Bevíem a glops

In this poem by Salvador Espriu, he expresses his solidarity with his people, the Catalan people. A great deal of his poetry was written during the long years of the Franco dictatorship, under which Catalan language and culture was suppressed in an effort to enforce the unity of Spain under Castilian dominance. (it was during these years that the Franco regime built up Real Madrid as the dominant Spanish football team in order to eclipse FC Barcelona – that rivalry persists today). Of course, Catalan remained a vibrant language in private settings and a few courageous writers, such as Espriu continued to write and publish in Catalan. This poem is dedicated to the memory of Pompeu Fabra, who had written an influential grammar of Catalan in the early years of the twentieth Century.


A la memòria de Pompeu Fabra,
Mestre de tots.

Bevíem a glops
aspres vins de burla
el meu poble i jo.

Escoltàvem forts
arguments del sabre
el meu poble i jo.

Una tal lliçó
hem hagut d’entendre
el meu poble i jo.

La mateixa sort
ens uní per sempre:
el meu poble i jo.

Senyor, servidor?
Som indestriables
el meu poble i jo.

Tenim la raó
contra bords i lladres
el meu poble i jo.

Salvàvem els mots
de la nostra llengua
el meu poble i jo.

A baixar graons
de dol apreníem
el meu poble i jo.

Davallats al pou,
esguardem enlaire
el meu poble i jo.

Ens alcem tots dos
en encesa espera,
el meu poble i jo.

From <;

The title and recurring refrain, “My people and I” really sum up the intent and message of this poem – it is to express solidarity with Catalan people, language and culture, and for the poet to place himself at the centre of the question of what it meant to be Catalan at a time when the whole future of the culture was under threat. The simple structure of the poem, with three line stanzas each completed by the same refrain hammers home the message of a people under threat, each stanza enriching the message with another example.

In fact, if you compare the first stanza with the last, you see a progression from distress to resilience of the poet and the Catalan people. In the first stanza they are drinking the bitter wine of mockery, while in the last stanza they are standing up in an attitude of hope, meaning they will survive whatever misfortune is heaped upon them. Which they did… (Catalan nationalists won recent elections and are attempting to organize a referendum for independence from Spain. The language is ubiquitous and accepted and the culture flourishing).

The Poetry Dude


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