Poema Inacabat, Gabriel Ferrater (Aug 16, 2012)

Què sé jo si aquest monyóde poema, que t'ofreixo,

fa molta angúnia. Quan penso

en el espessos emparrats

de raïms que són peus i mans

de cera bruta, que s'enfilen

per les parets de les ermites,

em trasbalso, i m'agafa por

que sigui un ex-vot llefiscós

el que et vull donar per poema.

I ja no té remei, Helena.

Ara que el cop es veu fallat,

deixa'm que n'acani l'allarg.

Arribaré, amb els tres que em manquen,

al vers mil tres-cents trenta-quatre.

Me'n queda un per dir-te adéu:

barca nova, tingues bon vent.

I first saw this poem on the train in Madrid, as part of Libros a la calle, and it has stayed with me since. There were parts of it I couldn't figure out - 1334 verses? The cop (blow)? - until I realised it was part of a much longer poem, which I'll read soon enough.

I don't read Catalan yet, though I can figure bits of it out like most Spanish speakers can. Using the Spanish translation I was able to figure most of the Catalan out, but here I've decided not to post the Spanish translation since I assume most readers will be mainly English-speakers and the original language is Catalan anyway. If you're interested, you can check out the Spanish translation here.

I'll hazard an English translation - not that this translation pretends to be in any way definitive or even good, it's just so you can enjoy it a little too:

How will I know if this stump1

of a poem that I offer you

will cause anguish. When I think

Of the thick vines

entwined, feet and hands

of dirty wax, crowding

the walls of chapels,

I am unsettled, and afraid

that it is a greasy ex voto

that I give you as a poem.

And now there is no escape, Helena.

Now that the coup has failed (?),

let me tell the verses of my story.

I will arrive, with the three I add,

at verse one thousand three hundred and thirty four.

To bid you farewell, I have one verse left:

New ship, may you find good wind.

(If you read the Spanish translation, you'll realise how much I was working off it as opposed to the Catalan. I really should learn Catalan.)

As with any translation, parts of it feel off or not quite there - "greasy" sticks out, and I really am not too sure how to translate el cop es veu fallat. In the Spanish it's fallé el golpe, which is also problematic in some ways - it translates as "I missed the coup" or "I failed [to pull off] the coup", sort of - I think! I don't know enough Catalan to untangle why the veu is there. (Help is welcome!)

Edit: A year and some Catalan lessons later, I get it now. "Es" is the third-person reflexive pronoun, not the third-person present form of "ser" (which is "es" in Spanish, but "és" in Catalan). Translated directly into Spanish, it is "el golpe se vio fallado".

I think that's all I have to add for now - probably all I should add, at the risk of making a fool of myself commenting on a language I don't yet speak!

1 My original translation had "diary" for monyó instead of "stump". Thanks to Enric Blanes, it's been corrected. ^