Voices of the Old Sea by Norman Lewis

OCTOBER 20, 2007

8/10. Voices of the Old Sea by Norman Lewis [Carrol and Graf 2006, first published 1984] Sharply observed, and well-written – like all of Norman Lewis’ wonderful writing.

The Fishermen’s Prose Poetry

From pp. 7-8:

Ayer los chubascos me agarraron pero hoy … [a murmur of ‘Sigue, sigue’]
Yesterday the storms clawed at me, but today
La suerte me corrio
Luck ran at my side
Al amanacer visite la marea
At dawn I visited the tide
Y viendo que el dia no llevaba malicia –
And seeing that the day bore no malice –
Cogi la barca y me fui
I took the boat and went out
Pa’ dentro del mar, donde las grandes olas se movian. (‘Sigue, sigue’)
Into the deep sea, where the great waves moved.
Y alli en la claridad del agua, solo, aislado,
There in the clarity of water, alone, alone,
Vi tantos fantasmas vivaces,
I saw many lively ghosts,
No de los sin habla, que comen las almas,
Not of the kind without tongues, eaters of souls,
Pero de los que cantan con voces dulces del alba.
But those that sing with the sweet voices of the dawn

The reaction of the villagers to a party organized by Muga for the benefit of the newly arrived tourists

Even if there were no desperate shortages in Farol at that time, some people still went hungry, and it upset them to see large quantities of food of the kind they could never in any case afford being surrendered to scrounging cats, and even more tipped into trash cans at the end of the feast. [p. 181]

The Old-Guard resisting Muga

Don Ignacio had never forgiven Muga for insisting on rigidity in the matter of the hours set for the celebration of Mass, which deprived him of his weekend archaeological trips. He agreed, too, with Don Alberto that the foreign influence was on the whole pernicious. In a matter of weeks, as he had pointed out to me, money values had become wholly distorted, so that women scrubbing floors and washing bed-linen for Muga gained far more than skilful and dedicated fishermen who had spent their best years at an exacting trade. Don Ignacio believed that the democracy of foreigners was misunderstood by a people who had never encountered it before and were encouraged by it to presumption and lack of respect. [p.190]