Two Poems by Salvador Espriu

(Alice Donovan Rouse / Unsplash)

Translated from the Catalan by Andrew Kaufman and Sonia Alland

 

Catalan

On the wet spring sand
I hold the balance
of an architectural order.

Subtle, pious,
resigned under the weight of dogmas,
I fight against
singular thoughts
on the cold rainy roads
of metaphysics.

My broken voice the mirror
of my sorrows, Sundays
and tomorrow will always be the same,
always the same, as the light of April
goes out and I look
to uphold the ancient vaults.

 

Damunt la sorra molla
suporto l’equilibri
d’un ordre arquitectonic.

Subtil, pietosissim
resignat sota dogmes
combato contra
pensaments singulars
per metafisics
camins de fred i pluja.

Le veu trencada, cristall
del meu dolor, diumenges
am dema sempre igual,
sempre igual, mentre s’apaga
la llum d’abril i miro
de mantenir les voltes.

 

There Will Be No More Births

There will be no more births
of eternal marble waves,
nor flights of angels
rising from imagined empires
Suddenly, sad times are here—
remembered voices
lead me through Sinera’s empty houses
to the sentry of dawn, the cypress,
that has seen the fire
of sea and cloud.

 

No naixera cap marbre
d’eternitzades ones
ni s’alcaran vols d’angels
d’imaginats imperis.
Car es vingut de sobte
de temps dolent, i em porten
veus de records, per buides
estances de Sinera,
fins al guaita de l’albe,
xiprer que sap l’incendi
de mar i d’aguest nuvel.

Published in the October 2019 issue: 
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Salvador Espriu (1913–1985), described by Harold Bloom as “deserving of a Nobel prize,” published nine books of poetry. His work, largely elegiac and haunted by Franco’s conquest of Catalonia and suppression of the Catalan language and culture, remains unavailable in English due largely to the language’s obscurity. Andrew Kaufman’s books include the Cinnamon Bay Sonnets, winner of the Center for Book Arts manuscript award; Earth’s Ends, winner of the Pearl Poetry Book Award; Both Sides of the Niger; and The Complete Cinnamon Bay Sonnets. He is an NEA recipient. Sonia Alland’s translations include The Hermitage and The Legend, both by French writer Marie Bronsard, and Baghdad Mon Amour and Baghdad, Adieu: Poems of Memory and Exile, both from the French of Salah al Hamdani in collaboration with the author.

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