Occitan poetry  980-2006

by Joan-Frederic Brun


 Enric Espieut (1923-1971)

Medieval poetry: the kingdom of love
XVI-XVIII century: tasty baroque antiliteratures
XIX th century: toward a renaissance
XIX th century (1854-1914):  spreading and sclerosis of the Provençal miracle
XX th century (1920-1965): the anguish of no future
XX th century (1965-1981): "un país que vòl viure" (a country that just wants to live)
XX th century (1981-2000): postoccitanisme
XXI th century: just a living literature among many other ones? 


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Born in Toulon (Provence), died in Nimes. Spent most of his life in Paris and found all his inspiration in a passionate love that filled his life. Actually his homeland was neither France nor Occitania but the place he called "mon país lo de l'escriure" (my country, that of writing). Max Roqueta defined him to me as such: he was not a man, he was an angel. 

Joan Larzac rightly calls Enric Espieut "the major poet of our unachieved renaissance"


Òsca Manòsca (1963)


Li mots que li vòle son delembrats
Dins lo gorg de la carn d’un pòble,
La mar estrementís li barris de l’oblit,
Lo silenci s’escond dins lo silenci.

La negra nuech li vei cercar dins sa combor
L’aiga de rais qu’espèra
Entre es amont que jòga l’aura
E per l’amara gaug dis aglas.

Un sòmí li mourà, ma sobeirana,
lume resclaus, sòmi d’esclau,
E dins un rec de lutz sensa cadenas,
Estèla e paga e gaug serà tot çò perdut.

París, 1951.



Un espavent. Li mots se desvàrian.
Lo caval de la nuèch endilha que s’enarca
Negre. Veuse es lo jorn,
Estèrle es mon país manca d’un vent.
Estèrle es mon país que d'autres puèi
I auràn levat la glòria de son prince.
Tròp de jovènt me badalhona.
Entre laure un parlar vièlh de tròp de silènci;
E ieu m’afane, e laure lo silènci
Entre passan mis ans qu’una aiga li carreja.
Lo blat d’amor es pas madur.
Plante mi dènts dins la crosta dau tèmps
Amara mai qu’un rebram de lachusclas.

Mai se ne trai un gran que sabe
- grana raceja -
Dempuèi la mòrt que ne nasquère,
Dempuèi la nuèch de mon jovènt.

Tolon, 1963.



The words I want are forgotten in the abyss of the flesh of a people, the sea shakes the walls of forgiveness, silence hides itself within silence

Black night sees  them seeking in its own  heat - the dazzling water that waits - while up there  plays the wind - and for the bitter joy of eagles.  

A dream will move them, my sovereign lady, closed light, dream of esclave, and in a groove of chainless light, star and pay and joy will be all that is lost 




Terror. Words lose their sense. Night's horse ...... black. Widow is the day. Sterile is my country for lack of wind. Sterile is my country since others then will take away the glory of its prince. Too much youth gags me. Meanwhile I plow a language aged from too much silence. 

 And I make all my efforts, and I plow the silence, while my years go away, carried by a stream. Love's wheat is immature. I stick my teeth in time's crust, more bitter than the echo of screaming lettuce. 

 However rises from it a grain I know - race makes its fruit- since the death from which I'm born, since the night of my youth.  


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