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There is a joy in naming the trees stirred by the dawn wind OC, I, , in observing the patterns of shadows on the cemetery wall, OC, I, , and in heeding the magnified sounds at dusk OC, I, In this central section, the sense of onward movement, tentatively achieved in the opening poems, is consolidated. Both temporal sequences culminate in poems of muted expectation. The conclusion of the diurnal cycle takes the form of an invocation: Ai, la negra barca, que per mi vigila des de la nit alta!

Ai, la barca negra, que ve pel meu somni del mar de Sinera! La veu de la dama, lluny del temps. OC, I, [Ah, the black boat which watches over me from the high night!

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The voice of the lady, far from time. I hear the song of marble. In poem VI we read how the ships of Sinera did not put out to sea in winter.

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Death of the third book in the cycle. The poem is mysterious because the perceptions of voice and song are ambiguous.

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Is the voice distant from the poet, or is it removed from time and thus immune to its vicissitudes? Does the marble emphasize the tomb as burial-place or as a monument that survives? These are questions to pose rather than resolve, for the poet is still prey to the dual tendency of passive resignation and active contemplation.

OC, I, [Late summer goes away from the imminent fire of the vine leaves, when I wait only for the hours that have gone. Veus i tambors proclamen la primavera.


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OC, I, [Free horses, at dawn, on the deserted beach. Voices and drums proclaim the spring. Then, with silence renewed, above the sea, the chained hours kiss the wet sand. With the accompanying voices the impression is overwhelmingly one of liberation. That they can arise at all does, however, represent an achievement, although I could not put it more emphatically than that. It would be a misrepresentation of the collection thus far to claim that it has marked a progression from darkness to light.

The most that can be said is that the poet has recognized and recorded the signs of defeat, and that his response has been a painstaking reconstruction, a task 44 D. It is important to recall the handicapped persona of the early part of the book, notably in poem V when he was reduced to begging for memories. He was desperately seeking scraps of recollection to help rebuild a lost reality and a lost identity. Through the simplicity and intensity of observation — through the here and now of the passing of a day and of the seasons — this has been accomplished.

These range from references to local feast-days and processions to the allusion to one of the principal industries of Arenys de Mar: lace making. OC, I, [It will rain. Granny Muntala puts the sun away in the cupboard of bad weather, among the manila lace made by the fingertips of Sinera].

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The wind disperses the autumn smoke over the marble of rich altars, through vines thick with gold, and it marks with a sign the face of the man who will make his way to the cypress tree. The smoke from the ritual fire appears to anoint him, and this figure is now given an identity that was denied at the start of the work.

But the process of recovery is advanced a stage beyond discovery and identity. The poems that succeed the temporal sequences serve as preparation for the self-knowledge that is to emerge in poem XXV. OC, I, [While the light of April dies and the daughters of song cease, in a still dusk I have walked through the rooms of the lost house.

OC, I, 46 D. The poet wanders through the empty rooms of Sinera, an image of self-examination, of a probing that is the continuation of the journey of discovery.

The Poetry of Salvador Espriu

Tenia una casa, el meu somni, a la vora del mar. Alta proa. Com necessito contar-te la basarda que fa la pluja als vidres! Ran de la mar tenia una casa, un lent somni.

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OC, I, [Beside the sea. I had a house, my dream, at the edge of the sea. High prow. On free waterways, the slender boat that I piloted. My eyes knew all the peace and order of a little homeland. How much I need to tell you of the fear that rain makes on the windows! The black rocks draw me to destruction. Beside the sea I had a house, a slow dream. This is not as trivial an observation as it seems because its length affords space for the poet to unburden himself. In subsequent books, too, we shall encounter a crucial moment in the form of a key poem, which will often represent a crisis or other kind of emotional heightening.

Many of the ideas and images of earlier poems coalesce here: sea, house, ship, homeland, rain, song, dawn. The entry into the house has elicited a confession which is an acknowledgement of a confrontation with a fearful reality. The writing is uncomplicated, and the unequivocal clarity of the symbolism — such as that of the shipwreck25 — anticipates the so-called social or civic poetry. The sense of loss is inescapable, both in the near-refrain that frames the poem and in the parallel image of the homeland that no longer offers peace and security. Indeed the immediate reaction to this confession is a lapse into despondency.

