Marià Manent
LA IL·LUSTRACIÓ POÈTICA METROPOLITANA & CONTINENTAL
Plurilingual Anthology of Catalan Poetry
English

 
Marià Manent
(Barcelona, 1898 - 1988)


TREMULOUS LIGHT, THE SMELL OF VINEYARDS...
PRAISE OF WISTERIA
AVID SONG
RUSSIAN GIRL AT MONTSENY
THE SITE OF RILKE’S TOMB

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TREMULOUS LIGHT, THE SMELL OF VINEYARDS...



Tremulous light, the smell of vineyards, the rustic flute
of an ardent nightingale that moans and thinks no more.
Chaste amidst the trees like a virgin fast asleep,
a row of wheat waving on the hilltop.

Night’s pure bird that makes stars shudder
with its echoing soul full of plaintive sighs:
withered roses pave pale carpets
where the roving light of thought is lost.

Near a star that sheds tears, the fragance of a rose
silent and timid, beneath a sky far too pure.
These azure tears granted you more sweet-scented aroma,
oh chaste sober sadness of the reclusive soul!

And, while upon the breast of every newborn Spring
your weeping will live forever, pure bird of night,
my sigh will perish unnoted, as it falters
beside the fountainhead of your sweet scent, oh frail rose!
 



Translated by D. Sam Abrams
Marià MANENT, The shade of mist, Institute of American Studies, Barcelona, 1984.

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PRAISE OF WISTERIA



How the reddish mist can give you shelter,
oh subtle City of composure.

In the peaceful April dead of night
clusters of wisteria weave me a crown.

From this brittle, gnarled trunk
has bloomed the scented harvest.

Oh clusters! If Death were to tread upon you,
she would turn a sprightly maid.

And with your scent alone
(how was it born of sullen branches?)

you would turn the awe inspiring scythe
to fragrant garland of light.

I have passed under the breath of night,
no bluish tint, no starlit music,

and in my heart a swarm of bees abuzz,
the manifold rustle of anguish.

I felt the misty fog from heaven
roll upon my span of life.

Yearning: what faithful guide
has brought me to the house of bloom?

You who tend to clouds so clear,
to locust, to heather in the hollows:

what goddess has led my steps
to the bridebed of this varied scent?
 



Translated by D. Sam Abrams
Marià MANENT, The shade of mist, Institute of American Studies, Barcelona, 1984.

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AVID SONG
 
Gilded apple tree
smiling at my side:
I seek not the fruit
but the frail shade.

Tiny fountain lost
at the heart of peace:
I do not need the water clear
but the tender flowing tune.

Enchanted star
presiding over night:
I do not care for you as guide
but source of feverish challenge.
 


Translated by D. Sam Abrams
Marià MANENT, The shade of mist, Institute of American Studies, Barcelona, 1984.

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RUSSIAN GIRL AT MONTSENY



Flower spangled dress, tanned and untamed face:
your wild scent from the steppe and the wind
fills these brakes and the damp narrow path
          and the cloud that trails along.

Dressed in daisies and the rays of starfish:
amidst the flowers your brownness exudes.
Delicate finged pinks at random shiver
          by your unclad legs.

And you softly blended into the peace of the landscape,
your eyes grey from dreams and the taste of death;
          or you fled, in laughter, down the path
     a grievous nightingale, a wild turtledove.



Translated by D. Sam Abrams
Marià MANENT, The shade of mist, Institute of American Studies, Barcelona, 1984.

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THE SITE OF RILKE’S TOMB
(RAROGNE, VALAIS)



You lie in the ultimate
resting place, aloft the dark rocks,
with the hilltop ivy that doesn’t fear
February’s frost. Your cross is rather coarse,
the burial vault of shepherds and peasants,
and you are walled in by porous stone
like a worm-eaten bride’s chest. Snowflakes and sun-beat
have turned the cross grey, the shade of mist.
Yet at your grave site there is a touch of pride:
a chiselled coat of arms, something come from a fable
of the Austrian past, crowning the fortified village,
solitary and final, where your word now dwells.

Here lies the brow that often bowed
to silence and darkness;
and when the wind from the Alps sweeps the snow
across the withered blades of grass, the peasants, arriving
from vineyards where they tend grape stocks shaped like lyres,
are unaware that hidden beneath the cross is the bluish tint,
the fear in your artless eyes and the ivy sighs
above the heart that never met with peace.



Translated by D. Sam Abrams
Marià MANENT, The shade of mist, Institute of American Studies, Barcelona, 1984.

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