A Voice Of Catalunia…

Off to work… Last day for this temp job. I am thankful that the work popped up. Good people out there, and love shows itself in wondrous ways.

I am touching on voices of Catalan today with Turfing. A lovely part of the world, and unique in so many ways. The poets… the poets… and the music that has come out of those coastlines and hills.

Anyway, the weekend is here, and there are projects I must get on with. I hope you have a good one, and remember to share in the beauty of this life with your loved ones and friends.

Have a good day!

Gwyllm

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On The Menu:

The Quotes

A wee bit of Guitar

A Fairytale from Catalan:The Water Of Life

A Voice Of Catalan: The Poetry Of Agustí Bartra

Art: Selkies and Mermaids….

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The Quotes:

“The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him.”

“Though I am not naturally honest, I am so sometimes by chance.”

“I detest life-insurance agents; they always argue that I shall some day die, which is not so.”

“Posterity is as likely to be wrong as anyone else.”

“In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.”

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From Catalan:The Water Of Life

Three brothers and one sister lived together in a small cottage, and they loved one another dearly. One day the eldest brother, who had never done anything but amuse himself from sunrise to sunset, said to the rest, ‘Let us all work hard, and perhaps we shall grow rich, and be able to build ourselves a palace.’

And his brothers and sister answered joyfully, ‘Yes, we will all work!’

So they fell to working with all their might, till at last they became rich, and were able to build themselves a beautiful palace; and everyone came from miles round to see its wonders, and to say how splendid it was. No one thought of finding any faults, till at length an old woman, who had been walking through the rooms with a crowd of people, suddenly exclaimed, ‘Yes, it is a splendid palace, but there is still something it needs!’

‘And what may that be?’

‘A church.’

When they heard this the brothers set to work again to earn some more money, and when they had got enough they set about building a church, which should be as large and beautiful as the palace itself.

And after the church was finished greater numbers of people than ever flocked to see the palace and the church and vast gardens and magnificent halls.

But one day, as the brothers were as usual doing the honours to their guests, an old man turned to them and said, ‘Yes, it is all most beautiful, but there is still something it needs!’

‘And what may that be?’

‘A pitcher of the water of life, a branch of the tree the smell of whose flowers gives eternal beauty, and the talking bird.’

‘And where am I to find all those?’

‘Go to the mountain that is far off yonder, and you will find what you seek.’

After the old man had bowed politely and taken farewell of them the eldest brother said to the rest, ‘I will go in search of the water of life, and the talking bird, and the tree of beauty.’

‘But suppose some evil thing befalls you?’ asked his sister. ‘How shall we know?’

‘You are right,’ he replied; ‘ I had not thought of that!’

Then they followed the old man, and said to him, ‘My eldest brother wishes to seek for the water of life, and the tree of beauty, and the talking bird, that you tell him are needful to make our palace perfect. But how shall we know if any evil thing befall him?’

So the old man took them a knife, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Keep this carefully, and as long as the blade is bright all is well; but if the blade is bloody, then know that evil has befallen him.’

The brothers thanked him, and departed, and went straight to the palace, where they found the young man making ready to set out for the mountain where the treasures he longed for lay hid.

And he walked, and he walked, and he walked, till he had gone a great way, and there he met a giant.

‘Can you tell me how much further I have still to go before I reach that mountain yonder?’

‘And why do you wish to go there?’

‘I am seeking the water of life, the talking bird, and a branch of the tree of beauty.’

‘Many have passed by seeking those treasures, but none have ever come back; and you will never come back either, unless you mark my words. Follow this path, and when you reach the mountain you will find it covered with stones. Do not stop to look at them, but keep on your way. As you go you will hear scoffs and laughs behind you; it will be the stones that mock. Do not heed them; above all, do not turn round. If you do you will become as one of them. Walk straight on till you get to the top, and then take all you wish for.’

The young man thanked him for his counsel, and walked, and walked, and walked, till he reached the mountain. And as he climbed he heard behind him scoffs and jeers, but he kept his ears steadily closed to them. At last the noise grew so loud that he lost patience, and he stooped to pick up a stone to hurl into the midst of the clamour, when suddenly his arm seemed to stiffen, and the next moment he was a stone himself!

That day his sister, who thought her brother’s steps were long in returning, took out the knife and found the blade was red as blood. Then she cried out to her brothers that something terrible had come to pass.

‘I will go and find him,’ said the second. And he went. And he walked, and he walked, and he walked, till he met the giant, and asked him if he had seen a young man travelling towards the mountain.

And the giant answered, ‘Yes, I have seen him pass, but I have not seen him come back. The spell must have worked upon him.’

‘Then what can I do to disenchant him, and find the water of life, the talking bird, and a branch of the tree of beauty?’

