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Les ciutats

Narcís Comadira

I have read that Morosini,
A General, Venetian Ambassador,
Wanted to take away
The sculptures from the frieze
Of the Parthenon.

He had a scaffolding raised,
Made slaves clamber up,
And at yhe hardest moment
A support failed
Men and statues fell.

Disappointed, the General
Abandoned his project.
He wanted his statues whole.
The fragments scattered all around
Were used for building houses.

Many wise men have pondered
The surprising mystery
Of being able to create beauty
From a block of marble.
Few the contrary:

To shape a squared-off block
From the torso of an ancient God,
To convert a Venus into gravel,
To tread on flagstones
Made from sacred limbs…

Thus were cities made,
Slowly constructed
With stones that yesterday
Were human lives: loves,
Sufferings that no one now recalls.

Translated by Sean Haldane
Narcís Comadira, Cities. The English Experience, The AngloCatalan Society, 2000
Narcís Comadira
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