I will think of you,
be thinking of you, this year,
this, your year of firsts
and lasts, of a life now gone,
a lifetime in a moment
gone, cradled somewhere
alongside ocean and sky,
a new first in your
year of emptiness, a first
step in your journey home.
Pensaré en tu,
estaré pensant en tu, aquest any,
aquest, el teu any de començaments
i de finals, d’una vida ara desapareguda,
tota una vida desapareguda
en un moment, bressolada en algun lloc
al costat del mar I del cel,
un nou començament en el teu
any de buidor, un primer
pas en el teu camí cap a casa.
My Father’s Birds
My father sends birds; *
signs of his safe arrival
in a distant world;
feathered vows of reunion,
when and how to be revealed.
Sea gull, owl, crow *
wait with me on platforms,
watch me through windows,
call to me from rooftops;
my father smiling through them.
Raven, dove, sparrow. *
Promises my father made;
messengers of hope.
These are the birds my father sends.
These are the birds from the dead.
[“My Father’s Birds” first appeared in John Digby & Hong Ai Bai (ed.), Bird Poems: East and West, New York: The Feral Press, 2015.]
* Without necessarily implying anything about the poet’s specific intentions here, the six kinds of birds listed (ll. 6 & 11) are associated, albeit contentiously, with symbolic meanings attributed to the ancient Celts of Iberia (the dominant peoples of the Iberian Peninsula up to the Roman destruction of Numantia in the Ebro valley in B.C. 133, detailed, e.g., by A.J. Lorrio & Gonzalo Ruiz Zapatero (2005), at: https://www4.uwm.edu/celtic/ekeltoi/volumes/vol6/6_4/lorrio_zapatero_6_4.html ). These include seagulls as messengers from the heavens to mortals; owls as guides in the underworld reputed for their patience and wisdom; crows generally as misfortune; ravens generally as harbingers of despair and sadness, death and destruction; doves as tranquillity and the spirit; and sparrows as memory and ancestral knowledge.
Els ocells del meu pare
El meu pare envia ocells ;
senyals de la seva arribada estàlvia
a un món distant ;
emplomallada promesa de reunió,
quan i on ens seran revelats.
La gavina, l’òliba, la gralla
S’esperen amb mi a les andantes del tren,
Em miren a través deles finestres,
Em criden des de dalt de les teulades;
El meu pare somriu a través d’ells.
El corb, el colom, el pardal.
Promeses que el meu pare feu ;
missatgers de l’esperança.
Aquests són els ocells que el meu pare envia.
Aquests són els ocells dels morts.
My friends are poets.
Breathing duende into souls, *
setting lives on fire.
They stay up long past bed-time
translating the wondrous.
Do they never sleep?
I hear them chiselling words,
smell them in my sheets,
taste them in meals of dark birds.
And when they leave –
[“My Friends” first appeared in Cross-Cultural Communications Art & Poetry Series Broadside, Issue 53, Summer 2013.]
* Duende (l. 2)—translated as “màgia” (l. 2) or “magic” in the Catalan translation—has probably been most influentially explicated by Federico Garcia Lorca in his 1933 Buenos Aires lecture, “Theory and Play of the Duende” (see the A.S. Kline translation at: http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Spanish/LorcaDuende.php ) and, more recently if not as influentially, by Nick Cave in his 1999 Vienna lecture, “The Love Song” (at: https://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=800055 (especially para 6 & 7)). Garcia Lorca evokes several facets of duende within the performing arts, including its intensity and immediacy, its melancholy, its anguish, and its mystery, that conjures something of the Dionysian force explored by Friedrich Nietzsche sixty years previously.
Els meus amics
Els meus amics són poetes.
Inspiren màgia en les ànimes,
Vetllen molt més enllà de l’hora d’anar a dormir
No dormen mai?
Els sento cisellant mots.
els flairo en els meus llençols,
els assaboreixo en menjars d’ocells foscos.
I quan se’n van –
Elegy for Bear #56 *
Ursula major, **
Queen of Minnesotan woods, ***
drowsy from the weight
of age and honey-drenched dreams,
you lie down in sun-dappled grass
sheltered by blue pines,
Huron nation calls you wise, ****
The Zuni, healer. *****
Stars guide your way through big skies.
The Great Spirit has called you home.******
* “Bear Number 56” in the title of this elegy was the oldest wild bear in the forests of northern Minnesota, a mid-north-western state, to die of old age as reported by Paul Walsh in the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune, Vol. 147, 27th August 2013, at: http://www.startribune.com/world-s-oldest-wild-bear-dies-in-minnesota-forest/221344041/ .
** Ursula major (l. 1), also known as the Great Bear, is amongst the oldest recognised constellations with its seven distinctive bright stars, seen as running on all fours nearest to the horizon before rising to its hind legs when re-commencing its ascent. It figures as one of four dozen constellations listed by Ptolemaios of Alexandreia in his Mathematike Syntaxis of A.D. 150± (popularly known for its geocentric conception of the universe).
*** Minnesotan woods (l. 2), as noted above, are the northern forests also known as the North Woods (originally occupied by the Dakota and the Anishinaabe indigenous peoples before incursions by French, German, and Scandinavian from the seventeenth century onwards).
**** Huron nation (l. 7) refers to the Iroquois of the Saint Lawrence River valley and northern shore of Lake Ontario in eastern Canada who referred to themselves as the Wendat, first encountered by the French explorer Samuel de Champlain in 1615 and formally recognised as a distinct nation by the British military in 1760 during the 1756-1763 world war.
***** The Zuni (l. 8) are indigenous Pueblo (“town-dwelling”) peoples of the Zuni River valley in New Mexico (colonised by the Spanish from 1598 onwards until Mexico’s declaration of independence in 1821 and subsequently annexed by Texas in 1845).
****** The Great Spirit (l. 10) is a translation of the Anishinaabe phrase “Gichi-manidoo” (often transliterated as “Gitche Manitou”) which also signifies the Creator of All or the Giver of Life.
Elegia per a l’óssa #56
reina dela boscos de Minnesota,
adormissada pel pes
dels anys i els somnis amarats de mel,
jeus damunt l’herba clapejada pel sol.
Emparada pels pins blaus,
la nació huron et diu sàvia,
la zuni, guaridora.
Els estels guien el teu cami a través dels cels immensos.
El Gran Esperit t’ha cridat a casa.
Kristine Doll, who teaches Spanish Language and Literature as well as Translation Studies at Salem State University north of Boston, Massachusetts, is a poet increasingly published on both sides of the Atlantic and a major English/Spanish/Catalan translator. Her second poetry collection, Gathering Light, is scheduled for publication by The Seventh Quarry Press in 2018. Her translations of Catalan poetry include the writers Joan Alcover, August Bover, Teresa d’Arenys, and Dolors Miquel; notably, in conjunction with Robert Brown, the bi-lingual volume Elegies by Joan Alcover (New York: Cross-Cultural Communications, 2004) and, as editor and a translator, Six Catalan Poets (Swansea: The Seventh Quarry Press, 2015). She is also the subject of an interview with Peter Thabit Jones in The Seventh Quarry Poetry Magazine, Issue 18, Summer 2013, pp. 41-45. Her current translation project is the volume Terres de Llicorella by August Bover who has translated with permission the selection below into Catalan.