different perspectives

Since my current poetical effort is being concentrated on a couple of applications for courses and polishing some old pieces for competition entries, I thought I’d post this, which I wrote years ago when I was first trying to get to grips with sonnets.


I’ve lost my glasses, without which I’m blind
as any clichéd pipistrelle. I’ve searched
in all the places that I knew they weren’t –
and I was right: they haven’t dropped behind
the tumble dryer, underneath the bed,
or in the trash; they aren’t perched on my head.
I’ve been through all the coats I never wear,
I even looked in John’s new jacket. There
I found a letter whose calligraphy
I didn’t know. Despite the cataracts,
my sight’s still good enough for me to read
a woman’s signature. So now, the fact
I’ve lost my specs no longer bothers me:
I’m focusing on other things, you see.

There was another reason I thought of that piece in particular – not, I’m glad to say, because I have any reason to suspect my partner of being unfaithful, but because I’ve recently had cause to visit the optician.

I’ve been making do with pharmacy glasses for the last six months or so, and have finally decided that I really should get some with presecription lenses to replace the ones that fell apart last summer.

To a Brit, the Spanish optical industry is slightly strange: there are ópticos all around, but they are what I believe are called dispensing opticians. I think you have to be referred by your doctor if you want to see an opthalmólogo. Here, you can just walk in off the street to any opticians and ask to have your eyes checked and they will do an eye test then and there without charge and without you having any obligation to buy your glasses from them.

The first time you have an eye test conducted in Spanish is disconcerting, as you suddenly realise you need to know your alphabet and pronounce the letters clearly. My te and de aren’t always distinguishable, nor are the pe and be, and it’s frustrating to think they might tell me I need glasses simply because I’ve screwed up the pronunciation.

There are two independent optician’s shops in the village. At the first I was see by a young girl who insisted that I needed glasses for distance as well as for close work. When I pointed out – again – that what I do, almost all day, is work at a computer, which is middle distance, it became apparent that she wanted to sell me progressive lenses. Then she started reeling off prices – for the lenses alone – that reached around 600 €. I clearly wasn’t impressed, particularly as she admitted I may well need to change them in a year’s time.

I wasn’t impressed by her justification, either: “You could buy a jumper for 600 € and if you wore it every day it wouldn’t last a year.”

But I wouldn’t spend 600 € on a jumper. I know full well that such jumpers exist, but surely she could see I wasn’t the sort of person who’d be buying them? And I doubt very much that anyone in the village would, either. Six hundred euros is a month’s income for many of them.

I then went to the other optician who agreed I had no need of distance glasses, listened to what I said about using the computer and how far away I had the screen etc. He says he can do the glasses, with nonreflective lenses, frames and all, for less than 120 €. Which is still more than I’d spend on a jumper.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

3 thoughts on “different perspectives”

  1. I think my two pairs of glasses – toughened, glare-resistant photochromatics – cost me 260 Euros.

    But then I never wear jumpers.


  2. José Antonio Muñoz Rojas es un poeta curioso que siempre, incluso en su mejor época, pareció un poco pasado de moda. Pero tiene cosas muy estimables. Tiene un poema que he recordado al ver el tuyo.

    Señor que me has perdido las gafas,
    por qué no me las encuentras?
    Me paso la vida buscándomelas
    y tú siempre perdiéndomelas,
    me has traído al mundo para esto,
    para pasarme la vida buscando unas gafas,
    que siempre están perdiéndoseme?
    Para que aparezca este tonto
    que está siempre perdiendo sus gafas,
    porque tú eres, Señor, el que me las pierdes
    y me haces ir por la vida a trompicones,
    y nos das los ojos y nos pierdes las gafas,
    y así vamos por el mundo con unas gafas
    que nos pierdes y unos ojos que nos das,
    dando trompicones, buscando unas gafas
    que nos pierdes y unos ojos que no nos sirven.
    Y no vemos, Señor, no vemos,
    no vemos Señor.

    (Luego en la web he visto que fue lector de español en Cambridge en 1936. Y ha traducido a poetas ingleses como Wordsworth, John Donne, Crashaw, Hopkins o Eliot)


    1. Lo había leído hace tiempo y no me acordaba, pero ¡es buenísimo! Muchas gracias.
      La voz me recuerda la de Christopher Smart cuando habla de su gato Jeoffry.

      Para un traductor lo de Muñoz Rojas es un reto: en inglés no tenemos la sutileza entre ‘se me perdieron’ y ‘las perdí’ (o ¿debe ser ‘me las perdí’?) y ‘that are always getting lost’ no alcanza el encanto de ‘que siempre están perdiéndoseme’.



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