Francesc Parcerisas translated by Cyrus Cassells
Late night. Let’s listen to her approach
Now the sibyl proclaims
your mistakes –
stuttering portents in the depths
of a troubled well –
see them and contest them, poet,
mistrustful of your own heart;
let me tell you
the price of dreaming.
The future’s phantoms,
what do they give us?
Our goal’s to seize them, firmly,
to prevent them from fleeing,
fugitive, out of our hands,
like this crack of light
slipping beneath the door.
We long to say “winter”
and watch how the snow of the years
stirs us to sleep,
we want to lob coins in the pool
and be loved,
to be sure that, with every word
the sibyl intones,
a panting slave gains his freedom
at the ancient games
or a general attains, at long last,
Let the oracle call forth
murmurs of desire
and, amid the silences, let’s notice,
at a glance, the stream
of gentle water rinsing itself
beneath the sticky limes’ rustling.
No future’s required, everything’s here –
the callous world, the love
that induces you to smile –
even though you can’t discern
any certainties yourself
and must wait for
the cryptic oracle to report
everything the cloudy mirror
of your heart
obscures from you.
Cyrus Cassells is the author of six books of poetry: The Mud Actor, Soul Make a Path through Shouting, Beautiful Signor, More Than Peace and Cypresses, The Crossed-Out Swastika, and The Gospel according to Wild Indigo, which is forthcoming. Among his honors are a Lannan Literary Award, a Lambda Literary Award, the William Carlos Williams Award, and a Pushcart Prize. He is a Professor of English at Texas State University.
Born in 1944, Francesc Parcerisas, the author of fifteen volumes of poetry, including Still Life with Children, Triumph of the Present, and The Golden Age, is considered the premier Catalan poet of his generation—a “miracle generation” of poets who came of age as Franco’s public banning of the Catalan language came to an end. He is also a masterly, award-winning translator of an impressive array of significant international writers, including Joseph Conrad, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Doris Lessing, Katherine Mansfield, Joyce Carol Oates, Cesare Pavese, Edgar Allan Poe, Ezra Pound, Rimbaud, Susan Sontag, William Styron, and Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney. Among his numerous translations from French, Italian, and English into Catalan, he is most famous in Catalonia for his translation of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.