Source: Camiños Da Fin Da Terra

Courtesy of  Alejandro Ferreiro Barreiro

Author: Eduardo Freire Canosa

I grant the translations herein to the public domain

Translator's Preface

All the poems follow the index of 1863. The Galician title of every poem is also respected. However I have taken the liberty of writing English titles that convey a poem's content more accurately. The reason is that De Castro did not, generally speaking, title her poems, and the publishing house saw fit to assign titles identical with the first line of every poem (except for poem #34, "Alborada"). This procedure spawns a highly misleading index. For example the Galician title of the fifth poem, "Miña Santiña," translates literally as, "My Dear Female Saint," which might prompt the casual reader to suppose it a religious poem. The poem, however, blends fantasy and a social critique wrapped with sarcasm, and this kernel warrants the fresh title, "Conversation With A Pumpkin On Halloween."

All the poems incorporate De Castro's punctuation except where this action is patently detrimental. Her style, conventional in Spain at the time, implies a profusion of commas and semicolons that would normally not translate well into English. However, since the reading of a poem entails a continual skipping of lines, with the eye blinking for a duration more or less equivalent in prose to the skipping past a comma, De Castro's frequent insertion of commas or semicolons at the end of a line does not hamstring the lecture as much as it might in prose.

"Cantares Gallegos" makes extensive use of the affectionate diminutive form peculiar to the Galician language. The affectionate diminutive ends in iña (singular feminine) or iño (singular masculine). The plural variation is iñas and iños. However not every word that ends thus is necessarily an affectionate diminutive. Every poem is preceded by a tally of words that end in iña(s) or iño(s). The tally tags which are not affectionate diminutives and lists a range of possible translations for those that are together with a short explanation of the choice made.

The affectionate diminutive complicates the job of translating because there is no unique English resolution usually. Nevertheless to yield to the temptation of treating it as a nuisance and ignoring it altogether deprives the poem of its full pathos. On the plus side the affectionate diminutive offers the translator an opportunity to add alliteration, internal rhyme and lyrical sharpness to the text. The objective is to find the best adjective, adverb or noun which conveys size, frailty, sympathy or endearment depending on the context. This objective normally winds down to a personal choice, which sometimes might even be to ignore an affectionate diminutive because it contradicts the context or crimps the fluidity of the translation or makes the text unadvisedly cloy. The exercise can be tedious, challenging and time-consuming, but to sideline affectionate diminutives altogether in the translation of "Cantares Gallegos" is to deprive the English reader of an approximation to what De Castro dubbed, "those tender words and those idioms never forgotten which sounded so sweet to my ears since the cradle and which were gathered up by my heart as its own heritage."

The few hyperlinks to YouTube videos are confined to sections so named, the number was drastically reduced to give this presentation an academic hue. A "livelier" abridged rendition of "Cantares Gallegos" is dispersed across these two webpages: (1) "Translation from Galician to English of 11 poems by Rosalía de Castro," and (2) "Archived translations from Galician to English of poems by Rosalía de Castro."

This work has an Appendix containing two poems which the translator feels do not belong to the authentic Cantares Gallegos. My contention is that De Castro wrote the poems after the publishing house insisted on it and prescribed the subject-matter for both.

Lastly the reader may open/download a PDF version of this webpage following the Appendix. Every PDF page has a nominal margin of 2 cm on its top, bottom and right-hand sides, and a wider margin of 3 cm on its left-hand side to enable binding. The "landscape" orientation is recommended for printing.


18-year-old Rosalía de Castro in 1855

Source: File 8/61. Galería do IES Breamo: Fotobiografía de Rosalía


Clicking on a number will take you to the corresponding poem right away


  1.    You Must Sing    (Has de cantar)

  2.    I Was Born When The Seedlings Sprout    (Nasín cando as prantas nasen)

  3.    My Sweet Kitchen Maid    (Dios bendiga todo, nena)

  4.    How Can I Depart If I Love You?    (Cantan os galos pra o día)

  5.    Conversation With A Pumpkin On Halloween    (Miña Santiña)

  6.    Our Lady Of The Barge    (Nosa Señora da Barca)

  7.    Flight To Wonderland    (Fun un domingo)

  8.    Lure Of The Piper    (Un repoludo gaiteiro)

  9.    Though It Be A Sin    (Díxome nantronte o cura)

10.    Black Carnation    (Quíxente tanto, meniña)

11.    Bells Of Bastabales    (Campanas de Bastabales)

12.    Where Many Spit, Loam Turns To Muck    (Vinte unha crara noite)

13.    A Maiden's Prayer    (San Antonio bendito)

14.    Lass Of The Green Mountain    (Acolá enriba)

15.    Good-Bye Rivers, Good-Bye Fountains    (Adiós ríos, adios fontes)

16.    I'm Not Afraid Of You, Little Owl!    (Eu ben vin estar o moucho)

17.    Breezes, Sweet Airy Winds    (Airiños, airiños aires)

18.    Prejudice    (Roxiña cal sol dourado)

19.    Flow Past, River, Flow Past, River    (Pasa, río, pasa, río)

20.    Poverty's Child    (Ora, meu meniño, ora)

21.    I Say Nothing...But Really!    (Non che digo nada...!Pero vaia!)

22.    Yet He Who One Day Loved True    (Mais ó que ben quixo un día )

23.    Castilian Woman Of Castile    (Castellana de Castilla)

24.    Darling Of My Eyes    (Queridiña dos meus ollos)

25.    A Galician Story    (A Roberto Robert redactore da Discusion)

26.    Lass, You The Most Beautiful    (Meniña, ti a máis hermosa)

27.    What's With The Boy?    (¿Que ten o mozo?)

28.    Castilians Of Castile    (Castellanos de Castilla)

29.    The Galician Bagpipe    (A gaita gallega)

30.    Come, Girl    (Vente, rapasa)

31.    When The Solitary Moon Appears    (Cando a luniña aparece)

32.    Spree At O Seixo    (Si a vernos, Marica, nantronte viñeras)

33.    How It Drizzles Heavily    (Como chove miudiño)

34.    Morning Song    (Alborada)

35.    My Saint Margaret    (Miña Santa Margarida)

36.    I Sang As Best I Could    (Eu cantar, cantar, cantei)


Foreword (1863)

It is without doubt a great gamble for a poor talent like the one fortune gave me to hatch a book whose pages ought to be full of sunlight, of harmony and of that candour which along with a profound tenderness, along with an unceasing lullaby of kind, caressing and heartfelt words, constitutes the greatest charm of our popular songs. Galician poetry, all music and vagueness, all grievances, sighs and sweet pampering smiles, sometimes murmuring with the mysterious winds of the woods, other times sparkling with the sunbeam that falls delightfully serene on the waters of a sombre river flowing full underneath the branches of flowering willows, requires a sublime and crystalline spirit to be sung—if we may express ourselves thus—a fertile inspiration like the greenery that garnishes our privileged terrain and above all a delicate acumen to acquaint others with so many first-rate glories, so much elusive ray of beauty radiating from every tradition, from every idea expressed by this people whom many dub stupid and whom perhaps judge insensitive or aloof to poetry divine. No one owns fewer of the great qualities required to accomplish so difficult a task than I although equally no one could be found more deeply stirred by an honest desire to sing the wonders of our land in that soft and caressing dialect which is styled barbarian by those who ignore that it surpasses the other languages in sweetness and harmony. For this reason, despite finding myself with little strength and having learned in no other school than that of our poor peasants, guided exclusively by those songs, those tender words and those idioms never forgotten which sounded so sweet to my ears since the cradle and which were gathered up by my heart as its own heritage, I ventured to write these songs endeavouring to relate how some of our poetic traditions preserve still a certain patriarchal and primeval freshness and how our sweet and resonant dialect is as suitable as the foremost for every type of versification.

Truly my strength fell far short of my expectations and for that reason—realizing what a great poet could accomplish in this matter—I lament my inadequacy even more. O Libro dos Cantares of Mr. Antonio Trueba, which inspired and encouraged me to undertake this work, crosses my mind like a remorse and the tears almost well in my eyes when I ponder how Galicia would be raised to the place she deserves had Mr. Trueba of the Cantares been the one picked to make her beauty and customs known. But my unhappy homeland, as unlucky in this as in everything else, must content herself with some cold and insipid pages which barely deserve to stand afar off the gates of the Parnassus were it not for the noble sentiment that created them. May even this earn the reprieve of those who will in all fairness criticize my shortcomings for I hold that whoever endeavours to dispel the falsehoods which tarnish and offend her homeland unjustly has earned credit toward some exoneration!

Songs, tears, complaints, sighs, evening twilights, festive pilgrimages and picnics, landscapes, pasturelands, stands of pine, solitudes, river banks or shorelines, traditions, in short everything which due to its essence and colour is worth singing about, everything which had an echo, a voice, a drone however subdued—as long as it came to stir me—I was bold enough to celebrate in this plain book to state albeit once, albeit clumsily, to those who without reason or knowledge despise us that our land is worthy of praise and that our language is not what they debase and stammer in the most educated provinces with derisive laughter (which to speak the truth, however harsh it may be, demonstrates the crudest ignorance and the most unforgivable injustice that one province can commit against a sister province regardless of how poverty-stricken this one might be). What is saddest about this affair is the false image given abroad about the sons of Galicia and about Galicia herself whom they generally judge to be what is most contemptible and ugly in Spain when she is perhaps what is most beautiful and laudable.

I do not wish to hurt anybody's feelings with what follows although to tell the truth this short outburst could well be forgiven she who was offended so much by everyone. I who traversed several times those lonesome stretches of Castile which call up the desert, I who toured bountiful Extremadura and the vast Mancha where the blinding sun scorches monotonous fields and where the colour of dry straw lends a tired hue to a landscape which fatigues and depresses the spirit without the relief of a single precious blade of grass that might distract the wandering gaze adrift in a cloudless sky as tiresome and unchanging as the land it looks down upon, I who visited the celebrated outskirts of Alicante where the olive trees with their dark green colour planted in rows which rarely come into view seem to weep at seeing themselves so alone and I who visited that famous orchard region of Murcia so renowned and so praised and which tiresome and monotonous as the rest of that country displays its vegetation like landscapes coloured on a piece of cardboard—trees aligned symmetrically in tight rows for the delight of the children—can not but feel outrage when the sons of those provinces blessed by God with plenty, but not with a beautiful countryside, make fun of this Galicia able to compete in climate and in finery with the most spellbinding countries on earth, this Galicia where Nature is spontaneous and where the hand of man defers to the hand of God.

Lakes, waterfalls, torrents, flowerful meadows, valleys, mountains, serene blue skies like Italy's, overcast and melancholy horizons yet always as beautiful as those acclaimed ones of Switzerland, peaceful and sedately serene river banks, stormy capes that terrify and awe because of their gigantic and mute wrath...immense seas...what more can I add? There is no pen that can tally so much enchantment assembled together. The ground covered with dear grasses and flowers all year long, the hills full of pines, oaks and willows, the brisk winds that blow, the fountains and cascades pouring forth frothing and crystalline summer and winter over smiling fields or in deep, shaded hollows...Galicia is a garden always where one inhales pure aromas, cool and poetry...and in spite of this such is the dullness of the ignorant, such the ignoble prejudice that wars against our land, that even those who were able to gaze on so much beauty—and we leave aside those who are majority and who mock us without having ever seen us even from a distance—the same ones yet who came to Galicia and enjoyed the delights that she offers dared to say that Galicia was...a disgusting farmhouse!! And these perhaps were sons...of those scorched lands from which even the small birds flee!...What shall we say to this? Only that such inanities about our country resemble those of the French when they talk about their unbroken string of victories over the Spaniards: Spain never, never defeated them, rather she invariably ended up beaten, defeated and humiliated...and the saddest part about this is that this infamous lie is currency among them as currency it is among parched Castile, the barren Mancha and every other province of Spain—none comparable in true beauty of their countryside to ours—that Galicia is the most despicable corner on earth. It has been said wisely that everything in this world has requital and so Spain comes to suffer from a neighbouring nation that offended her always the same injustice which she, even more censurable, commits against a humiliated province that never crosses her mind except to debase her further. Much I feel the injuries that the French favour us with, but at this moment I am almost grateful to them because they provide me with a means of making more tangible to Spain the injustice that she in turn commits against us.

This was the main motive that impelled me to publish this book which I know better than anyone begs the indulgence of everybody. Without grammar or rules of any kind the reader will often find writing mistakes, idioms that will jar the ears of the purist, but at least, and to justify these defects to some extent, I took the greatest pains to reproduce the genuine spirit of our people and I think that I have succeeded in some measure...albeit feeble and limp. May heaven decree that somebody more talented than I will describe in their true colours the enchanting canvases which can be found here even in the most secluded and forsaken spot so that therewith may at least gain in repute, if not in profit, and be regarded with the deserved respect and admiration this unfortunate Galicia!

YouTube Videos

Galicia in 1931.

½-hour Spanish radio shows from 1987: first & second.

On February 24, 2013, the Rosalía de Castro Foundation, the Royal Galician Academy, the University of Vigo and the Galician Bagpipers Association invited pipers to play in unison across Galicia to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Cantares Gallegos. Below is a short sample of locations and participants.

A Coruña, in front of the house where De Castro lived for some time.

Lugo, in front of the city's cathedral.

Vigo in front of the former premises of the Juan Compañel Printing Press where the first edition of Cantares Gallegos was printed in 1863.

Santiago de Compostela, before De Castro's ornate tomb at the Pantheon of Illustrious Galicians.

Carril (a port of departure for America in De Castro's day).

Portiño de Portocelo (seaside hamlet).

Pico Sacro, outdoors on a hilltop 530 meters above sea level.

Villafranca del Bierzo (in the province of León bordering on Galicia).

Back To Index

1.   You Must Sing     (Has de cantar)

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

co son da pandeira (1.9.2, 2.5.2). A pandeira is a big tambourine; its diameter is roughly twice that of a normal tambourine.

By the bank of the river that runs amid the grass of the flowerful fields (2.2.2-4). The river Sar most likely.

In foam with pearls washed up by the sea (3.3.5-6). Tags the abundance of crustaceans in the seaside, particularly clams and mussels.

Dios santo (4.6.1), á Virxen (4.10.1). These colloquial terms are best translated to their English equivalents, "good Lord" (instead of "holy God") and "Our Lady" (instead of "the Virgin").

YouTube Videos

Composer Joaquín Rodrigo arranged the first four stanzas of Section IV for the first movement of his "Rosaliana" score for soprano and orchestra. The piece is performed below by soprano Raquel Lojendio accompanied by the Principality of Asturias Symphony Orchestra.

Raquel Lojendio and the Principality of Asturias Symphony Orchestra.

Uxía from the 2013 album Rosalía Pequeniña.

Chingla from the 2023 album Cantarche ei Galicia.

Marta Pérez and Pedro Rodríguez (voice and piano).

Has de cantar,
que che hei de dar zonchos;
has de cantar,
que che hei de dar moitos


Has de cantar,
meniña gaiteira,
has de cantar,
que me morro de pena.

Canta, meniña,
na veira da fonte;
canta, dareiche
boliños do pote.

Canta, meniña,
con brando compás,
dareiche unha proia
da pedra do lar.

Papiñas con leite
tamén che darei;
sopiñas con viño,
torrexas con mel.

Patacas asadas
con sal e vinagre,
que saben a noces,
¡que ricas que saben!

¡Que feira, rapaza,
si cantas faremos...!
Festiña por fóra,
festiña por dentro.

Canta si queres,
rapaza do demo;
canta si queres,
dareiche un mantelo.

Canta si queres,
na lengua que eu falo;
dareiche un mantelo,
dareiche un refaixo.

Co son da gaitiña,
co son da pandeira,
che pido que cantes,
rapaza morena.

Co son da gaitiña,
co son do tambor,
che pido que cantes,
meniña, por Dios.


Así mo pediron
na beira do mar,
ó pé das ondiñas
que veñen e van.

Así mo pediron
na beira do río
que corre antre as herbas
do campo frorido.

Cantaban os grilos,
os galos cantaban,
o vento antre as follas
runxindo pasaba.

Campaban os prados,
manaban as fontes
antre herbas e viñas,
figueiras e robres.

Tocaban as gaitas.
Ó son das pandeiras,
bailaban os mozos
cas mozas modestas.

¡Que cofias tan brancas!
¡Que panos con freco!
¡Que dengues de grana!
¡Que sintas! ¡Que adresos!

¡Que ricos mandiles!
¡Que verdes refaixos!
¡Que feitos xustillos
de cor colorado!

Tan vivos colores
a vista trubaban;
de velos tan váreos
o sol se folgaba.

De velos bulindo
por montes e veigas,
coidou que eran rosas
garridas e frescas.


Lugar máis hermoso
non houbo na terra
que aquel que eu miraba,
que aquel que me dera.

Lugar máis hermoso
no mundo n'hachara
que aquel de Galicia,
¡Galicia encantada!

Galicia frorida,
cal ela ningunha,
de froles cuberta,
cuberta de espumas,
de espumas que o mare
con perlas gomita,
de froles que nacen
ó pé das fontiñas.

De valles tan fondos,
tan verdes, tan frescos,
que as penas se calman
nomáis que con velos;
que os ánxeles neles
dormidos se quedan,
xa en forma de pombas,
xa en forma de niebras.


Cantarte hei, Galicia,
teus dulces cantares,
que así mo pediron
na veira do mare.

Cantarte hei, Galicia,
na lengua gallega,
consolo dos males,
alivio das penas.
Mimosa, soave,
sentida, queixosa;
encanta si ríe,
conmove si chora.

Cal ela, ningunha
tan doce que cante
soidades amargas,
sospiros amantes,
misterios da tarde,
murmuxos da noite.

Cantarte hei, Galicia,
na beira das fontes.
Que así mo pediron,
que así mo mandaron,
que cante e que cante
na lengua que eu falo.
Que así mo mandaron,
que así mo dixeron...

Xa canto, meniñas.
Coidá que comenzo.
Con dulce alegría,
con brando compás,
ó pé das ondiñas
que veñen e van.

Dios santo premita
que aquestes cantares
de alivio vos sirvan
nos vosos pesares;
de amabre consolo,
de soave contento,
cal fartan de dichas
compridos deseios.

De noite, de día,
na aurora, na sera,
oirésme cantando
por montes e veigas.

Quen queira me chame,
quen queira me obriga:
Cantar, cantareille
de noite e de día,
por darlle contento,
por darlle consolo,
trocando en sonrisas
queixiñas e choros.

Buscaime, rapazas,
velliñas, mociños,
buscaime antre os robres,
buscaime antre os millos,
nas portas dos ricos,
nas portas dos probes,
que aquestes cantares
a todos responden.

A todos, que á Virxen
axuda pedín,
porque vos console
no voso sufrir,
nos vosos tormentos,
nos vosos pesares.

Coidá que comenso...
Meniñas, ¡Dios diante!

Sing yes you must,
I'll give you boiled chestnuts;
Sing yes you must,
I'll give you loads of them


You must sing,
Little piperette,
You must sing,
For I'm dying of heartache.

Sing, girl,
By the side of the fountain;
Sing, I will give you
Buns of polenta.

Sing, girl,
With delicate cadence,
I'll give you anisette crust cake
From the stone of the oven.

Pastry cream with milk
Too I will give you,
Soups seasoned with wine,
French toasts covered with honey.

Potatoes baked
With salt and with vinegar
That taste just like walnuts,
How tasty they are!

What a celebration, lass,
We will have if you sing...!
Merriment without,
Merriment within.

Sing if you will,
Cussed obstinate lass;
Sing if you will,
I'll give you an apron.

Sing if you want to,
In the language I talk;
I'll give you an apron,
I'll give you a petticoat.

With the sound of the bagpipe,
With the sound of the tambourine,
I beg you to sing,
Teenaged girl of brown skin.

With the sound of the bagpipe,
With the sound of the drum,
I beg you to sing,
Lass, for the sake of God.


Thus they begged me
By the seashore,
Beside the gentle waves
That roll to and fro.

Thus they begged me
By the bank of the river
That runs mid the grass
Of the flowerful fields.

Sang the crickets,
The cocks crowed,
The wind passed droning
Among the leaves.

The meadows flaunted,
The fountains flowed
Amid pastures and vineyards,
Fig trees and oaks.

The bagpipes played.
The boys danced
With modest girls
To the sound of tambourines.

How white are the bonnets!
What kerchiefs with fringe!
What carmine shawls!
Such ribbons! Such brooches!

What rich aprons!
What green petticoats!
What pretty corsets
Of bright red colour!

Such vivid colours
Strained the eyesight;
On seeing their variety
The sun beamed with delight.

On watching them bound
Over hills and lowlands
He thought they were roses,
Lush and fresh.


There has not been
A more beautiful place on earth
Than the one I gazed upon,
Than the one it gave me.

Nowhere in the world could I find
A more beautiful place
Than that of Galicia,
Enchanted Galicia!

Flowerful Galicia,
None like her,
Covered in flowers,
Covered in foam from the sea,
In foam with pearls
Washed up by the sea,
In flowers that bud
At the foot of the dear fountains.

Of valleys so deep,
So cool, so green,
That sorrows subside
With just seeing them;
That the angels within them
Drop off to sleep,
Now in the form of doves,
Now in the form of fogs.


I'll sing to you, Galicia,
Your own sweet airs,
For so they asked me
By the seashore.

I'll sing about you, Galicia,
In the Galician tongue,
Solace for ills,
Relief from misery,
Cuddly, mellow,
Sensitive, mewling,
She charms if she laughs,
She moves hearts if she cries.

No other can sing
As sweet as she
Bitter solitudes,
Loving sighs,
Mysteries of the evening,
Murmurs of the night.

I'll sing about you, Galicia,
Beside the fountains.
For so they asked me,
For so they bade me,
That I should sing and sing
In the language I speak.
For so they bade me,
For so they told me...

I start to sing, lasses.
Look out, I begin.
With sweet gaiety,
With soft rhythm,
Beside the gentle waves
That roll to and fro.

May the good Lord grant
That these songs
Avail you relief
In your hardships;
Amiable solace,
Tempered contentment,
Just as fulfilled wishes
Fill with happiness.

By night, by day,
At dawn, in the evening,
You will hear me singing
Over hills and lowlands.

Call to me whoever will,
Whoever will binds me:
Sing I will sing
By night and by day,
To bring joy,
To bring comfort,
Turning to smiles
Whimpers and tears.

Look for me, lasses,
Dear old women, laddies,
Look for me amidst the oak trees,
Look for me amidst the cornfields,
At the doors of the rich,
At the doors of the poor,
For these songs
Heed everyone's call.

Everyone, for I asked
Our Lady to help me,
That I might console you
In your affliction,
In your troubles,
In your burdens.

Look out, I start...
Lasses, God leads the way!

Back To Index


2.   I Was Born When The Seedlings Sprout     (Nasín cando as prantas nasen)

Typographical Error

In the third video of the section "YouTube Videos" below, María del Carmen Sánchez Martínez recites "mouro" instead of "Mauro" (4.1). A "mouro" is in Galician folklore a member of the prehistoric race of giants who moved and placed boulders on hilltops. They also built underground tunnels, caverns and palaces housing immense riches. Martínez's recital transforms mouro into a colloquialism for "Neanderthal."

Martínez's modification is embraced wholeheartedly. There is no reason why De Castro should have inserted any personal name in her poem; moreover the supposed pick, "Mauro," is offbeat. Rather the typesetter mistook the highlighted "o" in "mouro" for an "a" and his error is understandable: De Castro's caligraphy is hard to decipher (watch the fourth video below).

Affectionate Diminutives

YouTube Videos

Argentinian composer and violinist Andrés Gaos Berea set the poem to music under the title, "Rosa de Abril" (April Rose). The Galician folk group Madialeva composed its own melody (second entry).

Cristina Gallardo-Domâs and the Gaos Orchestra.

Madialeva from the 2004 album Rúa Aberta.

Recital: María del Carmen Sánchez Martínez (Centro Gallego de Palma de Mallorca).

De Castro's caligraphy.

Nasín cando as prantas nasen,
no mes das froles nasín,
nunha alborada mainiña,
nunha alborada de abril.

Por eso me chaman Rosa,
mais a do triste sorrir,
con espiñas para todos,
sin ningunha para ti.

Desque te quixen, ingrato,
todo acabou para min,
que eras ti para min todo,
miña groria e meu vivir.

¿De que, pois, te queixas, mouro?
¿De que, pois, te queixas, di,
cando sabes que morrera
por te contemplar felís?

Duro cravo me encravaches
con ese teu maldesir,
con ese teu pedir tolo
que non sei que quer de min,
pois dinche canto dar puden
avariciosa de ti.

O meu corasón che mando
cunha chave para o abrir,
nin eu teño máis que darche,
nin ti máis que me pedir

I was born when the seedlings sprout,
In the month of the flowers I was born,
On a gentle, gentle dawn,
With the first light of an April morn.

That is why they call me Rose,
Yet she of the wry smile,
With thorns for everyone,
Without any for you.

From the day I loved you, ingrate,
Everything for me ended,
For you were everything to me:
My life and my bliss.

What then do you grumble about, Neanderthal?
What, say, can you complain of
When you know that I would even die
To see you happy in my eyes?

You nailed me with a hard spike,
With those curses of yours,
With your insane demands
That urge I know not what of me,
For I gave you what I could give,
Greedy for you.

I send you my heart
With a key that unlocks it:
Neither have I more to give to you
Nor you more to ask of me


Back To Index


3.   My Sweet Kitchen Maid     (Dios bendiga todo, nena)

Translator's Note

Conventional etymology holds that the word "carrapucheira" comes from "cara" (face) and "pulchra" (beautiful) hence "beautiful face." I submit that the word is more likely a contraction of "carrea" (carries) and "pucheiros" (pots) hence a "pot-carrier," a kitchen maid. This opinion agrees with the slant of the traditional quatrain reproduced below whose first two lines close De Castro's poem,

Heiche de tocalas cunchas,
miña carrapucheiriña,
heiche de tocalas cunchas
anque sea na cociña.1

1 Xoaquín Lorenzo Fernández. "Cantigueiro popular da Limia Baixa." Vigo: Fundación Galaxia, 1973.

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

gárdevos Santa Mariña (2.2). Most likely the Galician saint Marina de Aguas Santas.

Yet clear pupils has lent you till now blessed Saint Lucy (8.2-4). Saint Lucy is the patron saint of the blind.

Ring out the Ave Marías (13.10). The Angelus. It was rung at 6:00 AM, noon and 6:00 PM.

I will rub the seashells together (16.1). Seashells were sometimes used for percussion.


—Dios bendiga todo, nena;
rapaza, Dios che bendiga,
xa que te dou tan grasiosa,
xa que te dou tan feitiña,
que anque andiven moitas terras,
que anque andiven moitas vilas,
coma ti non vin ningunha
tan redonda e tan bonita.
¡Ben haia quen te pariu!
¡Ben haia, amén, quen te cría!

—Dios vos garde, miña vella,
gárdevos Santa Mariña,
que abofé sos falangueira,
falangueira e ben cumprida.

—Meniña, por ben falada
ningunha se perdería:
Cóllense antre os paxariños
aqueles que mellor trían;
morre afogado antre as pallas
o pitiño que non chía.

—Pois si vós foras pitiño,
dígovos, mina velliña,
que dese mal non morreras,
que chiar ben chiarías.

—¡Ai! ¡Que, si non, de min fora,
miña filla, miña filla!
Sin agarimo no mundo
desde que nasín orfiña,
de porta en porta pedindo
tiven que pasar a vida.
E cando a vida se pasa
cal vida de pelegrina,
que busca pelegrinando
o pan de tódolos días,
de cote en lares alleos,
de cote en estrañas vilas,
hai que deprender estonces
por non morrer, coitadiña,
ó pé dun valo tumbada
e de todos esquencida,
o chío dos paxariños,
o recramo das pombiñas,
o ben falar que comprase,
a homildá mansa que obriga.

—¡Moito sabés, miña vella,
moito de sabiduría!
¡Quen poidera correr mundo
por ser como vós sabida!
Que anque traballos se pasen
aló polas lonxes vilas,
tamén ¡que cousas se saben!,
tamén ¡que cousas se miran!

—Máis val que n'as mires nunca,
que estonces te perderías:
¡O que ó sol mirar precura
logo quedará sin vista!

—Dirés verdá, miña vella,
mais craras as vosas niñas
emprestouvos hastra agora
groriosa Santa Lucía.

—Moita devozón lle teño,
¡miña santiña bendita!,
mais non sempre as niñas craras
son proba de craras vistas.
Moitas eu vin como a augua
que corre antre as penas frías
gorgorexando de paso,
sereniña, sereniña,
que antre tiniebras pousaban,
que antre tiniebras vivían,
nas tiniebras dos pecados
que son as máis escondidas.

