Two Poems By Salvador Espriu
Translated by Andrew Kaufman
and Antonio Cortijo Ocaña


Venia, pel nou matí,
d’on és petita l’aigua.
Fletxa i riu han començat
arran del mateix arbre.

El sol jove l’esguardà,
i la fosca muntanya,
i l’aire que ye dels camps
al dolç fum de la casa.

La mirà tota la son
del lent bou que llaurava.
Al fons dels ulls adormits,
és més fúlgida plata.

L’emmirallarà l’instant
cantat d’unes paraules
tan fràgils que romp la flor
de neu en desfullar-se.

Deixa de seguida enllà
tranquil les veus de tarda,
molta llibertat d’ocell,
la llum tan encalmada.

Obre dolor de camí
per la cega germana
i en l’obscur corrent s’enduu
vells records de font clara.

Dessota dels ponts reials
de l’ampla nit ja passa.
Cor endins d’aquella mar
sense retorn s’allunyava.


It came in the new morning
from the river’s source.
The water and the arrow
had their origins near the same tree.

The young sun watched it
as did the dark mountain
and the air blowing from the fields
toward the sweet smoke of the house.

It was watched through the deep sleep
of the slow ox that was plowing.
Behind its sleeping eyes
there is more resplendent silver.

It will be reflected in the moment
of a few delicate singing words,
so fragile it breaks the snow flower
as it loses its petals.

It soon leaves
evening’s calm voices,
the great freedom of birds,
the becalmed light.

It opens the grief of the road
for the blind sister
and in the dark current
it finds old memories of a clear fountain.

It was passing under the stately bridges
of the broad night.
The heart within this distant sea
was moving away with no hint that it would return.

Versos, enllà del camí

D’un vell color de plata
jo voldria que fossin
els meus versos: d’un noble,
antic color de plata.

Davant la mort, que porta
secrets senyals del rostre
que jo veig enmirar-me,
cerco amb ells estingides
veus del mar, pas de núvol,
les distants primaveres.

Trist i lliure, camino,
davant la mort que mira,
a la llum, per la plata
antiga dels meus versos.

— Salvador Espriu

Verses, Beyond the Road

From an old shade of silver
I would like
my verses to be formed: from a noble,
ancient shade of silver.

Before death, which bears
secret signs of the face
that I see when I look at myself,
I search with them the extinguished
voices of the sea, a passing cloud,
the distant springs.

Sad and free, I walk
before death, which looks at me
in the light, through the ancient
silver of my verses.

— Translated from the Catalan by Andrew Kaufman and Antonio Cortijo Ocaña

Andrew Kaufman’s most recently completed book, The Rwanda Poems, was recently published by New York Quarterly Books. His previous books include The Cinnamon Bay Sonnets, winner of the Center for Book Arts Award, Earth’s Ends, winner of the Pearl Poetry Award, and Both Sides of the Niger. He is an NEA recipient. His essays and poetry have appeared in previous editions of Today’s American Catholic, along with previous translations of Salvador Espriu’s poems with Antonio Cortijo Ocaña. View more of Andrew’s work at his website, and reach him via email at

Antonio Cortijo Ocaña is a professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies at the University of California–Santa Barbara, where he is the founding director of the Center for Catalan Studies and the founding editor of the journal eHumanista. A native Catalan speaker, he has written, edited, or translated more than 50 books devoted to Catalan, Spanish, and Latin American literature, religion, and culture, including six volumes of translations. The latter include his translation of Ramon Llull´s A Contemporary Life (Vita coaetanea) from Latin into Spanish and English, for which he received the 2017 Francesco Saverio Nitti award. He received the 2001 Diputación de Sevilla award for his Theory of History and Political Theory in 16th-Century Spain, and was a co-recipient of the 2011 Scripta Humanistica award for his Catalan Humanism.

Image: The Brook, Paul Cézanne, c. 1895–1900. The Cleveland Museum of Art/Public Domain

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