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SALVADOR ESPRIU (1913 - 1985)


BEGINNING OF CANTICLE IN THE TEMPLE from Les cançons d'Ariadna (Literal translation by Magda Bogin)

Now say: "The broom tree blooms,
everywhere the fields are red with poppies.
With new scythes we'll thresh
the ripened wheat and weeds."
Ah, young lips parting after dark,
if you only knew how dawn
delayed us, how long we had to wait
for light to rise in the gloom!
But we have lived to save your words,
to return you the name of every thing,
so that you'd stay on the straight path
that leads to the mastery of earth.
We looked beyond the desert,
plumbed the depth of our dreams,
turned dry cisterns into peaks
scaled by the long steps of time.
Now say: "We hear the voices
of the wind on the high sea of crested grain."
Now say: "We shall be ever faithful
to the people of this land."
[XLVI] from La pell de brau (Literal translation by Magda Bogin)

Sometimes it is necessary and right
for a man to die for a people.
But a whole people must never die
for a single man:
remember this, Sepharad.
Keep the bridge of dialogue secured
and try to understand and love
the different minds and tongues of all your children.
Let the rain fall drop by drop on the fields
and the air cross the ample fields
like a soft, benevolent hand.
Let Sepharad live forever
in order and in peace, in work,
and in difficult, hard_won
[XXXVIII] from Llibre de Sinera (Prose translation by Sam Abrams)

Ordered, established, perhaps intelligible, I leave the little world that I have carried with me from the beginning and which has ever since surrounded me, for suddenly the anxious steps come to the end of the road. Granted the strange power to penetrate the whole thickness of this wall, my eyes behold the closed, silent, solitary concepts that are created and raised up, for no one, by the restless hands of the fire. Ah, the diverse identity one has descended within the wells, such a painful effort to spell and learn, one by one, the letters of the words of nothingness! Shrieks of the wind clowning outside the house. Look how the old man, in front of the house, slowly raises his dust in the arid, naked moment of a statue. Afterwards dry earth, now for ever beyond number or name, broken up in its depths by the roots of the tree.