—Si de pecados falades,
é pan que onde queira espiga,
en tódalas partes crese,
en todas partes se cría;
mais uns son cor de veneno,
outros de sangre runxida,
outros, como a noite negros,
medran cas lurpias dañinas
que os paren entre ouro e seda,
arrolados pola envidia,
mantidos pola luxuria,
mimados pola cobiza.
miña santiña bendita!,

—«Quen ben está, ben estea.»
Déixate estar, miña filla,
nin precures correr mundo,
nin tampouco lonxes vilas,
que o mundo dá malos pagos
a quen lle dá prendas finas,
e nas vilas mal fixeras
que aquí facer non farías,
que anque ese pan balorento
en todas partes espiga,
nunhas apoucado crese,
noutras medra que adimira.

—Falás como un abogado,
e calquera pensaría
que deprendestes nos libros
tan váreas palabrerías,
todiñas tan ben faladas,
todiñas tan entendidas;
e tal medo me puñeches
que xa de aquí non saíra
sin levar santos-escritos
e medalliñas benditas
nun lado do meu xustillo,
xunto dunha negra figa,
que me librasen das meigas
e máis das lurpias dañinas.

—Que te libren de ti mesma,
pídelle a Dios, rapariga,
que somos nós para nós
as lurpias máis enemigas.
Mais xa vén a noite vindo
co seu manto de estreliñas;
xa recolleron o gando
que pastaba na cortiña;
xa lonxe as campanas tocan,
tocan as Ave-Marías;
cada conexo ó seu tobo,
lixeiro, lixeiro tira,
que é mal compañeiro a noite
si a compañeiro se obriga.
Mais, ¡ai!, que eu non teño tobo
nin burata conocida,
nin tellado que me cruba
dos ventos da noite fría.
¡Que vida a dos probes, nena!
¡Que vida! ¡Que amarga vida!
Mais Noso Señor foi probe,
¡que esto de alivio nos sirva!

—Amén, miña vella, amén;
mais, polas almas benditas,
hoxe dormirés nun leito
feito de palliña triga,
xunta do lar que vos quente
ca borralliña encendida,
e comerés un caldiño
con patacas e nabizas.

—¡Bendito sea Dios, bendito!
¡Bendita a Virxe María
que con tanto ben me acode
por unha man compasiva!
O Señor che dé fortuna
con moitos anos de vida;
¡vólvanseche as tellas de ouro,
as pedras de prata fina,
e cada gran seu diamante
che se volva cada día!
I agora, miña rapaza,
porque un pouco te adivirtas
bailando cas compañeiras
que garulan na cociña,
heiche de contar historias,
heiche de cantar copriñas,

heiche de tocar as cunchas,
miña carrapucheiriña

"May God bless everything, lassie.
God bless you, girl,
Since he made you so comely,
Since he made you so lovely,
For though I treaded many lands,
Though I walked through many villages,
I did not see the likes of you
So round and so pretty.
Good fortune to her who gave you birth!
Good luck, amen, to whoever raises you!"

"God keep you, my old woman.
Saint Marina keep you,
For you are in truth affectionate,
Talkative and courteous."

"Lass, for speaking pleasantly
No woman would go astray:
From among the little birds
The better warblers are chosen,
Smothered in the straw dies
The little chick that doesn't cheep."

"Then if little chick you were
I tell you, my dear old woman,
You would not perish of that misfortune,
For cheep you would cheep indeed."

"Ah! What would become of me otherwise,
My daughter, my daughter!
Without shelter in the world
Since I was born a poor orphan child,
Begging from door to door
I had to spend my whole life through.
And when life resembles
The life of a pilgrim
Who seeks the daily bread
In her journeying,
Always upon alien lands,
Always in strange towns,
One has to learn then,
So as not to die ill-fated
At the foot of a stonewall
And ignored by everyone,
The chirping of the small birds,
The birdcall of the darling doves,
The pleasantry that endears,
The meekness that compels."

"How much you know, my old woman,
How much of wisdom!
Who could roam the world
To be experienced like you!
Even if hard times awaited
In those distant cities,
What things are learned as well!
What things are seen as well!"

"It's better that you never see them
Because you would go astray;
Whoever insists on gazing at the sun
Eventually goes blind!"

"You may be right, my old woman,
Nevertheless clear pupils
Has lent you till now
Blessed Saint Lucy."

"I have a lot of devotion for her,
My dear blessed saint!
But clear pupils are not always
A guarantee of pure sights.
Many I saw like the water
That glides among the cold rocks
Gurgling as it goes,
Undisturbed, undisturbed,
Which settled surrounded by murk,
Which dwelled shrouded in gloom,
In the darkness of sins
Which is concealed the most."

"If you speak of sins
They are bread that flowers where it pleases,
Everywhere it grows,
Everywhere it tillers,
But some own the colour of poison,
Others of scorched blood,
Others black like the night
Burgeon with the baneful hags
Who deliver them amid silk and gold,
Cuddled by jealousy,
Nurtured by lust,
Coddled by ambition...
My dear blessed saint!"

"'Leave well enough alone.'
Stay where you are, my daughter,
Do not yearn to see the world
Or far-away cities,
For the world rewards badly
Whoever gives it fine fabric,
And you'd make mischief in the city
That you would forgo here,
For although that moldy bread
Flowers everywhere,
In places it grows enfeebled,
In others it teems that astonishes."

"You talk like a lawyer,
And anybody would think
That you had learned from books
Such diversity of words,
Every one so well spoken,
Every one so discerning;
And you have made me so fearful
That I would never leave here
Without carrying holy scriptures
And blessed medals
In one side of my corset,
Together with a black fig
To fend off witches
And baneful hags."

"That they may protect you from yourself
Pray to God, young girl,
For we are to ourselves
The most harmful hags.
But see, here comes the night arriving
With its cloak of twinkling stars;
The livestock is home already
From the grazing yard;
Already the bells afar ring,
Ring out the Ave Marías;
Every rabbit to its burrow
Heads nimble nimble,
For the night is a bad companion
If companion it must be.
But alas! I do not have a burrow
Or fixed address
Or roof over my head
To fend off the winds of the chilly night.
What life lead the poor, lassie!
What life, what a bitter life!
Still Our Lord was poor,
May this console us!"

"Amen, my old woman, amen;
But for all hallows' sake
Today you will sleep on a bed
Made of comfy wheat straw,
Beside the stone oven that will keep you warm
With its warm, glowing embers,
And you will sup a hot broth
With potatoes and Swede leaves."

"Blessed be God, blessed!
Blessed Our Lady
Who so generously assists me
Through a compassionate hand!
May the Lord grant you fortune
And a life of many years;
May your roof tiles turn to gold,
The stones to fine silver,
And may each grain of yours
Turn into a diamond every day!
And presently, my girl,
So that you may have fun
Dancing with your mates
Who romp in the kitchen,
I will tell you stories,
I will sing you quatrains,

I will rub the seashells together,
My sweet kitchen maid


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4.   How Can I Depart If I Love You?     (Cantan os galos pra o día)

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Deses teus olliños negros, / como doas relumbrantes, / hastra as nosas maus unidas / as bágoas ardentes caen (3.1-4). A case of reverse sentence structure whose literal translation is "From your precious dark eyes / Like glittering beads / To our clasped hands / The burning tears fall." Although reverse sentences are a common feature of Spanish poetry they yield ambiguous, crumpled prose in English. The ironed-out translation is often preferable. Three other reverse sentences were reworked (3.9-10, 3.11-12, 8.1-2).

Dearie, sleep yet a while amid the gentle waves of the sea (5.1-2). The couple spent the night on a boat, he is probably a fugitive from justice or a political runaway. Galicia had many political runaways after the failed Liberal uprising of 1846. The posit is buttressed by De Castro's use on line 10.3 of the imperative fuxe, from the verb fuxir (to flee or to run away) whence comes the substantive fuxitivo (fugitive). Nevertheless the word fuxe was prudently translated, "go quickly," to let the reader interpret the poem's circumstances for her/himself.

Cantan os galos pra o día;
érguete, meu ben, e vaite

¿Como me hei de ir, queridiña;
como me hei de ir e deixarte?

—Deses teus olliños negros,
como doas relumbrantes,
hastra as nosas maus unidas
as bágoas ardentes caen.
¿Como me hei de ir si te quero?
¿Como me hei de ir e deixarte,
si ca lengua me desbotas
e co corazón me atraes?
Nun corruncho do teu leito
cariñosa me abrigaches;
co teu manso caloriño
os fríos pés me quentastes;
e de aquí xuntos miramos
por antre o verde ramaxe
cal iba correndo a lúa
por enriba dos pinares.
¿Como queres que te deixe?
¿Como que de ti me aparte,
si máis que a mel eres dulce
e máis que as froles soave?

—Meiguiño, meiguiño meigo,
meigo que me namoraste,
vaite de onda min, meiguiño,
antes que o sol se levante.

—Aínda dorme, queridiña,
antre as ondiñas do mare,
dorme por que me acariñes
e por que amante me chames,
que solo onda ti, meniña,
podo contento folgare.

—Xa cantan os paxariños,
érguete, meu ben, que é tarde.

—Deixa que canten, Marica;
Marica, deixa que canten...
Si ti sintes que me vaia,
eu relouco por quedarme.

—Conmigo, meu queridiño,
mitá da noite pasaches.

—Mais en tanto ti dormías,
contenteime con mirarte,
que así, sorrindo entre soños,
coidaba que eras un ánxel,
e non con tanta pureza
ó pé dun ánxel velase.

—Así te quero, meu ben,
como un santo dos altares;
mais fuxe..., que o sol dourado
por riba dos montes saie.

—Irei, mais dáme un biquiño
antes que de ti me aparte,
que eses labiños de rosa
inda non sei como saben.

—Con mil amores cho dera,
mais teño que confesarme,
e moita vergonza fora
ter un pecado tan grande.

—Pois confésate, Marica,
que cando casar nos casen,
non che han de valer, meniña,
nin confesores nin frades.
¡Adios, cariña de rosa!

—¡Raparigo, Dios te garde!

"The roosters sing to the dawning day.
Get up, my boon, and go away."

"How can I depart, dearie,
How can I go and leave you?

"The burning tears fall
Like glittering beads
From your lovely dark eyes
To our clasped hands.
How can I depart if I love you?
How can I go and leave you,
If you send me away with the tongue
Yet with the heart pull me near?
You sheltered me fondly
In a corner of your bed,
You warmed my cold feet
With your gentle, sweet heat,
And from here together we watched
Through the green foliage
How the moon tracked
Above the stands of pine.
How do you pretend that I leave you?
How can I forsake you,
If you are sweeter than honey
And milder than the flowers?"

"Darling wizard, dear bewitching wizard,
Wizard who made me fall in love with you:
Get away from here, darling wizard,
Before the sun rises."

"Dearie, sleep yet a while
Amidst the gentle waves of the sea,
Sleep for then you would caress me
And call out to me like a lover,
It's only with you, lass,
That I can relax contented."

"The little birds are already singing,
Get up, my boon, it's late."

"Let them sing, Marika;
Marika, let them sing...
If you are sorry to see me go,
I rave for to stay."

"You spent half the night
With me, my dearie."

"Yet while you slept
I contented myself with gazing at you,
And as you slept, smiling between dreams,
I fancied that you were an angel,
And with not as much chastity
Would I have kept vigil at the feet of an angel."

"That's how I want you, my boon,
Like a saint upon the altar;
But go quickly...for the golden sun
Shows over the hilltops."

"I will, but give me a wee kiss
Before I slip away from you,
For I still do not know how
Those rosy, sweet lips taste."

"I would with thousandfold love,
But I must go to confession
And it would be a great shame
To own so great a sin."

"Go to confession then, Marika,
But when they marry us well married,
Neither confessors nor friars
Will avail you any, lass.
Good-bye, pretty rose face!"

"God keep you, laddie!"

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5.   Conversation With A Pumpkin On Halloween     (Miña Santiña)


The Galician countryside celebrated the eve of All Hallows by making jack-o'-lantern's out of squashes, melons and pumpkins. They were placed on the margins of country lanes with the playful intention of frightening late-night passersby. The tradition was partly revived in the village of Cedeira in the year 2001 with a contest and display of carved pumpkins in the town's main square. The holiday now termed Samaín forms part of the activities during the month of October in many kindergartens and primary schools of Galicia.

The feast of the pumpkins was closely associated with the harvest festival known as Magosto whose star delicacies are roasted chestnuts and grilled corn on the cob. Samaín and Magosto are celebrated jointly in many kindergartens and primary schools of Galicia.

De Castro's bittersweet poem has three interwoven themes. The first is Halloween, which in Galicia went by the name of "feast of the pumpkins" or "feast of the skulls." The protagonist, a naive peasant girl, has just finished carving a jack-o'-lantern and is debating whether to embellish it with her earrings and necklace. She asks the magical pumpkin, the "Dear Saint," to teach her how to stitch, become a seamstress and climb the social ladder. The second theme, spun humorously via the literary device of a talking pumpkin, is the surrounding society's dispiriting cant. The squash sneers and snorts as a neighbour might. The third theme is the girl's resilience, she grows weary of the discouraging talk and brushes the jack-o'-lantern aside.

De Castro agonized over the suffering of the average Galician peasant woman,

And there is so much suffering in this dear Galician land! Whole books could be written about the eternal misfortune that besets our peasants and sailors, the sole true working people of our country. I saw and felt their hardships as though they were my own, but what always moved me, and consequently could not help but find an echo in my poetry, were the countless sorrows borne by our women: loving creatures toward their own folk and toward strangers, full of spirit, as hardy as soft-hearted and also so wretched that one would think they were born only to overcome as many travails as may afflict the weakest and most naive portion of humanity. Sharing the hard, outdoor tasks of farming fifty-fifty with their husbands, braving courageously the anxieties of motherhood indoors, the domestic chores and the wants of poverty. Alone most of the time, having to work from sunrise to sunset, barely able to sustain herself, having without help to take care of her children and perhaps of a sickly father, they seem destined to never find rest but in the grave.

Emigration and the King continually take away the lover, the brother, her man—the breadwinner of an often large family—and thus deserted, mourning over their misery, they live out a bitter life amid the uncertainties of hope, the bleakness of solitude and the anxieties of never-ending poverty. And what breaks their heart most is that their men all drift away, some because they are drafted, others because example, necessity, sometimes lust, forgivable though blind, compels them to abandon the dear home of whom they once loved, of the wife become mother and of the many unfortunate children, too small the darlings to suspect the orphanhood they are condemned to.

When these poor martyrs hazard to reveal their secrets confidentially to us, to mourn for their loves always kept alive, to lament over their woes, one discovers in them such delicacy of sentiment, such rich treasures of tenderness, so great a spirit of self-denial that unawares we feel ourselves inferior to those obscure and valiant heroines who live and die performing wonderful deeds forever untold, yet full of miracles of love and unplumbed depths of forgiveness. Stories worthy of being sung by poets better than I and whose holy harmonies ought to be played on one single note and one lone chord, on the chord of the sublime and on the note of pain.

(Prologue to Follas Novas. Santiago de Compostela. March 30, 1880)


The poem plays with the ambiguous verb "puntear" which can mean to stitch (1.6, 2.6) or to do a sequence of dancing steps (6.6, 11.6).

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Miña Santiña, miña Santasa (1.1). The appellatives "my Dear Saint" and "my Great Saint" must be taken playfully.

cómprelle a seda (3.6). The literal translation is, "Silk becomes her"; however this singular form of the pronoun contradicts the grammatical number of its antecedent, "seamstresses," hence it was changed to them.

Falaime solo das muiñeiras (5.3). The muiñeira is a bagpipe melody similar to the Scottish jig.

Soul of copper—choker of silver—youth laughing—old age weeping (8.2-3). The jack-o'-lantern speaking like a witch proposes a riddle to the reader. So what had the soul of copper, a choker of silver and prompted the young to laugh, the old to weep? In the context of the jack-o'-lantern's banter the answer to the riddle is most likely the daguerreotype (France, 1839). Thus the pumpkin is asking for a photograph of the seamstress conversing with a dude.

romería (9.2, 10.8). Traditionally a festive outing and picnic in the land close to a chapel or monastery on the holiday of its namesake.

Witch's eyes—monkey face— (11.2). Evil eyes, grinning face: a jack-o'-lantern.


"Miña Santiña" was published originally with a line length of five syllables. While this staccato format suits a very brief poem its use in longer poems annoys. Accordingly the original poem has been compressed here to half the usual number of lines and the line length expanded to ten syllables.

Boldface annotation added to assist the reader's comprehension identifies the speaker.

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Uxía from the 2013 album Rosalía Pequeniña.

—Miña Santiña, miña Santasa,
miña cariña de calabasa.
Hei de emprestarvos os meus pendentes,
hei de emprestarvos o meu collar;
hei de emprestarcho, cara bonita,
si me deprendes a puntear.

—Costureiriña comprimenteira,
sacha no campo, malla na eira,
lava no río, vai apañar
toxiños secos antre o pinar.
Así a meniña traballadora
os punteados deprende ora.

—Miña Santiña, mal me quixere
quen me aconsella que tal fixere.
Mans de señora, mans fidalgueiras
teñen todiñas as costureiras;
boca de reina, corpo de dama,
cómprelle a seda, foxen da lama.

—¡Ai rapaciña! Tí te-lo teo:
¡Seda as que dormen antre o centeo!
¡Fuxir da lama quen naceu nela!
Dios cho perdone, probre Manuela.
Lama con honra non mancha nada,
nin seda limpa honra emporcada.

—Santa, Santasa, non sos comprida,
decindo cousas que fan ferida.
Falaime solo das muiñeiras,
daquelas voltas revirandeiras,
daqueles puntos que fan agora,
de afora adentro, de adentro afora.

—Costureiriña do carballal,
colle unha agulla, colle un dedal;
cose os buratos dese ten cós,
que andar rachada non manda Dios.
Cose, meniña, tantos furados
i ora non penses nos punteados.

—Miña Santasa, miña santiña,
nin teño agulla nin teño liña,
nin dedal teño, que aló na feira
rouboumo un majo da faltriqueira,
decindo: "As perdas dos descoidados
fan o lotiño dos apañados."

—¡Costureiriña que a majos trata!
Alma de cobre, collar de prata,
mocidá rindo, vellez chorando...
Anda, meniña, coida do gando.
Coida das herbas do teu herbal:
terás agulla, terás dedal.

—Deixade as herbas, que o que eu quería
era ir cal todas á romería.
¡I alí co aire dar cada volta!
Os ollos baixos, a perna solta.
Pés lixeiriños, corpo direito;
¡pero, Santiña..., non lle dou xeito!
Non vos metades pedricadora;
bailadoriña facéme agora.
Vós dende arriba andá correndo;
facede os puntos i eu deprendendo.
Andá que peno polos penares...
Mirá que o pido chorando a mares.

—¡Ai da meniña! ¡Ai da que chora!
¡Ai, porque quere ser bailadora!
Que cando durma no camposanto,
os enemigos faránlle espanto,
bailando enriba das herbas mudas,
ó son da negra gaita de Xudas.
I aquel corpiño que noutros días
tanto truara nas romerías,
ó son dos ventos máis desatados
rolará logo cos condenados.
Costureiriña, n'hei de ser, n'hei,
quen che deprenda tan mala lei.

—¡Ai, que Santasa! ¡Ai, que Santona!
Ollos de meiga, cara de mona,
pór n'hei de pórche os meus pendentes,
pór n'hei de pórche o meu collar,
xa que non queres, xa que non sabes
adeprederme a puntear.

Girl: My Dear Saint, my Great Saint,
My pretty pumpkin face.
I will lend you my earrings,
I will lend you my necklace,
I will lend them to you, pretty face,
If you show me how to stitch.

Pumpkin: Dear obsequious seamstress,
Hoe the earth in the meadow, thresh in the field,
Wash by the river, go gather up
Dry gorses in the pine forest.
That's how a working lass learns
The stitches by and by.

Girl: My Dear Saint, such advice would come
From someone who wished me ill.
The hands of a lady, the hands of a squire
Sport dear all the seamstresses,
A queen's palate, a lady-in-waiting's figure,
Silk becomes them, they run from the mire.

Pumpkin: My dear girl! You have gid:
Silk for the girls who sleep in the rye!
Flee from the mire who was born in it!
May God forgive you, poor Emmanuelle,
Mire with integrity doesn't soil a bit
Nor does silk cleanse a sullied reputation.

Girl: Saint, Great Saint, you are not genteel,
Saying things that hurt.
Talk to me only about the jigs,
About those spinning turns,
About those dancing steps they do now,
Swing in, swing out.

Pumpkin: Dear seamstress of the oak forest,
Pick up a needle, pick up a thimble,
Sew the tears of whoever has them, for God
Does not prescribe walking about in tatters.
Sew, child, those many rips
And don't think now about the dancing steps.

Girl: My Great Saint, my dear saint,
I don't have a needle, I have no thread
Or thimble, for away at the fair
A dude stole them from my pouch
Saying, "The loss of the careless
Is the bounty of the canny."

Pumpkin: Poor seamstress who talks to dudes!
Soul of copper—choker of silver—
Youth laughing—old age weeping...
Go on, child, tend the livestock,
Mind the grassplot in your pasture:
You'll own a needle, you'll own a thimble.

Girl: Forget the pasture, what I wanted was
To go with the others to the romería.
And there whirl round and round with the air!
Eyes lowered, limber leg,
Nimbly nimble feet, straight back,
But my Dear Saint...I can't hack it!
Don't go and act the preacher,
Make me now a fair dancer.
Go on, hurry; perform up there
The dancing steps and I'll do the learning.
Go on, I pine for the heartaches...
See, I beg you crying seas.

Pumpkin: Woe to the child! Woe to the one
Who weeps! Woe for she wants to be a dancer!
Once she is laid to rest in the graveyard
Her enemies will terrify her
Dancing on the mute grass
To the sound of Judas' black bagpipe,
And that body which in days past
Partied so much at the romerías
Will roll over and over with the damned
To the sound of the wildest winds.
Poor seamstress, I won't be, I won't be
The one who gives you such evil instruction.

Girl: Ah, what Great Saint! Ah, what
Prissy Saint! Witch's eyes—monkey face—
Then I won't put my earrings on you,
Then I won't put my necklace on you,
Since you don't want to—since you
Don't know how to—teach me to dance.

Back To Index

6.   Our Lady Of The Barge     (Nosa Señora da Barca)


Legend has it that the fishing village of Muxía was the last place a fatigued Saint James reached when he came to Spain. He waded into the cold ocean water up to his knees wondering whether his missionary outreach would bear fruit. As he pondered full of doubt he spied a sailing boat made of stone approaching and carrying a woman cloaked in black. The woman was Mary the mother of Jesus. She congratulated the apostle on his epic journey and urged him to return to Jerusalem by the route he had come. James obeyed and departed after ordering the villagers to erect a chapel in her honour.

A rocky slab reputed to be the hull of that mysterious boat wobbled and huffed (2.3.1-6) when according to legend a person in state of grace stood on it, declining to do so for a mortal sinner. The rock was struck by lightning a few years ago and no longer operates.

Muxía and five other villages mentioned in the poem lie on a stretch of coast known as the "Coast of Death" for its dangerous waters and high incidence of shipwrecks. The more famous were H.M.S. Captain (September 7, 1870), H.M.S. Serpent (November 10, 1890), the Panamanian freighter Casón (December 3, 1987) and the oil tanker Prestige (November 19, 2002).

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Para tocar o pandeiro (1.7.11). A pandeiro is a square or rectangular board which is held between the arms and tapped with both hands as a percussion accompaniment.

Virxe do Carme (1.8.1). Our Lady of Mount Carmel, patron saint of sailors.

And of the gunpowder shells exploding (2.1.10). The word "bombas" is translated "gunpowder shells" rather than "fireworks" because fireworks typically are associated with some sort of dazzling visual display whereas these "bombas" are used exclusively to make noise.

aqueles dulce resolio (2.1.13). Resolio (literally "pant") was a strong liquor made from aniseed with an alcoholic content above 40%. It is closely related to pastis and today it is a collector's item.

ó son da alegre pandeira (2.1.18). A pandeira is a big tambourine; its diameter is roughly twice that of a normal tambourine.

con rosquilliñas de almendra (2.1.14). Almond-cookie rings.

YouTube Videos

Partial Recital: María del Carmen Sánchez Martínez (Centro Gallego de Palma de Mallorca).

Nosa Señora da Barca
ten o tellado de pedra;
ben o pudera ter de ouro,
miña Virxe, si quixera


¡Canta xente..., canta xente
por campiñas e por veigas!
¡Canta polo mar abaixo
ven camiño da ribeira!

¡Que lanchas tan ben portadas
con aparellos de festa!
¡Que botes tan feituquiños
con tan feituquiñas velas!

Todos cargadiños veñen
de xentiña forasteira,
e de rapazas bonitas
cura de tódalas penas.

¡Cantos dengues encarnados!
¡Cantas sintas amarelas!
¡Cantas cofias pranchadiñas
dende lonxe relumbrean,
cal si fosen neve pura,
cal froles da primaveira!

¡Canta maxesa nos homes!
¡Canta brancura nas nenas!
I eles semellan gallardos pinos
que os montes ourean,
i elas cogolliños novos
co orballo da mañán fresca.

As de Muros, tan finiñas,
que un coidara que se creban,
c'aquelas caras de virxe,
c'aqueles ollos de almendra,
c'aqueles cabelos longos
xuntados en longas trenzas,
c'aqueles cores rousados
cal si a aurora llos puñera,
pois así son de soaves
como a aurora que comenza.
Descendentes das airosas fillas
da pagana Grecia,
elas de negro se visten,
delgadiñas e lixeiras,
refaixo e mantelo negro,
zapato e media de seda,
negra chaqueta de raso,
mantilla da mesma peza,
con terciopelo adornado
canto enriba de si levan;
fillas de reinas parecen,
griegas estatuas semellan
si a un raio de sol poniente
repousadas se contempran;
ricos panos de Manila,
brancos e cor de sireixa,
crúzanse sobre o seu seio
con pudorosa modestia,
e por antre eles relosen,
como brillantes estrelas,
aderesos e collares
de diamantes e de pelras,
pendentes de filigrana
e pechugiñas de cera.

As de Camariñas visten
cal rapaciñas gaiteiras,
saias de vivos colores
polo pescozo da perna,
lucindo o negro zapato
enriba de branca media;
chambras feitas de mil raias
azuladas e vermellas,
con guarniciós que lles caen
sobre a rumbosa cadeira.
Para tocar o pandeiro
non hai coma tales nenas,
que son as camariñanas
feitas de sal e canela.

As de Cé, ¡Virxe do Carme!,
¡que cariñas tan ben feitas!
Cando están coloradiñas
no ruxe-ruxe da festa,
cada mirar dos seus ollos
fire como cen saetas.
Nin hai mans tan ben cortadas,
tan branquiñas e pequenas
como as que amostran finxindo
que non queren que llas vexan.

Son as de Laxe unhas mozas...
¡Vaia unhas mozas aquelas!
Solo con velas de lonxe
quítaselles a monteira,
porque son vivas de xenio
anque son rapazas netas.
Bailadoras...n'hai ningunhas
que con elas se entrometan,
pois por bailar, bailarían
no cribo dunha peneira.
Mais, en tocando a que recen,
en rezar son as pirmeiras...
Dan ó mundo o que é do mundo,
dan á igrexa o que é da igrexa.

As de Noia ben se axuntan
cas graciosas rianxeiras,
polos redondos peíños,
polas cabeleiras crechas,
polos morenos lunares
e polas agudas lenguas,
que abofé que en todo pican
como si fosen pementa.
Veñen dempois, recatadas,
anque un pouquiño soberbias
por aquelo que elas saben
de antigüedade e nobresa
(pois por acó todos somos
tal coma Dios nos fixera),
as meniñas ben compostas
dunha vila quisquilleira,
que, por onde van, parece
que van dicindo: «¡Canela!
¿Prantamos ou non prantamos
a cantas hai nesta terra?»
Mais si prantan ou non prantan
non son en quen o dixera,
que fora pouca cordura,
que fora farta llanesa.
Baste desir que xuntiñas
todas na porta da igrexa
máis bonitas parecían
que un ramiño de asucenas,
máis frescas que unha leituga,
máis sabrosiñas que fresas.

