First Poem in Catalan

Creating something in your own language is wonderful enough, but creating something in another language is something else altogether. Having translated poems from Catalan, and written some poems in English about Catalonia, I suddenly got the itch to have a go at a poem in Catalan. So, feeling a little like an intrepid intruder setting up their own little home within a foreign land, I here put forward a very short poema Catalana that you could have a go translating if you want, or just enjoy the wonderful strangeness of a different language:

Festa

La nit és nostra força
Per viure amb un bes.
Trobem la llum que porta
I fem el món encès.

– Ben

Comments/Corrections very welcome!

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)

Faith – by Eudald Puig

The clock hangs upon the wall.
Time now has a beautiful altar and a precise cord.
All the old ones are getting on their knees
and disturbing the earth with their hands;
they search for the ancient line of the redeemers.
One of them adorns another in piety.
They are full of faith.
The girls have brought a bloom of gladiolus
and the tip of agave cactus,
when it lays its flowers before the death carriage.
When all those present pray, spirit-filled,
the Beatitudes and the Rosary
the cancerous, as is their wont, die quietly.
Illuminated, the evening clock.
All is lost within the peaceful night.

Eudald Puig (b. 1948)

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Original Catalan Text

‘Fe’ – per Eudald Puig

El rellotge penja del mur.
El temps ja té un bell altar i una corda
precisa.
Tots els vells es van agenollant
i remenen terra amb les mans;
cerquen l’antiga nissaga dels redemptors.
Un d’ells n’acoltella un altre per pietat.
Són plens de fe.
Les noies han portat flors d’espadella
i l’alt pinacle d’atzavara,
quan floreix davant la carrossa mortuòria.
Quan tots els presents resen, ebris,
les benaurances i el rosari,
els cancerosos solen mori dolçament.
S’il.lumina el rellotge al vespre.
Tot es perd dintre la plàcida nit.

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

The First Book of the Corner Shop [1] – by Carles Riba

A chimera have you made the elusive grace
of a wish and now you are deserted, oh mind.
Oh solitude bereft of gentle thought
and mad procession without living word!

Yet what is done, if in your sweet oblivion
enduring, restless angst goes deeper and deeper?
Even now, the joy upon the flesh does cease,
bearing the announcement of a song unsaid.

And he is holy fire setting your eternal flux
upon the ashes of your lament;
peace is not your wish for void eternal, oh mind,
Oh fool that dared to glimpse yourself uncloaked.

Carles Riba (1893-1959)

Note: this poem originally rhymed (abba, cddc, eaae, as you can see below). I hold up my hands and say I found it just too hard to translate AND rhyme this time round. I might have another crack at it in time, but hopefully you can enjoy my translation anyway!

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Original Catalan text

[1] – Del ‘Llibre Primer d’Estances’ – per Carles Riba

T’ha enquimerat la gràcia fugitiva
d’un desig i ara ets deserta, oh ment.
Ai soledat sense dolç pensament
i foll traüt sense paraula viva!
Però ¿què hi fa, si dins el teu oblit
la inquietud pregonament perdura?
Encara el goig sobre la carn s’atura,
duent l’anunci d’algun cant no dit.
I ell és el foc sagrat que et perpetua
damunt les cendres del desolament;
no vulguis calma en ton oblit, oh ment,
oh folla que has gosat mirar-te nua.

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

Golden Shadow – by Narcís Comadira

Shining with a darkly blaze
Gentle golden shadow
Cryptic, unrelenting
The stirring force of life
It moves this wasted world
Living tender viscera
Keep hold of youthfulness.

Narcís Comadira (b. 1942)

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Original Catalan Text

‘Ombra Daurada’ – per Narcís Comadira

Brilla amb un fosc fulgor
dolça ombra daurada
recòndita insistent
la que commou d’afany
aquest món desolat
viva víscera tendra
encara joventut.

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