Spanish to English Translations for Borderlands/ La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua, Fourth Edition, Chapter 3: Entering the Serpent


Featured Image: Tonantzin Renace (Tonantzi Reborn) by Colette Crutcher, mosaic mural in the Mission District, San Francisco, CA

I put this together to help some of my AP Lang students read Borderlands/ La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldua.  I am not a native Spanish speaker and would LOVE some comments or assistance with the translations!

These are only translations for words or phrases for which Anzaldua has not included English translations.  Many times, she will write the English directly following the Spanish.  It also does not include translations of Nahuatl (Aztec) words.

Chapter 3 – Entering the Serpent 

In this chapter, Anzaldua discusses deities of the ancient Americas and how they have carried over to modern times.

47- No se te vaya a meter algo por alla– do not let anything get up in there

47- naglas– nether regions

47- Dicen que las culebras like to suck chiches– they say the snakes like to suck titties

47- en el escusado – in the outhouse

48- Ella tiene su tono– she has supernatural power from her animal spirit

48- Quelite– weeds

48- el azadon– the garden hoe

48- venemo– venom

48- culebra de cascabel– rattlesnake

48- mi tono– my spirit animal

48- viboras– vipers

49- Mi mamagrande Ramona toda su vida mantuvo en altar pequeno en las esquina del comedor.  Siempre tenia las velas prendidas.  Alli hacia promesas a la Virgen de Guadalupe.  My great- grandmother Ramona for her whole life kept a small altar in the corner of the dining room.  She always had the candles lit.  There she made promises to The Virgin Guadalupe.

50- putas– whores

50 (poem)

El nueve de ciciembre del ano 1531

a las cuatro de la madrugada

Un pobre indio que se llamaba Juan Diego

iba cruzando el cerro de Tepeyac

cuando oyo un cando de pajaro. 

The ninth of December in the year 1531

At four in the early morning

A poor Indian by the name of Juan Diego

Was crossing the hill of Tepeyac

When he heard the song of a bird.

Alzo la cabeza vio que la cima del cerro

estaba cubierta con una brilliante nube blanca

Parada en frente del sol

sobre una luna creciente

Sostenida por un angel

estaba una azteca

vestida en ropa de india.  

He lifted his head and saw a beautiful white cloud covering the top of the hill

Standing in front of the sun

On the crescent moon

Held by an angel.

It was an Aztec

Dressed in the clothes of an Indian.

Nuestra Senora Maria de Coatlalopeuh

se le aparecio.

“Juan Dieguito, El- que- habla- como- un- aguila,”

la Virgen le dijo en el lenguaje azteca.

Our Lady Maria of Coatlalopueh

appeared to him.

“Little Juan Diego, He- who- speaks- like- an- eagle,”

the Virgin spoke in the tongue of the Aztecs.

“Para hacer mi altar este cerro elijo. 

Dile a tu gente que yo soy la madre de Dios,

a los indios les ayudare.” 

I chose to make my altar on this hill.

Tell your people I am the mother of the gods,

And I will help the Indians.

Esto se lo conto a Juan Zumarraga

pero el obispo no le creyo.

Juan Diego volvio, lleno su tilma

con rosas de castilla 

creciendo milagrosamente en la nieve. 

This was told to Juan Zumarraga (the bishop),

but the bishop did not believe him.

Juan Diego returned, and when he came back

He found roses of castilla

Miraculously growing in the snow.

Image result for rosas de castilla

(rosas de castilla)

Se las llevo al obispo, 

y cuando abrio su tila

el retrado de la Virgen

ahi estaba pintado.

He took one back to the bishop,

And when he opened his robes

The picture of the Virgin was painted there.

A depiction of Juan Diego and Guadalupe de Coatlalopueh (dark-skinned virgin), by Richard De La Oh.

51- La Santa Patrona de los Mexicanos– the patron saint of Mexicans.

52- Cuando Carito, mi hermanito, was missing in action, and, later, wounded in Viet Nam, mi mama got on her knees y le prometio a Ella que si hijito volvia vivo she would crawl on her knees and light novenas in her honor.

When Carito, my little brother, was missing in action and, later, wounded in Viet Nam, my mother got on her knees and made a promise to Her (Virgen de Guadalupe) that if her son returned alive she would crawl on her knees and light novenas in her honor.

Novenas- public prayers completed over nine days.

52– Nuestra abogada siempre seras/ our mediatrix you will always be – Our lawyer will always be you/ our mediator you will always be.

52- la gente Chicana tiene tres madres– the Chicano people have three mothers.

53- Las invoco diosas mias, ustedes las indias 

sumergidas en mi carne que son mis sombras.

Ustedes que persisten mudas en sus cuevas.

Ustedes Senoras que ahora, como yo, 

Estan en desgracia. 

I invoke my goddesses, you the Indians

Submerged in my flesh which are my shadows.

You who persist silently in your caves.

You women who now, like me, are in disgrace.

56- vagina dentata– toothed vagina

57- algo tenia que cambiar– Something had to change

58- a mis ancas caen los cueros de culebra,

cuatro veces por ano los arrastr, 

me tropiezo y me caigo

y cada vez que miro una culebra le pregunto 

Que traes conmigo? 

To my thighs fall the hides of the snakes,

Four  times a year I drag, I stumble and I fall,

and each time I look at a snake I ask a question:

Why do you bring me down with you?

60- el mal aigre– the bad aire, bad spirits







1 comment on “Spanish to English Translations for Borderlands/ La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua, Fourth Edition, Chapter 3: Entering the Serpent

  1. Pingback: Spanish to English Translations for Borderlands/ La Frontera, by Gloria Anzauldua – CRITIC OF EVERYTHING

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