‘Follow this path, and when you reach the mountain you will find it covered with stones. Do not stop to look at them, but climb steadily on. Above all, heed not the laughs and scoffs that will arise on all sides, and never turn round. And when you reach the top you can then take all you desire.’

The young man thanked him for his counsel, and set out for the mountain. But no sooner did he reach it than loud jests and gibes broke out on every side, and almost deafened him. For some time he let them rail, and pushed boldly on, till he had passed the place which his brother had gained; then suddenly he thought that among the scoffing sounds he heard his brother’s voice. He stopped and looked back; and another stone was added to the number.

Meanwhile the sister left at home was counting the days when her two brothers should return to her. The time seemed long, and it would be hard to say how often she took out the knife and looked at its polished blade to make sure that this one at least was still safe. The blade was always bright and clear; each time she looked she had the happiness of knowing that all was well, till one evening, tired and anxious, as she frequently was at the end of the day, she took it from its drawer, and behold! the blade was red with blood. Her cry of horror brought her youngest brother to her, and, unable to speak, she held out the knife!

‘I will go,’ he said.

So he walked, and he walked, and he walked, until he met the giant, and he asked, ‘Have two young men, making for yonder mountain, passed this way?’

And the giant answered, ‘Yes, they have passed by, but they never came back, and by this I know that the spell has fallen upon them.’

‘Then what must I do to free them, and to get the water of life, and the talking bird, and the branch of the tree of beauty?’

‘Go to the mountain, which you will find so thickly covered with stones that you will hardly be able to place your feet, and walk straight forward, turning neither to the right hand nor to the left, and paying no heed to the laughs and scoffs which will follow you, till you reach the top, and then you may take all that you desire.’

The young man thanked the giant for his counsel, and set forth to the mountain. And when he began to climb there burst forth all around him a storm of scoffs and jeers; but he thought of the giant’s words, and looked neither to the right hand nor to the left, till the mountain top lay straight before him. A moment now and he would have gained it, when, through the groans and yells, he heard his brothers’ voices. He turned, and there was one stone the more.

And all this while his sister was pacing up and down the palace, hardly letting the knife out of her hand, and dreading what she knew she would see, and what she did see. The blade grew red before her eyes, and she said, ‘Now it is my turn.’

So she walked, and she walked, and she walked till she came to the giant, and prayed him to tell her if he had seen three young men pass that way seeking the distant mountain.

‘I have seen them pass, but they have never returned, and by this I know that the spell has fallen upon them.’

‘And what must I do to set them free, and to find the water of life, and the talking bird, and a branch of the tree of beauty?’

‘You must go to that mountain, which is so full of stones that your feet will hardly find a place to tread, and as you climb you will hear a noise as if all the stones in the world were mocking you; but pay no heed to anything you may hear, and, once you gain the top, you have gained everything.’

The girl thanked him for his counsel, and set out for the mountain; and scarcely had she gone a few steps upwards when cries and screams broke forth around her, and she felt as if each stone she trod on was a living thing. But she remembered the words of the giant, and knew not what had befallen her brothers, and kept her face steadily towards the mountain top, which grew nearer and nearer every moment. But as she mounted the clamour increased sevenfold: high above them all rang the voices of her three brothers. But the girl took no heed, and at last her feet stood upon the top.

Then she looked round, and saw, lying in a hollow, the pool of the water of life. And she took the brazen pitcher that she had brought with her, and filled it to the brim. By the side of the pool stood the tree of beauty, with the talking bird on one of its boughs; and she caught the bird, and placed it in a cage, and broke off one of the branches.

After that she turned, and went joyfully down the hill again, carrying her treasures, but her long climb had tired her out, and the brazen pitcher was very heavy, and as she walked a few drops of the water spilt on the stones, and as it touched them they changed into young men and maidens, crowding about her to give thanks for their deliverance.

So she learnt by this how the evil spell might be broken, and she carefully sprinkled every stone till there was not one left–only a great company of youths and girls who followed her down the mountain.

When they arrived at the palace she did not lose a moment in planting the branch of the tree of beauty and watering it with the water of life. And the branch shot up into a tree, and was heavy with flowers, and the talking bird nestled in its branches.

Now the fame of these wonders was noised abroad, and the people flocked in great numbers to see the three marvels, and the maiden who had won them; and among the sightseers came the king’s son, who would not go till everything was shown him, and till he had heard how it had all happened. And the prince admired the strangeness and beauty of the treasures in the palace, but more than all he admired the beauty and courage of the maiden who had brought them there. So he went home and told his parents, and gained their consent to wed her for his wife.

Then the marriage was celebrated in the church adjoining the palace. Then the bridegroom took her to his own home, where they lived happy for ever after.