Xa que fosen de Rianxo,
que fosen de Redondela,
de Camariñas ou Laxe,
de Laxe ou de Pontareas,
todas eran tan bonitas,
todas tan bonitas eran,
que o de máis duras entrañas
dera as entrañas por elas...
Por eso se derretían,
cal si foran de manteiga,
diante delas os rapaces,
os rapaciños da festa,
os mariñeiros do mare
que donde á Virxe viñeran,
porque a Virxen os salvara
de naufragar na tormenta.
Mais si salvaron no mare,
non se salvarán na terra:
mariñeiros, mariñeiros,
que aquí tamén hai tormentas
que afogan corasonciños
sin que lle vallan ofertas,
que oie a Virxe ós que se afogan
do mar antre as ondas feras,
mais non oie ós namorados
que de afogarse se alegran.


Ramo de froles parece
Muxía a das altas penas
con tanta rosa espallada
naquela branca ribeira,
con tanto caraveliño
que relose antre as areas,
con tanta xente que corre,
que corre e se sarandea
ó son das gaitas que tocan
e das bombas que reventan,
uns que venden limoada,
outros augua que refresca,
aqueles dulce resolio
con rosquilliñas de almendra;
os de máis alá sandías
con sabrosas sirigüelas,
mentras tanto que algún cego
ó son da alegre pandeira,
toca un carto de guitarra
para que bailen as nenas.

¡Bendita a Virxe da Barca,
bendita por sempre sea!
¡Miña Virxe milagrosa,
en quen tantos se recrean!
Todos van por visitala,
todos alí van por vela
na súa barca dourada,
na súa barca pequena,
donde están dous anxeliños,
dous anxeliños que reman.
Alí chegou milagrosa
nunha embarcazón de pedra.
Alí, porque Dios o quixo,
sempre adoradores teña.

A pedra, bala que bala,
sírvelle de centinela,
e mentras dormen os homes,
ela adorazón lle presta
con aquel son campanudo
que escoitar lonxe se deixa
e a quen o mar con bramidos
humildosos lle contesta.

Cando as campanas repican
e a música retumbea,
cal nun ceo, polas naves
da recollidiña igrexa;
cando os foguetes estalan
nos aires, e voces frescas
polo espazo cas gaitiñas
e cos tambores se mescran,
estonces a pedra bala,
tan alegre e tan contenta
que anque un cento de persoas
brinca e salta enriba dela,
coma si fóse mociña,
máis que unha pruma lixeira,
alegre como unhas pascuas
salta e rebrinca con elas.
Choven estonces presentes,
choven estonces ofertas,
que lle traen os romeiros
en feitiñas carabelas,
diante da Virxe bendita,
ós pés da sagrada Reina,
e por eso alí lle cantan
cando se despiden dela:

Nosa Señora da Barca
ten o tellado de pedra;
ben o pudera ter de ouro,
miña Virxe, si quixera

Our Lady of the Barge
Has the roof of stone;
Well could she have it of gold,
My Lady, if she wanted to


How many many people
Across tilling fields and across lowlands!
How many come over the sea
Bound for the shore!

Such well-skippered boats
With gear for the celebration!
What splendid boats
With such splendid sails!

All come fully loaded
With welcome out-of-towners
And with pretty girls
The cure of all sorrows.

How many carmine shawls!
How many yellow ribbons!
How many neatly pressed bonnets
Gleam in the distance,
Like pure snow,
Like flowers of the springtime!

Such elegance in the men!
Such fairness on the lassies!
And the men resemble stately pines
Aired by the hills,
And the lassies young buds
Covered with drizzle of the cool morning.

The girls of Muros, so fine and so dainty
That one might suppose they shatter,
With those innocent faces,
With those almond eyes,
With those long tresses
Done up in long braids,
With those rosy colours
As if dawn's light had stamped them,
For indeed they are gentle
As the break of day.
Descended from the gallant daughters
Of pagan Greece,
They dress in black,
Charmingly slim and nimble,
Black petticoat and apron,
Shoe and silk stocking,
Black satin vest,
Mantilla veil of the same fabric,
Everything they wear
Decked in velvet;
Resembling queens' daughters,
Resembling Greek statues
If beheld reclining
In a beam of the setting sun;
Rich fabrics from Manila,
White and cherry-coloured,
Cross their heart
With seemly modesty,
And among these glitter
Like bright stars
Accessories and necklaces
Of diamonds and pearls,
Filigree pendants
And cute brooches of wax.

The girls of Camariñas dress
Like piping lassies,
Skirts of bright colours
Above the ankle,
Showing off the black shoe
Over the white stocking;
Loose-fitting blouses made of a thousand
Bluish and red stripes,
With tassels that tumble
Onto the bounding hip.
No one beats these lassies
At playing the drumming board,
For the girls of Camariñas
Are made of salt and cinnamon.

The girls of CéeVirxe do Carme!
Such pretty, well-rounded faces!
When they are flustered
In the hubbub of the celebration,
Every glance from their eyes
Wounds like a hundred quarrels.
Nor are there hands as well fashioned,
As delightfully white and small,
As those they show
Feigning not wanting to.

The girls of Laxe are some lasses...
Quite some lasses they are!
Tip of the mountaineer hat to them
Even from a distance
Because they are hot-tempered
Yet altogether teenaged girls.
As for others
Dare mess with them,
Dance they could dance
On a sieve's mesh,
But when a summons to prayer is rung,
They are the first ones to pray...
They give to the world what belongs to the world,
They give to the church what belongs to the church.

The girls of Noia mingle well with
The graceful girls of Rianxo,
For their shapely cute feet,
For their curly hair,
For their brown beauty spots
And for their sharp tongues,
For truly they add spice to everything
As if they were pepper.
They come afterwards reserved
If a tad haughty
On account of their knowing
About ancestry and nobility—
Whereas here we carry ourselves
Just as God made us—
The proper lasses
Of a persnickety village
Who it seems they go saying,
Wherever they go, "Cinnamon!
Do we or do we not put down
Every girl who dwells on this land?"
But if they do or do not put down
I am not one to say,
For it'd show poor judgment,
For it'd be too crude.
Suffice it to say that huddled
Together by the church door
They looked prettier
Than a bouquet of Madonna lilies,
Fresher than a leaf of lettuce,
Yummier than strawberries.

Whether they were from Rianxo,
Whether they were from Redondela,
From Camariñas or Laxe,
From Laxe or Ponteareas,
All were so pretty,
All so pretty were,
That the most hard-hearted man
Would give his heart out for them...
That is why the lads
Melted before them
Like butter,
The laddies of the festivity,
The sailors of the sea
Who came to visit Our Lady
Because Our Lady saved them
From going down in the storm.
But if they were delivered at sea
They will not be delivered upon dry land:
Sailors, sailors,
There are storms here too
That drown dear hearts
With no pledges accepted,
For Our Lady hears those who are drowning
Among the wild waves of the ocean,
But she does not listen to lovers
Who rejoice at the prospect of drowning.


Muxía of the high crags
Resembles a bouquet
With so many roses scattered
On that white bank yonder,
With many a colourful carnation
Dazzling in the sand,
With so many people who run,
Who run and rock
To the sound of bagpipes playing
And gunpowder shells exploding.
There are some who sell lemonade,
Others refreshing water,
Those over there sweet double-distilled anise
With mouth-watering almond-cookie rings;
Those farther away red melon
With luscious plums.
Meanwhile some blind man
Plays a guitar piece
To the beat of the gay tambourine
So the lassies will dance.

Blessed Lady of the Barge,
Blessed forever be!
My miracle Lady
Whom so many feast their eyes upon!
Everyone comes to visit her,
Everyone goes there to see her
On her gilded boat,
On her small boat,
Where abide two lovely angels,
Two lovely angels that row.
There she arrived miraculous
On a vessel of stone.
There, because God willed it,
May she always have worshipers.

The huge slab, wobbling and wobbling,
Doubles as her sentinel,
And while the men slumber,
It renders her worship
With that tolling sound
Audible in the distance
And answered by the sea
With obliging bellows.

When the bells peal
And the music reverberates,
As in a firmament, through the naves
Of the reverent church,
When the gunpowder shells explode
Aloft, and fresh voices
Mingle across the expanse
With the dear bagpipes and the drums,
The huge slab wobbles
So jolly and so glad
That even though a hundred people
Jounce and bounce on top of it,
As if it were a young girl,
Lighter than a feather,
Happy like an Easter Sunday,
It jounces and rebounds with them.
Then there rain down presents,
Then there rain down offerings,
Brought by the devotees
In fine model caravels
To the blessed Lady,
To the feet of the sacred Queen,
And that is why they sing to her
As they bid her farewell:

Our Lady of the Barge
Has the roof of stone;
Well could she have it of gold,
My Lady, if she wanted to

Back To Index

7.   Flight To Wonderland     (Fun un domingo)

Translator's Note

In the tome "Cantares Gallegos" De Castro often constructs a poem around a popular couplet or quatrain which is quoted in italics. In "Fun un domingo" she borrowed the leading two lines of this one,

Fun ó muíño do meu compadre;
Fun polo vento, vin polo aire.
É como cousa de encantamento;
Fun polo aire, vin polo vento.

I went to the mill of my child's godfather,
I went riding the wind, I came riding the air.
It's like a thing of enchantment,
I went riding the air, I came riding the wind.

Affectionate Diminutives

Fun un domingo, fun pola tarde,
co sol que baixa tras dos pinares,
cas nubes brancas sombra dos ánxeles,
cas palomiñas que as alas baten,
con un batido manso e suave,
atravesando vagos celaxes,
mundos extraños que en raios parten
ricos tesouros de ouro e diamante.

Pasín os montes, montes e valles,
pasín llanuras e soledades;
pasín os regos, pasín os mares,
con pés enxoitos e sin cansarme.

Colleume a noite, noite brillante,
cunha luniña feitas de xaspes,
e fun con ela camiño adiante,
cas estreliñas para guiarme,
que aquel camiño solo elas saben.

Dempois a aurora co seu sembrante
feito de rosas veu a alumbrarme,
e vin estonces, antre o ramaxe
de olmos e pinos, acobexarse
branca casiña con palomare,
donde as pombiñas entran e saien.

Nela se escoitan doces cantares,
nela garulan mozos galantes
cas rapaciñas de outros lugares.
Todo é contento, todo é folgare,
mentras a pedra bate que bate,
mole que mole, dálle que dálle,
con lindo gusto faille compases.

Non hai sitiño que máis me agrade
que aquel muíño dos castañares,
donde hai meniñas, donde hai rapaces,
que ricamente saben loitare;
donde rechinan hasta cansarse
mozos e vellos, nenos e grandes,
e anque non queren que aló me baixe,
sin que o soupera na casa naide,

fun ó muíño do meu compadre;
fun polo vento, vin polo aire

I went on a Sunday, I went in the afternoon,
With the sun that goes down behind the stands of pine,
With the white clouds sunshade of the angels,
With the butterflies that beat their wings
With an easy and gentle flutter,
Traversing dim, dappled skies,
Alien worlds that part into beams
Rich treasures of gold and diamond.

I crossed the hills, hills and valleys,
I crossed plains and moors,
I crossed the rills, I crossed the seas,
With dry feet and untiring.

Nightfall caught up with me, a brilliant night
With a bright moon made of jasper,
And I went down the trail with her,
With the twinkling stars to guide me,
For they alone know that path.

Afterward the dawn with her semblance
Made of roses came to give me light,
And I saw then through the foliage
Of elms and pines, snuggled away,
Precious white house with pigeon loft
Where the darling doves enter and leave.

Sweet songs are heard within it,
Gallant lads revel inside it
With the lassies of roundabout places.
All is joy, all is leisure,
While the stone that slams and slams,
Grinds and grinds, knocks and knocks,
Plays rhythms to it with lovely taste.

There is no charming place that pleases me more
Than that water mill in the chestnut forest,
Where there are lasses, where there are lads
Who richly know how to spar;
Where grate until they tire
Young and old, children and grownups,
And although they don't want me to go down there,
Without anyone in the house being aware:

I went to the mill of my child's godfather,
I went riding the wind, I came riding the air

Back To Index

8.   Lure Of The Piper     (Un repoludo gaiteiro)

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

de pano sedán vestido (1.2). Sedan is a French town of 20,000 inhabitants situated on the banks of the river Meuse in the Ardennes. The town became a major textile center between 1641 and the First World War and gave its name first to a glossy figure eight needlepoint and later to the manufacture of woolen rugs, carpets and cloth. Thus "cloth of Sedan" may describe a garment imported from Sedan or a local cloth stitched with the Sedan needlepoint.

Camiño da romería (7.1). A traditional romería is a festive picnic near a chapel or monastery on the holiday of its namesake.

¡Canta risa nas fiadas! (11.2). A fiada was a gathering of women in the evening to make yarn in a festive atmosphere of storytelling, games and song.

non veñan ó meu tocar (12.2). Double entendre. Tocar can mean to play a musical instrument or to touch.

YouTube Videos

The Orfeón Mariñeiro do Berbés (Sailors' Orpheon from the Berbés quarter of Vigo) covers Amancio Prada's adaptation below.

Orfeón Mariñeiro do Berbés (min. 3:20-7:25).

Un repoludo gaiteiro
de pano sedán vestido,
como un príncipe cumprido,
cariñoso e falangueiro,
antre os mozos o pirmeiro
e nas siudades sin par,
tiña costume en cantar
aló pola mañanciña:

Con esta miña gaitiña
ás nenas hei de engañar

Sempre pola vila entraba
con aquel de señorío,
sempre con poxante brío
co tambor se acompasaba;
e si na gaita sopraba,
era tan doce soprar,
que ben fixera en cantar
aló pola mañanciña:

Con esta miña gaitiña
ás nenas hei de engañar

Todas por el reloucaban,
todas por el se morrían,
si o tiñan cerca, sorrían,
si o tiñan lonxe, choraban.
¡Mal pecado! Non coidaban
que c'aquel seu frolear
tiña costume en cantar
aló pola mañanciña:

Con esta miña gaitiña
ás nenas hei de engañar

Camiño da romería,
debaixo dunha figueira,
¡canta meniña solteira
«Quérote», lle repetía!...
I el ca gaita respondía
por a todas emboucar,
pois ben fixera en cantar
aló pola mañanciña:

Con esta miña gaitiña
ás nenas hei de engañar

Elas louquiñas bailaban
e por xunta del corrían,
cegas..., cegas, que non vían
as espiñas que as cercaban;
probes palomas, buscaban
a luz que as iba queimar,
pois que el soupera cantar
aló pola mañanciña:

Ó son da miña gaitiña
ás nenas hei de engañar

¡Nas festas, canto contento!
¡Canta risa nas fiadas!
Todas, todas, namoradas,
déranlle o seu pensamento;
i el que de amores sedento
quixo a todas engañar,
cando as veu dimpois chorar
cantaba nas mañanciñas:

Non sean elas toliñas,
non veñan ó meu tocar

A pudgy bagpiper
Dressed in cloth of Sedan,
Well-mannered like a prince,
Affectionate, talkative and courteous,
First among the young men
And without peer in the cities,
Had a habit of singing
By the wee hours of the morning:

With this dear bagpipe of mine
I will surely dupe the lassies

He always entered the village
With a gentleman's bearing,
He always, with steadfast vigour,
Played to the beat of the drum
And if he blew the bagpipe
So sweet was his blowing
That he had done right in singing
By the wee hours of the morning:

With this dear bagpipe of mine
I will surely dupe the lassies

All the girls yearned for him,
All the girls died for him,
If he was close by they smiled,
If he was far away they wept.
Base sin! They didn't realize
That with that flirty fettle of his
He had a habit of singing
By the wee hours of the morning:

With this dear bagpipe of mine
I will surely dupe the lassies

On the way to the romería,
Under a fig tree,
How many a maiden
Would tell him again, "I love you"!
And he replied with the bagpipe
To trick them all
Since he had done right in singing
By the wee hours of the morning:

With this dear bagpipe of mine
I will surely dupe the lassies

The poor raving girls danced
And raced to him blinded,
Blind lasses who didn't see
The thorns that compassed them,
Poor doves who went seeking
The light that would scorch them
Since he had sung knowingly
By the wee hours of the morning:

To the sound of my dear bagpipe
I will surely dupe the lassies

How much joy at the festivities!
How much laughter at the spindle parties!
All the girls, every one love-struck,
Had given him their thought
And he who thirsty for love
Had wished to hoodwink them all
When he later saw them crying
Sang in the wee hours of the morning:

Let them not be adorably daffy,
Let them not come to my playing

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9.   Though It Be A Sin     (Díxome nantronte o cura)

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Jacinto (5.3). Hyacinth, not a common first name in English.

Cara de pote fendido (10.1). "Cara de pote" was slang for an object of dark complexion (an overcast day, a face) because the cooking pots of Rosalia's day were ironwork. The modifier "fendido" (from fenda: slit, crack, chink) may tab the light-coloured areas of Jacinto's face (teeth, white of the eyes) or a scar. Thus the tempting translation "crackpot face" is wrong: Jacinto is not a nutter, he is probably a dark-skinned gypsy.

tan contento (23.2). Although the literal translation is "so merrily" the best interpretation is colloquial, meaning "without a second thought" or "without a care in the world." The first option, "without a second thought," serves to contrast Jacinto's indifference with the infatuated girl's constant dwelling upon him.


Díxome nantronte o cura
que é pecado...
Mais aquel de tal fondura
¿como o facer desbotado?

Dálle que dálle ó argadelo,
noite e día,
e pensa e pensa naquelo,
porfía que te porfía...

Sempre malla que te malla,
enchendo a cunca,
porque o que o diancre traballa
din que acaba tarde ou nunca.

Canto máis digo: ¡Arrenegado!
¡Demo fora
Máis o demo endemoncrado,
me atenta dempois i agora.

Máis ansias teño, máis sinto,
que non me queira Jacinto,
nin solteira, nin casada.

Porque deste ou de outro modo,
a verdá digo,
quixera atentalo e todo,
como me atenta o enemigo.

¡Que é pecado...miña almiña!
Mais que sea;
¿cal non vai, si é rapaciña,
buscando o que ben desea?

Nin podo atopar feitura
nin asento,
que me está dando amargura
sempre este mal pensamento.

Din que parés lagarteiro
si é verdad, ¡meu lagarteiro
tenme o corazón prendado!

«Cara de pote fendido»
ten de alcume;
mellor que descolorido,
quéroo tostado do lume.

Si elas cal eu te miraran,
meu amore,
nin toliña me chamaran,
nin ti me fixeras dore.

Vino unha mañán de orballo,
á mañecida,
durmindo ó pé dun carballo,
enriba da herba mollida.

Arrimeime paseniño
á súa beira,
e sospiraba mainiño
como brisa mareeira.

E tiña a boca antraberta,
como un neno
que mirando ó ceu desperta
deitadiño antre o centeno.

I as guedellas enrisadas
lle caían,
cal ovellas en manadas,
sobre as froliñas que abrían.

¡Meu Dios! ¡Quen froliña fora
das daquelas!...
¡Quen as herbas que en tal hora
o tiñan pretiño delas!

¡Quen xiada, quen orballo
que o mollou!
¡Quen aquel mesmo carballo
que cas ponlas o abrigou!

Mentras que así o contempraba
e pensei que me afogaba
o corazonciño meu.

Bate que bate, batía
sin parar,
mais eu tembrando decía:
«Agora lle hei de falar.»

E volveu a rebulir
moi paseniño,
¡ai!, e botei a fuxir,
lixeira polo camiño.

Dempois, chora que te chora,
dixen: «Si el non me namora,
non lle direi nunca nada.»

E non me namora, non,
mentras o meu corazón
quérelle anque sea pecado.

E vai tras de outras mociñas
tan contento,
i eu, con unhas cadiñas,
prendíno ó meu pensamento.

E que queira que non queira,
está comigo,
i á postre i á derradeira,
con el me atenta o enemigo.

¡Sempre malla que te malla
enchendo a cunca!
I é que o que o demo traballa,
acabará tarde ou nunca.

Por eso, anque o cura dixo
que é pecado,
mal que tanto mal me fixo
nunca o darei desbotado.

The day before yesterday the padre
Told me that it's a sin...
But how does one tear out
What is so deep within?

Turn and turn the swift,
Night and day,
Think and think about it,
Again and again...

Thresh and thresh evermore,
Filling up the holding bin,
For they say the devil's work
Is late or never in.

The more I say, "Renegade!
Scram, devil!"
The more the impish devil
Plagues me now and after.

The more I fret, the more I grieve
Worn out!
That Jacinto won't love me,
Single or espoused.

Because one way or another,
I speak this true,
I'd love to plague him and all,
Like the enemy plagues me.

That it's a poor soul!
Yet let it be;
What dear girl doesn't go after
What she well desires?

I can't finish the chores
Nor find repose,
For this wicked thought sours me
Without pause.

They say you look
Like a skint rogue;
If so my rogue
Has stolen my heart!

"Cracked-cooking-pot face"
Has he for nickname;
Yet I prefer him fire-toasted
Better than faded.

If the girls saw you as I do,
My love,
They'd not dub me "adorably daffy"
Nor would you cause me pain.

In the early hours of a drizzly morn
I spied him
Sleeping on the supple grass
At the foot of an oak.

I laid down beside him
And he was breathing softly soft
Like a sea breeze.

He had the mouth half open,
Like a baby
Who lain gently in the rye
Wakes up looking at the sky.

And the curled locks
Fell in flocks,
Like lambs,
Over the pretty, blooming flowers.

My God! Who were one
Of those darling flowers!...
Who the blades of grass
So cuddly close to him at that hour!

Who frost, who drizzle
That dampened him!
Who that very oak
Whose branches sheltered him!

He stirred
While I watched him thus,
And I thought my aching heart
Was choking me.

Beating, beating, it beat
Without check,
And trembling I was saying,
"I'll talk to him now."

And he stirred again very slowly,
And alas!
I sprang to my feet and fled fast
Along the byway.

Afterwards I wept and wept
"If he won't woo me," I vowed,
"I'll never tell him anything."

And no, he doesn't woo me—
Meanwhile my heart loves him
Though it be a sin.

And he chases the other lassies
Without a second thought,
And I fastened him with tiny fetters
To my mind.

And willy-nilly
He abides with me,
And after all is said and done,
The enemy plagues me with him.

Thresh and thresh evermore
Filling up the holding bin!
For the devil's work
Is late or never in

That is why although the padre said
That it's a sin,
However much grief he's given me
I'll never get rid of him.


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10.   Black Carnation     (Quíxente tanto, meniña)

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

On the lovely way to San Lois (2.2). Today San Lois is part of Pontecesures, a town of 3,136 inhabitants (year 2011) situated 3.4 kilometers south of Padrón beside the river Ulla.

Yet when I crossed the river (3.7). The river Ulla.

YouTube Videos

Raquel Pato composed a short piano piece for this poem (Ms. Pato is a high-school music teacher). Her composition was recorded by Rosa Cedrón and Cristina Pato in their 2010 album Soas.

Rosa Cedrón and Cristina Pato on Galician TV (2010).

"Quíxente tanto, meniña
tívenche tan grande amor,
que para min eras lúa,
branca aurora e craro sol;
augua limpa en fresca fonte,
rosa do xardín de Dios,
alentiño do meu peito,
vida do meu corazón."

Así che falín un día
caminiño de San Lois,
todo oprimido de angustia,
todo ardente de pasión,
mentras que ti me escoitabas
depinicando unha frol,
porque eu non vise os teus ollos
que refrexaban traiciós.

Dempois que si me dixeches,
en proba de teu amor
décheme un caraveliño
que gardín no corazón.
¡Negro caravel maldito,
que me fireu de dolor!
Mais a pasar polo río,
¡o caravel afondou!...

Tan bo camiño ti leves
como o caravel levou.

"I loved you so much, lass,
I had for you such great love
That you were to me the moon,
The white dawn and the bright sun,
Clean water in a fresh fountain,
A rose of God's garden,
The cherished breath of my chest,
The life of my heart."

Thus I wooed you one day
On the lovely way to San Lois,
Entirely burdened with anguish,
Entirely burning with passion,
While you listened
Picking apart a flower
So I wouldn't spy the reflection
Of deception in your eye.

After answering, "Yes,"
You handed me as confirmation
Of your love a fair carnation
Which I kept in my heart—
Damned black carnation
That pierced me with pain!—
But when I crossed the river
The carnation fell off and sank...!

May you keep to as good a route
As the one the carnation took.


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11.   Bells Of Bastabales     (Campanas de Bastabales)

Spelling Note

Another acceptable way of spelling "Bastabales" is "Bastavales"; the name derives from the Latin, "vasta vallis," meaning "vast valley."

Typographical Error In the Original

Original line 1.5.1 reads, "Non me roubaron, traidores," which makes stanzas 1.5-1.6 say, "Treacherous loves sweetly mad alas! / Sweetly mad loves alas! / Did not abduct me. / For love has fled / And loneliness arrived... / Consuming me with grief." The statement is incongruous and begs the question, "Then who abducted the protagonist?" Changing one crucial vowel in line 1.5.1. clears up the confusion. What Rosalía de Castro wrote in fact was: "Non me roubaran, traidores," and the typesetter mistook the highlighted "a" for an "o" and the error is understandable because De Castro's caligraphy sometimes produced a's that look like o's when joined to a consonant (see the fifth entry of the section "YouTube Videos" below).

Historical Background

De Castro was the daughter of Father José Martínez Viojo and María Teresa da Cruz de Castro e Abadía. Father Viojo was born in 1798 in the hamlet of Ortoño and he died at the age of seventy-three in the small parish of Iria Flavia on the outskirts of the town of Padrón which is 10 km away from Ortoño. María Teresa was born in 1804 in Iria Flavia and she died at the age of fifty-seven in the city of Santiago de Compostela, 20 km away.1 This family background explains why De Castro spent some time in Ortoño, Padrón and Santiago de Compostela.

The bells of Bastavales are audible in Ortoño which is 3 km away, but they are not audible in Padrón or in Santiago de Compostela. Hence De Castro must have lived in Ortoño long enough to retain a conscious remembrance of the bells. It is certain that she was cared for there until the age of four. Then she was sent to live with her mother and go to school in the town of Padrón. This poem certifies that she returned to Ortoño during the summer holidays and her frequent allusion to the river Sar testifies that the child had a wonderful time playing on its banks. Moreover the Viojo family hailed from Bastavales, guaranteeing that she went there to visit her relatives. Indeed the conviction persists among some neighbours that De Castro eventually took up residence in Soigrexa a place downslope from the church (xensboy, uploader of a Youtube video entitled, "The ringing bells of Bastavales in the summer of 2010," since removed).

Father Viojo and María Teresa kept seeing each other after the birth of their illegitimate daughter. He was chaplain of the Collegiate Church of Iria Flavia, 2 km from Padrón where María Teresa lived. The following excerpt of a letter written in 1923 demonstrates that De Castro knew her father. The writer cites Father Viojo's niece,

When she [the writer's aunt] was 19 years old in the spring of 1859, my aunt returned from school at noon and went as usual into the house where she lived with her uncle, and she bumped into Rosalía chatting with her father in the living room. She retired prudently, it was the first time that she had seen her cousin. She told me that her first impression [of De Castro] was that of a good-enough girl, neither very pretty nor homely, tall and charming.2
The letter elucidates many things. For example the line, "mill in the chestnut forest," of "Adiós rios, adios fontes" tabs the water mill owned by the Viojo family. The letter describes Rosalía's father as "tall, swarthy, plump, ironic and engaging," calling up the traditional portrayal of Friar Tuck. The letter discloses that María Teresa had intended to abandon De Castro in a baby-drop-off facility run by the church, but the father intervened and sent the newborn to Ortoño instead, first under the care of a tailor named Lesteiro and subsequently into the care of Viojo's own family.

To plot the trip taken by the protagonist of "Campanas de Bastabales" the reader must accept the premise that "yonder" (1.4.2-3) is Ortoño or more generally the valley known as Val da Mahía which encompasses both Ortoño and Bastavales. The protagonist no longer dwells there and she must cross hillocks to reach the valley (2.1.2). Where does she dwell now? Section V provides the important clue that the clouds rush toward her house (5.1.2-3). The usual direction of strong winds accompanied by cloudy weather in Val da Mahía is southwesterly or westerly. Therefore her home must lie east of Bastavales, be within walking distance and beyond a range of hills. The city of Santiago de Compostela is the only one of De Castro's known addresses that fits. Thus the poem depicts a journey from the city of Santiago de Compostela to the hamlet of Bastavales.

