Vicent Andrés Estellés: You will assume the voice of a people

Saturday just after midnight, with a Moka coffee cup next to my right hand, I read in the Web that a festivity is being proposed today for commemorating the birth of one of the most important contemporary Valencian poets in Catalan language: Vicent Andrés Estellés. I must admit that I have not read much from him, apart from his most likely popular poem: Assumiràs la veu d'un poble (roughly translated, You will assume the voice of a people).
As part of a collective blogging effort for spreading his works, I thought I could also contribute by translating this famous poem into English.

I think it's difficult to express the strength and emotivity of the poem in English, not only because of my lack of proficency in English literary language, but also because the expressed feelings can only be shared by people in a close situation to Valencian ones. However, since I believe the world is still full of candle lights standing up in the dark silent night, let's try to give them some fire.


ASSUMIRÀS la veu d'un poble
i serà la veu del teu poble,
i seràs, per a sempre, poble,
i patiràs, i esperaràs,
i aniràs sempre entre la pols,
et seguirà una polseguera.
I tindràs fam i tindràs set,
no podràs escriure els poemes
i callaràs tota la nit
mentre dormen les teues gents,
i tu sols estaràs despert,
i tu estaràs despert per tots.
No t'han parit per a dormir:
et pariren per a vetlar
en la llarga nit del teu poble.
Tu seràs la paraula viva,
la paraula viva i amarga.
Ja no existiran les paraules,
sinó l'home assumint la pena
del seu poble, i és un silenci.
Deixaràs de comptar les síl·labes,
de fer-te el nus de la corbata:
seràs un poble, caminant
entre una amarga polseguera,
vida amunt i nacions amunt,
una enaltida condició.
No tot serà, però, silenci.
Car diràs la paraula justa,
la diràs en el moment just.
No diràs la teua paraula
amb voluntat d'antologia,
car la diràs honestament,
iradament, sense pensar
en ninguna posteritat,
com no siga la del teu poble.
Potser et maten o potser
se'n riguen, potser et delaten;
tot això són banalitats.
Allò que val és la consciència
de no ser res si no s'és poble.
I tu, greument, has escollit.
Després del teu silenci estricte,
camines decididament.

YOU WILL ASSUME the voice of a people
and it will be the voice of your people,
and you will be, forever, people,
and you will suffer, and you will wait,
and you will go through the dust,
and a dust cloud will follow you.
And you will be hungry, and you will be thirsty,
you will not be able to write poems
and you will be quiet for the whole night
whereas your people sleep,
and you will be the only awake,
and you will be awake for everyone.
You were not given birth for sleeping:
you were born for staying awake
for the long night of your people.
You will be the alive word,
the alive and bitter word.
Words will not exist anymore,
but the man assuming the sorrow
of his people, and it is a silence.
You will stop counting syllables,
you will stop making the knob of the tie:
you will be a people, walking
through a bitter dust cloud,
life upwards and nations upwards,
an ennobled condition.
Not everything will be a silence, though.
Since you will say the proper word,
you will say it at the proper moment.
You will not say your word
with any will of anthology,
since you will say it honestly,
irately, with no thinking
about any posterity,
except for the one of your people.
Maybe they will kill you or
they will mock you, maybe they will betray you;
these are only banalities.
What is worth is the conscience
of being nothing unless you are people
and you have, gravely, chosen.
After your strict silence,
you walk decisively.

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