Mercè Rodoreda I Gurguí POETRY TRANSLATION by Alani Hicks-Bartlett

Mercè Rodoreda I Gurguí (1908-1983) was a Catalan author. Primarily recognized as a novelist, and particularly for her novel La plaça del diamant (translated as The Time of the Doves; 1962), and Mirall Trencant (Broken Mirror; 1974) Mercè Rodoreda was a prolific writer and is very well-known in Cataluña and Spain. Indeed, she is known as one of the most important writers of the Spanish Civil War and postwar periods. As much of her literary production was written during periods of political upheaval, censure, and repression, her work gives much needed attention to the devastating impacts of war and exile on the individual, to the position of women in Spanish society, and to questions of gender and embodiment, particularly those that center around sexuality, agency, maturation, and marriage. Mercè Rodoreda’s work has consistently received critical acclaim and has been translated widely; in comparison to the popularity of her novels and short stories, her poetic oeuvre has received less attention, but merits receiving more. Not only does it shed important light on Rodoreda’s strategies of authorial self-representation in her prose and poetry, it signals her first and most longstanding literary interests.




New Love


Trees, gloomy foliage under the immense night

and you, frozen moon over the fruits and the flowers,

keep vigil over these pathways of a love that begins,

child sick from dreams, child sick from tears.


Through what desert of winds will you guide your steps

when the pale lost roses shed their leaves?

Weary birds will pass by in front our veiled eyes:

Their shadows will cover the lake of our love.


Magical palaces of fog, tremendous throngs of stars

will not let these old flames die,

and the ancient paradise buzzing with golden bees


will spring up with the dahlias and seas of raspberry thorns,

with the pure diamonds, extruded from the depths of the heart,

of our young kisses under the green fronds.




Amor Novell

Arbres, fullatges tristos sota la nit immensa

i tu, lluna gebrada sobre els fruits i les flors,

vetlleu aquests camins d’un amor que comença,

infant malalt de somnis, infant malalt de plors.


¿Per quin desert de vents menaràs els teus passos

quan les candides roses absents s’esfullaran?
Pels nostres ulls velats passaran ocells lassos:
el llac del notre amor llurs ombres cobriran.


Màgics palaus de boira, extrems eixams d’estrelles

no deixaran morir aquestes flames velles,

i l’antic paradís brunzent d’abelles d’or


es drecara amb les dilies i els mars d’espigues gerdes,

amb els purs diamants, secrets al fons del cor,

dels nostres besos joves sota les frondes verdes.






On a low branch, silent, you rest;

with your wings outstretched you have floated smoothly,

before your realm abandons roses

and flashes of the blue sky die in your eyes.


Silence mesmerizes you, shadows trouble you,

you turn your elusive beak towards the deserted east;

you will never know why your flight casts shadows

over a ribbon of earth and a bit of green.


Now the flight of a falling leaf scares you,

the frenzied cry of a distant bird of prey

and the infinite night that soars above you.


And a star within the sluggish water fascinates you,

and the spears of the reeds, under the faint light

of this silver flower that the darkness brings.





Sobre una branca baixa, silenciós, reposes;
amb les ales esteses has planejat suau,
abans que el teu reialme es desfés de les roses

i en els teus ulls morissin espurnes de cel blau.


T’embriaga el silenci, t’inquieten les ombres,

gires el bec esquiu vers l’orient desert;
mai no sabràs per què amb el teu vol aombres

una llenca de terra i una mica de verd.


Ara t’esglaia el vol d’una fulla despresa,
el crit desesperat d’un llunyà ocell de presa

i la nit infinita que plana damunt teu.


Et fascina una estrella dintre l’aigua somorta

i les llances dels joncs, sota la claror lleu

d’aquesta flor d’argent que la tenebra porta.



Mouths of rose and ivory where two lascivious serpents

eternally renew their sweet amorous combat,

chastely devour your flowers, saliva

even paler than the stars. Drink this divine liquor,


fresh like ancient honey, sad lovers,

lovesome cadavers that just one desire confines.

God formed you from mud and molded with his hands

the refining curve of your royal flanks.


Undone by fatigue you sleep together in peace;

the dew that brings iridescence to a bitter blue sky

dissolves its pearls in the golden light.


The wonders of virgin dreams never reveal themselves to you again,

the goddess of oblivion, crouching over you

jealously prowls around you and steals away your last kiss.








Boques de rosa i vori on dues serps lascives

continuen eternes el dolç combat d’amor,

castament devoreu les vostres flors, salives

més pàllides que els astres. Aquest diví licor,


fresc com la mel antiga, beveu, tristos amants,

adorables cadàvers que un sol desig confina.

Déu us pastà de fang i refeu amb les mans

de vostres flancs reials la corba que s’afina.


Retuts per la fatiga dormiu junts en la pau;

la rosada que irisa un cel amarg i blau

desfà les seves perles en la claror daurada.


Pròdigs de somnis verges no us desvetlleu mai més,

la dea de l’oblit, damunt vostre vinclada,

gelosament us sotja i us pren el darrer bes.


Alani Rosa Hicks-Bartlett, 37, lives in the US. She is a writer, translator, and researcher.