"Campanas de Bastabales" has the following background script. Section I voices De Castro's regret at having left Bastavales lured by her "treacherous, sweetly mad love" (for Manuel Murguía). The couple married in Madrid in 1858 and settled down in Santiago de Compostela the following year.3 Section II starts her real or imagined walk from the city to her beloved hamlet. In sections III and IV the protagonist exults as she strolls toward Bastavales. Surprisingly she does not reach her destination. Nightfall finds her seated on a small boulder by the trail, a cue that the trip is partly fictitious. Section V reflects De Castro's anguish at having been left alone in her new home. The neighbours are uncaring ("without a friend") her husband is away ("for whom I live pining") and her mother dead ("everyone has departed").4 Under this script the Ave María of the last two stanzas is rung by the bells of St. James' Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. In addition the peculiar dashed line found on this section may indicate the excision of lines that are too revealing.

1 Xosé Docampo, Tito 11. Rosalía de Castro (nai das letras galegas). Xenealoxí Investigando a historia familiar en Galicia.
2 Luis Tobío Fernández. Letter to Bouza-Brey. August 20, 1923. Historia Local de Ortoño e A Maía.
3 Manuel Murguía. Galician Wikipedia.
4 De Castro's mother died in Santiago de Compostela on June 24, 1862, suggesting that this sad poem was written shortly afterwards.

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Soidades (refrain, line 3). The best translation may be "to have the blues." Soidá, saudade is dejection triggered by solitude, separation or frustration. At the beginning of the poem "soidades" bespeaks her longing to see Bastavales, at the close her loneliness.

as laradas das casiñas (5.3.2). It was customary to kindle a small blaze (larada) by the gate of a house to protect the hearth from evil spirits or natural dangers.1

The call of the Ave María (5.3.6). That is the Angelus which was rung three times a day: 6:00 AM, noon and 6:00 PM.

1 Marisol Filgueira Bouza. "5 Rituales como terapéuticos: El duelo, el Carnaval, las tribus urbanas, la noche de San Juan, y los ritos populares y grupos terapéuticos." PDF file.

YouTube Videos

Troubadour and songwriter Amancio Prada arranged sections I and III of the poem (first two entries); the audio of the first entry is from the 1997 album Rosas a Rosalía; the audio of the second entry is from the 1991 album Trovadores, Místicos y Románticos.

Uxía arranged section III of the poem with her own melody (third entry).

Soprano María Orán and the Extremadura Symphony Orchestra offer an operatic interpretation of section I (fourth entry).

Amancio Prada, María del Mar Bonet and the Galicia Symphony Orchestra. This song covers section I.

Amancio Prada. This song covers section III.

Uxía from the 2013 album Rosalía Pequeniña.

María Orán and the Extremadura Symphony Orchestra.

De Castro's caligraphy.

Campanas de Bastabales,
cando vos oio tocar,
mórrome de soidades


Cando vos oio tocar,
campaniñas, campaniñas,
sin querer torno a chorar.

Cando de lonxe vos oio,
penso que por min chamades,
e das entrañas me doio.

Dóiome de dor ferida,
que antes tiña vida enteira,
i hoxe teño media vida.

Solo media me deixaron
os que de aló me trouxeron,
os que de aló me roubaron.

Non me roubaran, traidores,
¡ai!, uns amores toliños,
¡ai!, uns toliños amores.

Que os amores xa fuxiron,
as soidades viñeron...
de pena me consumiron.


Aló pola mañanciña
subo enriba dos outeiros,
lixeiriña, lixeiriña.

Como unha craba lixeira,
para oír das campaniñas
a batalada pirmeira.

A pirmeira da alborada
que me traen os airiños
por me ver máis consolada.

Por me ver menos chorosa,
nas súas alas ma traen
rebuldeira e queixumbrosa.

Queixumbrosa e retembrando
por antre a verde espesura,
por antre o verde arborado.

E pola verde pradeira,
por riba da veiga llana,
rebuldeira e rebuldeira.


Paseniño, paseniño,
vou pola tarde calada,
de Bastabales camiño.

Camiño do meu contento;
i en tanto o sol non se esconde,
nunha pedriña me sento.

E sentada estou mirando
como a lúa vai saíndo,
como o sol se vai deitando.

Cal se deita, cal se esconde,
mentras tanto corre a lúa
sin saberse para donde.

Para donde vai tan soia,
sin que aos tristes que a miramos
nin nos fale, nin nos oia.

Que si oíra e nos falara,
moitas cousas lle dixera,
moitas cousas lle contara.


Cada estrela, o seu diamante;
cada nube, branca pruma;
triste a lúa marcha diante.

Diante marcha crarexando
veigas, prados, montes, ríos,
donde o día vai faltando.

Falta o día, e noite escura
baixa, baixa pouco a pouco,
por montañas de verdura.

De verdura e de follaxe,
salpicada de fontiñas
baixo a sombra do ramaxe.

Do ramaxe donde cantan
paxariños piadores
que ca aurora se levantan.

Que ca noite se adormecen
para que canten os grilos
que cas sombras aparecen.


Corre o vento, o río pasa;
corren nubes, nubes corren
camiño da miña casa.

Miña casa, meu abrigo:
vanse todos, eu me quedo
sin compaña, nin amigo.

Eu me quedo contemprando
as laradas das casiñas
por quen vivo suspirando.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Ven a noite..., morre o día,
as campanas tocan lonxe
o tocar da Ave María.

Elas tocan pra que rece;
eu non rezo, que os saloucos,
afogándome parece
que por min tén que rezar.

Campanas de Bastabales,
cando vos oio tocar,
mórrome de soidades

Bells of Bastabales,
I die of longing
Whenever I hear you ring


When I hear you ring,
Dear bells, dear bells,
Without intending to I weep again.

When I hear you afar
I fancy that you are calling to me,
And it hurts me deep inside.

I hurt wounded by pain,
For I was fully alive then
And half alive today.

Just half alive left me they
Who brought me over from yonder,
Who abducted me yonder.

Would that treacherous loves sweetly mad alas!
Sweetly mad loves alas!
Had not abducted me.

For love has fled
And loneliness arrived...
Consuming me with grief.


In the early morning hours
I go up the hillocks,
Fleet-footed, fleet-footed.

Fleet-footed like a she-goat
To hear the first clang
Of the dear bells.

The dawn's first which
Kind breezes carry
To see me more comforted.

They fetch it on their wings,
Stirring and groaning,
To see me less tearful.

Groaning and reverberating
Through the green thickets,
Through the green groves.

And over the green prairie,
Over the flat lowland,
Stirring and stirring.


I make my way to Bastabales,
Leisurely, leisurely,
In the quiet afternoon.

Pathway of my delight;
And while the sun doesn't hide
I sit on a small boulder.

And seated I am watching
How the moon keeps rising,
How the sun keeps declining.

How it lies low, how it hides,
Meanwhile the moon races
To no one knows where.

Where does she head to so alone
Without hearing or talking to us
Sad ones who gaze at her?

For if she heard and talked to us
Many things I'd say to her,
Many things I'd tell her.


The moon marches on, forlorn,
Each star her diamond,
Each cloud a white feather.

She marches on brightening
Lowlands, grazing fields, hills, streams,
Where daylight is fading.

It's the close of day, and the dark night
Descends, descends little by little,
Over mountains of greenery.

Of greenery and leafage,
Splattered with dear fountains
Beneath the shade of the many branches.

Of the many branches where sing
Little chirping birds
That get up with the dawn.

That fall asleep at night
To let sing the crickets
Which emerge with the shadows.


By rushes the wind, the river flows by,
By rush the clouds, the clouds rush by
On their way to my house.

My house, my shelter:
Everyone departs, I am left
Without company or friend.

I am left watching
The guardian fires of the small houses
On account of whom I live pining for.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Night arrives...dies the day,
The bells in the distance ring out
The call of the Ave María.

They summon me to prayer;
I don't pray, the sobs
Choking me, it seems,
Must pray on my behalf.

Bells of Bastabales,
I die of loneliness
Whenever I hear you ring


Back To Index

12.   Where Many Spit, Loam Turns To Muck     (Vinte unha crara noite)


"Vinte unha crara noite" twice mentions a Galician tradition associated with the night of St. John's Eve (1.1.1-4, 2.2.1-4). This custom was the soaking of a bundle of medicinal and aromatic herbs in a bowl or in large tin basin under the moonlight of the summer solstice. Next morning everybody washed their face, hands or body with the fragrant, greenish water, and the bundle was put out to dry in the summer sun during several days. Once dry the bundle was hung from the back of the front door of the house and the herbs were used as the need arose. According to tradition this ritual exorcized evil spirits, warded off witches and protected against envy.

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

na fonte a serenar (1.1.4, 2.2.4). "Fonte" means "fountain" but it can also mean "table bowl."

Pombal (2.4.6). De Castro probably had Pombal de Abaixo in mind, 3.5 kilometers northeast of Padrón.


Vinte unha crara noite,
noitiña de San Xoán,
poñendo as frescas herbas
na fonte a serenar.
E tan bonita estabas
cal rosa no rosal
que de orballiño fresco
toda cuberta está.

Por eso, namorado,
con manso suspirar
os meus amantes brazos
boteiche polo van,
e ti con dulces ollos
e máis dulce falar,
meiguiña, me emboucastes
en prácido solás.

As estrelliñas todas
que aló no espazo están,
sorrindo nos miraban
con soave craridá.
E foron, ¡ai!, testigos
daquel teu suspirar
que ó meu correspondía
con amoriño igual.

Pero dempois con outros
máis majos e galáns
(mais non que máis te queiran,
que haber, non haberá),
tamén, tamén, meniña,
soupeches praticar
á sombra dos salgueiros,
cabo do romeiral.

Por eso eu che cantaba
en triste soledá,
cando, ¡ai de min!, te vía
por riba da veiga llana,
con eles parolar:
"Coida, miña meniña,
das práticas que dás,
que donde moitos cospen,
lama fan."


¡Que triste ora te vexo!...
¡Que triste, nena, estás!...
Os teus frescos colores,
¿donde, meniña, van?
O teu mirar sereno,
o teu doce cantar,
¿donde, meniña, donde,
coitada, toparás?

Xa non te vin, meniña,
na noite de San Xoán,
poñendo as frescas herbas
na fonte a serenar.
Xa non te vin fresquiña
cal rosa no rosal,
que muchadiña estabas
de tanto saloucar.

Ora, de dor ferida,
buscando a honriña vas,
honriña que perdeches,
mais ¿quen cha volverá?
Eu ben, miña meniña,
ben cha quixera dar,
que aquel que ben te quixo
doise de verte mal.

Mais anque dir, eu diga,
que limpa, nena, estás,
respóndenme sorrindo
por se de min bulrar
«Ben sabes, Farruquiño,
Farruco do Pombal,

que donde moitos cospen,
lama fan


I saw you on a cloudless night,
At twilight Saint John's Eve,
Setting the fresh herbs to steep
In the table bowl for the night.
And you looked as pretty
As a rose in the rose bush
In fresh dew.

That is why, enamoured,
With soft sighs
I threw my loving arms
Around your waist;
And you, charming enchantress,
With sweet eyes and sweeter talk
Beguiled me
In placid solace.

All the twinkling stars
That in space above reside
Looked at us smiling
With soft-light shine.
And they were witnesses ah!
Of those sighs of yours
Which reciprocated mine
In equal, gentle love.

Yet afterward with others
More handsome and gallant than I
(Though none who love you more,
For no one ever ever shall)
As well, as well, lass,
You were wont to chatter
Under the shade of the willow trees,
Beyond the field of rosemaries.

That is why I used to sing to you
In sullen solitude
When wretched me! I saw you
Chatting with them
Across the flat lowland:
"Be careful, my lass,
About the conversations you have,
For where many spit,
Loam turns to muck."


How sad I see you now!...
How sad, girl, you are!...
Your glowing colours, lass,
Whither did they part?
Your serene gaze,
Your sweet singing, lass,
Where, o ill-starred one,
Where will you find?

No longer did I see you, lass,
On the night of Saint John's Eve
Setting the fresh herbs to steep
In the table bowl for the night.
No longer did I see you sparkling fresh
Like a rose in the rose hedge,
For sadly withered you were
From weeping so much.

Now you go about scarred by pain
In search of your good name,
Reputation you surrendered,
But who will render it?
O how, how I wish, my lass,
I could give it back to you,
For he who loved you true
Suffers to see you ailing.

But however much I say and say
What a wholesome girl you are,
They reply to me smiling
To make of me fun,
"Well you know, Frankie,
Frank of Pombal,

That where many spit,
Loam turns to muck

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13.   A Maiden's Prayer     (San Antonio bendito)

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Saint Anthony (title). Reputed to be a matchmaker in Portuguese and Brazilian tradition.

troncho que troncho (4.7). A troncho is the stalk of a garden vegetable like cabbage, but colloquially it can also denote derision or exhaustion. Walking-stick kale can grow as tall as a person. It was traditionally used for making walking sticks. Hence this cabbage can be a pun and a metaphor for muscle stiffness, fatigue and trudging or clumping along.

Virxe do Carme (5.2). The Spanish religious icon known as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, patron saint of sailors.

YouTube Videos

This poem was arranged by composer Joaquín Rodrigo in 1951. The piece is performed below by soprano Laura Alonso Padín and Cristina Pato at the piano.

Laura Alonso Padín and Cristina Pato.

San Antonio bendito,
dádeme un home,
anque me mate,
anque me esfole

Meu santo San Antonio
daime un homiño,
anque o tamaño teña
dun gran de millo.

Daimo, meu santo,
anque os pés teña coxos,
mancos os brazos.

Unha muller sin home...
¡santo bendito!,
e corpiño sin alma,
festa sin trigo,
pau viradoiro,
que onda queira que vaia
troncho que troncho.

Mais en tendo un homiño,
¡Virxe do Carme!,
non hai mundo que chegue
para un folgarse;
que, zambo ou trenco,
sempre é bo ter un home
para un remedio.

Eu sei dun que cobiza
causa miralo,
lanzaliño de corpo,
roxo e encarnado;
carniñas de manteiga,
e palabras tan doces
cal mentireiras.

Por el peno de día,
de noite peno,
pensando nos seus ollos
color de ceo;
mais el, xa doito,
de amoriños entende,
de casar pouco.

Facé, meu San Antonio,
que onda min veña
para casar conmigo,
nena solteira;
que levo en dote
unha culler de ferro,
catro de boxe,
un hirmanciño novo
que xa ten dentes,
unha vaquiña vella
que non dá leite...

¡Ai, meu santiño!
Facé que tal suceda,
cal volo pido.

San Antonio bendito,
dádeme un home,
anque me mate,
anque me esfole

Que, zambo ou trenco,
sempre é bo ter un home
para un remedio.

Blessed Saint Anthony,
Grant me a man,
Even if he kills me,
Even if he skins me

My saintly Saint Anthony,
Grant me a greenhorn,
Even if he has the size
Of a grain of corn.

Bring him, my saint,
Even if he has lame feet
Or both arms lacking.

A woman without a man—
Blessed saint!—
Is a frail, soulless frame,
Feast without wheat,
Fresh bread gone stale,
That wherever it goes
Goes walking-stick kale.

But with a greenhorn for mate—
Virxe do Carme!
The world isn't big enough
For relaxation;
Even bowlegged or knock-kneed,
It's always good to have a man
For a remedy.

I know of someone whom to see
Is to covet,
Spare of body,
Red and ruddy,
Smooth flesh of cream,
And words as sweet
As counterfeit.

For him I ache by day,
By night ache I,
Brooding over his eyes
The colour of sky,
But he, already savvy,
Knows a lot about love,
Little about getting married.

Bring him to me,
My Saint Anthony,
To marry me,
A maiden child;
I bring for dowry
A spoon of iron,
Four of boxwood,
A new baby brother
Who has teeth already,
A dear old cow
That doesn't give milk...

Please, my cherished saint!
Bring it about
As I ask you.

Blessed Saint Anthony,
Grant me a man,
Even if he kills me,
Even if he skins me

Even bowlegged or knock-kneed,
It's always good to have a man
For a remedy.


Back To Index

14.   Lass Of The Green Mountain     (Acolá enriba)

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

meniña morena (1.3). The adjective morena usually means "brown-skinned" but it can also mean "brunette." Since the girl's skin colour is labelled unusually white (6.1) the second definition applies.

na sombra dos pinos (5.9). The literal translation is "pine-trees' shadow." The chosen variation, "evergreens' shadow," reflects the prevalence of an alpine coniferous tree on the Galician Highlands different from the Greek Mediterranean variety cultivated in the rest of the country.

eu lla vestira, eu lla calzara (7.1). Probably inspired by the popular romance, La Pedigüeña (The Exacting Lady).


"Acolá enriba" was published with a line length of six syllables. Here the line length has been doubled to improve readability.

Acolá enriba na fresca montaña,
que alegre se crobe de verde retama,
meniña morena de branco vestida,
nubiña parece no monte perdida,
que xira, que corre, que torna, que pasa,
que rola e, mainiña, serena se para.

Xa envolta se mira na espuma que salta
do chorro que ferve na rouca cascada.

Xa erguida na punta de pena sombrisa,
inmoble cal virxe de pedra se mira.

A cofia de liño aos ventos soltada,
as trenzas descoida que os aires espallan.

Tendida-las puntas do pano de seda,
as alas dun ánxel de lonxe semellan,
si as brisas da tarde, xogando con elas,
as moven ca gracia que un ánxel tivera.
Eu penso, ¡coitado de min!, que me chaman,
si as vexo bulindo na verde enramada.
Mais ¡ai! os meus ollos me engañan traidores
pois vou e, lixeira na niebra se esconde;
se esconde outras veces na sombra dos pinos
e canta escondida cantares dulciños
que abrasan, que firen ferida de amor
que teño feitiña no meu corazón.

¡Que feita, que linda, que fresca, que branca
dou Dios á meniña da verde montaña!
¡Que hermosa parece, que chore, que xima;
cantando, sorrindo, disperta, dormida!
¡Ai, si seu pai por regalo ma dera!,
¡Ai, non sentira no mundo máis penas!
¡Ai!, que por tela conmigo por dama,

eu lla vestira, eu lla calzara.

Way up yonder on the cool-clime mountain,
Merrily covered with broom shrubs green,
A brunette lass in white clothing
Seems a scud cloud lost in the upland
That whirls, dashes, turns back, passes,
Veers and gentle gentle halts serene.

She looks at herself enveloped in leaping spray
From the jet that churns in the droning cascade.

She stands erect upon the dark crag's crest,
Posing like a stone madonna motionless.

She unlaces the linen bonnet to the winds;
The air flares the unattended braids.

She raises the tips of the silken shawl;
Afar they resemble the wings of an angel
If the afternoon breezes with them playing
Flap them with the flair an angel would don.
Blighted me! I fancy that to me they beckon
If I see them fanning amid the green foliage.
But alas! my traitorous eyes trick me
For I go and she hides quick in the fog
(Other times she hides in the evergreens' shadow)
And hidden she sings honey-sweet songs
That scorch, that inflict the wound of love
I have sustained fondly in my heart.

How comely! How pretty! How natural! How white
God made the lass of the green mountain!
How gorgeous she looks whether she weeps or moans,
Ah, if her father gave her to me for a present!
Ah, I'd have no more sorrows in the world!
Ah! To have her beside me for lady,

I'd ply her with shoes, I'd ply her with dresses.

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15.   Good-Bye Rivers, Good-Bye Fountains     (Adiós ríos, adios fontes)

Historical Background

"Good-bye rivers, good-bye fountains" recounts the drama of those forced to emigrate by the crisis of 1850-1860. Apparently due to the unusually cold winters of the decade 1850-1860 and due to the prevalence of subsistence agriculture many family farms of Galicia went bankrupt.

The weather of the decade is sometimes likened to a mini Ice Age. There was notable snowfall over much of Spain in 1850 and by February a large number of wolves roamed the countryside. February 1853 brought heavy snowfall to the port cities of Ferrol and A Coruña. The following year, 1854, Madrid registered a minimum temperature of -8°C on February 14th. January 1855 was again very cold and snowy over northern Spain. The winter of 1856-57 was especially hard,

Official reports in the official bulletin of the Spanish government highlighted the frostiness of the winter. From Puigcerdá (Girona), "For more than a month the countryside has been snow-covered." From Biscay, "As a consequence of the copious snows that have fallen over our region during the past days, especially on the peaks of the Valley of Carranza, there has appeared down in the valley a strong pack of wolves that is inflicting great losses on herds of sheep and cattle." Announcements of planned wolf culls were numerous during those cold days of 1857... the snow fell over all of northern Spain from Galicia to Catalonia. The province of Santander had by the fourth of February spent three months cut off from the interior, completely snowed in. "No one remembers such a prolonged spell of bad weather."

("Olas de frío, entradas frías y temporales de nieve en España 1830-1985." Meteored)

To compound the problem the main domestic industry also went into crisis.

From the second half of the nineteenth century onward Galicia's textile industry suffered a severe crisis brought on by the legal importation and the smuggling of foreign fabrics, and many families endured hardship because there was no alternate source of employment. To make matters worse, the agricultural sector went into crisis between the years 1850-1860, destabilizing the rural economy. The composite crisis forced the population to look for a better life overseas.

("La emigración española en el periódico la Voz de Galicia en el año 1913." El Rincón del Vago)

The economic downturn accelerated the exodus.

There is evidence of a strong current of emigration from the year 1810 to 1853 that is difficult to quantify because the Spanish government did not condone emigration officially. Consequently some authors refer to this obscure period as the period of clandestine emigration.

But from 1836 onward Spain began to grant official recognition to her newly independent colonies. Mexico was the first former colony to be recognized, in 1836, and Uruguay, Chile and Argentina followed soon thereafter. As a result emigration intensified... In December of 1836 the first commercial advertisement appeared offering transatlantic passage aboard the General Laborde from A Coruña to Montevideo, Buenos Aires and other destinations in Mar del Plata. The offer of transatlantic crossings increased progressively. The majority of the crossings was made on sailing ships. In 1850 the brigantine Juan departed from Carril advertised as a first-class steamer. Relatively reliable data suggest that 93,040 Galicians left between the years 1836 and 1860.

The Spanish government legalized emigration in 1853, and this made the count reliable: 122,875 people left Galicia between the years 1860-1880.

(André Solla. "A emigración galega a América")

The proportion of people leaving was staggering. The census of 1857 gave a count of 1,776,879 inhabitants for the region. According to all these figures, then, over 12% of the population left Galicia during the period 1836-1880.

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Virxe da Asunción (8.1, 8.5). The Spanish religious icon known as Our Lady of the Assumption (to heaven).

Pomar (9.2). Also known as Pumar it is a hamlet in the municipality of Urdilde, county Rois, some 20 kilometers from Santiago de Compostela. It was so small that one local ditty chaffed it with these words, "Although from a distance the hamlet of Pumar looks like a town it has but a carnation on the way in and a rose on the way out." Another ditty is more generous, "They say that Pumar is uncomely because its houses do not have balconies, yet it has pretty girls who steal away hearts."1

1 Cantigas de Parroquias e Aldeas de Urdilde. Xunta de Galicia.

YouTube Videos

Pucho Boedo and Los Tamara from the 1970 album Na Fermosa Galicia.

Amancio Prada and the Galicia Symphony Orchestra from the 1997 album Rosas a Rosalía.

Sés live at Teatro Colón (A Coruña) on February 25, 2018.

Recital: Los Hijos de La Casa Grande (min. 6:35 onward).

Adiós, ríos; adios, fontes;
adios, regatos pequenos;
adios, vista dos meus ollos:
non sei cando nos veremos.

Miña terra, miña terra,
terra donde me eu criei,
hortiña que quero tanto,
figueiriñas que prantei,
prados, ríos, arboredas,
pinares que move o vento,
paxariños piadores,
casiña do meu contento,
muíño dos castañares,
noites craras de luar,
campaniñas trimbadoras,
da igrexiña do lugar,
amoriñas das silveiras
que eu lle daba ó meu amor,
caminiños antre o millo,
¡adios, para sempre adios!

¡Adios groria! ¡Adios contento!
¡Deixo a casa onde nacín,
deixo a aldea que conozo
por un mundo que non vin!

Deixo amigos por estraños,
deixo a veiga polo mar,
deixo, en fin, canto ben quero...
¡Quen pudera non deixar!...

Mais son probe e, ¡mal pecado!,
a miña terra n'é miña,
que hastra lle dan de prestado
a beira por que camiña
ó que naceu desdichado.

Téñovos, pois, que deixar,
hortiña que tanto amei,
fogueiriña do meu lar,
arboriños que prantei,
fontiña do cabañar.

Adios, adios, que me vou,
herbiñas do camposanto,
donde meu pai se enterrou,
herbiñas que biquei tanto,
terriña que nos criou.

Adios Virxe da Asunción,
branca como un serafín;
lévovos no corazón:
Pedídelle a Dios por min,
miña Virxe da Asunción.

Xa se oien lonxe, moi lonxe,
as campanas do Pomar;
para min, ¡ai!, coitadiño,
nunca máis han de tocar.

Xa se oien lonxe, máis lonxe,
Cada balada é un dolor;
voume soio, sin arrimo...
¡Miña terra, ¡adios!, ¡adios!

¡Adios tamén, queridiña!...
¡Adios por sempre quizais!...
Dígoche este adios chorando
desde a beiriña do mar.

Non me olvides, queridiña,
si morro de soidás...
tantas légoas mar adentro...
¡Miña casiña!,¡meu lar!

Good-bye rivers, good-bye fountains;
Good-bye little rills;
Good-bye view of my eyes:
I do not know when we'll see each other.

My land, my land,
Land where I was raised,
Small orchard that I love so,
Dear fig trees that I planted,
Meadows, streams, groves,
Stands of pine swayed by the wind,
Little chirping birds,
Darling cottage of my joy,
Mill in the chestnut forest,
Clear nights of brilliant moonlight,
Cherished ringing bells
Of the tiny parish church,
Blackberries in the brambles
That I used to give my love,
Narrow footpaths through the cornfields,
Good-bye, for ever good-bye!

Good-bye heaven! Good-bye happiness!
I leave the house of my birth,
I leave the hamlet that I know
For a world I haven't seen!

I leave friends for strangers,
I leave the lowland for the sea,
I leave, in short, what I well love...
Would I didn't have to go!...

But I am poor and—base sin!—
My land is not my own,
For even the road's shoulder
Is loaned out to the wayfarer
Who was born star-crossed.

I must therefore leave you,
Small orchard that I loved so,
Beloved fireplace of home,
Dear trees that I planted,
Favorite spring of the livestock.

Good-bye, good-bye, I am leaving,
Hallowed blades of the churchyard
Where my father lies buried,
Saintly blades I kissed so much,
Dear land that brought us up.

Good-bye Virxe da Asunción,
White as a seraph,
I take you along in the heart:
Plead with God on my behalf,
Virxe da Asunción of mine.

Far, very far away, are heard
The church bells of Pomar;
For hapless me alas!
They shall never ring again.

They are heard afar, farther away,
Every peal deals out pain;
I part alone without a friend...
Good-bye land of mine, good-bye!

Farewell to you too, little darling!...
Farewell forever perhaps!...
I send you this farewell crying
From the precious seaside.

Don't forget me, little darling,
If I should die of loneliness...
So many leagues out to sea...
My dear house! My home!


Back To Index

16.   I'm Not Afraid Of You, Little Owl!     (Eu ben vin estar o moucho)

Translator's Note

The hoots of the little owl were deemed to announce the impending death of some neighbour, relative or of the hearer himself. However farmers considered it a good omen when the bird sought shelter in a pigeon loft (source: Galicia Espallada). Once thriving the little-owl population of Galicia is in constant decline due to the indifference of successive governments to the destruction of the bird's habitat, the massive replacement of native forest land with subsidized plantations of eucalyptus.

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Dark wings that spread feelings of fear (1.1.3-4). The wings of a crow or a raven.

On the hour when the roosters sing (1.1.5). A rooster crows three times at night: around midnight, between 2:00 and 3:00 AM and before daybreak (source: Galicia Espallada).

When the witches dance, dance...Their white hair flaring out (1.1.7-12). Probably a clever description of a waterspout striking land. Waterspouts are not unusual along the Galician coast and ambient lighting conditions may make the vortex appear decidedly white.

I cross the brook, swimming like a seabird (2.2.11-12). Splashing about.

YouTube Videos

Radiometro e Meigas (Section I).

Recital: Obradoiro de Educación Plástica (IES As Barxas, Moaña, Pontevedra).

