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I shall return: the winds shall swell my sails

Ausiàs March

I shall return: the winds shall swell my sails,
I’ll set a course of danger through the sea,
not caring West and North-West winds take arms:
Levanter with Sirocco will hold firm,
helped by their allies – North-Eastern, Midi –
who humbly will entreat the great North wind
to stay its blasts, so favouring their cause
that all five together may bring me back.

The sea shall bubble like a pot of stew,
losing its form and colour as it seethes.
All that upon it a single moment
ventures will feel its malice at full force,
and all the creatures of the deep in vain
will rush to seek some secret refuge, fleeing
the very sea which spawned and nurtured them,
on dry land leaping to their desperate end.

The pilgrims all as one will make their vows,
pledging their offerings of votive wax,
and sheer terror will force those secrets out
that never fell on the confessor’s ear.
In such danger, you shall not leave my thoughts,
and to the God who joined us I shall vow
never to weaken in my firm resolve,
and day and night to only think of you.

I fear death, that is eternal absence
and by which love is always cancelled out,
not that I believe such parting - even this -
could overcome the strength of my desire.
I long for you to love me as you should,
and that you’ll not forget me if I died.
But one thought there is that makes me wretched
(and this could never be while we two live):

that any love for me you might have borne
would also die, and promptly turn to hate.
As for me, when I am driven from this world,
all my pain will be to look on you no more.
Oh God, if only there were bounds to love,
for none would be as close to them as I.
Then, between fear and hope no longer torn,
I’d know for sure what love is in your heart.

None ever loved to such extremes as I,
save those who for love’s sake gave up their lives;
I cannot show the torment of my heart
unless it’s by the final proof of death.
Good or bad, I am ready for what love
decrees, but Fortune keeps my fate concealed;
love will find me, keeping vigil, gates unbarred,
humbly prepared to do what it commands.

The very thing I pray will happen soon
could cost me dear, yet this alone consoles.
When that event most fearful comes to pass,
I ask of God He will not spare my life.
For then with their own eyes will people see
the outward signs of all love works in me -
potentiality in act revealed -
and all my words I shall have proved with deeds.


Love, if I could understand you as I feel!
To me can only fall the loser’s share;
no one can know you while he’s in your thrall.
How to define you? Let’s say a game of dice.

AUSIÀS MARCH, Thirty Verse Translations, London; Barcelona: Tamesis; Fundació Carulla, 2006

Traduït per Robert Archer
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