The walker and the wall by Salvador Espriu

The Walker and the Wall was written by Salvador Espriu between 1951 and 1953. When the first edition was published in 1954 it was composed of forty four poems divided into three sections (twelve, twelve and twenty poems) each one of which offered an epigraph on each person chosen for his or her own worth. 

The heading of the first section is “The shadows, the river and the lost dream”: Each word carries the meaning of a key aspect in life and the work of Espriu - the shadows are death, made general in the war, and the war is no more than the river which washes away everything it finds in its path, starting with the lost dream. This meant the undoing of all the Catalan civil and Republican society. These realities revolve around one’s memory of childhood and the mother who has is no longer.

The second epigraph is “The songs of the wheel of time”, (“Les cançons de la roda del temps”). Over the course of the years its solemnity has converted it into a lyrical island of universal and absolute values: the twelve poems here make one feel that fearful symmetry of which William Blake spoke, the almost lithurgic passage of time and perhaps complete the circle going through of the twelve hours of the original poems.

The third epigraph is the “Minotaur and Theseus”. In it the twenty poems establish a complex dialectic between power - the uncivilized monster which order the elements of everyday life - and the intimate meaning of human existence. That is to say the dialectic established between politics and the superstructure of power and the whole that defines a complete entity. Therefore we find ourselves before the personal revelation of the author’s innermost feelings, or his reaching out and touching, added to his wisdom, stretching back for thousands of year, and which he knows so well..

The Walker becomes a pilgrim, the walk a long journey. From a spiritual point of view, the journey is not the mere movement in space, rather it is the tension of the exploration, investigation and the change motivated by the movement and the experiences derived from it.  

However the true journey is an evolution and the initial endeavours are symbolic research which open up the shadows of the unconsciousness (this is our mother’s womb) revealing the light. The archetypal journey is the pilgrimage to the centre of the earth, to the axis, the alternative to emerging from the labyrinth

If we turn to the symbology of the wall, we can appreciate the difference qualities that come from it and the meanings attached to it: on one hand the wall protects us from the others, it closes off our world, assures our defence while at the same time through it we can receive the divine influence  (…)

A wall becomes a cut in communication; it has a double psychological incidence: security and stifling, defence but yet at the same time prison.  (…)

“I am a wall” (8, 10) - and another question is that of the relationship between the material, in contrast to the spirit.

If we have set out on this long journey it has been to reach this conclusion, it sheds light on the process followed by Cusachs to convert the “wall” into the “path” or the way to the expression of his enormous artistic creation.

R.P.BALASCH

Sant Cugat del Vallès, 1989