Poems by Gabriel Ferrater

Translated by Johannes Beilharz

 

Dawn

The night goes away, another night, and the wing
of an immense airplance has placed itself
between the wide blue and the window, and I wonder
whether it's the faintest kind of green or silver, cold
as the insistent fineness of the knife scraping
the imposition of excessive life
off the uterus, or the light itself, as the boy's hand
opens: he's getting tired of making a fist to
aggravate his brothers, pretending it holds some
kind of treasure. He gives away his prey, and I know
it's not anything that wasn't in me yesterday
and disconsolate, and I feel cold looking at myself
another day, dried-out pit of a fruit, pulpless,
outside the night.

Title of original: Punta de Dia, from Les dones i els dies. Copyright 1968 by Gabriel Ferrater

 

The Aristocrats

Oh Borges, Lowell, oh American
patricians! You have your
history so close, and disgust is alive with you.
History is also close to me. And it nauseates me.
    I wouldn't know how to write the detailed poems
you write. Perhaps my disgust
(which has turned old because nobody tells its story),
like the ankles of a Gypsy girl,
will allow me to be skin and alive under the dirt,
but I'm rather grey, and only speaking
of generalizations, like a plebeian
who never heard, fresh and slow,
the memories of the women in the crowded
house, now empty: a well of fear.

Title of original: Els Aristocrates, from Les dones i els dies. Copyright 1968 by Gabriel Ferrater

 

Room in fall

The Venetian blind, not quite closed, like
a scare held back before dropping,
does not separate us from the air. Look, thirty-seven
horizons open, straight and fragile,
but the heart forgets them. Without yearning,
the light is dieing on us that was honey-
colored, and that now has the color and smell of apples.
How slow, the world; how slow, the world; how slow,
the pain for the hours that go by
so hurriedly. Tell me, will you
remember this room?
                                   "I like it very much.
Those voices of workers ... What are they?"
                                                                  Masons:
a house is missing on the block.
                                                "They sing,
and today I can't hear them. They shout, they laugh,
and today it seems strange to me that they are silent."
                                   How slow,
the red leaves of the voices, how uncertain
when they come to cover us. Asleep,
the leaves of my kisses are covering
the shelters of your body, and while you forget
the high leaves of summer, the open days
without kisses, the body,
in its depth, remembers: your skin
is still half sun, half moon.

Title of original: Cambra de la tardor, from Les dones i els dies. Copyright 1968 by Gabriel Ferrater

Gabriel Ferrater: Catalan poet, 1922-1972. Also translator of Kafka, Chomsky, Bloomfield and Gombrowicz and other writers into Catalan and Spanish and author of essays.

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