Tuesday, 06 July 2021 13:07

Poems from Prison and Life

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Poems from Prison and Life
Gabriel Rosenstock reviews Poems from Prison and Life by the Spanish Communist poet Marcos Ana, (1920 - 2016) translated by David Duncombe and published by Smokestack Books, and presents a version in Irish of one of the poems
This book fills one with hope and despair. Hope comes from the motto found in the Author's Note to the book: 
To live for others is the best way of living for oneself.
This wonderful sentiment is inspiring and gives all of us, whatever our political or spiritual values may be, some cause for hope.  As we read on, however, gloom sets in: 'These poems were written in prison, in the depth of night, by the poor light of a peculiar lamp, assembled from an old inkwell, a little alcohol that I smuggled from the sick bay and a wick plaited from the lace of an espadrille . . .' He was Spain's longest-serving political prisoner, wrongly convicted (he claimed) for the murder of a priest, a postman and a farmer. 
Marcos Ana  makes no great claims for his poetry but prays that his poems might 'open a path of fire and rebellion in the hearts and minds of the new generation . ..' Amen to that!
He spent 23 years in Franco's prisons. Poemas de la Prisión y la Vida was published when the author was 91. Che Guevara had Ana's poems with him when the Irish-Argentinian revolutionary was executed by the Bolivian army.
Here is an Irish version of his poem Autobiografía in which he transcends his suffering and all thought of revenge:
Is uafásach é an peaca atá déanta agam:
Theastaigh uaim croí an duine
a líonadh le réaltaí.
Dá dheasca sin, ar feadh seacht ngeimhreadh déag
anseo laistiar de na barraí
chailleas-sa earrach i ndiaidh earraigh.
Im' chime dom ó laethanta m'óige ar aghaidh
agus daortha chun báis,
loinnir mo chuid súl ag meath
in aghaidh na gcloch.
Ach níl rian dorcha ar bith
de scáil ardaingeal an díoltais i m'fhéitheoga:
níl ach scairt amháin - an Spáinn -
ó arraing mo bhrionglóidí . . .
Read 472 times Last modified on Thursday, 08 July 2021 12:34
Gabriel Rosenstock

Gabriel Rosenstock was born in postcolonial Ireland and is a poet, haikuist, tankaist, translator, playwright, novelist, short story writer and essayist.