Gabriel Celaya: Poetry is a charged gun of future

Gabriel Celaya (1911-1994) was a basque poet, although he wrote in Spanish or Castilian. He is one of the most fierce, compromised  and passionated Spanish poets and a  force reference of Spanish contemporary poetry. As many of his peers, his poetry was a symbol of the resistance against francoist regime. Some things of his life and working can be seeing here:

The poem "La poesía es un arma cargada de futuro" was a kind of manifest of the 50’s decade poets. It talks about making a poetry compromised with man, with workers, with people, with poors, and not to make a so called "pure poetry", a kind of poetry practiced by neutrals and francoist poets, that doesn’t reflex the reality. Celaya’s constant, analog to Gabriel Aresti’s hammer-pen, is to think poetry as a tool for working, as a hammer or a screw, against that other poetry, conceived for enjoy rich and powerful people in official acts and dinners.

La poesía es un arma cargada de futuro

Cuando ya nada se espera personalmente exaltante,

mas se palpita y se sigue más acá de la conciencia,

fieramente existiendo, ciegamente afirmado,

como un pulso que golpea las tinieblas,

cuando se miran de frente

los vertiginosos ojos claros de la muerte,

se dicen las verdades:

las bárbaras, terribles, amorosas crueldades.

Se dicen los poemas

que ensanchan los pulmones de cuantos, asfixiados,

piden ser, piden ritmo,

piden ley para aquello que sienten excesivo.

Con la velocidad del instinto,

con el rayo del prodigio,

como mágica evidencia, lo real se nos convierte

en lo idéntico a sí mismo.

Poesía para el pobre, poesía necesaria

como el pan de cada día,

como el aire que exigimos trece veces por minuto,

para ser y en tanto somos dar un sí que glorifica.

Porque vivimos a golpes, porque apenas si nos dejan

decir que somos quien somos,

nuestros cantares no pueden ser sin pecado un adorno.

Estamos tocando el fondo.

Maldigo la poesía concebida como un lujo

cultural por los neutrales

que, lavándose las manos, se desentienden y evaden.

Maldigo la poesía de quien no toma partido hasta mancharse.

Hago mías las faltas.  Siento en mí a cuantos sufren

y canto respirando.

Canto, y canto, y cantando más allá de mis penas

personales, me ensancho.

Quisiera daros vida, provocar nuevos actos,

y calculo por eso con técnica qué puedo.

Me siento un ingeniero del verso y un obrero

que trabaja con otros a España en sus aceros.

Tal es mi poesía: poesía-herramienta

a la vez que latido de lo unánime y ciego.

Tal es, arma cargada de futuro expansivo

con que te apunto al pecho.

No es una poesía gota a gota pensada.

No es un bello producto. No es un fruto perfecto.

Es algo como el aire que todos respiramos

y es el canto que espacia cuanto dentro llevamos.

Son palabras que todos repetimos sintiendo

como nuestras, y vuelan. Son más que lo mentado.

Son lo más necesario: lo que no tiene nombre.

Son gritos en el cielo, y en la tierra son actos.

Poetry is a gun charged of future

When nothing exhilarating is personally expected,/ but it beats and continues beyond consciousness,/ fiercely existing, blindly asserting,/ like a pulse that beats the darkness,// when are looked ahead/ the dizzying death’s eyes,/ it’s saying the truths:/ the wild, terrible, lovely cruelties.// It’s saying the poems/ that widen the lungs of so many of those that, asphyxiated,/ are asking to be, are asking for beat,/ are asking for law for that they feel as excessive.// With the speed of the instinct,/ with the ray of prodigy,/ as magical evidence, the real thing become for us/ into the identical thing itself.// Poetry for the poor one, needed poetry/ as the daily bread,/ as the air we demand thirteen times a minute,/ for being and as we are let’s give a "yes" that glorifies.// Because we’re living by blows, because they hardly let us/ say that we are who we are,/ our songs cannot be sinlessly an ornament./ We are reaching bottom.// I curse the poetry conceived as a cultural/ luxury by the neutrals ones/ who, washing their hands, doesn’t want to know and escape./ I curse the poetry from who doesn’t take side till get dirty.// I endorse the mistakes. I feel inside me to all those who are suffering/ and I sing breathing./ I sing, and I sing, and singing beyond my personals/ sorrows, I get wider.// I’d want to give you life, cause new acts,/ and I calculate for that with technique what do I can./ I feel like a verse engineer and a worker/ that works by others to Spain in its steels.// So is my poetry: poetry-tool/ at the same time that beat of the unanimous and blind thing. So it is, charged gun with expansive future/ with what I aim your breast.// It’s not a drop by drop thought poetry./ It’s not a beautiful product. It’s not a perfect fruit./ It’s something such as the air which everyone of us are breathing/ and is the song that space out what we carry inside.// They are words which everyone of us repeat feeling/ as ours, and they fly. They are more than the said thing./ They are the most needed thing: that what has no name. They are screams in the Heaven (1), and in the earth acts.

Gabriel Celaya

(1) The version I have here use the word "cielo". In Spanish, "cielo" can means two things: "cielo", sky; and "Cielo", Heaven. I think Celaya would mean "Cielo".

In many ways, Paco Ibáñez is
almost the father of the Spanish songwriters movement, beside Chicho
Sánchez Ferlosio and Raimon. Born during the Spanish Civil War, and
went with his family as exiliated to France. In France he mets the work
of the great French songwriters, specially that who will be his
inspiration: Georges Brassens. In 1959 he starts to put music on the great Spanish poems: from Spanish literature Golden Age, as Quevedo, Luis de Góngora, Jorge Manrique; passing by the 27’s Generation, as Lorca, Alberti, Miguel Hernández; to the most contemporary and compromised poets: Blas de Otero, Gabriel Celaya, José Agustín Goytisolo… But also Latin-Americans poets like Jorge Guillén and Pablo Neruda.
He tried to live in Spain at the 60’s, but his so known anti-francoism
makes that the authorities are always following him; so he returned to
France for singing in freedom. Finally returned when generals Franco
was dead. Many songwriters took example from him, as in Castilian as in
the others language from Spain: Catalonian, Basque and Galician.
Gabriel Celaya was very pleased for Paco were making songs with his poems, although he had to change some words and remove some lines. This song was one of the most celebrated by his audience:

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by evin on 1 agosto, 2010 at 21:02

    it has been long time. I read this poem’s Turkish translation. I wish to read (in English) and translate other poems of Gabriel Celaya…

  2. Posted by Gustavo on 1 agosto, 2010 at 23:23

    HI, Evin! It has been a long time, yes. Glad to "see" you again. I’m a little busy this summer, so I didn’t write too much. I’ll see if I have more Celaya’s poems, and I’ll try to translate it for you.Thank you for writting!

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