Despite those who want to do / the Ramblas / of death / the Ramblas / of pain, / we will continue to do / the Ramblas of life / we will continue to do / the Ramblas / of love. The first lines of the long poem Ramblas of life (Pagès Editors) by Manuel Montobbio are a declaration of love, an invocation and a purpose after the terrorist attack of August 17, 2017 in this urban and sentimental artery of Barcelona. A message of optimism so that the Ramblas, that very powerful “catalyst of feelings and memories”, in the words of the author, can once again be a source of life.
For Manuel Montobbio, a Spanish diplomat and poet —in that year, ambassador to Andorra—, that brutal and incomprehensible tragedy caused a torrent of emotions that immediately became literary: “I wrote the book in two or three days,” he explains. “It was something very impulsive that came from my soul. The poet is like the dowser who finds an underground water current and has to take advantage of it. The poet has to transcribe it ”.
The aforementioned first verses were written in the institutional act of rejection of the attack as consul that he was, but without neglecting his person: “Beyond the diplomat is the person,” he explains. And that person, that injured man from Barcelona – like everyone else – felt the need to walk down the Ramblas and, on August 26, 9 after the tragedy, on the occasion of the mass demonstration that was called, he discovered himself in front of the Ramblas of his life , which are the Ramblas of all the people of Barcelona. “I saw the great altar that people had turned into the place where the van stopped,” he recalls. And her emotions shot up.
“The identification between the journey or the journey through the Ramblas and the journey through life is what gives the final meaning to the title, and inserts the work in the tradition of life as a journey”, explains Montobbio. “Las Ramblas are many, one after another, each with its name, and when they come together they become that great avenue of life.” The book is a river poem through which those memories of the author pass, common to any Barcelona citizen: “Very few other cities in the world have a walk like this, you”: I am / always / accompanied by the Ramblas / that inhabit me / inside. Throughout the 40 pages that the poem occupies – preceded by some interesting “keys to ramble Les Rambles de la vida” – memories of his childhood and youth, of García Lorca and his florists, of any citizen or visitor to whom, inexorably, parade also the Ramblas have made theirs. “That’s why I say that the book is a poemized collective story,” says Montobbio.
But, in addition to a poem, Les Rambles de la vida is an invocation. “I invoke the angels of the Ramblas,” he reveals. Demand those angels to inspire us to avoid this immense pain. And he reproaches them: What were you doing / where were you / what will you feel / in the afternoon / of the seventeenth of August.
Montobbio has attempted an act of wound healing, of soul research, because “sometimes only the soul can give us answers to the questions of reason.” Deep down, if there is any message in the verses, it is one of optimism: “Writing them has given me hope and, also, the illusion of being able to infect it,” says the poet.