Tutto che mi resta è già perduto
Ronsard's roses are long faded now
and God is only one memory more
There are seas beyond the isle I have not seen
and places on green maps where I have not trod
Night is a chamber in the midst of the world
life a vacuum that with words I fill with sense
Where are the snows of which Villon sang
From joy's thick magma I have brought forth two sons
from the years' intimate well a yearning verse
The old owl has not returned this year
nor have sparrows nested in my small room
I dream of that immense Son Bou of the child
I am aging and read Shakespeare again
* * *
In the final world of Tomis,
covered in foreign earth,
lying in an anonymous tomb
buffeted by the saline wind,
you are still living on perhaps
in the memory of those
bygone enamoured women
and we sing to you, old poets
like myself, I who am lyrical,
mature and calm, verses
and aching Romance lament,
our uncertain life.
Time that demolishes all,
consolidates your prestige
and makes your peerless name
ineffaceable forever more,
But now classic, myth,
lover of love, not even sex
endures and futile is
the faded laurel, fame.
We are all seed of oblivion.
The sharp draught that consumes
notes, folders and books
steeps everything in salt.
Being happy is plagiary,
writing a bitter duty.
We do not live, the words
undo us, making of us
of beauty, the lost
prisoners of a page.
We are wrecked on scribbles.
On Olympus, pure ossuary
of chestnut trees and clouds
kissed by the warm Greek sun,
the gods too have died.
All is smoke and nothing is left
nothing eternal now, Ovid.
* * *
It rains on my childhood
Standing by the wild north-coast sea I see the rain raining
Behind this lump in my throat is my childhood heaped
We shall never more know the island’s crude winters
Nor ever again swim nude in the furtive tank
Now careless time presages sterility
And one returns happy to the verses above his room
We ran free through the orchards laden with fruit
We played with our slings in cardoon-sown fields
We did not know in our happiness that we were so poor
Sex was not yet before us and neither was sin
Our evenings overflowed with stories and myths
The wind rose in the sky to the full heart of goodness
Children of sea and limestone with camomile in our eyes
We discovered the names of birds that hid in the woods
On the burning beaches we were arrayed in light
Like Greeks with emery sand our bodies shone
Salt grew in green patios under bunches of grapes
We did not know the world existed and that beyond
The island's coasts there were other gods too
A battered old atlas opened all the ports to me
I read The Odyssey among thickets and pines
Where are they now Son Bou’s deflowered paths
And the trails of reeds by green tamarisk trees
Flying over Addaia are peevish gulls
Here there are still gestures of Civil War
* * *
Because writing is also giving some sense to the world
And saving from disquiet a time that is mortal and absurd
I persevere in the night fervently seeking words
That with emotion will sustain me when life is made verses
* * *
The cultivation of letters
needs no worldly dealings
No one hears me in the immense wood
but the white moon illuminates me
Longing has the face
of islands that are lost.
Land of one's birth.
The poem is a garden
where seagulls peck.
Soiled by the city,
I caress a green pine
as if it were a woman.
A grasshopper leaps.
Stealthy and running
boys steal jujube fruit.
Land of farewells.
Warmly gleam the eyes
of the owl under the eaves.
straightening in the night …
The cats avidly mew.
Crickets and gnats.
In the light of an oil lamp
rasps old the quill.
In vain I persist
in writing poems, words …
What I want is to kiss you!
Lost on the green
track that plunges thick
through the forest, a faun holds forth.
among the pines, I do
crosswords with the nymphs.
of this island where, droning,
the flies are king.
The beautiful memories
we sowed when we were
children, do not return to life.
Land of sea.
There is no horizon now.
I hear the gulls weeping.
Pines and brushwood.
Going home at night
my company is the path.
Man of insular
words I amorously
Translated from the Catalan by Julie Wark ©