Claramunt

Here come the sounds of many feet
Upon the path in soldier-beat –
Attack before the midday heat
Has drained away our fight!
Now passing through the wisps of cloud
That cloak the mountain all around,
And hide us in a deadly shroud,
The castle comes in view.
We stand before the mighty gate
And walls that tell of fallen fate.
Upon our orders we await
For battle to commence.
Inside we find an empty shell,
And ghosts of those who used to dwell
Within these walls before they fell.
In valiant defence.
We spread across the sun-scorched stone
Of Claramunt, which stands alone
Upon the mount that we now own,
Surveying our new lands.
We sit upon our victory gains –
The journey made was not in vain.
This castle shall not fall again,
For we are Catalans!
Ben W.

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Claramunt Castle (Castell de Claramunt in Catalan) was the site of the first field-trip I made in my role as English Conversation Assistant at the school of Mare del Divi Pastor. We made our way on foot from the nearby village of Capellades, where both I and the school were located, early in the morning, reaching the village of Pobla de Claramunt while the clouds still hung low. The castle – which was built along with a string of others within Catalonia to push back the borders of Moorish Spain during the Reconquista – sits atop an impressive mount. At the top, from the castle’s ramparts you can see out across brilliant swathes of Catalonia – a sight worthy of the sweaty slog up there!

Time for a change

Time for a bit of a change.

Those select and much appreciated followers of this blog (thanks to all of you!) will know that so far, I have been posting translations of poems by Catalan authors, with a few biographies of those poets thrown in for good measure. I hope I’ve managed to provide a little, but worthy, flavour of Catalan poetical literature, and its Catalanitat, its essence that makes it something different, something unique.

I’ve really enjoyed doing this, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them. However, translating – and especially translating poetry – is really quite time consuming (it is for me, anyway!) and time to do this has for me become really concentrated lately.

As such, I’m going to change tack for a while, and do something a little less time intensive. Having spent an unforgettable year living in Catalonia, I have a massive store of memories. Some of these I’ve written down elsewhere; click here to take a look if you’d like! But to put them down in poetry is something I’d really like to do, and Project Poesia would seem the perfect place to have a go, as it still combines two things I love – Catalonia and poetry.

So, I’ll be posting some of my own poems for while (gulp!) about my experiences in Catalonia. I know it’s a bit indulgent, so forgive me! But hopefully they can still give you enjoyment, and take you to a place you might not have even heard of, let alone been! As ever (I wouldn’t put them up here if I didn’t) I’d love to have feedback, so if you’d like, please tell me what you think!

Fins aviat, amics!

Ben

I’ve Aged Myself – by Joan Teixidor

After a bit of a gap in posts (when did life get so busy??) here’s a short and somewhat dark poem from Joan Teixidor (or ‘John Weaver’ to us Anglophones)…

I’ve aged myself with much of my own life.
I’ve drawn my strength from deepest melancholy.
Too small a world has me shrunken to its size.
I envy those who’d leave it all behind.

Joan Teixidor (1913-1992)

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Original Catalan Text

‘M’he Envellit’
M’he envellit de massa vida meva.
He prosperat en la malenconia.
El món massa petit m’empetitia.
Envejo els homes que ho deixaren tot.

(Text sourced from http://lletra.uoc.edu/especials/folch/teixidor.htm)

Testament – by Joan Teixidor

I will write verses blank
where every word shall hang suspended in the air,
where nought shall speak of aught
beyond the meadow’s peace, oblivion
where I am no more and ceaselessly live on.
When once I wished to be it all,
Now do I but live within
that bird that looks at me and I see not,
that creeping twilight,
that death that waits for me.
Think of me as if I were but a shadow,
as that which lingered written upon the water.
Incessantly have I loved you all
and that alone shall preserve me.

Joan Teixidor (1913-1992)

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Original Catalan text

‘Testament’ – per Joan Teixidor

Escriuré versos blancs
on totes les paraules quedin suspeses en l’aire,
on res no digui res
fora la pau dels camps, l’oblit
on ja no sóc i em perpetuo.
Quan volia ésser-ho tot,
ara ja només visc
d’aquest ocell que em mira i que no veig,
d’aquest crepuscle lent,
d’aquesta mort que m’espera.
Penseu en mi com si fos una ombra,
allò que va quedar escrit sobre l’aigua.
Però sempre us he estimat
i això només em salva.

