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Josep Lluís Aguiló, from Six Catalan Poets

Els Ponts Del Diable

El dimoni construeix ponts i després
en demana la paga. Els que li han manat la feina,
invariablement més espavilats, sempre l’enganyen.

Sempre demana que li deixin endur-se’n
l’últim o el primer que passarà pel pont.
Si ha demanat que li regalin l’últim
el darrer que passa li diu: «agafa aquest»,
senyalant, sorneguer, la seva ombra.

Si ha demanat el primer fan passar-hi un animal.
Sovint és un moix o un gall, els cans
són massa de la família com per regalar-los
a algú, per molt diable que sigui.

No n’aprèn. Em deman què en fa de la col•lecció
d’ombres i de bèsties. Segurament res.

El dimoni, sense dubte, frueix fent ponts.
Els cavallers tenen aficions xocants;
embotellar vaixells, pintar aquarel•les,
escriure memorials de greuges,
caçar. Quan s’avorreix ve i fa un pont
i dóna per parlar d’ell a generacions
que es vantaran de com la seva avior
no va saber res d’obres hidràuliques
però sí d’ensarronar diables.

The Devil's Bridges

The devil builds bridges and afterwards
demands payment for them.Those who carried out the work,
invariably more wide-awake, always outwit him.

He always demands that he should carry off
the first or the last to cross the bridge.
If he has asked to be given the last one
then the final one to cross says to him, “grab this”
pointing, cunningly, at his shadow.

If he has demanded the first, they let an animal cross over to him.
Often it's a cat or a cock, a dog
is too much a part of the family to be given away
to anyone, however much of a devil it might be.

He never learns. I wonder what he does with his collection
of shadows and beasts. Probably nothing.
The devil, no doubt, enjoys building bridges.
Swindlers have shocking hobbies:
putting ships into bottles, painting watercolours,
writing chronicles of wrongs done,
hunting. When one gets bored he comes and builds a bridge
and considers speaking about himself to generations
who will boast of how their ancestry
knew nothing of hydraulic works
but a lot about swindling devils.