Eu ben vin estar o moucho
enriba daquel penedo.
¡Non che teño medo, moucho;
moucho, non che teño medo


Unha noite, noite negra
como os pesares que eu teño,
noite filla das sombrisas
alas que estenden os medos;
hora en que cantan os galos,
hora en que xemen os ventos;
en que as meigas bailan, bailan,
xuntas co demo pirmeiro,
arrincando verdes robres,
portas e tellas fendendo,
todas de branco vestidas,
tendido-los brancos pelos
contra quen os cans oubean
agoirando triste enterro;
cando relumbrar se miran
antre os toxales espesos,
cal encendidas candeas
ollos de lobo famento;
e os ramallaxes dos montes
antre sí murmuxan quedos,
e as follas secas que espallan
os aires da noite inquietos,
en remuíños se xuntan
con longo estremecemento,
indo camiño da igrexa,
soia cos meus pensamentos,
cabo da fonte da Virxe,
pretiño do cimeterio,
dempóis de sentir un sopro
que me deixóu sin alento,
eu ben vin estar o moucho
enriba daquel penedo.


Arrepuiñadas todas
as carnes se me puñeron,
e os cabelos no curuto
fóronse erguendo direitos;
gotas de sudor corrían
a fío polo meu peito,
e trembaba como tremban
as augas cando fai vento,
na pía da fonte nova,
que sempre está revertendo.
Aquel moucho alí ficando,
cal si fose o mesmo demo,
fito a fito me miraba
cos seus ollos rapiñeiros,
que coidéi que me roubaban
non máis que de lonxe velos.
De lume me paresían
e que me queimaron penso;
penso que eran tizós roxos
da fogueira dos infernos,
que polas niñas me entraron
hastra o corazón dereitos.
En el remorsos había
de amoriños pecadentos...
¡Ai, que ten deses amores,
non pode achar bon sosiego!

Chovía si Dios ten augua,
ventaba en todo-los ventos,
e ensarrapicada toda
a camiñar non me atrevo;
que o moucho, fita que fita,
me aspera naquel penedo;
mais acordéime da Virxe
que sempre conmigo levo;
résolle un Ave-María,
e cobrando novo alento,
como os páxaros do mare,
nadando paso o regueiro,
corro a enriba do valado,
brinco en baixo do portelo,
e dende alí berro estonces
con cantas forzas eu teño:

¡Non che teño medo, moucho;
moucho, non che teño medo!

I plainly saw the little owl perched
Atop that rocky outcrop.
I'm not afraid of you, little owl!
Little owl, I'm not afraid of you!


Once upon a night, night as black
As the burdens I bear,
Night daughter of the dark wings
That spread feelings of fear,
On the hour when the roosters sing,
On the hour when the winds groan,
When the witches dance, dance
Alongside the foremost devil,
Uprooting green oak trees,
Tearing out roof tiles and doors—
The witches all dressed in white,
Their white hair flaring out,
At whom the dogs howl
Foreboding sad interment—
When among the compact gorse-bushes
Can be seen gleaming
Like lit candles
The eyes of the hungry wolf,
And the masses of foliage on the hills
Murmur to each other low,
And the dry leaves scattered
By the unsettled airs of the night
Cluster together in whirlwinds
Of long-lasting shudder,
Going by way of the church,
Alone with my thoughts,
Just past the fountain of Our Lady,
Quite close to the cemetery,
After feeling a gust
That took my breath away,
I plainly saw the little owl perched
Atop that rocky outcrop.


Goose bumps spread
All over my body,
And the hairs on my crown
Steadily bristled;
Drops of sweat trickled
Steadily down my bosom,
And I quivered as quivers
The water when the wind blows
Upon the bowl of the new fountain
That is always overflowing.
That little owl abiding there,
As if it were the very devil,
Stared hard at me
With its scavenging eyes;
I surmised they preyed on me
From the moment I saw them afar.
To me they seemed made of fire
And I suppose they seared me;
I suppose they were crimson firebrands
From hells' bonfire
Which entered through the pupils
And went straight to the heart.
There was in it remorse
Of illicit sweet loves...
Ah, whoever has such loves
Can not find good repose!

It rained if God does store water,
It blew in all the winds,
And drenched to the bone
I dare not take another step,
For the little owl, staring hard,
Waits for me on that rocky outcrop;
But I remembered Our Lady
Whose keepsake I carry always with me,
I say a Hail Mary,
And regaining my breath,
I cross the brook, swimming
Like a seabird,
I race up onto the stonewall cap,
I jump down to beneath the narrow gate,
And from there I shout then
With all my strength:

I'm not afraid of you, little owl!
Little owl, I'm not afraid of you!

Back To Index

17.   Breezes, Sweet Airy Winds     (Airiños, airiños aires)

She, Her, My Homeland

The noun "homeland" is genderless in English, but not in Galician: "miña terra" is a feminine pair. Every occurrence of the feminine pronoun in "Airiños, airiños aires" refers to the writer's homeland, not to a person, so it can also be translated as "my homeland" or "home" (1.4, 16.12).

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Bloodsucking witch (6.5). In Galician folklore a witch that enters a house at night to suck the blood of a sleeping child.

Vaca vermella (10.2). Literally "red cow," a term used by dairy farmers, but a better approximation to the cow-coat's colour for a city dweller is, "golden-red."

Pombas que arrulás nas eiras (10.4). The word "arrulás" discloses that these pigeons are turtle doves (Galician: rulas).

Mozos que atruxás bailando (10.5). "Atruxar" is the blend of a yodel and a prolonged yell.

¡Muiñeira, muiñeira! (10.12). The muiñeira is a bagpipe melody similar to a Scottish jig.

Among the white skulls (16.8). An ossuary open to the air.


Xas-co-rras-chás (10.7). Sound of two seashells being rubbed together, delivered approximately by "shas-caw-russ-chas" in the translation. A more accurate rendition with the Oxford Pronunciation Guide for English Dictionary is   /ʃɑs:/ /ko:/ /rɑs:/ /tʃɑs:/

Xurre-xurre (10.8). Sound of the tambourine, delivered approximately by "shur-ray shur-ray" in the translation or by   /ʃure:/ /ʃure:/

Run-run (14.8). Droning sound of the wind approximated by "roon-roon."

YouTube Videos

Víctor Manuel on Galician TV (2008).

Recital: Alma Selene.

Airiños, airiños aires,
airiños da miña terra;
airiños, airiños aires,
airiños, levaime a ela

Sin ela vivir non podo,
non podo vivir sin ela,
que adonde queira que vaia
cróbeme unha sombra espesa.

Cróbeme unha espesa nube
tal preñada de tormentas,
tal de soidás preñada,
que a miña vida envenena.

Levaime, levaime, airiños,
como unha folliña seca,
que seca tamén me puxo
a callentura que queima.

¡Ai!, si non me levás pronto,
airiños da miña terra,
si non me levás, airiños,
quisais xa non me conesan,
que a frebe que de min come
vaime consumindo lenta
e no meu corazonciño
tamén traidora se ceiba.

Fun noutro tempo encarnada
como a color da sireixa,
son hoxe descolorida
como os cirios das igrexas,
cal si unha meiga chuchona
a miña sangre bebera.

Voume quedando muchiña
como unha rosa que inverna,
voume sin forzas quedando,
voume quedando morena
cal unha mouriña moura,
filla de moura ralea.

Levaime, levaime, airiños,
levaime a donde me esperan
unha nai que por min chora,
un pai que sin min n'alenta,
un irmán por quen daría
a sangre das miñas venas
e un amoriño a quen alma
e vida lle prometera.

Si pronto non me levades,
¡ai!, morrerei de tristeza,
soia nunha terra estraña
donde estraña me alomean,
donde todo canto miro
todo me dice: «¡Extranxeira!».

¡Ai, miña probe casiña!
¡Ai, miña vaca vermella!
Años que balás nos montes,
pombas que arrulás nas eiras,
mozos que atruxás bailando,
redobre das castañetas,
xas-co-rras-chás das cunchiñas,
xurre-xurre das pandeiras,
tambor do tamborileiro,
gaitiña, gaita gallega,
xa non me alegras dicindo:
«¡Muiñeira, muiñeira!».

¡Ai, quen fora paxariño
de leves alas lixeiras!
¡Ai, con que prisa voara,
toliña de tan contenta,
para cantar a alborada
nos campos da miña terra!

Agora mesmo partira,
partira como unha frecha,
sin medo ás sombras da noite,
sin medo da noite negra;
e que chovera ou ventara,
e que ventara ou chovera,
voaría e voaría
hastra que alcansase a vela.

Pero non son paxariño
e irei morrendo de pena,
xa en lágrimas convertida,
xa en sospiriños desfeita.

Doces galleguiños aires,
quitadoiriños de penas,
encantadores das auguas,
amantes das arboredas,
música das verdes canas
do millo das nosas veigas,
alegres compañeiriños,
run-run de tódalas festas,
levaime nas vosas alas
como unha folliña seca.

Non permitás que aquí morra,
airiños da miña terra,
que aínda penso que de morta
hei de sospirar por ela.

Aínda penso, airiños aires,
que dimpois que morta sea,
e aló polo camposanto,
donde enterrada me teñan
pasés na calada noite
runxindo antre a folla seca,
ou murmuxando medrosos
antre as brancas calaveras,
inda dimpois de mortiña,
airiños da miña terra,
heivos de berrar: «¡Airiños,
airiños, levaime a ela!».

Breezes, sweet airy winds,
Breezes of my homeland;
Breezes, sweet airy winds,
Breezes, take me home

Without her I can not live,
I can not live without her,
For go where I may
A thick shadow hovers over me.

Over me hovers a thick cloud
So pregnant with storms,
So with yearnings pregnant,
That it poisons my life.

Carry me away, breezes, carry me,
Like a poor dry leaf,
For dried up too left me
The fever that burns.

Aye! If you don't carry me away soon,
Breezes of my homeland,
If you don't carry me away, breezes,
Perhaps they won't recognize me,
For the fever that feeds off me
Keeps consuming me slowly
And treacherous harries
My poor heart also.

I was upon another time carmine
As the cherry's colour;
I am today discolored
As the churches' candles,
As if a bloodsucking witch
Had imbibed my blood.

I am withering away alas!
Like a rose in wintertime,
I am losing my strength daily,
I am turning dark-skinned
Like a tan, pretty Moorish woman,
Daughter of Moorish lineage.

Carry me away, breezes, carry me,
Carry me to where wait for me
A mother who weeps for me,
A father who struggles without me,
A brother for whom I'd give
The blood of my veins
And a truelove to whom I vowed
Life and soul.

If you don't carry me away soon
Aye! I will die of sadness,
Alone in a strange land
Where they call me a stranger,
Where everything I gaze upon—
Everything—says to me, "Foreigner!"

Ah, my poor dear house!
Ah, my golden-red cow!
Lambs that bleat in the highlands,
Turtle doves that purr in the fields,
Lads who yell-yodel dancing,
Roll of the castanets,
Shas-caw-russ-chas of the seashells,
Shur-ray shur-ray of the tambourines,
Drum of the drummer,
Dear bagpipe, Galician bagpipe,
You no longer gladden me saying:
"Jig! Jig!"

Ah, who were a little bird
Of slim, nimble wings!
Ah, with what haste I would fly,
Delirious from so much joy,
To sing the morning song
On my homeland's meadows!

This very instant I'd part,
I'd part like an arrow,
Without fear of the night's shadows,
Without fear of the black night;
And whether it rained or blew hard,
And whether it blew hard or rained,
I would fly and fly
Until she came into view.

But I am not a small bird
And I'll be dying slowly of sorrow,
Anon in tears transmuted,
Anon in sad sighs dissolved.

Sweet Galician winds that I love,
Cherished healers of heartbreaks,
Enchanters of the waters,
Lovers of the coppices,
Music of the green stalks
Of corn in our valleys,
Merry mates,
Roon-roon of every celebration,
Carry me away on your wings
Like a poor dry leaf.

Do not let me die here,
Breezes of my homeland,
For I even think that when I'm dead
I shall pine for her.

I even think, sweet airy winds,
That after I am dead,
And over there at the graveyard
Where they will have interred me
You pass by in the silent night,
Clattering among the dry leaves
Or whispering fearful
Among the white skulls,
Even after I pass away sadly,
Breezes of my homeland,
I shall cry out to you: "Breezes,
Breezes, take me home!"

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Camilo Álvarez de Castro

Camilo Álvarez de Castro.
Source: Real Academia Galega.

18.   Prejudice     (Roxiña cal sol dourado)


"Roxiña cal sol dourado" is related to "Lass of the Green Mountain" (poem #14).

De Castro dedicated "Roxiña cal sol dourado" to the cantor of the cathedral of Salamanca, Camilo Álvarez de Castro. This man was the only favourable critic of Cantares Gallegos. He wrote a letter to Rosalía de Castro, dated November 12, 1864, which was "full of affection and praise for the Galician poetess." He wrote his letter in the Galician language, a very unusual thing to do at the time,

What songs, Rosalía! See, I turn them over and over as is done to flour in the sieve, and I dare not touch them, for they are carnations and would wither and lose their aroma should I touch them. After these Cantares of yours I consider you a meiga (N.T. a good witch, a wizardess) [...] and be neither sated nor silent until everybody shouts, "Maybe it's true what this wizardess says about the treasures of Galicia!"

De Castro's books of poetry succeeded in making Galicians wish to rescue their language from oblivion. As the letter explained,

I arrived to the banks of the Tormes (N.T. the river that skirts the Castilian city of Salamanca) but I did not forget the Miño (N.T. the main river of Galicia). Nor did I forget the language of my parents and grandparents telling me stories in the kitchen, watching sparks dart and the dough boil in the hearth and cinders fly upward like snowflurries to the trammel chain by the light of the oil lamp [...] That is why I read your Cantares as a hungry man eats bread, as the butterflies kiss the flowers.

Translator's Note

Some verses of "Roxiña cal sol dourado" are reverse sentences (1.1.5-7, 1.2.6-7, 1.4.5-7, 2.2.3-4, 2.5.3-4). Such sentences sacrifice logical sequencing in order to obtain rhyme or to proffer a deliberately prolix style. For example the translated sentence, "So white (her feet) they resembled two snowflakes in repose dazzling in the light of day" (1.5-7) reads in the original, "A snowflake in repose dazzling in the light of day her foot so white resembled." Reverse sentences often translate poorly into English without being rearranged.

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

co branco pé descalzado (1.1.4). The literal translation, "with the white foot unshod," is ambiguous in the English language, the girl is neither lame nor do her feet differ in colour, hence the better translation is, "with her white feet unshod." In tandem the translation turns De Castro's "copo de neve pousado" (1.1.5) into "two fallen snowflakes" (1.1.6).

cimbréase con folgura (1.4.6). De Castro uses the present tense ("sways") where the narrative's flow requires the past tense ("swayed"). The translation opts for the past tense.

cántanlle o doce a... la... lala (2.2.6). An alalá is a distinct type of traditional song.

YouTube Videos

Recital: Marga Casal Yánez.


Roxiña cal sol dourado,
garrida cal fresca rosa,
iba polo monte hermosa
co branco pé descalzado...
Copo de neve pousado,
deslumbrando á luz do día,
tan branco pé parecía.

As longas trenzas caídas,
con quen os ventos xogaban,
ondiñas de ouro formaban
na branca espalda tendidas;
apertadas e bruñidas,
que espigas eran coidara
o que de lonxe as mirara.

Tiñan os cores do mare
os seus olliños dormentes;
máis doces, máis transparentes,
naide os poidera encontrare;
naide velos sin amare
o corazón sin falsía
que por antre eles se vía.

Levaba na frente a ialma,
nos doces labios a risa,
auguiña que o vento enrisa,
pousaba no fondo en calma.
Tal como gallarda palma
cimbréase con folgura
a delgadiña cintura.

Ó par da brisa temprada
que antre os salgueiros corría,
ela correndo seguía
unha veiriña encantada;
que alí mansa e sosegada
manaba unha fresca fonte
cabo da falda do monte.


Franca, pura, sin enganos,
canta, canta, garruleira,
ó pé da verde silveira
lavando os seus brancos panos.
Ó son dos romores vanos
que nacen ca mañanciña,
lava, lava na fontiña.

Xunto dela os paxariños
gorgorexan que é un contento;
faille festiñas o vento
cos seus hirmáns os airiños.
Os pastores, coitadiños,
cántanlle o doce a... la... lala...,
que lengua de amores fala.

Ela honesta está escoitando,
mais con sospiros responde,
que aló garda non sei donde
saudades de non sei cando.
Os paniños vai lavando,
e a tendelos se apresura
nun campiño de verdura.

Dempois no rego que pasa
verte unha bágoa serena,
filla da escondida pena
que o seu peitiño traspasa,
pois que de amores se abrasa
aquela que é fresca rosa
tan amante como hermosa.

Compañeiras van chegando,
cal máis a máis ben portada,
xarros de louza vidrada
antre os seixos van pousando.
Cai a auguiña mormuxando,
brancas vinchas se levantan,
as meniñas cantan... cantan.

As estrelas van fuxindo,
a espesa niebra enrarece,
o arboriño que frorece
por antre ela vai saíndo.
O craro sol vai subindo
por riba do firmamento,
limpo, gárrulo e contento.

Arredor todo arrescende
a olido de primadera,
i aló na azulada esfera
fogax de groria se encende;
mais a meniña n'atende
sinón ao dor, ¡mal pecado!,
que ten no peito encravado.

Danlle estrañeza os cantares,
danlle de chorar deseios,
i, os ollos de bágoas cheios,
pensa nos nativos lares;
que n'hai máis tristes pesares,
máis negra malencolía,
que a que entre estraños se cría.

Paxariños, verde prado,
branca lúa e sol ardente,
todo consolo é impotente
en mal tan desconsolado;
todo contento é trubado
pola peniña sin fondo
que hai no corazón abondo.

Por eso a meniña hermosa,
foxe da alegre fontiña,
tal como triste ovelliña
que trema de dor queixosa.
Vai sentida, vai chorosa,
mentras lle cantan con saña:
"¡Da montaña!, ¡da montaña!".

I ela, que de tal se estraña,
ferida no que máis sinte,
que a maltraten non consinte,
i así lles contesta huraña:
"Anque che son da montaña,
anque che son montañesa,
anque che son, non me pesa".


Pretty and blonde as the golden sun,
Luscious as a fresh rose,
Gorgeous she roved through the highland
With her white feet unshod...
So white they resembled
Two fallen snowflakes
Dazzling in the daylight.

Long braids trailing down,
Which the winds played with,
Formed ripples of gold
Lying on her white back;
Taut and burnished,
Some onlooker afar would
Suppose them ears of grain.

Her lovely sleepy eyes
Owned the sea's colours;
Sweeter or more transparent
No one could find;
No one see them without loving
The guileless heart
That showed through them.

She bore the soul on the brow,
On the sweet lips laughter,
Tranquil water that the wind ruffles
Plumbed the depths peaceful.
The slender waist
Swayed with abandon
Like a glamorous palm tree.

She covered running,
Together with the mild breeze
That scampered amid the willows,
A green enchanted wayside;
For there a fresh fountain
Flowed out gentle and calm
By the hillside.


Sincere, pure, without duplicity,
She sings, sings, garrulous,
At the foot of the green brambles
Washing her white linen.
To the sound of the vain rumours
That are born with the early morning
She washes, washes at the dear fountain.

Next to her the little birds
Warble to one's content,
The wind with its brothers the breezes
Plays fun tricks on her.
The shepherds, poor timid ones,
Sing to her the sweet a... la... lala...,
Language that talks about love.

She is listening honest,
But answers with sighs,
For she keeps I know not where
Yearnings of I know not when.
She keeps washing the household linen,
And hastens to put it to dry
On a handy grassy patch.

Afterwards on the passing creek
She lets a serene teardrop fall,
Daughter of the hidden grief
That pierces her poor breast through,
For she broils with loves
She who is fresh rose
As much a lover as she is beautiful.

Companions start arriving,
Each new arrival the best dressed,
Setting down glazed stoneware crocks
Amid the gravel and the small rocks.
The water falls murmuring,
White bubbles surface,
The girls sing...sing.

The stars start departing,
The thick fog thins,
The flowering sapling
Starts to stand out.
The bright sun rising tracks
Above the firmament,
Clear, garrulous, content.

Everywhere the scent of spring
Perfumes the surroundings,
And aloft on the bluish sphere
Ignites a blaze of glory;
But the girl is only aware
Of the heartbreak—base sin!—
Pegged to her breast.

She finds the songs strange,
They lean her to cry,
And full of tears the eyes,
Ponders the familiar haunts of home;
For there is no sadder sorrow
Or blacker melancholy
Than the one nurtured among strangers.

Little birds, green meadow,
White moon and blazing sun,
Every solace is impotent
For so unhappy an ailment;
Every good feeling perturbed
By the intimate, fathomless grief
That abides abundant in the heart.

That is why the gorgeous girl
Flees from the dear gladsome stream
Like a poor doleful lamb
That quivers with pain, plaintive.
She leaves offended, she leaves teary-eyed,
As they chant against her with venom:
"Hillbilly! Hillbilly!"

And she, who wonders at it,
Wounded in her innermost being,
Does not consent to their abuse,
And replies diffidently:
"Although I am from the mountain,
Although mountaineer I am—
Although I am—I don't regret it."

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19.   Flow Past, River, Flow Past, River     (Pasa, río, pasa, río)


"Pasa, río, pasa, río" is related to "Good-Bye Rivers, Good-Bye Fountains" (poem #15).

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Pasa, río. The verb "pasar" in reference to a river can variously be translated as "flow past" (1.1, 2.1) "flow" (1.3) or "pass by" (6.1).

Dainty flowers of golden and ivory colour (1.3-4). Daisies.

Carril (5.4). The port of Carril was in De Castro's day the pier of departure for many emigrants. The town of Carril is located at the mouth of the river Ulla.

Next to my loves (6.7). The plural form of "love" is sometimes used poetically in the Galician language to suggest depth of feeling rather than a particular number of love objects.

YouTube Videos

Recital: Year 2014 Tribute To Rosalía de Castro (starts at min. 0:26).

Pasa, río, pasa, río,
co teu maino rebulir;
pasa, pasa antre as froliñas
color de ouro e de marfil,
a quen cos teus doces labios
tan doces cousas lles dis.

Pasa, pasa, mais non vexan
que te vas ao mar sin fin,
porque estonces, ¡ai, probiñas,
canto choraran por ti!

¡Si souperas que estrañeza,
si souperas que sofrir
desque del vivo apartada
o meu corazón sentiu!

Tal me acoden as soidades,
tal me queren afrixir,
que inda máis feras me afogan,
si as quero botar de min.

I, ¡ai, que fora das froliñas
véndote lonxe de si
ir pola verde ribeira,
da ribeira do Carril!

Pasa, pasa caladiño,
co teu manso rebulir,
camiño do mar salado,
camiño do mar sin fin;
e leva estas lagrimiñas,
si has de chegar por alí,
pretiño dos meus amores,
pretiño do meu vivir.

¡Ai, quen lagrimiña fora
pra ir, meu ben, onda ti!...
¡Quen fixera un camiñiño
para pasar, ai de min!

Si o mar tivera barandas,
fórate ver ao Brasil;
mais o mar non ten barandas,
amor meu, ¿por donde hei de ir?

Flow past, river, flow past, river,
With your gentle stir;
Flow, flow amid the delicate flowers
Of golden and ivory colour,
To whom you say with soft lips
Such sweet nothings.

Flow past, flow past, but may they not perceive
That you are heading to the boundless sea,
For then—alas, poor forlorn ones!—
How much they would grieve over you!

If you knew what a sense of loss,
If you knew what amount of suffering
My heart felt
Ever since I live apart from him!

Feelings of loneliness flock to me so,
Wish to afflict me so,
That more feral yet they throttle me
If I wish to get rid of them.

And alas! what'd befall the pretty flowers
On seeing you from a distance
Go by the green margin
Of the riverside at Carril!

Pass by, pass by hushed and mum,
With your gentle stir,
On your way to the salty sea,
On your way to the boundless sea;
And take these few teardrops along
If you will make it all the way out there,
Next to my loves,
Next to my life.

Ah, who were a lone teardrop
To go where you are, my love!...
Who could hew a narrow path
To cross over, hapless I!

If the sea had balustrades,
I'd go to visit you in Brazil;
But the sea has no balustrades,
My love, which way should I go?

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20.   Poverty's Child     (Ora, meu meniño, ora)


In the tome "Cantares Gallegos" De Castro often builds a poem around a popular couplet or quatrain quoted in italics (here on 1.1-4).

Typographical Error in the Original

Original line 24.3 reads, "Xa saltaron o portelo," which translates as, "Now they jumped over the sheep gate." The statement would be credible for a lad, it is not credible for the baby's mother. Changing one crucial vowel clears up the confusion. What Rosalía de Castro wrote in fact was: "Xa soltaron o portelo," which translates as, "Now they unlatched the sheep gate," and the typesetter mistook the highlighted "o" for an "a." A similar misunderstanding is present in "I Was Born When the Seedlings Sprout" (poem #2) in "Bells of Bastabales" (poem #11) and in "Come, Girl" (poem #30).

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

And seemingly the Company danced in the woods (11.3-4). In Galician folklore the Holy Company of the Dead is a procession of torch-bearing, restless dead who ramble through the woods after sunset.

the hostile bloodsucking witches (11.5). In Galician folklore witches that enter a house at night to suck the blood of a sleeping child.

corredoira (24.2). A "corredoira" is a countryside lane usually winding through brambles and coppices.

"Ora, meu meniño, ora,
¿quen vos ha de dar a teta,
si túa nai vai no muíño,
e teu pai na leña seca?

"Eu cha dera, miña xoia,
con mil amores cha dera,
hastra rebotar, meu santo,
hastra que máis non quixeras,
hastra verte dormidiño
con esa boca tan feita,
sorrindo todo fartiño,
cal ubre de vaca cheia.

"Mais ¡ai, que noite che agarda!
Mais ¡ai, que noite che espera!
Que anque dúas fontes teño,
estas fontiñas non deitan.

"Ora, meu meniño, ora,
¡canto chorarás por ela!
Sin ter con que te a calente,
sin ter con que te adormeza,
que soio, soio quedaches
como unha ovelliña enferma,
tremando, malpocadiño,
como as ovelliñas treman.

"Sin cobirtor que te cruba
nunhas palliñas te deitan
e neve e chuvia en ti caen
por antre as fendidas tellas.

"E silba o vento que pasa
polas mal xuntadas pedras,
e cal coitelo afilado
no teu corpiño se ceiba.

"¡Ai, cando veña túa nai!
¡Ai, cando che a túa nai veña!
¡Cal te topará, meniño,
frío como a neve mesma,
para chorar sin alento,
rosiña que os ventos creban!...

"¡Ai, más valera, meniño,
que quen te dou non te dera!
Que os fillos dos probes nacen,
nacen para tales penas."

Así se espricaba Rosa
no medio da noite negra,
ó pé dunha negra porta,
toda de lañas cuberta.

Mentras tanto murmuxaban
por antre a robreda espesa
do río as revoltas ágoas
e os berridos da tormenta.

Todo era sombras no ceo,
todo era loito na terra,
e parece que a Compaña
bailaba antre as arboredas
cas chuchonas enemigas,
e cas estricadas meigas.

En tanto un choro soave
sentir no espazo se deixa,
tal como gaita tocada
nunha alborada serena;
tal como lexana frauta
cando o sol no mar se deita,
cuio son nos trai o vento
cos cheiriños da ribeira.

No meio da chouza escura
que triste Rosa contempra,
unha luz branca se mira
como aurora que comenza.

Olido de frescas rosas
os aires da noite incensan,
cal si todas se xuntaran
as froles da primadera.

Soan cantares estraños,
soan músicas que alegran:
músicas son e cantares
nunca sentidos na terra.

Por eso, pasmada, Rosa
pouquiño a pouco se achega
e por unha regandixa
postrada no chan axexa

Nunca humanos ollos viron
o que veu estonces ela,
que si non morreu estonces
foi porque Dios n'o quixera.

De resplandecente groria
raios de amor se refrexan
do abandonado meniño,
sobre a dourada cabeza;
e porque esté máis contento,
e porque mais se entretena,
cabe os seus peíños crecen
frescos ramos de azucenas.

Xa non dorme en probe cuna,
que outro berce lle fixeran
cas alas os anxeliños
e co seu lume as estrellas.

Nubes de color de rosa
fanlle branda cabeceira,
sírvelle de cubertura
un raio de luna cheia,
i a Virxen santa, vestida
con vestido de inocencia,
porque de fame non morra
e fartiño se adormeza,
dálle maná do seu peito
con que os seus labios refresca.

Mentras o mundo esistise,
Rosa mirando estivera,
con tanta groria encantada,
con tanta dicha suspensa;
mais unha voz lonxe se oie
por antre os olmos da veiga
que, cantando amorosiña,
se esprica desta maneira:

—Ora, meu meniño, ora,
logo che darei a teta,
ora, meu meniño, ora,
xa non chorarás por ela.