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A Voice Of Catalan: The Poetry Of Agustí Bartra

(Barcelona, 1908 – Terrassa, 1982)

When, finally, there is nothing left…

When, finally, there is nothing left of me but my words

Perched like birds on the taut wires

Of spirits faithful to the hymns of life,

A hammer will cry out for the extinguished light.

The day will wear mimosa wreaths.

Perhaps there will be forgiveness on the ceaseless sea.

The sun will bear in its mouth, by the stem, its everlasting

And new voices will say the joy of water.

The wind will lay waste streetlights and statues.

Summer will wear its yellow smock

And the white cane of the blind will tap on grey cobblestones.

Among the jagged rocks and in foresta of souls

Orpheus will seduce the anonymous beast.

Full moons will come to make maidens shudder,

Those who await the advent of love amid cricket and acacia.

I will be faceless. In my ears of grass

Time will ring a bell made of stars…

February 7, 1978

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Like he who departs with the tide and twilight,

Like the rain that settles to sleep on the leaves of the willow,

Like the footfall of the lover toward his love who sighs,

Like the wind that transforms the listless face of water,

Like the conqueror who unites land and flag,

Like the frothy vowels of the laughing sea:

Thus, I would have you come to me, Poetry,

Bearing birds, bonfires, dreams and stars…

March 26, 1978

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Angel Of Light

Allow me to stand upon the earth once more,

Oh angel of light, as you draw wealth, aloft,

From change and the stubborn root that persists.

Let me be idle upon the living earth

And behold the birth of roads that take their start

Below the stars and near the eyes of water,

While my heart searches the song of the nightingtale

And interrogates the night that bows its head under mystery.

Allow me, smiling angel of return and balance,

To soar like a poplar, trembling all over with existence,

Toward the fountainhead of the rim of horizon where spring is born.

Touched by your fingers, let the smell of haylofts

Come to lie down, near me, as if beside its master.

Don’t leave me, angel, to the salary of charity

That suffering pays out as it lessens.

I am naked. And vulnerable to the diamond of day.

Let us go to ward the larks!

A red colt grazes.

The east comes, with the gull.

Oh angel of power among blind shapes,

Let me feel the titanic force

Of a blade of grass as it grows,

The prayer of the waters,

The enigma of fire.

Come, angel, accompany me with your necessary light.

Come, come, don’t leave me, luminous beauty,

Creation and solace,

Piety turned spirit.

Look, angel, deep in the Valley — Demeter sleeps; lying,

Solemn and vast, she makes a great gesture with her hand,

A gesture of protection and order, and all birds take flight,

And later, murmuring, she slowly changes position…

And the angel makes the Sign: the eternal circle.

Terrassa, March 25, 1982

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If I Don’t Have You…

If I don’t have you I stand alone,

Mutilated solitude.

Silence dressed in mourning

At the most fateful hour,

No laughter, no flight:

Start to count the eyes of dawn

And the birds in every flock.

If I don’t have you I stand alone

And my voice, a cavern.

If I don’t have you I stand alone,

A scarecrow on the edge of the fields.

I can no longer wear the sun,

No longer wear the cape of air,

I move about like the slow snail

That bears its house upon its back.

If I don’t have you I sand alone

And my voice, chimera.

If I don’t have you I stand alone

Like the tallest weather vane.

As you come up, path

Of sweetscented fatigue;

As you go down, brook

Of foamy riders,

Say along with me: if I stand alone

My voice is but despair.

If I don’t have you I stand alone

Like the Evening Star.

Sound, cosmic shawm,

As you strip me of fear

On days when the sky is in revolt,

And bring thimbles of water to my eyes.

If I don’t have you I stand alone

And my voice is crucified.

Terrassa, May 5, 1982

Our Lady of the Remedy Clinic

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Agustí Bartra (Barcelona, 1908 – Terrassa, 1982) was a poet, novelist, translator and playwright, one of several writers who had to go into exile because of the Spanish Civil War. In 1940, with the writer Anna Murià, he settled in Mexico where he worked as a translator. During this period he received grants that enabled him to make several trips to the United States, which he combined with intense literary activity, producing for example Antologia de la lírica nord-americana (Anthology of American Poetry, 1951). He returned to Catalonia in 1970 and went to live in Terrassa. Outstanding among his works are the novel Crist de 200.000 braços (Christ of 200,000 Arms, 1968) in which he describes the collective experience of the concentration camps, and his book of poems entitled Ecce homo (1968), which reflects his personal cosmology through the four elements: earth, fire, air and water.

Bartra’s poetry has traditionally been compared with that of Walt Whitman, but he also followed in the footsteps of German Romantic poets such as Novalis, Hölderlin and Rilke. The Generalitat (Government) of Catalonia rendered homage to Bartra and his work by awarding him the Creu de Sant Jordi (Saint George Cross).

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