Tomàs Garcés
LA IL·LUSTRACIÓ POÈTICA METROPOLITANA & CONTINENTAL
Plurilingual Anthology of Catalan Poetry
English

 
Tomàs Garcés
(Barcelona, 1901 - 1993)


FAITHFUL SONG
LETTERS, SIGNS
BROOKLYN BRIDGE
ODE TO EUROPE

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FAITHFUL SONG



A bitter rush of air has scattered
     the almond’s blossoms.
The flower on yonder rosemary
     is not swept away by wind.

The clouds fleeting through blue sky,
     the moon, by little and little.
In the looking-glass of your smile,
     fettered time drowses off.

We’ll go to the riverbank, we’ll hear
     downstream the sound of waters.
Yet I know what dies away,
     what never passes from earth.
 


Translated by D. Sam Abrams
Tomàs GARCÉS, The span of compassion, Institute of North American Studies, Barcelona, 1985.

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LETTERS, SIGNS



Letters, signs, upon the dark rock
pawed by the hoof of wind.
Mysterious books, with spacious pages,
grey cragged cliffs
near the sea herald the ancient secret
that I know not how to read.
The bluish day, the gleam of water
have bandaged my eyes.

Yet when nightfall drapes black veils
around my rocky isle
and drowsy puddle yearns
for the spark of a star,
feeling my way past the cold rock,
I will come upon the signs once more
and grasp their message,
even though my hands are to bleed, like a blindman.
 



Translated by D. Sam Abrams
Tomàs GARCÉS, The span of compassion, Institute of North American Studies, Barcelona, 1985.

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BROOKLYN BRIDGE



What bedazzled shipwright brought us
that shiny green cloth
mother would use to cover and uncover
the dining room table?
From the port it came and opened horizons,
smoky and far off, for our dreams:
against the dark green, fading print,
from end to end the bridge unfolded.

Mother swept away the crumbs
after supper. In darkness the port,
the deserted wharf grew dim.
And you and I, my brother, closed our eyes,
once the table was cleared,
vanquished watchmen, at either end of the bridge.

Oh suspended bridge, towering pathway!
Topless landaus, jingling horses coursed
up and down, and ladies with parasols
and flowers pinned to their bosom gently smiled.
Close upon the railing, the shade of iron,
impassive blacks labored.
And small paddle steamers,
down below, ground the water beneath the bridge.

At that point carriages passed one another,
cheerfully, and whitish
—milder than blooming fringed pink—
the conceited foam of steamboats.
Everything astir, all things grew tinted.
And, the ashes of this dream,
the black drawing on the shiny deep green cloth.
 



Translated by D. Sam Abrams
Tomàs GARCÉS, The span of compassion, Institute of North American Studies, Barcelona, 1985.

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ODE TO EUROPE



In memory of Carles Riba, humanist and
European, this attempt at “social poetry”.

Long mane sopping wet, the horse returned
to the stable, vanquished. Slowly melting
in evening ashes the mad outburst of the race.
The scene of action deserted, a sail at a slant
atop the tower, so tall, like a yoked wing.
Ancient unchanged city, Siena from dreams, motionless!

In a corner of the square,
only a girl. Ardent eyes, seated
amidst the folds of a violet dress,
under early stars
the shards of a jug she pieced together, obstinately.

Another day I saw
at the border of forest and path, in Germany,
fronting the path, framed by the window,
a white-haired watchmaker. The last light
was dying, yet he still hurriedly pored
over spring, cogwheels and dial.

Thus, I have found you everywhere, at one point
or another, at work, under hope,
loyal and patient, men and women
of Europe.
                  And the children that scaled
the grating of the old German homestead
later slid and rolled
down the luxuriant gardens near the Seine
in the enclosure of a delicate abstract castle.
The portals in Segovia were reflected
in an English pond, and the courtyards at Oxford,
cloisters of sky and flowers, resurrected
the air of my home, braided sand and sunlight.
The squirrel, a fleeting flame below the pines in Aiguafreda,
turned grey, in Geneva, tamely pastured
making the gnawed scales of pinecones
crunch on the wide tree-shaded trails.
And the golden silence of Sant Pere de Roda
turned into a sunset
delirium at the ancient monastery in Lisbon
—sunlight honey, downriver, due to the wash of stone.

Leisurely, at peace
and secure, you take shape in a hundred countenances, Europe.
Your breath, which comes from far, is ample
like the breathing of the sea on an open stretch of beach,
keen on liberty and harmony
that has the volume and weight of a bull on grassland.

Little by little, like those who mend the jug,
like those who adjust tiny gear teeth,
here and there, at dusk and at dawn,
you rend the fog and smoke.
Ant I feel you, if I hold forth my hands, and I foresee you,
and the day approaches
when we shall see you born, luminous, Mother.
 



Translated by D. Sam Abrams
Tomàs GARCÉS, The span of compassion, Institute of North American Studies, Barcelona, 1985.

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