Harlequin Harbinger

SURPRISING HOW ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER! Case in point: A Picasso painting of a Harlequin on Horseback, that I’ve been a proud owner of for decades and adorns our bedroom wall as a permanent fixture, conjures up fond memories of yesteryear traveling through West European art museums. To be honest, it’s not an original, but even as a ‘fake’ Picasso, my wife and I find it riveting.

In pursuit of one of my favorite modern painters in France and the Iberian Peninsular I also followed up my penchant for Romance languages and discovered in Barcelona  the ‘minor’ tongue of Catalan, which fascinated me to the point that I was emboldened to translate some of its poetry into English verse, starting with the heartfelt “To my Motherland” by Aribau:

Buenaventura Carlos Aribau (1798-1862)
“A ma pátria” (1833)

En llemosi soná lo meu primer vagit
quan del mugró matern la dolça llet brevia,
en llemosi al Senyor pregava cada dia,
i cántics llemosins somiava cada nit.

When at my mother’s breast I drank the milk sweet,
In Catalan was made my first infant-cry;
In Catalan to God each day did I pray,
And Catalonian songs I dreamed of each night.

– Translation into English by Azim Lewis Mayadas (1985)

Ausiás March (1397-1459)

Aprés lo mal, qui sent de bé sabor
no pot ser dit de tot malahuyrat:
lo past d’amor no ha tant’ amargor
que sus tot dolç no sia estimat.

Who savors the sense of well-being after illness,
altogether cannot be called ill-fated:
the food of love does not have so much bitterness
that above all sweets it should not be rated.

Enquer está que vida no fini,
com prop la Mort yo la viu acostar,
dient, plorant: ‘No vullau mi lexar:
hajau dolor  de la dolor de mi!’

And thus it was that my life ended not,
when I saw her at death’s door lying:
‘Do not leave me’, said I to her crying,
‘Take pity on me and my sorry lot!’

Lo jorn ha por de perdre sa claror,
com ve la nit qu’espandeix ses tenebres.
Pochs animals no cloen les palpebres
e los malalts crexen de llur dolor.

Now the day has fear of losing its light,
As comes the night that around its shadows throws.
Few beasts are there that their eyelids do not close
and the sick grow worse in their painful plight.

– Translation into English by Azim Lewis Mayadas (1985)

Romance Family of Languages:
MAJOR – Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian
MINOR – Catalan, Provençal, Rhaeto-Romanic, Sardinian, Moldavian

References: My Diary

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 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

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