Narcís Comadira
Plurilingual Anthology of Catalan Poetry

Narcís Comadira
(Girona, 1942)




Iíve read that Morosini,
commander in chief, ambassador
from Venice, wanted
to carry off the sculptures
from the pediment of the Parthenon.

He had a scaffold erected,
he had slaves clamber to the top
and, at the most delicate moment,
one of the ledgers gave way.
Men and statues fell.

Disappointed, the commander in chief
abandoned his undertaking.
He wanted them undamaged.
The scattered pieces
were put to use in building houses.

Many a wise man has meditated
upon the remarkable mystery
of being able to create beauty
from a block of marble.
Virtually none, the other way around:

to hew out a square building block
from the torso of an ancient deity,
to turn a Venus into gravel,
to be able to tread on cobblestones
made from sacred limbs...

Thus cities were made:
gradually built
with stones that yesterday were
human lives: love,
suffering that no one remembers.

Translated by D. Sam Abrams
Five Poets, Institute of North American Studies, Barcelona, 1988





A bell glass of thin air
encompasses the hills, the dunes,
forest and perfect grass.
Timid wild flowers, scented rosemary,
fleshy orchids skirt all the fairways.
Upon the grass so neatly trimmed tread
the sturdy shoes of the gentlemen
who move slowly, following
well-known paths: theyíre playing.
Two by two, in one corner or another,
distant, balanced, they measure out
the challenge and the stroke, the aim and the uncertainty.
Stationary figures with sun-tanned skin,
their limbs already a bit fatigued
under the cashmere comfort
and the morning sunlight.
Precision and discouragement.
The ladies, back at the clubhouse, are having tall drinks
at solitary tables. óAh! Donít you find
that the sun is warming up like it does in the good weather?
Far off, here, outside the bell
jar protecting them,
the weather is uncertain and itís hard to find shelter.

Translated by D. Sam Abrams
Five Poets, Institute of North American Studies, Barcelona, 1988





Now I am a falcon and I clutch
my masterís fist. I breathe in the fresh morning air
and the smell of velvet and sable, the sweat of horses,
the trampled hay, the steam
rising from the ground.
Grass and tiny flowers, a luxuriant tapestry I shall see
from aloft, when in circles, magnificent,
I view my dominions, the grassland, the dwarf trees,
the brook, the elusive hare.
And the horses, the spaniels, and my Lordship
with his knights and the great falconer,
the pages, the attendants, all equally dwarfish,
scattered throughout the meadow...
My Lord says to me: I want a large hare,
smelling of lentiscus (my Lord is a poet),
as he strokes my feathers with his fingers.
I feel an emperor, perched on my Lordshipís fist,
in my leather hood fringed with streamers.

There is movement, the sound of strident voices, neighing and prancing
while the kennel-grooms unleash and urge on the dogs.
The moment is near, my Lord caresses me,
he wants a large hare, smelling of lentiscus
(I am a poet as well). My heart is pounding.
And now, at this point, I am the lord and master
of the world and the people. Everyone within my circle,
paying me undivided attention, expectant while I am lost
to sight and return, as my flight spirals, assesses,
spies the frightened hare.
My eyes are like arrows, my talons grow sharp
and a sweet giddiness overwhelms me.
Sky and earth are one, the trees and clouds, the grass and fur
of the skittish hare. I see nothing, a power
pulls me down, toward the pit of nothingness,
and I strike like lightning. By whose
will am I ruled?
What dark power pulls me down, what strings
move my wings, what fire
is so able
to heat my bodyís blood?

Now, in my talons, I hold the dead hare,
smelling of earth and lentiscus.
Itís all over, my empire has fallen.
The great falconer
will allow me to tear a piece of warm liver...
My Lord will laugh with his friends, afterwards,
in my hood fringed with streamers,
I shall feel ridiculous.

That which makes us forget ourselves, always lasts so little!


Translated by D. Sam Abrams
Five Poets, Institute of North American Studies, Barcelona, 1988