Maria Mercè Marçal
Desglaç, 1984-1988

La mort t’ha fet escac i mat sense retop.
I de retop a mi, des del fons del mirall
que se m’encara, clos: no hi val amagatall.
Em sé arrapats al coll els tentacles del pop.

Sento l’udol del ca i el plany del llop.
El galop desbocat de l’hora i el cavall
del record que ens calciga, ja ni cassigall
del que fórem, i el glaç que ens colga cóp a cóp.

No sé sortir d’aquest carrer tallat
a sang pel mur on les ombres m’endolen
i on estrafaig només ganyotes de penjat.

I on et veig, cec als dies que s’escolen
sense donar-nos treva, en el tauler marcat
de la Mort, que ens ha fet escac i mat.

LLengua Abolida: Poesía Compelta. Editorial Planeta, S.A.U., 2017.

Amor that fakes an escape taps sincere atop
the re-tapping at me that affronts a mirror.
My encampment closes, evil amalgamates.
Insincere parts call the tentacles of the Pope.

Sent to move delicately the planned job.
The gallop dislocates the hour availed
that records this calcite, cast
into the forum, the glass that ends coldly: cop-a-cop.

Nonsense sorts, or acts on retaliation,
a sound demurs someday undulating
and on extra facts a mess, damage of penchant.

On the verge, sickles steers second
a sense donates a tremble, in the tall market
of Amor that fakes an escape image.

Maria Mercè Marçal (1952 -1998) was a Catalan poet, professor, writer and translator. Born under the Franco regime, Marçal grew up in a time of political and social unrest. Her work is particularly interesting given this context because the language of Catalan was banned under Franco, who advocated a pure and singular definition of Spanish national identity. Her most iconic verses played a vital role as mantras supporting the leftist feminist movement in Catalonia. Aside from her poetry, Marçal also translated many texts into Catalan. She died of cancer at the age of 45.

Homophonic translations —translations that aim to transmit sound rather than meaning only— can be found most notably in Louis Zukofsky’s translations of the poetry of Catullus, which when read in English, mimic the reading of the original Latin. Marçal presents a curious case for homophonic translation given that within the poem itself, she plays with assonance, alliteration and repetition in a way that makes relaying the play on sound an exciting game for both translator and reader. For that reason, I have only attempted to convey sound, though homophonic translations would ideally translate both sound and meaning. Even more intriguing is the way that the Catalan mort (death) becomes Amor (love) in the translation, inviting readers to question their understanding of finality and birth.

Prepared by Mai Hunt

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