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Fin de fiesta: Últimos poemas

A selection of Clive’s last poems, translated into Spanish by Luis Castellví Laukamp


“La sombra lo sabe” (The Shadow Knows)

Mira cómo la sombra del yo que fui en vida
recorre la cocina recogiendo los platos.
El lavaplatos rinde su tesoro escondido
de futuros fragmentos de un presente remoto.
Los tazones azules vuelven a la alacena.

Voy con frecuencia a casa, pues las sombras
son débiles y tienden al retorno.
Ahora que he acabado mi trabajo,
la paz que amo está aquí. Y puedes escucharme
más claramente ahora que cuando hablaba ausente.

Soy la sombra y el viudo, pues corté
el hilo de la vida: tu inocencia.
Pero aquí estás, real, muy por encima
de todos mis triunfos. Por ti pienso
en el amor que en otro tiempo fuimos.

[ English text HERE ]

Just published (April 7th 2021) : a new book featuring twenty-one of of Clive James' late poems, translated into Spanish for the first time by noted academic Luis Castellví Laukamp. “Fin de fiesta: Últimos poemas” includes parallel text in English. This paperback edition is published by Editorial Pre-Textos of Madrid in their series La Cruz del Sur and is available from the usual on-line bookstores.

The publisher has posted a YouTube video presentation of the new book, in the form of a conversation between Laukamp and Prue James, who Laukamp introduces as the author's ‘widow and muse’. He and Prue recite the Spanish and English versions of Return of the Kogarah Kid. View the presentation in our “Video” section.

The Fire of Joy: Roughly 80 Poems
to Get by Heart and Say Aloud

Clive's first posthumous publication, The Fire of Joy
was released by Picador on October 1st 2020.

Clive James read, learned and recited poetry aloud for most of his life. In this book, completed before just before his death, he offers a selection of his favourite poems and a personal commentary on each.

In the last months of his life, his vision impaired by surgery and unable to read, Clive James explored the treasure-house of his mind: the poems he knew best, so good that he didn’t just remember them, he found them impossible to forget. The Fire of Joy is the record of this final journey of recollection and celebration. Enthralled by poetry all his life, James knew hundreds of poems by heart. In offering this selection of his favourites, a succession of poems from the sixteenth century to the present, his aim is to inspire you to discover and to learn, and perhaps even to speak poetry aloud.

In his highly personal anthology, James offers a commentary on each of the eighty or so poems: sometimes a historical or critical note on the poem or its author, sometimes a technical point about the poem’s construction from someone who was himself a poet, sometimes a personal anecdote about the role the poem played in his own life.

Whether you’re familiar with a poem or not — whether you’re familiar with poetry in general or not — these chatty, unpretentious, often tender mini-essays convey the joy of James’s enthusiasm and the benefit of his knowledge. His urgent wish was to share with a new generation what he himself had loved. This is a book to be read cover to cover or dipped into: either way it generously opens up a world for our delight.

Guardian review, excerpts.

Archive Editor's Note

In the old, webmaster Dawn Mancer used this “NEW” section to announce recent additions to the website, ever a Work in Progress while Clive lived; it was not just the time it took his compilers to laboriously enter Clive's printed work, but the nature of his fertile intellect: Clive continued to generate fresh material throughout his final years. This “archive” is a different kind of Work in Progress, an attempt to rebuild in twelve months, from fragments that survived the collapse of its Web hosting, an edifice that took Clive, with Dawn and other helpers, 14 years to create. The concept of a “NEW” section fits ill into the context of an archive, but I intend to use this page to promote, as I've done above with The Fire of Joy, such new publications as may emerge from Clive's legacy. Yet, abiding by my completist principle of not discarding anything that could be of interest, I have retained Dawn Mancer's website progress notes, with just her links revised to target the items’ new locations in the Archive, where available — see the menu at left. My own progress in constructing this archive is documented HERE.

— S J Birkill, September 2020