OC, I, [I struggle no more. I leave you the vastest grave, once the land of our fathers, dream, meaning. Poesia catalana del segle XX, pp. OC, I, [Dream, meaning, solid boats in the wind, difficult word I can still say, between the ancient boundaries of the vineyard and the sea.

White walls surround me, a good and lofty peace beside the trees, beneath the dust and the shade. Poem XXVII appears to mimic the activity of reconstruction in its syntax and lexicon: the painful word-by-word advance and the acknowledgement of its achievement against the odds. We sense a poet who is beleaguered yet resolute, mouthing words to establish a stronghold within the territory that he can call his.

The repetition of the initial phrase in this way not only provokes surprise and pleasure but also starkly reflects the recuperative trend of the collection. OC, I, [This peace is mine, and God watches over me. The explicit inscription of voice in the direct-speech repetition of the opening phrase is no less momentous, reinforcing as it does the eradication of silence. Tan sols un home.

OC, I, [The step of a friend that I hear, still deprived of God: do you seek a useless name, a place where to stop? Will you know better who it was, by his name, the last secret of the one who preceded you? Merely a man. OC, I, [When you stop where my name calls to you, wish that I should sleep and dream of calm seas, the brightness of Sinera. Castellet suggests that the perspective of the last five poems is from inside the tomb. Espriu himself referred to Cementiri de Sinera as a meditation on death. Poesia catalana del segle XX, p.

The collection enacts how from it the poet derived resolution and objectives, working out in artistic terms what Capmany discerned in his life in the post-war years. And he chose death, civic death, death as the only ethical weapon left to him. The implications and achievement of Cementiri de Sinera are, however, more complex.

On the one hand there is the sense of the precariousness of things, somehow made tangible and perhaps invulnerable by the act of naming. OC, I, [Above the wet sand I support the balance of an architectural order.


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The peculiar force of a collection like Cementiri de Sinera, encapsulated in the grace and ambition of this poem, is that it compels us to envisage permanence in the midst of vulnerabilities: the weak foundation, the frail voice that cannot hide its pain, the sameness of a life that seems futureless. He has now assumed the liberating responsibility of creativity. Les hores Espriu, it may be recalled, had planned to publish a collection of poetry entitled Les hores in , and had poems available for the edition. For reasons that have never been made clear he destroyed around ninety of these although some of the remainder, it can be assumed, found their way into the definitive publication of the first two parts of a book with the same title in See Delor i Muns, Salom is the pseudonym that Espriu uses to refer to himself, while the date is that of the start of the Civil War.

What catches the eye about Les hores is not only the long period of gestation but also the relationship between the people and events alluded to, and the corresponding dates of composition. The earliest of the three deaths — the metaphorical death of Salom — is commemorated in the part of the collection that was written last. Here the poetry postdates the event by eighteen years. A different pattern again emerges in the second part. It also sheds light on his understanding of the relationship between art and life.

Rather than create poetry out of the experience of bereavement — which is how we would conventionally imagine the process to be — he fits the deaths into the scheme and structures of his poetry. Les hores is an unusual elegy, both in its combination of real and metaphorical deaths and in its relegation of events to the literary form that commemorates them.

Such an inversion in our preconception of how elegies ought to function is paralleled in a likely initial impression of the first two parts of the collection. Yet there is little in the sections of Les hores in their honour that we could describe — again thinking of standard elegiac expressions — as an outpouring of emotion.

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The poems in these sections are as spare and hermetic as any Espriu wrote. Indeed the opening poems of all three sections of the book provide no obvious focus on the person who has died. The objects or the causes of the elegiac mode are not apparently highlighted. The fact, as well as the tone, of elegy emerges gradually and fitfully. OC, I, [Far away in abysses where the face awaits me, I draw near to see myself.

When the shadow pierces the pure crystal, I sense myself smiling in silence.

Medusa, ulls maternals. OC, I, [Grief of dream, I arise noctural fountain, to receive your thirst. You always bring forth peace when you see me from memories, misty summers, mirrors, a ship made serene in marble.