Posts filed under ‘Poetry’

Vallfogona and Roca Guinart

It’s amazing the way we thread our way through various interests. Where one thing leads to another and another and another……… until we find ourselves in a place that has no common links to where we started from. In this sense, this post is probably an intermediate step.

Yesterday I posted some Catalan poetry I had picked from a booklet given to us on September 11 to celebrate a Catalan holiday. I understood the context of one of the poems but didn’t know the first one. Antoni, a phtographer from Sant Pol de Mar explained that the poem was about a famous Catalan bandit, Roca Guinart. Of course I had to look into this. It’s difficult to research because I do not speak Catalan and almost all of the references were in Catalan, after all he is part of Catalan folklore.

Well, I found reference to the author, Francesc Vicent Garcia (Rector of Vallfogona) and the town Vallfogona.

Vallfogona de Riucorb is a pueblo of 130 people. It’s roots go back before 1038 with the Queralt and Cervallo families (they have a history all to themselves) and it was known as Vallis Alfedi or Vall d’Aleu until the 12th century.

In 1193 the Knights Templar established a Templar castle there and, after the order was dissolved in 1312 it was taken over by the Hospitalers. In 1416 the castle was restored and in 1811 became the house of Vallfogona de Comalats. The town was surrounded by a fortress with towers and had a hospital that cared for pilgrims and the sick. There are still ruins from the chapel of Sant Pere dels Bigats dating back to the 13th century.

As I mentioned, one of the towns citizens was Francesc Garcia Torres ( Tortosa 1582-Vallfogona 1623,) and also known as Rector of Vallfogona. He studied in Lleida and Vic and, in 1607, he came to Vallfogona where he befriended Rocaguinarda and wrote the poem. In 1951, the town erected a monument in his memory.

The famous “bandoler” Perot Rocaguinarda (Roca Guinart) was born in December 18th 1582 in Oristà, Catalunya. He is also refered to as the gentleman bandit Roque Guinart in Don Quixote. The Castilian writer Miguel de Cervantes imagined the Catalans as being fearsome natives. He writes: “More than forty highwaymen suddenly surrounded them and told them in Catalan to stop and do not move until the captain had arrived.” The captain was Perot Rocaguinarda, and Don Quijote and his attendant spent three days and three nights with that Catalan highwayman, hiding themselves together through the woods around Barcelona. Just as a point of interest he was one of a a very few highwaymen who escaped the gallows. His house of birth can still be seen (at least the ruins) inOristà.

September 14, 2006 at 12:19 pm 2 comments

Some Catalan Poetry

I had mentioned in my last post that we were given a book on Catalan poetry. I was browsing through the book and realized that the poems were written over many centuries and by people from all levels of Catalan society. One poem written in the 16th century seems to be about a man named Roca and was written by Francesc Vicent Garcia who was the rector of Vallfogona. It was a random selection as I can only understand a little.


Quan baixes de muntanya, valent Roca,
com si una roca de Montseny baixara,
mostres al mon la fortalesa rara,
que per a tu sa furia tota es poca.
Ninguna de tes bales lo cap toca
de qui no et veja, si no fuig la cara,
que ton valor insigne no s’empara
tras falsa mata ni traidora soca.
Tot aquest Principat fas que badalle,
Que et persegueix de sou i persegueixes
Ab mortal i funebre parasisme.
Qui tinga el tal judici mire I calle,
O diga’t senyoria, que ho mereixes
Per lo millor pillard del cristianisme.

This next poem written Anonim (anonymously) is about the war of 1812 against France. It stood out because of our visit to Montserrat and the destruction caused by Napoleon’s armies there (not to mention the theft of history).

De la Guerra Del Frances
Es una meravella
De veure els sometents;
Com mes els aturmenten,
Sempre son mes valents.
Francesos valerosos,
direu a vostre rei
que dintre Catalunya
mai hi fara la llei.
La primera vegada
que al Bruc vareu anar,
molt contents i alegres
hi vareu arribar.
Amb els canons de fusta
els llevarem la pell.
Es van posar a correr
fins a Molins de Rei.
A la guerra, a la guerra,
contra Napoleon,
per defensar Fernando,
la Patria y Religion.

Hope you enjoy and if any reader would care to comment on the content of the first poem, it would be very much appreciated.

September 13, 2006 at 8:57 am 1 comment

La Festa Major de Gracia

Last week is a blur. From the beach trip last Sunday, all through the week up to today was a roller coaster. The weekend was spent recovering and I can tell you that Alex and I are lightweights when it comes to partying.