Esto cantaron. En tanto
coa Virxe despareceran
os anxeliños, deixando
en derredor noite espesa.

Xa se sinten as pisadas
por xunto da corredoira;
xa soltaron o portelo,
xa cerraron a cancela...

A probe nai corre, corre,
que o seu filliño lle espera;
mais, cando chega, dormido
o seu filliño contempra.

Dille estonces, mentras tanto,
que en bicalo se recrea:
—Miña xoia, miña xoia,
miña prenda, miña prenda,
¿que fora de ti, meu santo,
si naiciña non tiveras?
¿Quen, meu fillo, te limpara,
quen a mantenza che dera?

—O que mantén ás formigas
e ós paxariños sustenta—
Dixo Rosa, i escondeuse
por antre a nebrina espesa.

"Now, my baby, now,
Who will give you suck
If your mother is at the watermill
And your father went for firewood?

"I would give it to you, my gem,
With a thousand loves I'd give it
Until it rebounded, my saint,
Until you'd want no more,
Until I'd see you peacefully asleep
With that beautiful mouth
Smiling, fully satisfied,
Like a replete cow's udder.

"But alas! what night awaits you!
But alas! what night lies in store for you!
For although I have two fountains,
These poor fountains do not flow.

"Now, my baby, now,
How much you will cry for it!
Having nothing to warm the night with,
Having nothing to make you fall asleep,
Since you were left alone,
Alone like an ailing little lamb,
Quivering, poor unfortunate one,
As the little lambs quiver.

"Without bedding to cover you
They lay you on a small bundle of straw
And snow and rain fall on you
Through the cracked roof tiles.

"And the passing wind whistles
Through the badly set stones,
And like a sharp knife stabs
Your frail body repeatedly.

"Alas, when your mother arrives!
Alas, upon your mother's arrival!
How she will find you, child,
Cold as the very snow,
Crying cheerless,
Delicate rose pricked by the winds!...

"Alas, it would have been better, baby,
That she who gave you birth had not!
For the offspring of the poor are born,
Are born to such woes."

Thus reasoned Rose
In the middle of the black night,
At the foot of a black door
Covered all over with cracks.

Meanwhile there murmured
Through the thick oakwood
The river's swirling waters
And the bellows of the storm.

All was shadows in the heaven,
All was bereavement on the earth,
And it seems that the Company
Danced in the woods together
With the baneful bloodsucking witches
And the haughty sorceresses.

Thereupon a whimper
Is felt in the ambience,
Like a bagpipe's playing
On a peaceful dawn;
Like a distant flute
Whose sound the wind fetches
Along with the fragrances of the strand
When the sun lies upon the sea.

In the middle of the unlit shack
Which saddened Rose gazed upon,
A white light is observed
Similar to the break of dawn.

The airs of the night dispense
A scent of fresh roses,
As if all the spring's flowers
Had assembled together.

There sound strange songs,
There sound lively melodies:
Melodies, sound and songs
Never sensed upon the earth.

That is why Rose, amazed,
Approaches haltingly
And prostrate on the ground
Peeps through a crack.

Never human eyes saw
What she then saw,
And if she did not die then
It was because God willed it not.

Love rays of glory
Resplendent reflect
Off the golden head
Of the abandoned baby;
And so that he'll be more cheerful,
And so that he'll be better entertained,
About his small feet grow
Fresh posies of Madonna lilies.

He no longer sleeps in a poor crib,
Small angels with their wings
And the stars with their light
Had made another cradle for him.

Clouds of pink colour
Make a soft pillow for him,
A beam of the full moon
Acts the part of eiderdown,
And the holy Madonna, robed
In vestment of innocence,
Gives him manna from her breast
That refreshes his lips,
So that he should not starve
But sated and satisfied fall asleep.

Rose would have stayed gazing at
So much enchanted glory,
So much hovering bliss,
For as long as the world were to exist;
But a distant voice is heard coming
From among the elms of the valley,
A voice that singing, doting, loving,
Defines itself thus:

"Now, my baby, now,
I will give you suck then,
Now, my baby, now,
And you won't cry for it anymore."

This was sung. Meanwhile the Madonna
Together with the little angels
Disappeared, leaving behind them
Thick night all around.

Footsteps can be made out now
Over by the country lane;
Now they unlatched the sheep gate,
Now they shut the front gate...

The poor mother runs,
Runs for her dear child awaits her;
But when she arrives
She beholds her dear child asleep.

Then she says to him while
She delights in kissing him:
"My gem, my gem,
My holdfast, my holdfast,
What would befall you, my saint,
If you did not have a mommy?
Who'd clean you, my child,
Who'd give you nourishment?"

"He who feeds the ants
And the little birds sustains,"
Said Rose, and she slipped away
In the surrounding thick mist.

Back To Index

21.   I Say Nothing...But Really!     (Non che digo nada...!Pero vaia!)

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

que por non perder tempo donde non quita racha (1.10.7-8). These two lines translate literally as, "That to waste no time what it (the "clear fountain") doesn't take off it rips." The intended message is partly obscured. The actual translation brings it out clearly.

Farruco (2.3.1). A colloquial variant of "Francisco" (Francis) translated "Frank."

Sin entender un ele (2.7.1). The expression puzzles because the indefinite article "un" (masculine) is modifying a feminine noun ("ele"). Fortunately the context validates the translation, "Without understanding a jot."

You'll see cherry-coloured one formerly emerald (2.8.1-2). A political turncoat. The cherry colour connoted the Progressive Party (Liberal). The emerald colour connoted the Moderate Party (constitutional monarchist). These were the two ruling parties of nineteenth-century Spain.

contradanzas (2.9.2). According to the Royal Spanish Academy, the word, "contradanza," is a paraphrase of the English term, "country dance."

antroidada (2.10.2). Derived from Antroido, the Galician carnival.

YouTube Videos

Carol Sospedra and Juan Ramos.


The translated text annotates the speaker to let the English reader comprehend the poem at once. "Senior" the first speaker is Farruco or Frank (2.3.1). "Junior" the second speaker is a young woman, attested by her use of the affectionate diminutive, "meu velliño" (2.6.1, 2.11.1).

Non che digo nada...
!Pero vaia!


Pasan naquesta vida
cousiñas tan estrañas,
tan raros feitos vense
neste mundo de trampa;
tantos milagres vellos,
tan novas insinanzas,
e tan revoltos allos
con nome de ensaladas,
que non che digo nada...
¡Pero vaia!

Meniña ben vestida,
meniña ben calzada,
que ten roupa de cote,
que ten roupa de garda;
meniña que ben folga,
meniña que anda maja,
i é probe, malpecado,
como unha triste araña.
Non che digo nada...
¡Pero vaia!

Véxote aló antre os millos,
véxote aló nas brañas,
xa no pinar espeso,
xa na beiriña mansa
do río que correndo
vai antre as verdes canas,
e xuras que estás soia,
que naide te acompaña...
Non che digo nada...
¡Pero vaia!

Casada casadiña,
que gustas ser falada,
que bailas cas solteiras
nas festas e ruadas,
que tes na boca a risa
e que cos ollos falas,
e que ao falar con eles
parece que che saltan,
non che digo nada...
¡Pero vaia!

Cando mirar te miro
tan limpa e tan peinada,
loitar cos rapaciños
hastra que en ti se fartan,
e ves dimpois xurando
que eres muller sin chata,
e dis que as máis non teñen
contigo comparanza,
non che digo nada...
¡Pero vaia!

E ti, roxa roxiña,
modesta e recatada,
que falas tan mainiño,
que tan mainiño andas,
que ós pés dos homes miras
para non verlles a cara,
e fas que non entendes
cando de amor che falan,
non che digo nada...
¡Pero vaia!

Vas pola mañanciña
a misa cas beatas;
dempois...(por que, ti o sabes)
de xunta delas largas;
e si na corredoira
xunto da verde parra,
non sei con que xentiña,
páraste ou non te paras,
non che digo nada...
¡Pero vaia!

E ti, rapás garrido,
de tan melosas falas,
tan majo de monteira,
tan rico de polainas,
tan fino de calzado
como de mans fidalgas,
cando me dis que gustas
de traballar na braña,
non che digo nada...
¡Pero vaia!

Ti falarás de amores
cousiñas ben faladas;
ti loitarás cas nenas
como ningún loitara;
ti beberás do mosto
hastra quedar sin fala,
pero cos teus sudores
mollar a terra ingrata...
non che digo nada...
¡Pero vaia!

Mais tantas cousas vexo
que me parecen trampa;
tanto sol entre nubes
e tan revoltas auguas
que asemellarse intentan
a unha fontiña crara,
que por non perder tempo
donde non quita racha,
non che digo nada...
¡Pero vaia!


Pasan naquesta vida
cousiñas tan estrañas,
tan raros feitos vense
neste mundo de trampa;
tantos milagres vellos,
tan novas insinanzas,
e tan revoltos allos
con nome de ensaladas,
que non che digo nada...
¡Pero vaia!

E que algo deprendera,
triste de min, coidaba;
e que a esperencia neta
ninguén me iba en puxanza
por ter na frente enrugas
e ter caniñas brancas,
cando hai hoxe uns mociños
mesmo dende que maman,
que non che digo nada...
¡Pero vaia!

Xa non che val, Farruco,
que vivas en compaña
dos anos pensadores
nin da esperencia calva,
nin que ollo alerta
vivas como a cordura manda;
que donde menos penses
tamaña lebre salta
que non che digo nada...
¡Pero vaia!

Xa sendo noite oscura
dinche que é noite crara;
xa estando o mar sereno
che din que fai borrasca,
e tanto te confunden
e tanto te acobardan,
que anque falar quixeras
tal coma Dios che manda,
non che digo nada...
¡Pero vaia!

Si eres francés, meu vello,
si eres da lonxe Australia,
si aló do sol baixaches
ou das estrelas pálidas,
con seria gravedade
quisais che perguntaran,
e ti, pasmado todo,
calado mormuraras:
Non che digo nada...
¡Pero vaia!

Por eso, meu velliño,
si de estudiar non tratas
a cencia destos tempos,
que é como el augua crara,
anque ca parromeira
tamén ten comparanza,
que nesto a cencia estriba,
i en ter distintas caras,
non che digo nada...
¡Pero vaia!

Sin entender un ele,
verás que ben se amañan
honrados e sin honra,
rameiras e beatas;
verás como se axuntan,
verás como se tratan,
mentras que ti marmuras
ca lengua dunha coarta:
Non che digo nada...
¡Pero vaia!

Verás cor de sireixa
quen foi cor de esmeralda,
i aqueles tan azues
que sangre azul manaban,
manar sangre vermella
pola moderna usanza;
i esto con tal chistura
e con fachenda tanta
que non che digo nada...
¡Pero vaia!

Verás que revolturas,
que ricas contradanzas,
que gaitas con salterio,
que pífanos con arpas,
que dengues encarnados
con mantilliñas brancas,
chapurra que chapurra
en confusión tan várea,
que non che digo nada...
¡Pero vaia!

Ti pensarás que aquesto
é todo unha antroidada,
que aquí un levita sobra
i unha chaqueta falta;
que alí se comen lebres
en vez de calabazas,
e tocan frautas donde
deben tocar campanas...
Mais non che digo nada...
¡Pero vaia!

Deprende, meu velliño,
a cencia ben amada,
que saibamente insina
tan rica misturanza,
si queres ser sabido
en cousas tan estrañas,
pois antre tantas novas
as costumiñas rancias...
Non che digo nada...
¡Pero vaia!

I say nothing...
But really!


Senior: "Such odd particulars
Come about in this life,
Such peculiar facts crop up
In this deceitful world;
So many miracles of yesteryear,
Such novel teachings,
And such servings of garlic
Given the name of salads,
That I say nothing...
But really!

"A finely dressed girl,
A well-shod girl,
Who owns everyday clothes,
Who owns a wardrobe,
A girl who relaxes well,
Who looks dapper,
And is poor—base sin—
Like a sad spider.
I say nothing...
But really!

"I see you afar in the cornfield,
I spot you on the moor
Or in a dense thicket of pines
Or at the gentle margin
Of the river that courses
Through the green reeds,
And you swear that you are all alone,
Without company...
I say nothing...
But really!

"A happily married woman
Who enjoys the limelight,
Who dances with the maidens
At feasts and street parties,
Who owns laughter in her mouth
And talks with her eyes,
And when they talk
It seems they bug out,
I say nothing...
But really!

"When watching I watch you
So spotless and so groomed
Spar with the young lads
Till they have their fill of you,
And you swear next
That you are an unsullied woman,
And that there is no comparison
Between you and most,
I say nothing...
But really!

"And you, pretty and blonde,
Modest and prim,
Who talks so faintly,
Who walks so daintily,
Who looks at a man's feet
To avoid seeing his face,
And who acts dumb
When they talk to you about love,
I say nothing...
But really!

"You go to mass with the devout
In the early morning hours;
Then... (you alone know why)
You forsake their company;
And whether in the lane
Beside the green grapevine
You linger or not
With I-know-not-what riff-raff,
I say nothing...
But really!

"And you winsome lad
Of such honeyed words,
Smart mountaineer cap,
Rich gaiters,
Choice shoes
And fine hands of a squire,
When you tell me that you like
To work in the mire,
I say nothing...
But really!

"You may utter sweet things
Well spoken about love;
You may spar with the girls
Like no other;
You may drink grape juice
Till you wind up dumb,
But with your sweat moisten
The thankless earth...
I say nothing...
But really!

"Withal I see so many things
That seem a snare to me;
So much sun among clouds
And such churning waters
That endeavour to resemble
A dear clear fountain,
Then to waste no time
He rips what he doesn't take off,
I say nothing...
But really!


Senior: "Such odd particulars
Come about in this life,
Such peculiar facts crop up
In this deceitful world;
So many miracles of yesteryear,
Such novel teachings,
And such servings of garlic
Given the name of salads,
That I say nothing...
But really!

"And I sought to learn
Something of it, sorry me,
And no one was going to beat me
In net experience
For I have a wrinkled forehead
And white whiskers,
When some laddies today
From the time they suck,
I say nothing...
But really!

Junior: "It no longer helps,
Frank, to dwell on
The thoughtful years
Or the bald experience,
Or to go about as reason bids
With an alert eye;
For where you least expect it
So large a hare pops up
That I say nothing...
But really!

"In a dark night they tell you
That said night is bright;
On a calm sea they tell you
That a gale is blowing,
And they baffle and cow you so
That although
You would like to say
What God commands,
I say nothing...
But really!

"If you are French, my elder,
Or hail from faraway Australia,
If you landed there from the sun
Or from the pale stars,
Perhaps they asked you
With solemn gravity,
And you, dumbfounded,
Tight-lipped, muttered:
I say nothing...
But really!

"Therefore, my dear old man,
If you don't try to study
The science of these times,
Which is as clear as water,
Although it also bears comparison
To a pigeon loft—
Science rests on this
And on having different faces—
I say nothing...
But really!

"Without understanding a jot
You'll see how well
The honourable and the dishonest,
The sluts and the devout make out;
You'll see how they mingle,
How they get along,
While you mumble
I say nothing...
But really!

"You'll see cherry-coloured
One formerly emerald,
And they so blue
That blue blood flowed out
Issue red blood
According to the modern custom;
And this with such levity
And impudence such
That I say nothing...
But really!

"What mixtures you'll see,
What rich country dances,
What pipes with psaltery,
What fifes with harps,
What red shawls
With white mantilla veils,
Garble and garble
In confusion so varied,
That I say nothing...
But really!

"You'll presume that all this
Is just a carnival, that here
A frock-coat is unwarranted
And a jacket wanted,
That there they consume hares
Instead of pumpkins,
And flutes play
Where bells ought to peal...
However I say nothing...
But really!

"Learn, my dear old man,
The well-beloved science
That wisely informs
So lavish a mishmash
If you wish to comprehend
Such odd matters,
For amidst so many novelties
The stale parochial customs...
I say nothing...
But really!

Back To Index

22.   Yet He Who One Day Loved True     (Mais ó que ben quixo un día)

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Now with great repose I sleep beside the fountains (3.2.1-2). A typical "fountain" of the Galician countryside consisted of a pipe incrusted in rock to serve as a spout for human consumption and a sink underneath to serve as a watering hole for the cattle.

YouTube Videos

Amancio Prada.

Najla Shami from her 2013 album, "Na Lingua Que Eu Falo."

Recital: Amelia Ónega.

Mais ó que ben quixo un día,
si a querer ten afición,
sempre lle queda unha mágoa
dentro do seu corazón.


Aló nas tardes serenas,
aló nas tardes caladas,
fanse máis duras as penas
que nas brandas alboradas.

Aló nas tardes sombrisas,
aló nas tardes escuras,
fanse máis cortas as risas,
máis negras as desventuras.

Que non hai sera tranquila
para quen remorsos garda,
e máis presto se aniquila
canto máis á noite agarda.


Eu ben sei destos secretos
que se esconden nas entrañas,
que rebolen sempre inquietos
baixo mil formas estrañas.

Eu ben sei destes tormentos
que consomen e devoran,
dos que fan xemer os ventos,
dos que morden cando choran.

I anque ora sorrindo canto,
anque ora canto con brío,
tanto chorei, chorei tanto
como as auguiñas dun río.

Tiven en pasados días,
fondas penas e pesares,
e chorei bágoas tan frías
como as auguiñas dos mares.

Tiven tan fondos amores
e tan fondas amarguras,
que era fonte de dolores
nacida entre penas duras.


Ora río, ora contento
vou polas eiras cantando,
vendo de onda ven o vento
cando vou levar o gando.

Ora con grande sosiego
durmo na beira das fontes,
durmo na beira dos regos,
durmo na punta dos montes.

Mais ó que ben quixo un día,
si a querer ten afición,
sempre lle queda unha mágoa
dentro do seu corazón.

Yet he who one day loved true,
If to love he is wonted,
Always has a heartbreak
Stranded in his heart.


Lo, on serene evenings,
Lo, on the hushed evenings,
Grief is harder to bear
Than on the gentle dawns.

Lo, on sombre evenings,
Lo, on gloomy evenings,
Laughter is cut short,
Misfortunes turn blacker.

For there is no restful evening
For the remorseful one,
The more he hopes for the night
The faster he founders.


I am well acquainted with these
Secrets that lurk within,
That bustle ever restless
Under a thousand strange forms.

I know well these torments
That wear down and devour,
That make the winds whimper,
That bite when they weep.

And although now I sing smiling,
Though now I sing with zest,
I wept, I wept as much
As the flowing waters of a river.

I had in days past
Deep regrets and sorrows,
And I cried tears as cold
As the cold waters of the sea.

I had such profound loves
And such profound woes
That I was fountain-head of pain
Born among hard rocks.


Now I laugh, now glad
I go through the fields singing,
Coming back from where
I drive the cattle upwind to.

Now with great repose
I sleep beside the fountains,
I sleep beside the rills,
I slumber on top of the mountains.

Yet he who one day loved true,
If to love he is wonted,
Always has a heartbreak
Stranded in his heart.

Back To Index

23.   Castilian Woman Of Castile     (Castellana de Castilla)

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

bascas (2.4). The translation of this word is uncertain. According to the online Diccionario de diccionarios made available by the University of Vigo, the Galician term "bascas" may mean "the nausea linked to a vomit" or "the name of a primitive boat used by sardine fishermen." Additionally De Castro's handwriting is hard to read and it may be that the printers mistook "barcas" for "bascas."

singing the sweet alalá (7.2). An alalá is a distinct type of traditional song.

Than a skin of orange's (9.4). A reference to the tiger.

Portos (10.1). Hamlet in the province of Lugo.

Ribeiro de Avia (10.2). A county in the province of Ourense.

YouTube Videos

Recital: Carmen Álvarez Carreira.

De Castro's caligraphy.

Castellana de Castilla,
tan bonita e tan fidalga,
mais a quen para ser fera
ca procedensia lle abasta.

Desíme, miña señora,
xa que os mostrás tan ingrata,
si o meu rendimento homilde
bascas de enoxo vos causa,
pois cando onda vós me achego
cuspís con ardentes ansias,
i ese mirar de pombiña
volvés en fosca mirada,
tornando en sombrisa noite
o día que en sol se baña.

En vano intento, señora,
saber por que me maltrata
dama dun alma tan nobre,
aunque soberba por fama,
pois n'é motivo a desprezo
sintirse tan ben amada,
que as mesmas pedras, señora,
dun bon querer se folgaran.

Din que na nobre Castilla
así ós gallegos se trata,
mais debe saber Castilla
que de tan grande se alaba,
que sempre a soberbia torpe
foi filla de almas bastardas;
e sendo vós tan sabida,
nunca de vó-lo pensara,
que de tan alto baixando
vos emporcases na lama;
nin que chamándovos nobre,
tanta nobreza enfouzaras
imitando ós que vaidosos
no que está débil se ensañan.

Pero máis val que enmudeza,
pois tes condición de ingrata;
que predicar en deserto
na miña terra n'é usanza.

Si fun curpabre en quereros
coma ningún vos amara,
por ser de terra gallega
e serdes vós castellana,
en paz, señora, vos deixo
ca vosa soberba gracia,
e voume á Galicia hermosa
donde en xuntanza me agardan
o que non tendes, señora,
i o que en Castilla n'achara:
campiños de lindas rosas,
fontiñas de frescas auguas,
sombra na beira dos ríos,
sol nas alegres montañas,
caras que nacen sorrindo
e que sorrindo vos aman,
e que inda mesmo morrendo
en sonrisiñas se bañan.

Alí, señora, contento
cantando o doce ala lala,
baixo a figueira frondosa,
en baixo da verde parra,
c'aquelas frescas meniñas
que mel dos seus labios manan,
cando en falar amoroso
meigo nos din en voz maina,
con tódalas de Castilla,
nobrísimas castellanas,
olvidareivos sin pena,
anque sos vós tan fidalga.

Que aló saben ser altivas,
pero non saben ser vanas,
i é fácil con doces tomas
olvidar tomas amargas.

Déchesmas vós, mi señora,
con desprezo envenenadas,
inda con fero máis fero
que pelica de laranxa;
mais teño por que me pase
aquel sarrapio que escalda,

teño unha dama nos Portos,
outra no Ribeiro de Avia;
si a dos Portos é bonita
a do Ribeiro lle gana

Castilian woman of Castile,
So pretty and so genteel,
But whose provenance suffices
To let her become a wild beast.

Tell me, my lady,
Since you act so ungrateful,
Whether my humble homage
Causes you bargeloads of irritation,
For when I draw near
You spit with ardent fury,
And that gaze of gentle dove
You switch to a glare,
Turning to sombre night
The sun-bathed day.

Madame, I endeavour in vain
To ascertain why mistreats me
Lady of such a noble soul,
Though famously haughty,
For there are no grounds for spite
In feeling yourself dearly cherished,
Even the very stones, Madame,
Would relish a true love.

They say that Galicians are treated
Likewise in noble Castile.
Withal Castile, which boasts so much
Of her greatness, must know
That obtuse pride was always
The daughter of bastard souls;
And you being so learned,
I'd never think it of you,
That descending from so high
You should wallow in the mud;
Nor that, esteeming youself noble,
You should smear so much nobility
Imitating those who conceited pounce
Upon the frail one with cruelty.

But it behooves me to stay my tongue,
For you bear stamp of ungrateful;
And it is no practice of my land
To preach in the desert.

If for cherishing you like no other
Would love you I trespassed, because
I hail from Galician territory
And you are Castilian,
In peace, Madame, I leave you
With your proud grace,
And I remove to splendid Galicia
Where for me altogether wait
What you have not, Madame,
And what I'd never discover in Castile:
Fair fields of pretty roses,
Dear fountains of cool water,
Shade by the riversides,
Sun on the gleeful mountains,
Faces that are born smiling
And that smiling love you,
And that even upon their very dying
Suffuse over with serene smiles.

Over there, Madame,
Singing glad the sweet alalá,
Underneath the leafy fig tree,
Underneath the verdant vine,
With those fresh lasses
Who ooze honey from their lips,
When they say to us in amorous chat
And with soft voice, "wizard,"
I shall forget you without sorrow
(Though you be so genteel)
Along with all the women of Castile,
Castilian women most noble.

For over there they can act proud,
But forgo being vainglorious,
And taking sweet sips it is easy
To forget bitter ones.

You gave them to me, my lady,
Poisoned with contempt,
Even with fury more ferocious
Than a skin of orange's;
But I have what assuages
That acid taste that smarts,

I have a lady in Portos,
Another one in Ribeiro de Avia;
If the one from Portos is pretty
The one from Ribeiro tops her

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24.   Darling Of My Eyes     (Queridiña dos meus ollos)

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Xinzo (1.4). The town of Xinzo de Limia in the province of Ourense near the Portuguese frontier.

Xacinto (1.8). Hyacinth.

San Martiño (2.10). St. Martin of Tours. Feast day is November 11.

quintos (3.4). At this time Spain had compulsory military service of up to six years for all men aged 20 to 22. Recruitment combined voluntary enrolment with a lottery draft called quinta. The yearly quinta enrolled a fifth of the male Spanish population earmarked for military service. Every town hall ran its own lottery supervised by the parish priest and a notary public to guarantee a fair draw. The new recruits drawn by lottery were nicknamed, quintos.

San Benito (5.8). St. Benedict. Feast day is July 11.

the leaflets of Cristus (18.2). Religious tracts, pamphlets or booklets that simultaneously taught the alphabet to illiterates.

Camilo (20.2). Camille.

Queridiña dos meus ollos,
saberás como estou vivo
nesta vila donde adoito
dende que chegín de Xinzo.

Saberás como a Dios gracias
i ó escapulario bendito
non afogamos no mare
como coidaba Xacinto
que é tan valente, abofellas,
como os alentos dun pito.

Saberás como dempois
me puñeron moi vestido
con roupa azul e amarela,
cal andan tódolos quintos,
e logo todos xuntados,
inda máis de vintecinco,
nos paseamos polas calles,
que era mesmo un adimiro
de tan majos como ibamos,
e tan brancos e tan limpos.

¡Si me viras, queridiña,
cal outras que eu sei me viron!
Cada ollada me botaban
xa de través, xa de fito...

I eran meniñas graciosas
con moita salsa no pico,
mais ningunha deste peito
poido arrincarme un sospiro,
que o teu retrato alí estaba
rabuñando paseniño,
que anque de onda ti partín,
prendiña que tanto estimo,
non vin soio, miña xoia,
que ti viñeche conmigo.

¡Si souperas canto peno,
si souperas cal me afrixo
cando me acordo nas noites
daqueles teus cantariños!...

Ora en ti penso disperto,
ora en ti penso durmindo,
e sempre en ti estou pensando
coma si foses feitizo.

Seique meigallo me deche
na festa do San Martiño,
amasado cos teus dedos
nunha bola de pan trigo.

Mais non o sinto por eso,
que anque me deras martirio
por vir de ti, queridiña,
como un año recibírao.

Nada me distrai, Rosiña,
da pena que por ti sinto.
De día como de noite
este meu corazonciño
contigo decote fala,
porque eu falar ben o sinto,
un falar tan amoroso
que me estremezo de oílo.

¡Ai!, que estrañeza me causa
e soidás e martirio,
pois así cal el che fala,
quixera falar contigo,
cal outros tempos dichosos
dos nosos amores finos.

¡Cantas veces nos xuramos,
cando lavabas no río
o pé dun alto salgueiro,
antre risas e sospiros,
xa nunca máis separarnos,
xa nunca máis desunirnos!

Mais aqueles xuramentos,
tal como rosas de espiño,
lixeiriños se espallaron
a un sopro dos ventos fríos.

Ora co mar de por medio
¡adios, amantes cariños!
Nin ti me ves, nin te vexo
aló na beira do río,
naquelas crariñas noites
de folga polos domingos.

As amoriñas maduran
nas silveiras dos camiños,
nacen as froriñas brancas
por antre as canas do millo,
o río pasa que pasa,
cantan nas ponlas os xílgaros,
todo está verde e frondoso,
todo está fresco e frorido;
solo nós, Rosa, faltamos
naqueles verdes campiños.

Rosiña, dáme un consolo
para este dolor que eu sinto.
¡Ai, que os recordos me matan!
¡Ai, que acabarán conmigo!

Di si inda me queres moito,
mándamo a decir pretiño;
dime si garda-lo pano
que che din por San Benito,
que o merquei na quinta feira
por doce cartos e pico.

Dime tamén si deprendes
pola cartillas de Cristus
a ler como me ofreceches
para ler os meus escritos,
que en sabendo algunhas letras
dempois irás traducindo.