(Text sourced from http://lletra.uoc.edu/especials/folch/teixidor.htm)

The Measure of a Man – by Joan Vinyoli

Well weighed, the days
of youth are worth much
to give them not a high price.
If they were rich in fire and in deed and attendant
to all
– a starry night
you must not disdain, it is not worth less than wastelands
ridden by death.
If you were
a failure, longing and loneliness and remnant
of the spark that sets forests ablaze
and not only a
project of greed-driven gain
in hypocritical realms,
above all if you were
pure in purity, I will say you made
the measure of a man.

Joan Vinyoli (1914-1984)

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Original Catalan text

‘La Mesura d’un Home’ – per Joan Vinyoli

Ben sospesat, els dies
de joventut valen molt
per no donar-los un alt preu.
Si fóren rics de foc i d’acció i disponibles
a tot
-una nit estelada
no la desdenyis, no val menys que els erms
transitats per la mort.
Si fóres
fracàs, anhel i solitud i reserva
de la guspira que encen boscos
i no sols
projecte avar de guanys
d’hipòcrita domini,
sobretot si fores
pur en el pur, diré que vas donar
la mesura d’un home.

(Text sourced from http://lletra.uoc.edu/especials/folch/vinyoli.htm)

If You Go Far – by Joan Salvat-Papasseit

If you go far
.                so far yourself no more to see
then none would know my life as drawn by fate,
no other lips would hold me behind lock and key
but with your name my path I’d know and take.
Seeking solace in those girls would leave me naught
nor does song beneath the chink of glass proffer cheer,
when seeking souls come ships of war to Port,
there would I go, to stand alone and steer.
If I raised the flag that it might catch upon the air,
raised it oh so high, you’d look up and see it there.

Joan Salvat-Papasseit (1894-1924)

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Original Catalan text

‘Si Anessis Lluny’ – per Joan Salvat-Papasseit

Si anessis lluny
.                 tan lluny que no et sabés
tampoc ningú sabria el meu destí,
cap altre llavi no em tindria pres
però amb el teu nom faria el meu camí.
Un ram de noies no em fóra conhort
ni la cançó sota el dring de la copa,
vaixells de guerra vinguessin al Port
prou hi aniria, mariner de popa.
Si jo posava la bandera al pal
i era molt alta, t’hi veuria a dalt.

(Text sourced from: http://lletra.uoc.edu/especials/folch/salvatpa.htm)

Anniversary with Yellow Daisies – by Narcís Comadira

A year ago, a thousand years, a day ago no more,
Not even that. I feel at once that urgent joy
With fearfulness and dread and heart maniacal
Of adolescence, pressing for the coming day to find you
New, absolute, abounding in promises and desires,
Of seasons fruitful, of Septembers eternal,
Where forever be confused the fruits and the surprises,
The memories and the wait.
                               Not but a single day has passed,
Still I do not know you, yet you I have known and seen
And I long for you as ever. With each day comes clearness new,
Each day my blood ignites in fire and in flash,
And my flesh is more flesh for it knows you will come.
A year it’s been, just a year, and I have known you forever.
Of life you have made a garden of delights:
Yet have we a thousand years, to lie amongst these, our daisies.

Narcís Comadira (b. 1942)

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Original Catalan text

‘Aniversari amb Margaridas Grogues’ – per Narcís Comadira

Fa un any i fa mil anys i fa un dia només,
i ni això. Sento ara aquesta joia forta
que, amb neguit i basarda i amb cor esbojarrat
d’adolescent, pressent per l’endemà trobar-te
nova, absoluta, fèrtil de promeses i afanys,
d’estacions madures, de setembres eterns,
on es confonguin sempre els fruits i les sorpreses,
els records i l’espera.
                    No fa ni un dia encara,
encara no et conec i et tinc sabuda i vista
i et desitjo de sempre. Cada dia és més clar,
cada dia la sang s’incendia i fulgura,
i la carn és més carn perquè sap que vindràs.
Fa un any, només un any i et conec des de sempre.
De la vida n’has fet un jardí de delícies:
tenim mil anys encara, i aquestes margarides.

(Text sourced from: http://lletra.uoc.edu/especials/folch/comadira.htm)