Most of the week was spent in the company of Franko, Detlef, Jackie, Naomi and Sebastian. We had everyone over for drinks when la festa gracia started. The intent was to gather in a central location, have a few drinks and off to the parties in Gracia afterwards. It poured rain, and I mean poured. Water was coming in the windows and we’re on the fourth floor. There was a lot of wind and thunder and lightening that finally let up around midnight. Mandy and Nat left to go home and the rest of us headed into Gracia. Gracia is a neighborhood a few blocks away from where we live. Way back, when Barcelona was a small town, Gracia was a neighboring village. At some point an area known as Eixample was designed and built, effectively joining Barcelona and Gracia. You’d know immediately on entering Gracia because the streets are narrow, one lane affairs left over from medieval times. The houses and shops are all very old and the area still has a village like atmosphere. There are many squares or placas where people gather in the evenings. It seems to attract creative types and people with a more bohemian lifestyle. If you visit some of the placas, you’d swear you were back in the 60’s watching hippies gather. It’s an eclectic mix of people because there are also families with lots of young children. Alex and I usually walk up there after dinner and sit in either placa Revolucio or placa Rius i Taulet (catalan names) and watch all the children playing. The children playing is a subject all of its own and Alex should really comment on that. Anyhow, enough of the backgraound.

This festa is one of the largest in Barcelona and lasts all week, from 15 to the 21 of August. Each neighbourhood goes all out to decorate their streets and organize activites. Prizes are awarded for many different things, from decorations to music to other activites. One of the really intersting activites is a competition involving castelleres. Alex will explain this activity in her blog.
As I said, all the streets are decorated and from the following photos you would not even know they were streets. The creativity demonstrated was awesome. Alex and I had observed one group over the summer and wondered what they were doing and I’ll let Alex comment on them because we really felt for them after the first night.

This is one street that we came across during our wanderings. Note the crowds, the time is well after midnight.

On middle verdi we came across the winning street. Their theme was war of the worlds and you could see the time and massive effort that went into this production.

Each area had stages set up in the middle of the decorations where live groups played all typers of music. There were poets reading their poetry and dancing. All high quality I might add.

On upper verdi the theme was a fantasy world. These figures are over 3 metres high and the owl stretched almost across the street. I might add that every single one of these displays, all over gracia, used only recycled materials. Plastic bottles, plastic bags, newspaper, all recycled.

This last photo is in B&W as the original color had lighting that made it so monochromatic. Each one of the styrofoam balls had been hand carved by someone. It was like walking through a dream world.

Everything seemd to end that week. Detlef was the first one to return home to Lisbon. Franko left on Thursday. I was really glad to get to know these people and they certainly left me with a lasting impression. Franko and I hit it off from day one. I felt like I had known him for a long time and hopefully I will be able to say that. He will return to BCN before Alex and I return to Toronto. Another bit of news, Naomi and Xavi have split up after three years together. Naomi is living with us until she can find a new place to live. I hope both of them are ok.

By the way, during the week, everyone was ill. Alex is still under the weather but is on the road to recovery. I guess the quiet weekend helped a bit.

Here’s a poem in catalan. I think it was written for the festa 2006 and I think it’s titled

Del mati, i fins l’horabaixa,
i de nits, al carrer estant,
tots aquells que anem de marxa
haurem de complir aquest Ban.

No badem, que aqui la festa
es festa de molta gent,
gent que penca, gent valenta,
gent que ho fa per l’altra gent.

Tindrem tecs i fartaneres,
hi haura trons i timbalers,
i sabors de nits rumberes
i les taules al carrer.

Nomes fins a quarts de tres,
que la nit ens pot abatre.
Ja els divendres i els dissabtes
plegarem a quarts de quatre.

Comte haurem amb les begudes,
l’alcofoll i els combinats
no van be per les arrugues
ni tampoc pels arrugats.

Si amb la birra ens ve pixera
hem d’anar alla on mes conve,
no fotessim cagalera:
al baci, i apuntem be!

Els qui tenen bar i barra
hauran de deixar passar
als qui de tant anar de farra
tenen ganes de buidar.

Reciclem plats, gots i ampolles,
no omplim de brossa el carrer.
I tambe, si anem en colla,
no fotem tant de merder.

Deixem l’auto a prop de casa,
que conve no perdre punts.
Si arribem ballant a Gracia
maxarem sabent-ne un munt!

Rumbes, tangos i boleros,
rock, pasdobles i fogots
i un ballar tan sandunguero
que enamora el meu xicot!

Portem cara de conquesta,
portem roba de coto
perque si crema la festa
no ens faci fred ni calor!

Que hi ha diables a la placa
i un feroc drac volador,
que hi ha gent que pica en terra
ballant a cops de basto.

I gegants, i gent que puja
pel damunt d’un munt de gent,
i un dimoni i una bruixa
empaitant tot el jovent.

Sota un cel de serpentines
avui sopem al carrer.
Tot xerrant amb la veina,
que en farem de mullader!

Crits i amunt! que ja comenca,
la de Gracia es festa gran
p erque el poble es qui la pensa
i de nits la va somiant!

Donat a Barcelona l’agost del 2006

I don’t understand a lot of it but the parts I do are all about Gracia and this festa major.

Have a great week.

August 21, 2006 at 11:46 am 4 comments

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