Eu xa lle perdín o medo
a escribiduras e libros,
pois fago uns palotes netos
de que eu mesmo me adimiro,
tan grandes como fungueiros
e máis gordos, si non minto.

Adios, espresiós che mando
polo burro de Camilo,
que non sei cal che dirá
estas cousas que lle esprico;
mais sabe, miña Rosiña,
rosiña de doce olido,
que si ti xa ler souperas
os palotes que eu escribo,

escribírache unha carta
nas alas dun paxariño

Darling of my eyes:
You will learn that I am alive
In this town where I reside
Since I arrived from Xinzo.

You will learn how thanks to God
And to the blessed scapular
We did not drown at sea
As supposed Xacinto
Who is as bold, my word,
As the huffs and puffs of a chick.

You will learn how afterward
They dressed me quite smartly
In blue and yellow raiment,
Such as all the conscripts wear,
And then everyone together,
More than twenty-five even,
We paraded through the streets,
And it was truly a wonder
How handsome we looked,
And so white and so clean.

If you had seen me, darling,
Like I know other girls saw me!
Hard and long they stared at me
Now sidelong, now straight on...

And they were bubbly girls
With much sauce on their beak,
But not one could wrest
A sigh from my breast,
For your portrait was there
Scratching leisurely,
For although I departed from you,
Precious holdfast I so esteem,
I did not travel alone, my gem,
For you came along with me.

If you knew how much I grieve,
If you knew how I torment myself
When I bring to mind at night
Those sweet songs of yours!...

Now awake I think about you,
Now asleep I think about you,
And I'm always dwelling on you
As if you were a magic spell.

Perhaps you handed me a spell
At the feast of San Martiño,
Kneaded with your fingers
In a round loaf of wheat bread.

But I don't feel sorry about that,
For even if you slew me
I would endure it like a lamb,
It coming from you, darling.

Nothing distracts me, dear Rose,
From the sorrow I feel over you.
By day as by night
This my poor heart
Chats with you continually,
For well I sense it talk,
In so amorous an address
That I quiver when I hear it.

Aye! What yearning it triggers
And melancholy and affliction,
For just the way it talks to you,
I should like to chat with you,
As we did in other joyful epochs
Of our fine loves.

How often we vowed to one another,
Amid bouts of laughter and sighs,
When you laundered in the river
At the foot of a tall white willow,
To nevermore part company,
To nevermore break up!

But those vows,
Like the roses of a hawthorn tree,
Scattered briskly briskly
Shaken by a gust of the cold winds.

Now with the sea between us
Good-bye loving intimacies!
Neither you see me nor I see you
Over there beside the river,
In those placid clear nights
Of leisure on Sundays.

The sweet blackberries ripen
On the brambles of country lanes,
Dainty white flowers blossom
Among the stalks of corn,
The river flows past and flows past,
The goldfinches sing on the branches,
All is dense and green,
All is fresh and flowery;
We alone, Rose, are missing
On those lovely green fields.

Dear Rose, give me some relief
For this pain I feel.
Alas, the memories kill me!
Alas, they will do me in!

Say if you are still fond of me,
Send me word quickly;
Tell me if you still have the shawl
I gave you around San Benito,
I bought it at the fifth fair
For twelve notes and some change.

Tell me also if you are learning
To read with the leaflets of Cristus
As you promised me to do
In order to read my writings,
Once you know some letters
Then you will start translating.

I already lost my dread
Of scribbles and books,
For I draw real sticks
That I myself marvel at,
As big as wooden poles
And fatter if I am not mistaken.

Good-bye. I send you greetings
By way of that ass-Camilo,
I ignore how he will tell you
These things I explain to him;
But know, my dear Rose,
Favourite rose of sweet fragrance,
That if you could already read
The big sticks I draw,

I would write you a letter
On the wings of a small bird

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Roberto Robert Casacuberta

Roberto Robert Casacuberta.
Source: Real Academia de la Historia.

25.   A Galician Story     (A Roberto Robert redactore da Discusion)


De Castro dedicated this long poem to Roberto Robert journalist of La Discusión "who likes stories and the Galician language." The source for the information about Roberto Robert Casacuberta is the Royal Spanish Academy of History. The source for the information about La Discusión is the National Library of Spain.

Roberto Robert Casacuberta (1827-1873). Catalan journalist, literary figure, mason and republican politician elected to the Spanish Parliament several times. In the year 1855 he published the caustic El Tío Crispín (Uncle Crispín) whose first issue earned him a one-year jail sentence. Between 1856-57 he was the guest columnist of several newspapers, among them La Discusión, and collaborated later in many other publications. He wrote several articles in the Catalan language and was a founder of the Spanish Association of Writers and Artists. He maintained friendly relations with notable Spanish writers Benito Pérez Galdós and Rosalía de Castro and with the future Cuban independence leader, José Martí, among others. He was described as "an aggressive debunker, a republican journalist who flaunted his atheist stance and who at the very least had an incisive genius and was very learned." He contracted tuberculosis and died at the age of forty-five.

La Discusión (1856-1887). Madrid daily founded on March 2, 1856, by the president of the Democratic Party (break-away faction of the Progressive Party). Its front page banner carried the subheading, "Democratic Daily." The newspaper became a national benchmark with a large circulation and great prestige. Its several sections included a daily editorial, background articles of a political or didactic nature, a press review, international news, news from the provincial capitals, stock market quotations, meteorological observations, entertainment listings and "a plentiful and flamboyant advertisement section."

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Sar (1.5). The river Sar.

Vidal (1.8). A Spanish surname.

enxido de reposo (7.3). This phrase is ambiguous. According to the online Diccionario de diccionarios made available by the University of Vigo, the Galician term "enxido" may mean "a backyard" or "a field shared by all the inhabitants of a village and destined for recreation or rest." The setting of this poem, a hamlet, leans toward the second definition, a "village field." Another option: communal field.

compango (14.5). Whatever the peasants ate after the initial stew. Compango was effectively the second serving of a peasant's everyday meal. The word's origin may be the phrase, "con pan," i.e. food eaten with bread on the side.

frixolada (15.8). A dish of miscellaneous fried food.

Cais (23.3). Unknown placename.

recrebos (29.3). This word is not found in any dictionary, consequently it must be a typo assisted by De Castro's handwriting. I posit two alternatives: "recibos" (invoices for all the past meals given free of charge) and "recados" (minor requests). The second option is more credible.

antroido (37.4). The traditional Galician carnival.

a falsa de fertunha (38.5). I propose that this phrase combines a typesetter's error with a crude attempt on De Castro's part to force a rhyme with the preceding words, "unha" (38.1) and "ningunha" (38.3). The phrase should read, "a falsa da fortuna." Here "falsa" (false) has the sense of unreliable, not dependable.

YouTube Videos

De Castro's caligraphy.


Aló no currunchiño máis hermoso
que a luz do sol na terra alumeara,
veiga frorida e prado deleitoso
que aos campiños do Edén se acomparara;
aló onde o Sar soberbo e caudaloso
parece que se dorme e que se para
(tan maino corre antre a robreda escura),
alí naceu Vidal o sin ventura.


¡Que reposo! ¡Que luz...! ¡Que garruleiro,
brando cantar dos váreos paxariños
cando ó salir do sol polo quinteiro
douraba fontes, lagos e campiños!
¡Que libre respirar...! ¡Que placenteiro
ir e vir dos cabirtos xuntadiños!
¡Que frescas, que polidas, que galanas
iban co gando as feitas aldeanas!


Nunca o rumor do mundo corrompido,
nunca da louca sociedá as vaidades,
nin brillo dos honores fementido
foran trubar tan doces soledades.
Ceo azul, sol de amor, campo frorido,
santa paz sin remorso nin saudades,
horas que van mainiñas camiñando:
tal alí tempo e vida iban pasando.


¡Como o ventiño da mañán pirmeiro
no seio das rosiñas se dormía,
e cal dempois toliño e rebuldeiro
polo espazo inmensísimo subía,
e volvendo a baixar murmuradeiro
por enriba das chouzas rebulía,
nas aliñas levando o fumo leve
que en trubias ondas a subir se atreve!


¡E como ó mediodía, fasta o río,
brisas, aires, pradiños e arborado
pousaban calorosos e sin brío,
cal viaxeiro sedento e fatigado!
¡E como do serán o alento frío,
de arrulos misteriosos impregnado,
con pasiño lixeiro se achegaba
i aire, río e floriñas axitaba!


Pasiño a paso a traballada xente
dos campos ás chousiñas se volvía,
mentras no lar o pote sarpullente
cas ricas berzas a cachón fervía.
As fabas i as balocas xuntamente
co touciño sabroso nel se vía
en compaña amigabre e farturenta
que alegra, que convida e que sustenta.


Dempois da frugal cea, ó cariñoso
resplandor do luar claro e soave,
iban gozar ó enxido de reposo
co abó, que a longa historia contar sabe.
O rosario da Virxe proveitoso
logo rezaban con asento grave,
i alma e corpo tranquilo se dormía
esperando o folgor do novo día.


Todo era paz e amor i augua serena,
todo era craro azul no firmamento,
nin houbo alí a soberba que envenena,
nin vano goce, nin fatal tormento,
nin louco rebuldar, nin fonda pena,
nin baixo aborrecido pensamento,
vidiña tan risoña adormentaba,
pois doce e mainamente se folgaba.


Naide naquel lugar probe se vira,
que uns ben i outros non mal foran vivindo,
i un que afroxa de máis i outro que estira,
fóranse acomodando e repartindo.
Ningún da negra fame a man sentira
o seu peito fortísimo oprimindo,
nomáis que a desdichada criatura
que se chamou Vidal o sin ventura.


Orfo ende que nacera, a sorte triste
déralle por herencia o desconsolo,
coa negra soledá, que ó probe asiste;
naide na terra se topou tan solo
de canto en polvo terrenal se viste,
inda correndo un polo i outro polo,
que era probe e dorido antre os doridos
e afrixido antre os tristes afrixidos.


Tiña por casa un cortelliño escuro,
tiña por leito o chan humedecido,
por cubirtor a neve e vento duro
que entraba polas fendas arresido.
Tiña o sustento escaso e mal seguro
que dan de porta en porta ó que é perdido,
que así lle din con bulra non escasa
ó que por probe neste mundo pasa.


En jamás o infeliz decir poidera
«¡Esto que teño é meu!», que a sorte dura
n'inda por conceder lle concedera
un pouco de querer ou de ternura,
nin un pouco de amor, que donde houbera
pobreza, e soledade e desventura,
groria, dicha e querer correndo pasan
i a entradiña da porta non traspasan.


Sempre por dicha pra Vidal había
caldo e máis pan nalgún lariño alleo,
i a máis a caridá non se estendía,
que fora un mal matarlle outro deseo.
Que si a cousas mellores se afacía
i outro váreo comer i outro recreo,
traballo lle custara a bon seguro
comer dempois berciñas e pan duro.


Tal conta a xente corda se botaba
con parsimonia concenzuda e grave,
e refráns sabios con afán buscaba
dos que din «Nunca des do que ben sabe.»
I o compango Vidal nunca probaba,
porque era a sobriedá santa e saudabe,
según a xente de poder decía,
anque ela ben folgaba e ben comía.


Cando dos porcos a matanza viña
¡que amabre chamuscar nas limpas eiras
ó despertar da fresca mañanciña!...
¡Que alegre fumo antre olmos e figueiras
olendo a cocho polos aires viña!
¡Que arremangar das nenas mondongueiras!
¡Que ir e vir dende o banco hastra a cociña!
I aló no lar, ¡que fogo!, ¡que larada!,
¡que rica e que ben feita frixolada!


Fígado con cebola ben frixida
i unha folliña de laurel cheirosa,
que inda a un morto ben morto dera vida
de tan rica, tan tenra e tan sabrosa.
Raxo en sorsa cun cheiro que convida,
i a sangre das morcillas sustanciosa
en fregada caldeira rebotando,
a que fagan morcillas convidando.


Cuadro tan agradabre e farturento
por toda a vecindá se repetía
con garular, e risa, e gran contento,
que suceso tan grande o requería.
Mais, por que lle sirvise de tormento,
solo na chouza de Vidal n'había
nin porco, nin mondongo, nin fartura,
que era todo nubrado e desventura.


Nas frías pedras do seu lar sentado,
tan váreo movemento contempraba
de negra soledade acompañado:
naide á festa do porco o convidaba,
que era probe Vidal i era olvidado,
i a presenza dun probe alí estorbaba;
por eso entre suspiros repetía:
«¡Ai, quen fora riquiño un soio día!»


Tales eran decote os seus deseos,
mais nunca, ¡triste sorte!, se cumprían,
e todos, todos de miseria cheos,
anos tras anos sin cesar corrían.
Xa era vello Vidal, i os duros ceos
de tan negro sufrir non se doían,
que inda o porco Vidal nunca probara
nin naide a tal festiña o convidara.


Tal como era costume, a rica proba
veciños con veciños se trocaban
(inda hoxe esta costume se renova),
mais a Vidal, veciño non chamaban,
que fora indina misturanza boba
ir a dar donde daiva non topaban,
e por eso Vidal, probe coitado,
nunca catou morcilla o desdichado.


Mais, ¡ai, pícaro mundo!, ¡mundo aleve!,
¿quen de teus pasos e revoltas fía?
¿Quen afirmar empávedo se atreve
que non se pode a noite tornar día?
¿Quen en tempo tan rápido e tan breve
ós conocidos de Vidal diría
que aquela triste homilde criatura
iba nadar en ondas de ventura?


¡I así pasou!... Que Aquel que todo mira
aló da inmensa e trasparente esfera,
donde cos astros sentellantes xira,
misericordia de Vidal tivera;
o torpe olvido dos podentes vira
i a pena de Vidal compadecera,
e co seu brazo misterioso e forte
trocou dun sopro a temeraria sorte.


Tal polas portas de Vidal entrara
como en campo sedento farto río,
aló de Cais harencia que envidiara
o máis encopetado señorío.
Hucha de ouro, ós seus ollos relumbrara
dándolle desvareo, e risa, e frío,
sendo tamaña a dicha que sentía,
que o corasón con ela non podía.


Dempois chorou, sorreu, bicou a terra
inda polo seu pranto humedecida,
e canta dicha a humanidade encerra
verteuse do seu peito escandecida.
Logo, volvendo en si, casi se aterra
de ver ventura tan sin par cumprida,
e postrado ante Dios fervente ora
i o seu misterio portentoso adora.


Cumprido este deber, Vidal, reposto
de sorpresa tan grave e prasenteira,
ponse limpio, amañado e ben composto,
coa graciña de Dios por compañeira.
Cal se adimira de o mirar tan posto,
cal lle di que é galán por derradeira,
i, anque calvo quedou como San Pedro,
dinlle que ten risado pelo negro.


Chámalle aquel «amigo», ¡cousa rara!,
que antes «¡Vidal!» con sorna lle desía,
i outro lle volve pracenteiro a cara
que nantronte o carís lle retorsía.
Tal miniña de velo se trubara,
tal outra xunta del se revolvía,
e seica non faltou quen lle dixera
que feito como un santo se volvera.


Que é triste o rostro da mortal pobreza
que entre ximidos e dolores nace,
i hastra a hermosura ven, cando riqueza
co seu mirar risoño nos comprace;
presta o diñeiro encanto e gentilesa,
i un Dios o mesmo demo se tornase
si tomando figura de banqueiro
remexese diñeiro e máis diñeiro.


Estos misterios son... eu me confundo
i en vano os espricar me propuñera;
pero Vidal, filósofo profundo,
que anque xamáis nos libros deprendera
a conta propia deprendeu no mundo,
non de mudansa tal se soprendera,
que aló no seu caletre a adiviñara
cando en ser rico con afán soñara.


Por eso recibeu con cortesía
recrebos, agasaxo e comprimento,
que un tras outro homildoso lle facía,
escoria vil do humano sentimento.
El a baixesa deles comprendía,
i anque vano nin torpe pensamento
contra xentiñas tales meditaba,
forte e seria lisión darlles pensaba.


Unha mañán a un santo e bon suxeto
un quiño lle mercou, ¡soberbo quiño!,
tan níveo, tan plantado e tan repleto
cal nunca o vira tal ningún veciño.
Era curto de perna, o lombo neto,
do rabo hastra a cabeza redondiño,
i o coiro tan graxento relusía
que mesmo de manteiga paresía.


«¡Alabado sea Dios!», «¡Dios cho bendiga!»,
«¡San Antonio cho garde!», así escramaban
mentras que o cocho a paso de formiga
i o seu dono Vidal serios pasaban.
A falarlle a Vidal cada un se obriga,
que ó porco xa mortiño contempraban
e n'era de perder tan bon bocado
polas mans de Vidal morto e salgado.


Logo o berrido do infeliz pasente
que sofre co coitelo morte dura
fender os aires no lugar se sente,
pouco a pouco a gorxiña queda muda,
o suspiro postrer soa estredente,
a sangre corre, o matachín xa suda,
e naquel grave e quírtico momento
é o porco vida e mundo e pensamento


O difunto alí está repantrigado,
cunha cebola na antraberta boca
(que inda parés que a come o desdichado);
pero non o chorés, que a el solo toca
dormir sono tan triste descuidado,
pois as iras do inferno non provoca,
nin groria ten nin porgatorio ardente;
el dormirá insensible eternamente.


Non cabe en si Vidal de tan contento,
o cheiriño do porco lle enlouquece,
que antre os porcos nacidos é un portento
aquel que ante seus ollos aparece.
Certa satisfación, certo contento
no rostro dos presentes resplandece,
que mesmo quer decir en lenguax mudo:
«¡Este si que che é un porco repoludo!»


Mais co cocho Vidal soio se encerra,
mentras que a xente aturrullada mira...
Cal se pasma, cal bufa, cal se aterra,
que nunca tal naquel lugar se vira,
cal outro lle xurando eterna guerra,
das voltas que dá o mundo se adimira,
pois que nunca en xamais nengún veciño
lle batera ca porta no fociño


Era aquel un rifar desesperado,
pero Vidal o xordo se facía;
a noite enteira se pasou cerrado,
i ó arbor primeiro do siguente día,
cun varal de morcillas ben cargado,
que a pouco de cargado se rompía,
apareceu lavado e reverendo,
a todos co seu porte sorprendendo.


El direitiño ó seu facer marchaba
con paso despacioso camiñando,
e un sorrir nos seus labios se atopaba
que antroido iba decindo ou contrabando.
Dempois, con voz que ás xentes atroaba,
foise de porta en porta perguntando:
—¿Déronlle aquí morcillas a Vidal?
—¡¡¡Aquí non!!! —¡Pois adiante co varal!


Así as chousas correu unha por unha
i o varal inteiriño inda se vía;
que un triste si non respondeu ningunha
de cantas en redondo requería.
Ríndose en tanto a falsa de fertunha
con sonsa voz de bulra repetía:
—¿Déronlle aquí morcillas a Vidal?
—¡¡¡Aquí non!!! —¡Pois adiante co varal!



Vidal morreu, i o tempo foi pasando,
braso que os duros mármores arrasa,
antre helados escombros enterrando
do bon Vidal a solitaria casa.
Mais sempre esta historiña foi quedando;
inda hoxe mesmo por proverbio pasa,
e cando o nome de Vidal se invoca,
muda sole quedar máis dunha boca.


There on the most beautiful hidden corner
That the sunlight ever brightened on earth—
Flowerful lowland and delightful meadow
Comparable to Eden's beautiful fields—
There where the proud and voluminous Sar
Appears to fall asleep and loll
(Sluggish it traverses the dark oak forest)
There Vidal the luckless was born.


What repose! What light...! What garrulous
Mellow chirping of sundry small birds
When the sunrise above the animal pen
Gilded fountains, ponds and fair fields!
What easy breathing...! What delightful
Come-and-go of kids herded together!
How fresh, how polished, how dapper
Went the hamlet's women with the cattle!


Never the rumour of the corrupt world,
Never the vanities of madcap society,
Nor the deceptive lustre of honours
Came to perturb such sweet solitudes.
Blue sky, sun of love, flower-filled field,
Saintly peace without remorse or regrets,
Hours that gently gently trek on their way:
Thus time and life elapsed there.


How the morning breeze first slumbered
In the bosom of the pretty roses,
And how giddy and ebullient afterward
It climbed the uttermost immense space,
And coming back down, murmuring,
Capered over the huts, carrying away
On ethereal wings the lightweight smoke
That dares to rise in murky curls!


And how at noon even the river, breezes,
Draughts, family plots and coppices
Settled down hot and listless,
Like some thirsty and fatigued traveller!
And how the evening's cold breath,
Pregnant with mysterious lullabies,
Approached with jolly brisk step and
Stirred up the air, river and pretty flowers!


The toil-worn country folk
Trudged back to the sheltering huts
While the bubbling pot at home boiled
Strong with tasty cabbages. In it was
Seen beans and small round potatoes
Together with savoury bacon
In a friendly and filling congress
That gladdens, invites and nourishes.


After the frugal dinner, in the tender
Glitter of the clear and soft moonlight,
They headed to the village field to enjoy
Grandpa's able telling of a long story.
Then they prayed with solemn accent
The profitable rosary of Our Lady,
And body plus soul fell asleep peacefully
Awaiting the radiance of the new day.


All was love, peace and tranquil waters,
All was clear blue in the firmament,
Nor visited there the hubris that poisons
Or vain pleasure or fatal torment
Or daft disturbance or profound sorrow
Or vulgar abhorrent sentiment;
Such simple pleasant life dozed away,
For sweet and gentle was their repose.


No one in that place saw himself poor,
Some fared well and not too bad others,
One fritters away, another one hoards,
They all carried on adapting and sharing.
No one felt the black hand of hunger
Pressing down heavily upon his chest,
No one except the unhappy creature
Who was known as Vidal the luckless.


Orphan since birth, sad Fate gave him
Distress for inheritance, along with
The bleak loneliness that attends the poor;
No one on earth found himself so alone from
Among all that is clad in earthly dust,
Even scanning from one pole to the other,
For he was poor and hurt among the hurting
And aflicted among the sadly afflicted.


He had a deplorable dark stall for abode,
He had the damp ground for cot,
For bedding the snow and the harsh wind
That came through the cracks very cold.
He had the sparse and uncertain diet
Offered door to door to the one who is lost,
For so they tell him with no scant mockery
To he who passes for poor in this world.


Never could the hapless one say,
"What I have is mine!" Harsh fate
Had not even stooped to grant him
A little bit of fondness or tenderness,
Or a little bit of love, for wherever
Poverty, loneliness and ill fortune dwell,
Glory, bliss and affection sprint past and
Do not step over the humble threshold.


Fortunately there was always for Vidal
Stew and bread at someone's dear home,
But charity extended no farther, for it'd be
Wrong to let him satisfy other craving.
For if he became used to better fare—
A varied meal and a different distraction—
He would surely find it hard thereafter
To eat left-over cabbages and hard bread.


Such reckoning the rational people made
With grave and conscientious parsimony,
And searched with zeal for those wise saws
That say, "Never give away what is tasty."
And Vidal never consumed compango,
Because sobriety was holy and healthy
According to the powerful people,
Although they relaxed fine and ate well.


When the time came for slaughtering the pigs,
What amiable roasting across the clean fields
At the awakening of the cool early morning!...
What cheery smoke smelling of pork wafted
On the air from among elms and fig trees!
How gossiping girls rolled up their sleeves!
What come-and-go twixt bench and kitchen!
And what fire in the fireplace! what blaze!
What sumptuous and well fried frixolada!


Deep-fried liver with onion
And an indispensable pungent laurel leaf,
So tasty, so tender and so toothsome that
It would resuscitate a corpse well dead yet.
Pork loin and trimmings with inviting odour,
And the substantial blood of blood sausages
Rebounding inside a scoured cauldron,
Inviting to the making of blood sausages.


Such pleasant and stomach-filling portrait
Was replayed throughout the neighbouhood
With mirth, laughter and great contentment,
Just as an event so big demanded.
But in Vidal's hut alone,
To confer on him torment,
There was no pork, tripe or glut,
Everything was overcast and misfortune.


Seated on the cold stones of his abode
He watched the manifold activity,
Accompanied by bleak loneliness:
No one invited him to the pork feast,
For Vidal was destitute and forgotten,
And the presence there of someone poor
Annoyed; that is why he repeated between
Sighs, "Ah, were I well-off for just a day!"


Such were always his wishes,
But they were never fulfilled—sad destiny!—
Years on years hastened on ceaselessly,
Every one, every one, full of misery.
Vidal was old by now, and the dour heavens
Did not grieve over such bleak suffering,
Vidal had never tasted pork
Nor had anyone asked him to that feast.


Neighbours traded tasty samples with
Other neighbours as was the custom
(Even today this custom is renewed)
But Vidal was not regarded as a neighbour.
It would be degrading and foolish rapport
To go give where nothing was given
In return, and so Vidal, poor hapless one,
Never ate blood sausage, the unhappy one.


But ah, puckish world! roguish world!
Who trusts in your steps and turn-abouts?
Who dares to affirm unruffled
That night cannot turn to day?
Who could say to Vidal's acquaintances
That in so quick and brief a spell
That sad humble creature was going to
Swim in waves of good fortune?


And so it happened!... He who inspects
Everything from beyond the immense
And transparent sphere that rotates with
The sparkling stars had mercy on Vidal;
He witnessed the unsound neglect
Of the affluent and felt for Vidal's grief,
And with his strong and mysterious arm
Changed at one go the dreadful destiny.


It crossed the doors of Vidal's
Like brimming river onto thirsty field,
An inheritance from Cais such as
The most spruce peerage would envy.
The hoard of gold dazzled his eyes,
Making him faint, laugh and cold,
So great was the happiness he felt
That the heart could not cope with it.


Afterward he wept, he smiled, he kissed
The ground still moist from his tears,
And as much bliss as humanity hems in
Poured out of his chest inflamed.
Then, taking hold of himself, he is almost
Terror-struck to see such unrivalled luck
Fulfilled, and prostrate before God prays
Fervently and adores his portentous mystery.


This duty performed, Vidal, recovered from
So pleasing and momentous a surprise,
Gets himself clean, groomed and swell,
With the kind grace of God for helpmate.
One marvels at seeing him so elegant,
One's parting word dubs him a gentleman,
And although he went bald like Saint Peter,
They tell him he's got curly black hair.


That one calls him, "friend,"—rare thing!—
For aforetime he called him, "Vidal!" snide,
And another one greets him pleasantly
Who the day before yesterday swerved aside.
Some girl was greatly flustered upon seeing him,
Some other girl made circles about him,
And I understand that someone even told him
That he had matured like a saint.


Sad indeed is the face of mortal poverty
Birthed amid whimpers and pains,
And even beauty approaches when wealth
Indulges us with its cheerful countenance;
Money lends charm and courtesy,
And the very devil would turn into a God
If taking a banker's form rummaged he
Through money and more money.


These mysteries are... I get confused
And I would propose to explain them in vain;
However Vidal, profound philosopher,
Who although he never learned from books
Learned of his own accord in the world,
Was not surprised at such a turn of events,
For away in his discernment he foresaw it
When he dreamed earnestly about being rich.


That is why he accepted with courtesy
Minor requests, toast and compliment,
Which humble one after another made,
Vile scoria of the human sentiment.
Their baseness he understood, and although
He did not entertain a vain or unsound
Deliberation against so abject a people, he
Meant to teach them a hard and bitter lesson.


From a good and saintly fellow one morning
He purchased a pig, wondrous pig!
So snowy, so stout and so replete
Such as no neighbour had ever seen.
Short of leg, clean back,
Delightfully rounded from head to tail,
And so greasy glistened the skin
That it seemed to be made of cream.


"Praise the Lord!"—"May God bless it!"—
"May St. Anthony preserve it!"—they shouted
As at an ant's pace the pig and its owner Vidal
Passed by, grave. Everyone obliged himself
To speak to Vidal, for they envisaged already
The hog happily dead and there was no question
Of missing out on a good mouthful
By Vidal's hands butchered and salted.


Then the squealing of the unhappy patient
That endures a difficult death by the knife
Is felt rending the air of the place,
Gradually the grieved throat pipes down,
The final sigh sounds strident,
The blood runs, the butcher is now sweating,
And at that grave and critical moment
The hog is life and world and intellect.


There lies the dead one belly up,
With an onion in the half-open mouth
(It even seems he is eating it, the joyless one);
But don't weep over him, he alone is slated
To sleep so sad a slumber insouciant,
For he does not arouse hell's wrath
Nor expects glory or burning purgatory;
He will slumber insensible eternally.


Vidal brims over with contentment,
The hog's appetizing smell excites him,
For among all born pigs it's a portent
What lies there before his eyes.
A certain satisfaction, a certain gladness
Shines on the faces of those present,
Equivalent to stating in mute language:
"This is a ripsnorting pig indeed!"


