Title: Barcelona


In: Sport 31: Spring 2003

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, November 2003

Part of: Sport

Keywords: Verse Literature

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Sport 31: Spring 2003


page 184


Citizens so love this city
they find it difficult to leave
even in sleep … much of which
takes place in mid-afternoon
so that the noise, scents, torpor,
and diesel-filled light
of these late 19th-century streets
enter not only their waking lives
but also their noon-day dreams:
some of which are about fish,
the harbour being full of them—
none healthy enough to eat
but all swimming blindly
in heart-rending spirals
with a sort of stunned
myopic grace. The beauty
of this ancient place
is everywhere and indisputable
from the melting spires of the Sagrada Familia
to the white gorilla with a spoilt child's face
caged in the Cuidedella park
and visited on holidays and Sundays
by families who pose like Renoir paintings
between rows of small but evenly placed
and delicately manicured
civic trees. One should also mention
the Gaudi fountain, rarely working,
and the ice-cream carts with their big brass lids
and the doves of course … Picasso loved them
as he did the fat geese on the cathedral pond
page 185 and the balconied whores in the Gothic Quarter
with their faces like African masks. The Art
Gallery, the one in the park, for the city
is full of them, is dated but devoted
to a local over-the-top Art Nouveau
that brings us—there's no escape—
back to Gaudi (much loved
by Franco for his religious fervour).
The man is everywhere, breaking plates,
bending stones, moulding metal.
The scent of his lavender-tinted drains
lingers miles out to sea. Dogs
plunge from the decks of passing yachts
and swim in packs to greet these gilded streets.