Ponç Pons

Translated from Catalan by Clyde Moneyhun
 
 

CURSED SOUL
 

Condemned to a dark circle of meaningless words
in burning streets of endless night
like a shadow that loses the pages it has written
and flees without escaping its disquiet . . .

devoured by the woodworm of Literature.

ANIMA AVERNI
 

Condemnada a un fosc cercle de mots desvaria
pels carrers incendiats de la nit sense fons
com un ombra que perd els papers on escriu
i fuig sense sortida del desassossec . . .

devorada pel corc de la Literatura.
 
 
 
 
 
 

SHARDS
 

Because to write is also to give meaning to the world
To rescue from anguish a brief, absurd mortality
And persevere in the night, eager, consumed with the pursuit of words—
How they feed me, these moving verses made life!
 

CALÇOBRE
 
Perquè escriure és també donar un sentit al món
I salvar del neguit un temps mortal absurd
Persever en la nit tot cercant fervent mots
Que emotius m’apuntalin fets versos la vida

 
 
 
 
 
 

NIGHT IN MARBURG
 

I’ve come back from the streets where Heidegger strolled
and, already dreaming of Lara, a young Pasternak.
They’re friendly here. They have good beer.
The atmosphere is soothing and breathes culture.
When I came to the hotel, passing near a park,
I thought I saw the ghost of Goethe sitting on a bench.
For now I’m coping, neither homesick nor miserable,
but I realize that there’s no place in the world like my islands.
We have come to a literary café, Janer Manila and me,
to exchange comments on our writing.
Gabriel, besides being an excellent writer,
is an intelligent man and a good person.
Though we talk a lot about Literature
(he has a beloved daughter who’s a successful writer),
we are more than anything two family men.
We don’t speak German. Fortunately we have Wilhelm Ziehr
who is a great professor, welcoming and loveable.
From the hotel where I’m staying I can see the country. It’s already dark
and I begin to understand those Hymns that Novalis wrote.
I read on the plane that millions of years from now
the sun will die and the world will end.
Everything we write will be lost in the nothingness.
We must give meaning to life with art.
Despite the obscure pain of the absurd
that creates us, speaking organs, creatures destined to die,
we must hold onto the blessing of living and writing with passion
and if we can’t live in the place we love
we must help each other love the place where we live.
Before Goethe died he called for more light.
Heine says that if you cry, you have to blow your nose.
The Word humanizes. Sitting on the balcony,
I see, born dazzling in a sky illuminated
by the moon, archipelagos of star islands.

 

DE NIT A MARBURG
 

He tornat dels carrers per on va passar Heidegger
i somiava ja en Lara un jove Pasternak.
Són amables, aquí. Tenen bona cervesa.
Hi ha un ambient encalmat i es respira cultura.
Quan venia a l’hotel, en passer vora un parc,
m’ha semblat veure a un banc el fantasma de Goethe.
De moment ho duc bé, no m’enyor ni estic trist,
però veig que no hi ha al món cap lloc com Ses Illes.
Hem vingut per llegir comentats textos nostres
a un café literari jo i Janer Manila.
En Gabriel és a més d’un immens escriptor,
un home intel·ligent i una bona persona.
A pesar que parlam molt de Literatura
(té una filla preciosa que escriu i té èxit),
per damunt de tot som dos pares de família.
No entenem l’alemany. Sort que hi ha Wilhelm Ziehr
que és un professor enorme, cordial i simpàtic.
De l’hotel on estic veig el camp. Ja és ben fosc
i ara entenc aquells Himnes que feia Novalis.
Vaig llegir dins l’avió que d’aquí a uns milions d’anys
el sol s’haurà extingit i el món s’acabarà.
Tot açò que escrivim es perdrà en el no-res.
Hem de dar-li sentit a la vida fent art.
A pesar del dolor disfressat de l’absurd
que ens fa, sexes parlants, éssers per a la mort,
cal tenir la bondat d’escriviure amb passió
i si no podem viure en el lloc que estimam
estimar solidaris el lloc on vivim.
Goethe abans de morir demanava més llum.
Heine diu que si plores, t’hauràs de mocar.
La Paraula humanitza. Assegut al balcó,
veig com neixen brillants en el cel que es va obrint
amb la lluna arxipèlags d’estels que són illes.

 
 

NOTES
 
Anima Averni/Cursed Soul: The original Latin title refers to both “animating spirit” or “soul” (anima) and to hell (Avernus being, according to Roman myth, the entrance to hell; see The Aeneid, Book VI).

Calçobre/Shards: The poem’s original title, “Calçobre,” refers to crumbs of limestone that flake from the whitewashed walls that are ubiquitous on Minorca.

De nit a Marburg/Night in Marburg: “Ses Illes” is a reference, in the poet’s menorquí dialect of Catalan, to his home islands. Mallorcan writer and translator Gabriel Janer Manila (b. 1940) has a daughter, Maria de la Pau Janer (b. 1966), who is also a writer. Novalis is the pen name of German Romantic poet Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg (1772-1801), author of Hymns to the Night.

Prolific Catalan poet Ponç Pons writes and teaches on his native island of Minorca. His poetic style is inflected by the local dialect known as menorquí. Clyde Moneyhun’s translations of Ponç Pons have appeared in journals including The Notre Dame Review and Free Poetry.