Gabriel Ferrater

We currently have five poems by Gabriel Ferrater. These poems are written in the Catalan language and spoken to music by Xavier Panadès i Blas. There is an © English Translation by Arthur Terry at the end of each Catalan poem. The English translation is read by Gerald Cox. You can listen to them all one after the other using the playlist below or if you prefer you can click the links further down to read a specific poem whilst listening to it.

Read and listen to Tessau (Theseus)

Un sol fil et daura
la fosca memoria,
corre pels tapissos
on t’has figurat.
Tornes, tornes tu?
No trepitges fort,
i et fas sofrir els ulls
a seguir la trama
pels vells corredors.
Salves esvorancs
de por successiva,
només que et llampeguin
lluïssors de fe.
que, una mica identic,
algú que et pots dir
que és tu mateix, sempre
fa cami amb tu.
No retrobaràs
la teva ombra espessa,
el dúctil propòsit
amb què saps trair,
fins que surtis on,
a la llum del sol
(“quina? quina?” et crida
la gralla) plegades,
t’esperen les dones.

Read and listen to Theseus

A single thread gilds
your dark memory,
runs through the tapestries
in which you have figured.
Do you return?
Tread lightly,
and you will suffer your eyes
to follow the pattern
down the ancient corridors.
You travel through gaps
of successive fear,
if only there flicker
images of faith
that, somehow identical,
someone you could say
was yourself, continually
walks beside you.
You will not recover
the density of your shadow,
the fluid purpose
with which you betray,
until you emerge where,
in the light of the sun
(“which one? which one?” calls
the crow) gathered together,
the women await you.

Read and listen to Idols

Aleshores, quan jèiem
abraçats davant la finestra
oberta al pendís d’oliveres (dues
llavors nues dins un fruit que l’estiu
ha badat violent, que s’omple
d’aire) no teníem records. Érem
el record que tenim ara. Érem
aquesta imatge. Els ídols de nosaltres,
per la submisa fe de després.

Read and listen to Idols

Then, when we lay
in one another’s arms before the window
open to the olive slope (two
naked seeds inside a fruit which summer
has flung open, and which fills
with air) we had no memories. We were
the memory we have now. Idols of ourselves,
for the submissive faith of afterwards.

Read and listen to Tres Llimones

Gener benigne. Sota
molt d’aire verd, les coses
avui no es fan esquerpes
ni el lloc és drid. Mira:
tres llimones, posades
a l’aspre de la llosa.
Perquè es mullen de sol
i pots considerar
sense dubte ni pressa
la mètrica senzilla
que les enllaça, et penses
que signifiquen res?
Mira, i ja han estat prou
per tu.
Cor seduit,
renuncia des d’ara
calla. No faràs teu
el joc de tres llimones
a l’aspre d’una llosa.
Ni sabràs aixecar
protesta abans de perdre’l.
Cap surt de la memòria
no abolirà la plàcida
manera de morir-se
que tenen els records.

Read and listen to Three Lemons

Mild January. Beneath
the plentiful green air, things
today have lost their awkwardness,
nor is the place arid. Look:
three lemons, set
on the roughness of a slab.
Because they are soaked in sun
and you can consider
with neither doubt nor haste
the metrical simplicity
which links them each to each,
do you believe they mean something?
Ravished heart,
renounce from now on,
be silent. You will not assimilate
the meeting of three lemons
on the roughness of a slab.
And you will make no protest
before you lose it.
No leap of recollection
will abolish the peaceful
way of dying
that memories have.

Read and listen to Oci

Ella dorm. L’hora que els homes
ja s’han despertat, i poca llum
entra encara a ferir-los.
Amb ben poc en tenim prou. Només
el sentiment de dues coses:
la terra gira, i les dones dormen.
Conciliats, fem via
cap a la fi del món. No ens cal
fer res per ajudar-lo.

Read and listen to At Ease

She is asleep. At this hour
men are already awake, though as yet
only a little light strikes in to them.
A little suffices: the awareness
merely, of two things:
the earth revolves, and women sleep.
Assenting, we travel on
to the end of the world. We need
do nothing to assist it.

Read and listen to A L'Inrevés

Ho diré a l’inrevés. Diré la pluja
frenètica d’agost, els peus d’un noi
caragolats al fil del trampolí,
1’agut salt de llebre que fa l’aroma
dels lilàs a l’abril, la pacièncía
de l’aranya que escriu la seva fam,
el cos amb quatre cames i dos caps
en un solar gris de crepuscle, el peix
llisquent com un arc de violí,
el blau i or de les nenes en bici,
la set dramàtica del gos, el tall
dels fars de camió en la matinada
pútrida del mercat, els braços fins.
Diré el que em fuig. No diré res de mi.

Read and listen to In Reverse

I shall say it in reverse. I shall say
the frantic August rain, a boy’s feet
curled at the edge of the springboard,
the sharp greyhound leap of the scent
of lilacs in April, the patience
of the spider inscribing its hunger,
the body with four legs and two heads
on a farmstead grey with dusk, the fish
sliding like a violin a bow,
the blue and gold of girls on bikes,
the dog’s dramatic thirst, the thrust
of truck headlights through the market’s
fetid dawn, the slender arms.
I shall say what escapes me. I shall say nothing of myself.

Gabriel Ferrater

Was an author, translator and scholar of linguistics of the sixties who wrote in the Catalan language. His poetical work is one of the most important among the authors of post-war Catalonia and he continues to exert a great deal of influence over authors nowadays. He published three collections of poems: Da nuces pueris (1960), Menja’t una cama (“Eat a leg”, 1962) and Teoria dels cossos (“Theory of bodies”), consequently compiled into a single volume called Les dones i els dies (“Women and days”, 1968), which was a milestone in Catalan literature.

More on Wikepedia

Catalan recited and music by
Xavier Panads I Blas
xpan.bandcamp.com

Sean McBride https://encoremusicians.com/Sean-McBride

Ryoko Minamitani
https://www.ryokom.com

and Oriol Freixes I Rfols
www.yamandbanana.org

Special thanks to Tony Ward at Arc Publications and Philip Terry for allowing Listen to Poetry to use the English translations of Gabriel Ferrater i Soler by Arthur Terry from the book “Women and Days.”

Book Cover - The Two of Us

Woman and Days - by Gabriel Ferrater

A collection of poems by Gabirel Ferrater

Find out more here …