>> Friday, 4 November 2011
Gabriel Ferrater (1922-1972) is the author of a poetic oeuvre composed in a very tight span of time (1958-1963) and soon gathered into one volume: Les dones i els dies (Women and Days ; 1968). Below you'll find two of his poems, which appear in translation in Pen Català's journal, Catalan Writing, along with some words on him by other authors. Happy reading!
"If Robert Frost had grown up during a civil war he might have written like this. (...) Like Wordsworth, Ferrater endeavours to keep his reader in the presence of flesh and blood. But like other exemplary artists of his own century, he keeps his gaze steady and his faith in the staying of art, unyielding even when flesh and blood have to quail and fall." (Seamus HEANEY)
The readerAmong the objects of the world, among the fewobjects I have clung to, there is a paperknife:a short ivory blade,naked to my hand, which turns brown or paleaccording to the light of days and places.After twenty years I come across it in my pocketand don't remember who it was who gave me it.Its edge is jagged, many a time I've picked itoff the floor in some room of mine or between feetafter paying for a night in a bar.It has cut thousands of pages: memories, liesof other men (though hardly any women).And I don't remember who it was who gave me it.I cannot fabricate another memory, someone's hand.
Gabriel FERRATER, Women and Days, Arc Publications, 2004. Translated by Arthur Terry. Introduction by Seamus Heaney.
"The poems of Les dones i els dies still speak with a deliberately colloquial tone, still attract the reader's attention to what we could call the moral life of an ordinary man, and still know how to transform lucid observation into genuine artistic experience. Any subject is likely to serve as impetus for a good poem. Such is the case of this one, translated into English by Ferrater himself, who explained: «This was suggested by a reading of Huckleberry Finn — Twain's mad running after the body's memories»." (Jordi CORNUDELLA)
ContrariwiseI will say it contrariwise. I will say the franticrain in August, a boy's feetcurling on the edge of a diving-plank,the acute foxhound-jump the scent of lilacsmakes in April, the patienceof the spider writing down its hunger,the four-legged two-headed bodyin an evening-gray vacant lot, the fishslippery like a violin-bow,the blue-and-gold of girls biking,the dog's dramatical thirst, the cutting-throughof lorries' lights into the putriddawn of the market-hall, the smooth arms.I will say what goes from me. I will say nothingabout me.
Gabriel FERRATER, Women and Days. Translated by the Author.