Ten Poems by Joan Brossa

4 May 2016

Born in Barcelona into a family of artisans, Joan Brossa (1919-1998) first began writing when he was mobilised in the Spanish civil war. During the forties he was introduced to surrealism thanks to meeting Joan Miró and Joan Prats. This led him to start writing sonnets, odes and theatre pieces (which he called ‘scenic poetry’) within a neo-surrealist framework. In 1941, influenced by Futurism, he produced his first visual poems. He founded the Dau al Set in 1948 and during the fifties his poetry took on a social engagement. The poems presented here are all from The Tumbler / El Saltamartí (1963), where the synthesis of these factors is evident.

Prelude

These lines, like
sheet music, are no more
than a collection of signs to
decipher. The reader of the poem
is a performer. 

But, 
today, I leave 
my spirit in
its natural state. I
don’t want it agitated by thoughts
or ideas.


Time This line is the present. The line you have just read is already the past —it remained behind after being read. The rest of the poem is the future, existing outside your perception. The words are here, whether you read them or not. And nothing on earth can change that.
Path The footprints of the bulls went thus: C C C C C C C C The block must have been on the other side.
Gran Méliès1 — Maskelini puts the deck of cards in a case; he drapes the scarf between his hands: it disappears into the case. He has the deck of cards in his hands. — Bah! Such shows are a little passé: the cinema has killed this genre. — But don’t forget that the cinema made its way thanks to these tricks.
Interlunar A black curtain serves as a background. The skeleton that I left on the table before writing starts to move its legs and arms. More skeletons enter and dance together. — Grandmother, what is a lover? — The old lady says: — Oh! Now I remember ... — Rising, she opens a closet and out falls a skeleton.
Poem It is certain I have no money and it’s clear that most of the coins are chocolate; but if you take this page, double it long-ways into two rectangles, and afterwards into four, then make an oblique fold along the four sides and separate them into two main parts, you will have a bird that moves its wings. To Pepa
Tumbler A doll that has a weight in its base and that, tipped from its vertical position, rights itself again. The people. To Lluís Solà
Diagram The fact is that thousands of wealthy men determine the destiny of the world, and do it with one fundamental principle in mind: increase the benefits. (How long will this structure last?)
Sneezes Referring to the Spanish Press law provisionally set down in April 1936, the minister said that the best praise we could offer was that it had remained in effect for so long. Achi, Achoo, Achi!
Intonation I notice so many changes in what I feel and what I see, that if I remember personal tragedies I light a cigarette and leave the poem.
Preludi

Aquests versos, com
una partitura, no són més
que un conjunt de signes per a 
desxifrar. El lector del poema
és un executant.

Però,
avui, deixo estar
el meu esperit en el
seu estat natural. No
vull que l’agitin pensaments
ni idees.


El Temps Aquest vers és el present. El vers que heu llegit ja és el passat —ja ha quedat enrere després de la lectura. La resta del poema és el futur, que existeix fora de la vostra percepció. Els mots són aquí, tant si els llegiu com no. I cap poder terrestre no ho pot modificar.
Camí Les empremtes dels bous eren així: C C C C C C C C A l’altra banda hi devia haver la quadra.
Gran Méliès — Maskelini posa el joc de cartes en un estoig; agafa el mocador entre les mans: li desapareix i passa a l’estoig. El joc de cartes, el té a les mans. — Bah! Espectacles així van de mal borràs: el cinema ha matat aquest gènere. — Però no oblidis que el cinema va trobar el seu camí gràcies a aquests trucs.
Interluni Un teló negre serveix de fons. L’esquelet que he deixat damunt la taula abans d’escriure comença a bellugar cames i braços. Entren més esquelets i ballen junts. — Àvia, què és un amant? — La vella diu: — Oh! Ara que me’n recordo… — S’aixeca, obre un armari i en cau un esquelet.
Poema És cert que no tinc diners i és patent que la major part de monedes són de xocolata; però si agafeu aquest full, el doblegueu pel llarg en dos rectangles, després en quatre, feu llavors un plec oblic amb els quatre papers i el separeu en dos gruixos, obtindreu un ocell que mourà les ales. A Pepa
Saltamartí Ninot que porta un pes a la base i que, desviat de la seva posició vertical, es torna a posar dret. El poble. A Lluís Solà
Diagrama El fet és que milers d’homes adinerats determinen el destí del món, i en fer-ho s’orienten per un principi fonamental: augmentar els beneficis. (I fins quan durarà aquesta estructura?)
Esternuts Referent a la ley de Prensa espanyola, dictada provisionalment l’abril de 1936, el ministre va dir que el millor elogi que li podíem fer era d’haver tingut una vigència tan dilatada. Atxim, atxum, atxim!
Entonació Són tants els canvis que noto quant al que sento i al que veig, que si em recordo de tragèdies personals encenc un cigarret i surto del poema.
  1. Georges Méliès (1861 – 1938) was a French film pioneer, illusionist and cinemagician.




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