Pere Gimferrer
LA IL·LUSTRACIÓ POÈTICA METROPOLITANA & CONTINENTAL
Plurilingual Anthology of Catalan Poetry
English

 
Pere Gimferrer
(Barcelona, 1945)


SYSTEMS
OP. 98
UNITY
ARS POETICA

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SYSTEMS


Poetry is
a system of revolving
mirrors that slide with harmony,
shifting lights and shadows in the fitting room: why
the frosted glass? As if talking —engaged in conversation
with the linen on the table and the soft music—
I would tell you, my dear, that this or that reflection is the poem,
or one of its aspects: there is a possible poem
about the duchess who met her end at Yekaterinburg,
and when the red sun moves about on the windowpanes, I remember
her blues eyes... I don’t know, I have spent so many, hours that is,
on trains at night, reading detective stories all along
(alone in the empty house, we used to open the wardrobes),
and one night, on the way to Bern, two men kissed one another in my

[ compartment
because it was empty, or I was sleeping, or it was dark
(one hand seeks another, one body seeks another)
                                         and now the mirror revolves
and conceals this aspect: the real and the fictitious,
what is convention, that is to say, and the things we have lived,
the experience of the light in winter forests,
the difficulty of establishing coherence —it is a play of mirrors—,
acts that dissolve into unreality,
acids that invade old photographs,
the yellow, the leprosy, the rust and the moss that efface the images,
the tar smeared on the faces of the boys in canotiers,
all that died one afternoon with the bicycles,
the red chrome sunk in the cisterns,
slow-motion the bodies (in space as well as time) under the water.
(Darkened like the bottom of a cracked mirror, the fitting room
is the axis of this poem.)
 


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

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OP. 98


Desistance from real life,
expounded in the first movement, as the stringed instruments
strike up with great precision: for Brahms, at fifty,
what counted was to be dispassionate.
The bowing of a violin, can it be the fall:
of the visible world? It is practical truth:
he’s not trying to state the ineffable nor convey concepts:
uncertainty, if there is any, will not alter the discourse; the audience
is not asked to participate actively. It is a statement
not of grief itself, but of the experience
of grief. Poetry is now impersonal.
Hence, the cold range of blues, the empty spaces,
the receding perspectives that move out of sight,
a coldness in the wording. Words don’t exist: they designate. No power to

[ work miracles.
The boy from the past, who remembers him? It is truth
of a rather diverse order: distant, but unchanging,
like the spinning of stars in the blue of our eyes.
                                                                             When art
does not invoke feelings nor logical powers
nor the irrational fire: it designates a direct act.
Was that it, then? An emotion resembling
the ultimate word of Rimbaud or Ducasse?
Does it pertain to the same order? The destruction of art,
the construction of art, is it the same path?
When art cancels itself out, when it becomes transparency
and it is that which it is saying, and it only says what it is,
when it has become evident as well as expository
light that has enough being light— why, once again, does it take us by
[ surprise,
wound us, demand our attention, become art once more? Has the rotation
performed been a counter-rotation, and thus music
re-establishes silence and painting the void and the word blank space?
 
 


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

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UNITY


For Maria José and Octavio Paz

Dictated by evening,
dictated by dark air, the circle opens
and we dwell within: transitions, intervening
space. Not the place
of reunion. The blade
that cleaves the light.
                                   From the eye to the gaze,
the permanent brightness, the ambit of sounds,
the bell that brings the terrestrial vision to a close
like the inexorable eye of floral shape
steadies the fire of a carbuncle. This eye,
does it see my eye? It is a mirror of flames,
the eye that now sees me. The cry of pulleys,
the sound of night axles. Dismasted,
darkness collapses and, feeling its way,
the sun meets the night.
 


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

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ARS POETICA



Something more than the gift of synthesis:
to see in the light the transit of the light.



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

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