I saw a banner on the street advertising a concert by a well-know Valencian singer-songwriter, Raimon. Every time I see his face or hear his name, I remember the first time I heard a beautiful song that he wrote using the words of the poet Ausiàs March. It’s called “Veles e Vents” (sails and winds). There is also a beautiful folk song in English “Four Strong Winds“. In Catalan, they divide the wind into 8, each direction with its own resonant name. I recommend listening to both these songs.
So on the day I saw this banner hanging above me, the first line for this poem began to roll through my head. Eventually, this is where it led…
The Words He Sang to Me
"Veles e vents", the words he sang to me.
Words of a man long-married to the sea.
He tried to love me,
but no chance of that.
His foreign heart could not
speak anything but praise of Her.
Her scent, her taste, the way she caught
He loved the rasp
of coarse rope nets.
"Her braids," he said, and smiled.
"Some days she's angry, others calm,
and someday I will lie
so deep within her arms
I'll not come back."
And that's the way it's always been
with men who work the sea.
They'll love you for a little while,
but she gets Eternity.
His song had names for all the winds
that blow across her face,
and I have learned them all by heart.
That much she can't erase.