This poem was published in the autumn 2015 issue of The Poetry Review.
Carol Rumens, Behind the Poem: "One of my favourite books is Tugs in the Fog, Anna Crowe’s translation of the Selected Poems by the Catalan poet, Joan Margarit. As I re-read it last year, the deceptively simple little poem ‘Woman of Spring’ seemed to whisper sexily, “Go on. Give me a glosa.”
You could say that, in having a female speaker and addressee, I subverted the male/female orientation of the original. Composing the last stanza, I certainly had in mind a particular Sappho fragment. But I didn’t set out to issue any lesbian-feminist challenge. The line of Margarit’s that particularly intrigued me was “It’s sad to die surrounded by respect and reputation.” That’s already a fairly powerful subversion! It gave me both the character addressed and the speaker’s attitude to her. "
Read more in Carol's Behind the Poem feature.

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    [post_date] => 2015-10-19 16:46:22
    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-10-19 16:46:22
    [post_content] =>      Behind words you are all I have.
     It’s sad never to have lost
     a home because of love.
     It’s sad to die surrounded by respect and reputation.
     I believe in what happens in a poem’s starry night.
                                                  – Joan Margarit, tr. Anna Crowe

Once, you looked love at me; I saw no hatred.
I must have been the world’s worst reader of eyes.
Sorry your nice-girl smiles were mistranslated:
you never would have fobbed me off with lies.
It was the myth I was tending, Heroides,
Harrods, or simply “Let us live...”
Melody of the thousand cadences
Behind words, you are all I have.

When the gods partied, cataracts of fable
poured from your stained pitcher, my statuesque
Iris, a little bruised. Creeps fawned at your table,
warm as the ill-kept wine, and assessed the risk
of an infidelity, shifting shadow by shadow,
and when they heard a fluttering in the grove
of your heavy furniture, they said it’s sad
never to have lost a home because of love.

Yellow beacons are feathering the hill,
planted by those incorrigible suitors.
Your children are dutiful,
quarrying stone, they say, for your new headquarters,
and one day you will ride
out on the shining shoulders of your nation.
If I’m still in the crowd, I’ll grin. It’s sad
to die surrounded by respect and reputation.

We’ll never again meet, and, if we could,
I’d make the same adrenaline mistakes –
panic, nausea, mortification, red
startled to white, the high chant of Sapphics:
Oh, let the apple nod
towards the sunburned hand, bringer of blight.
I myself was once ravished by a god.
I believe in what happens in a poem’s starry night.
 
'Woman of Spring' by the Catalan poet Joan Margarit appears in Tugs in the Fog: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2006), translated by Anna Crowe. The original appeared in Edat Roja, 1991.
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Carol Rumens, Behind the Poem: "One of my favourite books is Tugs in the Fog, Anna Crowe’s translation of the Selected Poems by the Catalan poet, Joan Margarit. As I re-read it last year, the deceptively simple little poem ‘Woman of Spring’ seemed to whisper sexily, “Go on. Give me a glosa.”
You could say that, in having a female speaker and addressee, I subverted the male/female orientation of the original. Composing the last stanza, I certainly had in mind a particular Sappho fragment. But I didn’t set out to issue any lesbian-feminist challenge. The line of Margarit’s that particularly intrigued me was “It’s sad to die surrounded by respect and reputation.” That’s already a fairly powerful subversion! It gave me both the character addressed and the speaker’s attitude to her. "
Read more in Carol's Behind the Poem feature. [wpcf-rights-information] => [wpcf-poem-award] => [wpcf_pr_belongs] => ) [poet_data] => stdClass Object ( [ID] => 16594 [forename] => [surname] => [title] => Carol Rumens [slug] => carol-rumens [content] => Carol Rumens is a poet, playwright and novelist. Her poetry collections include Hex (Bloodaxe, 2002),Blind Spots (Seren, 2008) and De Chirico's Threads(Seren, 2010). Her next collection, Animal People, is due from Seren in 2016. She has received the Cholmondeley Award and the Prudence Farmer Prize, and was joint recipient of an Alice Hunt Bartlett Award. She has taught at the universities of Kent at Canterbury, Queen’s, Belfast, University College Cork, Stockholm and Hull. She is visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Bangor University. Carol previously worked as poetry editor for Quarto and the Literary Review. Her Poem of the Work column appears weekly in The Guardian. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1984. ) )

Glosa on ‘Woman of Spring’ by Joan Margarit

by Carol Rumens

     Behind words you are all I have.
     It’s sad never to have lost
     a home because of love.
     It’s sad to die surrounded by respect and reputation.
     I believe in what happens in a poem’s starry night.
                                                  – Joan Margarit, tr. Anna Crowe

Once, you looked love at me; I saw no hatred.
I must have been the world’s worst reader of eyes.
Sorry your nice-girl smiles were mistranslated:
you never would have fobbed me off with lies.
It was the myth I was tending, Heroides,
Harrods, or simply “Let us live…”
Melody of the thousand cadences
Behind words, you are all I have.

When the gods partied, cataracts of fable
poured from your stained pitcher, my statuesque
Iris, a little bruised. Creeps fawned at your table,
warm as the ill-kept wine, and assessed the risk
of an infidelity, shifting shadow by shadow,
and when they heard a fluttering in the grove
of your heavy furniture, they said it’s sad
never to have lost a home because of love.

Yellow beacons are feathering the hill,
planted by those incorrigible suitors.
Your children are dutiful,
quarrying stone, they say, for your new headquarters,
and one day you will ride
out on the shining shoulders of your nation.
If I’m still in the crowd, I’ll grin. It’s sad
to die surrounded by respect and reputation.

We’ll never again meet, and, if we could,
I’d make the same adrenaline mistakes –
panic, nausea, mortification, red
startled to white, the high chant of Sapphics:
Oh, let the apple nod
towards the sunburned hand, bringer of blight.
I myself was once ravished by a god.
I believe in what happens in a poem’s starry night.

 
‘Woman of Spring’ by the Catalan poet Joan Margarit appears in Tugs in the Fog: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2006), translated by Anna Crowe. The original appeared in Edat Roja, 1991.

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