Homage to Thomas Hardy

It was early morning, dark and cold,
when I left the bar where the lights
were already being switched off, in an area
of wretched streets. The city
was like the corpse of my life,
and the traffic’s pulse was no longer beating.
The houses were stiff in the darkness.

A light went on and a window opened,
and suddenly there emerged the lucent warmth
of a trumpet solo.
Asong with a strength and joy
that contrasted with the silent streets.
Someone in one of those flats
was lobbing his life towards some place.

Often I think
that only a grief I knew nothing of
could make the melody surge up.
Or that it was my own anguish that made me hear,
in order to survive that night,
something sublime in a few lacklustre notes.

translated from the Catalan by Anna Crowe