didn’t even have time to take it out: a muffled thud, the splattering of his own blood in his chest, death and surprise, like two daughters, came upon him, just like that, nothing more.

When they came and handcuffed him, Lope cried. And when the women, howling like wolves, wanted to hit him and went towards him with their veils raised over their heads in mourning, full of indignation “My God, he, who took you in. My God, he, who made you a man. My God, you would have died of hunger if he had not taken you in…” Lope only cried and said:

“Yes, yes, yes…”


14 comentarios to “Pecado de omisión [Sin of omission] por Ana María Matute (Traducción en inglés/English translation)”

  1. The line: “Y como el los de su casa” according to my teacher means: everyone in the house felt the same way. So everyone in the mayor’s house did not like Lupe or have sympathy for him.

  2. Creo que ciego está usando como “blinding” en inglés

  3. Y la fiesta es el día de una celebración nacional en Barcelona

  4. At the end of the second to last paragraph: “… death and surprise, as his two daughters went up towards him, just like that, nothing more” in my opinion is wrong.

    La muerte y la sorpresa, como dos hermanas, subieron hasta el, así, sin mas. The author is saying that death and surprise, like two sisters, come upon him [literal translation raised up to him], just like that, nothing more.

    Also, Emerterio only has one daughter so “as his two daughters…” wouldn’t make sense.

    But, thanks this helped me understand the story a bit better =]

  5. Como dos hermanas – This means like two sisters. The author is saying that death and surprise are like two sisters.

  6. I think you meant greeted or waved and not saluted for the translation. 🙂

  7. otherwise, very excellent translation thank you!!! 🙂

  8. Thanks for the translation! What could be a possible analysis of this work, do you think? Does something along the lines of “treat others kindly” work or not really? Any suggestions?

    • I’m so sorry for the late reply. I’m hesitant about applying a single unifying morality to this work, but something along the lines of “treat others like you would treat your own” might work.

  9. en donde vivio lope y roque el mediano en sagrado?

    help please!


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