But Vidal retires alone with the hog,
As the flummoxed folks look on...
One is stunned, one huffs, one is alarmed,
For that place never saw anything like it,
Another vowing eternal strife against him
Marvels at the world's turn-abouts,
For never ever had a neighbour
Slammed the door in his nose.


That was one desperate hubbub,
But Vidal played deaf;
He spent the whole night shut in,
And in the first light of the following day,
With a pole so laden with blood sausages
That a slight added weight would crack it,
He emerged washed and reverential,
Surprising everyone with his bearing.


He went right straight to his task,
Walking with slow dignified step,
And a grin that abided on his lips
Intimated antroido or smugglers' cargo.
Then with a voice that thundered at the folks,
He went from door to door asking:
"Did they give blood sausages to Vidal here?"
"Not here!!!"—"Onward with the pole then!"


Thus he toured the huts one by one
And the pole remained intact all the while;
Not one answered a sad Yes
From all those he questioned roundabout.
Laughing meanwhile fickle Fortune
Repeated in a sarcastic tone of jest:
"Did they give blood sausages to Vidal here?"
"Not here!!!"—"Onward with the pole then!"



Vidal died, and Time kept pressing on,
Arm that razes the hard marble to the ground,
Burying among frozen rubble
The solitary house of good Vidal.
But this short story ever lived on;
Even to this very day it passes for proverb,
And when the name of Vidal is brought up,
More than one mouth usually clams up.

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26.   Lass, You The Most Beautiful     (Meniña, ti a máis hermosa)

Affectionate Diminutives

YouTube Videos

Roi Casal (2009).

-Meniña, ti a máis hermosa
que a luz do sol alumbrara;
ti a estrela da mañanciña
que en puras tintas se baña;
ti a frol das froridas cumbres,
ti a ninfa das frescas auguas,
ti como folla do lirio
branca, pura e contristada.
¿Quen eres, fada sin nome
de tan dormentes miradas,
de tan dorida sonrisa,
de feituriña tan cándida?
¿Quisais de muller naceches
sendo tan limpa e tan casta?
¿Quisais das brisas da tarde,
quisais das brétemas vagas...
das burbulliñas dun río,
quisais dunha nube branca?
¿Ou as espumas do mare
a un raio de sol xuntadas
pousáronte ó ser da aurora
nunha cunchiña de nacra?
Mais de onde queira que seas,
tristísima pasionaria,
por ti sinto un amor puro
que pouco a pouco me mata.
Por ti, de noite e de día,
cal vaga sombra encantada,
preto do teu vivir ximo,
ximo cos ventos que pasan
facendo vibrar sonoras
sentidas cordas dun arpa,
que con ecos tembradores
dos meus amores che falan.
Mais dime: ¿por que estás muda?,
di por que estás solitaria,
di por que vives nos montes
cos paxariños que cantan,
mentras ti choras e choras
ó pé dun olmo sentada,
toda de loito cuberta,
toda cuberta de lágrimas.

-Déixame vivir nos montes,
déixame estar solitaria,
déixame cos paxariños
que en derredor de min cantan.
Déixame vestir de loito,
cuberta por tristes bágoas,
i eco de homes non escoite
nin son de armoniosas arpas,
que eses sons de amor á vida
rompen as miñas entrañas.
¡Si deles, galán, por sorte
doce consolo arrancaras
para un dor que non ten cura,
para un mal que non se acaba!
¡Si ó seu vibrar sonoroso
as tombas se levantaran
i o polvo que nelas mora
volto a vivir se axitara!...
Mais, cala, galán...; non toques
as soaves cordas dun arpa
que nin dá vida ós que morren,
ni as tristes tombas levanta.
Cala, galán, cos cantares
que con pasión de amor cantas,
que os meus amores morreron
i aló antre tombas me agardan.
Para min morreu a dicha,
morreu tamén a esperanza,
cubreuse o seu de tristura
i a terra de ásperas prantas.
Déixame vivir nos montes,
déixame estar solitaria,
déixame vestir de loito,
cuberta de amargas lágrimas.

Que a rula que viudou,
xurou de non ser casada,
nin pousar en rama verde
nin beber da iaugua crara

"Lass, you the most beautiful
That the sunlight ever shone upon,
You the star of the early morning
That bathes in pure hues,
You the flower of the florid crests,
You the nymph of the fresh waters,
You like a leaf of the Madonna lily
White, pure and forlorn.
Who are you, nameless she-fairy
Of glances so sleepy,
Of smile so grieved,
Of elegant form so candid?
Were you perchance born of woman
Being so clean and so chaste?
Perhaps of the afternoon breezes,
Perhaps of the dim wind-borne fogs...
Of a stream's tiny bubbles,
Perchance of a white cloud?
Or did the sea's foam bonded to
A beam of sunlight lay you down
Gently in a small mother-of-pearl
Seashell at the break of dawn?
Regardless of your provenance,
Most sorrowful passionflower,
I feel a pure love for you
That kills me little by little.
By night and by day,
Like some vague enchanted shadow,
I moan wishing to be near you,
I moan with the winds that pass
Making the rich heartfelt strings
Of a harp vibrate,
Whose tremulous echoes
Speak to you of my loves.
But tell me: why are you so silent?
Say why you stay all alone,
Say why you dwell in the hills
With the small birds that sing,
While you weep and weep
Seated at the foot of an elm tree,
All clad in black,
All covered with tears."

"Let me dwell in the hills,
Let me be all alone,
Let me stay by the small birds
That roundabout me sing.
Let me dress in black,
Covered with sad tears,
And the echo of men not hear
Nor the sound of harmonious harps,
For those life-loving sounds
Sunder my inner core.
If from them, gallant, you could
By chance dig up sweet solace
For a pain that has no cure,
For an ailment that has no end!
If to the sound of their rich quaver
The tombs opened up
And the dust that dwells in them
Stirred back to life!...
But be quiet, gallant...; do not play
The mellow strings of a harp
Which neither brings the dead to life
Nor lifts open the dismal graves.
Gallant, refrain from the songs
You sing with love's passion,
For my loves passed away and they
Await me there among tombs.
Bliss died to me,
Hope died also,
The sky overspread with sorrow
And the earth with coarse plants.
Let me dwell in the hills,
Let me be by myself,
Let me put on black,
Covered with bitter tears.

"For the widowed turtle dove
Pledged not to marry
Nor perch on green branch
Nor drink of the clear water

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27.   What's With The Boy?     (¿Que ten o mozo?)

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

fiada (1.1.4). A fiada was a gathering of women in the evening to make yarn in a festive ambiance of storytelling, games and song.

Bras (1.2.4). A first name without an English equivalent.

atruxos (1.3.2). An "atruxo" is the blend of a yodel and a prolonged yell.

YouTube Videos

Galiza Folk.


¿Que ten o mozo?
¡Ai!, ¿que terá?
Ponme agora unha cara de inverno,
despois na fiada, ¡sonrisas de tal!
Quer que baile con el no muíño,
i aló pola vila, nin fala quisais...
¿Que ten o mozo?
Pois... ¿que tera?

Unhas veces, canciño de cego,
por onde eu andare seguíndome vai,
nin hai sitio donde eu non atope
un Bras con cirolas i os zocos na man.
¡Ai, que mociño!
¡Ai, que rapaz!

Noutro instante, ¡mirá que fachenda!...
atruxos que asombran ó mesmo lugar.
¡¡¡Brrr!!!, parece que pasa soberbo,
mandando nos homes su real maxestá.
Mociño, ¿es tolo?
¡Ai!, ¿si o serás?

Eu non podo entender, meu amore,
que airiños te levan, que airiños te tran,
nin tampouco cal xeito te cadra,
tratándose, mozo, do teu namorar.
¡Ai!, ¡Dios me libre
de ti, bon Bras!

Que no meu entender te acomparo,
ó mesiño de marzo marzal:
Pola mañán, cariña de rosas;
pola tarde, cara de can
¡Mala xuntanza
facemos! ¡¡Ai!!


¿Que di a meiguiña,
que di a traidora?
Corazón que enloitado te crubes
cos negros desprezos que a falsa che dona,
¿por que vives sofrindo por ela?,
¿por que, namorado, de pena saloucas?
Si ela é bonita,
ela é traidora.

Di, con mengua de min, que non sabe
que airiños me viran, veleta mal posta...
que cho digan, rapaza, os teus ollos,
que agora me chaman, dempois me desbotan.
Que anque es bonita,
eres traidora.

Si unhas veces amante che falo,
e si outras renego de ti... ¡pecadora!,
¿cales auguas repousan serenas,
si o vento que as manda rebole antre as ondas?
E ti ben sabes
que es revoltosa.

Son canciño de cego en quererte...
Tal bulra merece quen ama sin conta,
pois cos zocos na man ou sin eles
ás portas do inferno seguíndote fora.
Tal estou tolo,
tal es graciosa.

¡Que de marzo marzal teño a cara!...
Quixais que así sea, mais ti, miña xoia,
tamén es cal raiola de marzo,
que agora descrube, que agora se entolda.
Iguales semos,
nena fermosa.


What's with the boy?
Aye, what ails him?
Now he shows me a wintry face,
Then at the fiada such winsome smiles!
He wants me to dance with him at the mill,
And lo in the village doesn't even talk perhaps...
What's with the boy?
Well... what ails him?

Sometimes like a diligent guide dog
He follows me wherever I go,
Nor is there anywhere I don't come across
A Bras with plums and the clogs in hand.
Aye, what laddie!
Aye, what kid!

At another instant, see what nerve!...
Yell-yodels that astound the very place.
(Snort) It looks like he parades proud
Ordering men about, his royal majesty.
Laddie, are you crazy?
Aye! Might you be?

I cannot understand, my love,
What breezes take you, what breezes fetch you,
Nor what character suits you
In the matter, boy, of your courting.
Aye! May God save me
From you, good Bras!

For in my understanding I liken you
To the fickle month of out-and-out March:
In the morning the pleasant look of roses;
In the afternoon a hound dog's poses
Aye!! We make
A bad pairing!


What does the dear enchantress say,
What does the disloyal one say?
Heart that clouds over mourning with the black
Brush-offs the double-faced one hands you,
Why do you live suffering for her?
Why do you, enamoured one, sob in sorrow?
If she is pretty,
She is disloyal.

She says, diminishing me, that she ignores
What breezes whirl me, tottering wind vane...
Let your eyes inform you, lass,
For now they beckon me, then they spurn me.
For although you are pretty,
You are disloyal.

If I speak to you like a lover sometimes,
And if others I disown you... sinner!
What waters indeed remain serene
If the wind swirls amidst the waves it sends?
And you know full well
That you are a mischief-maker.

A diligent guide dog am I for loving you...
Such dig deserves he who loves without tally,
For with clogs in the hand or without them
I would follow you to the gates of hell.
I am that crazy,
You are that delightful.

That I have the face of out-and-out March!...
Perhaps it is so, but you, my jewel,
Are also like the sunshine of March,
That now unveils, and now covers up.
We are alike,
Beautiful girl.

Back To Index

28.   Castilians Of Castile     (Castellanos de Castilla)

Affectionate Diminutives

¡Castellanos de Castilla,
tratade ben ós gallegos;
cando van, van como rosas;
cando vén, vén como negros!

—Cando foi, iba sorrindo;
cando veu, viña morrendo
a luciña dos meus ollos,
o amantiño do meu peito.

Aquel máis que neve branco,
aquel de dozuras cheio,
aquel por quen eu vivía
e sin quen vivir non quero.

Foi a Castilla por pan,
e saramagos lle deron;
déronlle fel por bebida,
peniñas por alimento.

Déronlle, en fin, canto amargo
ten a vida no seu seo...
¡Castellanos, castellanos,
tendes corazón de ferro!

¡Ai!, no meu corazonciño
xa non pode haber contento,
que está de dolor ferido,
que está de loito cuberto.

Morreu aquel que eu quería,
e para min n'hai consuelo:
solo hai para min, Castilla,
a mala lei que che teño.

Premita Dios, castellanos,
castellanos que aborrezo,
que antes os gallegos morran
que ir a pedirvos sustento.

Pois tan mal corazón tendes,
secos fillos do deserto,
que si amargo pan vos ganan,
dádesllo envolto en veneno.

Aló van, malpocadiños,
todos de esperanzas cheios,
e volven, ¡ai!, sin ventura,
con un caudal de desprezos.

Van probes e tornan probes,
van sans e tornan enfermos,
que anque eles son como rosas,
tratádelos como negros.

¡Castellanos de Castilla,
tendes corazón de aceiro,
alma como as penas dura,
e sin entrañas o peito!

En trós de palla sentados,
sin fundamentos, soberbos,
pensás que os nosos filliños
para servirvos naceron.

E nunca tan torpe idea,
tan criminal pensamento
coupo en máis fatuas cabezas
ni en máis fatuos sentimentos.

Que Castilla e castellanos,
todos nun montón, a eito,
non valen o que unha herbiña
destes nosos campos frescos.

Solo pezoñosas charcas
detidas no ardente suelo,
tes, Castilla, que humedezan
esos teus labios sedentos.

Que o mar deixoute olvidada
e lonxe de ti correron
as brandas auguas que traen
de prantas cen semilleiros.

Nin arbres que che den sombra,
nin sombra que preste alento...
llanura e sempre llanura,
deserto e sempre deserto...

Esto che tocou, coitada,
por herencia no universo,
¡miserable fanfarrona!...
triste heirencia foi por certo.

En verdad non hai, Castilla,
nada como ti tan feio,
que aínda mellor que Castilla,
valera decir inferno.

¿Por que aló foches, meu ben?
¡Nunca tal houberas feito!
¡Trocar campiños frolidos
por tristes campos sin rego!

¡Trocar tan craras fontiñas,
ríos tan murmuradeiros,
por seco polvo que nunca
mollan as bágoas do ceo!

Mais, ¡ai!, de onde a min te foches
sin dor do meu sentimento,
i aló a vida che quitaron,
aló a mortiña che deron.

Morreches, meu queridiño,
e para min n'hai consuelo,
que onde antes te vía, agora
xa solo unha tomba vexo.

Triste como a mesma noite,
farto de dolor o peito,
pídolle a Dios que me mate,
porque xa vivir non quero.

Mais en tanto no me mata,
castellanos que aborrezo,
hei, para vergonza vosa,
heivos de cantar xemendo:

¡Castellanos de Castilla,
tratade ben ós gallegos;
cando van, van como rosas;
cando vén, vén como negros!

Castilians of Castile,
Treat Galicians well;
When they depart, they leave like roses;
When they return, they come like Negroes!

"When he left he went away smiling;
When he returned he came dying,
The mild light of my eyes,
The gentle lover of my bosom.

"The one whiter than snow,
The one full of sweetness,
The one I lived for
And without whom I do not wish to live.

"He went to Castile for bread,
And they gave him wild radishes;
They handed him gall for drink,
Poignant sorrows for nourishment.

"They gave him, in short, all that life
Has of bitterness in her bosom...
Castilians, Castilians,
You have a heart of iron!

"Ah! There can no longer be
Happiness in my poor heart,
For it is wounded by pain,
For it is cloaked in mourning.

"Passed away he whom I loved,
And there is no comfort for me:
There is only for me, Castile,
The evil charter I hold against you.

"May God permit, Castilians,
Castilians I loathe,
That Galicians should die before going
To solicit a livelihood from you.

"For you have such an evil heart,
Shrivelled sons of the desert,
That if they earn some bitter bread
You give it to them wrapped in poison.

"There they go, the poor unfortunate ones,
Every one full of hopes,
And they return aye! without fortune,
With a river of slights.

"They depart poor and they return poor,
They go healthy and they come back sick,
For although they are like roses
You treat them like Negroes.

"Castilians of Castile,
You have a heart of steel,
A soul hard as the boulders,
And a breast without innards!

"Seated upon thrones of straw,
Without arguments, arrogant,
You fancy that our sons
Were born to serve you.

"And never such a foolhardy idea,
Such a criminal thought,
Found place in more fatuous heads
Or in more fatuous sentiments.

"For Castile and Castilians,
All piled willy-nilly in one heap,
Are not worth a blade of green grass
From these fresh fields of ours.

"Only ponds of toxic water
Stagnant on the scorching ground
Have you, Castile, to moisten
Those thirsty lips of yours with.

"For the sea forsook you
And far away from you flowed
The soft waters that fetch
A hundred seed-banks of plants.

"Neither trees to give you shade
Nor shadow to lend vitality...
Plain and unrelenting plain,
Desert and unrelenting desert...

"This was your alloted inheritance
In the universe, ill-starred one,
Miserable braggart!...
A dismal inheritance for certain.

"In truth, Castile, there is
Nothing quite as ugly as you,
For even better than Castile
Would be to say hell.

"Why did you go there, my boon?
You should never have done so!
To exchange lovely flowery fields
For dismal ones without watering!

"To exchange dear fountains so clear,
Rivers so murmuring,
For dry dust that never
Heaven's teardrops dampen!

"Yet aye! you departed from me
Without qualm about my feelings,
And over there they took your life,
Over there they handed you a tragic death.

"You passed away, my dearie,
And for me there is no comfort,
For where aforetime I saw you,
Now a tomb only I see.

"Sad as the very night,
Full of pain my chest,
I ask God to slay me
Because I no longer wish to live.

"But as long as he doesn't slay me,
Castilians I loathe,
I will, to your shame,
I will sing to you whimpering:

"Castilians of Castile,
Treat Galicians well;
When they depart, they leave like roses;
When they return, they come like Negroes!

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Ventura Ruiz Aguilera

Ventura Ruiz Aguilera.
Source: Real Academia de la Historia.

29.   The Galician Bagpipe     (A gaita gallega)


De Castro dedicated this short poem to "the eminent poet D. Ventura Ruiz Aguilera" who in 1854 had published the Spanish poem, "La Gaita Gallega," in the collection, "Eco Nacional." Aguilera dedicated his poem to Manuel Murguía, De Castro's husband. The Galician poem, "A Gaita Gallega," is De Castro's reply. Her poem's refrain, "It does not sing, it weeps," answers Aguilera's, "I am unable to say whether it (i.e. the Galician bagpipe) sings or weeps."

The source for the following information about Ventura Ruiz Aguilera is the Royal Spanish Academy of History.

Ventura Ruiz Aguilera (1820-1881). Castilian poet, medical doctor and republican journalist. He joined the ranks of the Progressive Party in the year 1843. He published several articles in the liberal press against the Carlist monarchy movement for which he was exiled internally to a Mediterranean province in 1848. He directed two short-lived newspapers before 1852, Las Hijas de Eva and El Orden, and subsequently collaborated in many others, among them the influential daily, La Iberia. His journalism earned him several appointments to the state bureaucracy, among them the post of Director of the National Archeological Museum (1868-72). He was the author of many collections of poems: Elegías, Armonías, Inspiraciones, Cantares, Églogas e idilios, La leyenda de Nochebuena, Veladas poéticas. The collection Cantares had a great circulation and a plausible influence on the poetry of Rosalía de Castro. His most popular collection however was Ecos Nacionales. Its three parts were published separately in 1849, 1854 and 1868.

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Virgen-mártir (1.1.6, 5.2.4). Galicia herself. Aguilera did not allude to any religious virgin in his poem, but he imagines Galicia to be "beautiful, pensive and alone, like a beloved one without her lover, like a queen without her crown" (La Gaita Gallega, 1.6-8).

Knit brilliant crowns (2.2.4). Rainbows; haloes from ice-crystal clouds.

And aye! on them sail the sons... For mercy from the homeland (3.2.1-6). The source for the following information is Cambrón Infante.1

By the early 1830's the Spanish colonial authorities of Cuba, the landowners and the sugar exporters realized that the growing population of African slaves posed a serious threat to the stability of the Caribbean island. In 1853 slave trafficker Urbano Feijóo Sotomayor and captain general Valentín Cañedo elaborated a White Paper to fill the demand for slave labour in the sugar cane plantations of Cuba with Galician workers brought in under a five-year contract. The plan was approved by the Spanish Courts on May 2, 1854. Earlier in March the frigate Villa Neda had already transported the first 314 Galician workers to Havana. The official plan promised a decent life in Cuba. The reality turned out to be quite different... Upon arrival the employer secluded the workers in barracks lacking the minimum living conditions and hygiene; this was to be their residence during a period of "adaptation." The barracks were in fact derelict venues where landowners flocked to buy workers: a marketplace for buying and selling human "cargo." The food provided was sparse and dismal—potatoes and salt-cured meat—and the period of "adaptation" lasted for as long as it took to negotiate the price of a worker with slave trafficker Feijóo. Ramón Fernández Armada the director of the Havana enterprise resumed the situation thus,

The Galicians were taken from their homes tricked with false and vague promises and have arrived in Cuba to find opprobrium, fraud, ignominy and death. Until now approximately 500 have died from hunger, ill treatment or as a result of being abandoned [...] Their entire blame consisted in asking for bread to avert starvation; and to restrain the [rebellious] impulse the bosses ordered that they should be held in foul-smelling quarters, chained and fettered, naked and barefoot. They feed them rotting meats which the African blacks reject. They force them to work fifteen hours daily by way of the whip, the stick and the sword. This situation has led them to despair and the ones who did not escape died in the byways, the jails or the hospitals. A scandal—horrendous—a slaughter.

A third of the Galician emigrants died in Cuba during the first three months of the Feijóo project. Toward the end of 1854 news arrived to Galicia about their desperate situation,

We are treated worse than the slaves, sold like them to employers. Feijóo has outraged humanity and nature by re-establishing slavery.

1 Ascensión Cambrón Infante, 2000: "Emigración gallega y esclavitud en Cuba (1854). Un problema de Estado." Anuario da Facultade de Dereito, pp. 83-108. Universidade da Coruña. PDF file.

aló nas Castillas oias (5.4.2). The administrative division of Spain by Secretary of State Javier de Burgos in 1833 created two regions called New Castile and Old Castile.

YouTube Videos

Recital: C.P.I. do Toural.


Cando ese cantar, poeta,
na lira xemendo entonas,
non sei o que por min pasa
que as lagrimiñas me afogan,
que ante de min cruzar vexo
a Virgen-mártir que invocas,
cos pes cravados de espiñas,
cas mans cubertas de rosas.

En vano a gaita tocando
unha alborada de groria
sons polos aires espalla
que cán nas tembrantes ondas.
En vano baila contenta
nas eiras a turba louca,
que aqueles sons, tal me afrixen,
cousas tan tristes me contan,

que eu podo decirche:
Non canta, que chora


Vexo contigo estos ceos,
vexo estas brancas auroras,
vexo estes campos froridos
donde se arrullan as pombas,
i estas montañas xigantes
que aló cas nubes se tocan
cubertas de verdes pinos
e de froliñas cheirosas.

Vexo esta terra bendita
donde o ben de Dios rebota
e donde anxiños hermosos
tecen brillantes coroas.

Mas, ¡ai!, como tamén vexo
pasar macilentas sombras,
grilos de ferro arrastrando
antre sorrisas de mofa.

Anque mimosa gaitiña
toque alborada de groria,

eu podo decirche:
Non canta, que chora


Falas, i o meu pensamento
mira pasar temerosas
as sombras deses cen portos
que ó pé das ondiñas moran,
e pouco a pouco marchando
fráxiles, tristes e soias,
vagar as naves soberbas
aló nunha mar traidora.

I, ¡ai!, como nelas navegan
os fillos das nosas costas
con rumbo a América infanda
que a morte co pan lles dona,
desnudos pedindo en vano
á patria misericordia.

Anque contenta a gaitiña
o probe gaiteiro toca,

eu podo decirche:
Non canta, que chora


Probe Galicia, non debes
chamarte nunca española,
que España de ti se olvida
cando eres, ¡ai!, tan hermosa.
Cal si na infamia naceras,
torpe, de ti se avergonza,
i a nai que un fillo despreza
nai sin corazón se noma.

Naide por que te levantes
che alarga a man bondadosa;
naide os teus prantos enxuga,
i homilde choras e choras.

Galicia, ti non tes patria,
ti vives no mundo soia,
i a prole fecunda túa
se espalla en errantes hordas,
mentras triste e solitaria
tendida na verde alfombra
ó mar esperanzas pides,
de Dios a esperanza imploras.

Por eso anque en son de festa
alegre á gaitiña se oia,

eu podo decirche:
Non canta, que chora


«Espera, Galicia, espera»
¡Canto este grito consola!
Páguecho Dios, bon poeta,
mais é unha esperanza louca;
que antes de que os tempos cheguen
de dicha tan venturosa,
antes que Galicia suba
ca cruz que o seu lombo agobia
aquel difícil camiño
que ó pé dos abismos toca,
quisais, cansada e sedenta,
quisais que de angustias morra.

Págueche Dios, bon poeta,
esa esperanza de groria,
que de teu peito surxindo,
á Virgen-mártir coroa,
i esta a recompensa sea
de amargas penas tan fondas.

Págueche este cantar triste
que as nosas tristezas conta,
que soio ti... ¡ti entre tantos!,
das nosas mágoas se acorda.
¡Dina voluntad dun xenio,
alma pura e xenerosa!

E cando a gaita gallega
aló nas Castillas oias,
ó teu corazón pergunta,
verás que che di en resposta

que a gaita gallega:
Non canta, que chora


Poet, when you intone that song
On the whimpering lyre,
I know not what comes over me
For spontaneous tears stifle me,
For I see crossing in front of me
The Virgin-martyr you invoke,
Her feet pierced with thorns,
Her hands covered with roses.

In vain the bagpipe playing
A morning song of glory
Scatters in the air notes
That fall on the tossing waves.
In vain the boisterous throng
Dances merry in the fields,
For those notes so afflict me,
They tell me such sad stories,

That I can tell you:
It does not sing, it weeps


I see these skies as you do,
I see these white dawns,
I see these florid fields
Where pigeons coo,
And these giant mountains
That covered with green pine trees
And fragrant pretty flowers
Far up touch the clouds.

I see this blessed land where
The goodness of God spills over
And where beautiful boyish angels
Knit brilliant crowns.

Yet aye! I see also
Emaciated shadows pass by,
Dragging iron shackles
Amid scornful smiles.

Alhough a native bagpipe may play
Enticing a morning song of glory,

I can tell you:
It does not sing, it weeps


You speak, and my fancy beholds
Fearfully passing the shadows
Of those one hundred harbours
Beside the gentle waves,
And sailing away little by little,
Fragile, sad and solitary,
The proud vessels voyaging
Yonder on a treacherous ocean.

And aye! on them sail the sons
Of our shores bound for heinous
America, which doles out to them
Death along with their bread,
Begging in vain, naked,
Mercy from the homeland.

Alhough the poor bagpiper plays
The merry native bagpipe,

I can tell you:
It does not sing, it weeps


Poor Galicia, you must never
Call yourself Spanish,
For Spain forsakes you
Though you are ah! so gorgeous.
As if you were born in infamy she,
Dim-witted, is ashamed of you,
And mother who disdains a son
Heartless mother is called.

No one extends a kind hand
To lift you up;
No one dries your tears,
And humble you cry and cry.

Galicia, you have no fatherland,
You dwell alone in the world,
And your prolific progeny
Disperses in wandering hordes,
While sad and solitary,
Lying on the green carpet,
You solicit the ocean for answers,
You implore God for hope.

Thus though in festive tone gay
The native bagpipe be heard,

I can tell you:
It does not sing, it weeps


"Wait, Galicia, wait." How much
This cry consoles! May God
Recompense you, good poet,
But it's an extravagant hope;
Before the epoch of such
Fortunate bliss arrives,
Before Galicia climbs with the
Cross that burdens her back
That difficult path which borders
On the verge of the abysses,
Perhaps—tired and thirsty—
Perhaps she will die of anguish.

May God recompense, good poet,
That hope of glory
That surging from your breast
Crowns the Virgin-martyr,
And may this be the recompense
Of sorrows so deep and bitter.

May God recompense this sad
Song that recounts our miseries,
For you alone... you among so many!
Remember our misfortunes.
Praiseworthy will of a talented,
Generous and pure soul!

And when you hear the Galician
Bagpipe over there in the Castiles,
Question your heart.
You will hear that it replies

That the Galician bagpipe
Does not sing, that it weeps

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30.   Come, Girl     (Vente, rapasa)


"Vente, rapasa" is a collection of (I) affectionate words spoken by a mother to her small children, (II) manners of speech between Galician peasants and (III) verbal reproaches to pets or farm animals. It is a sample of what De Castro called "those tender words and those idioms never forgotten which sounded so sweet to my ears since the cradle and which were gathered up by my heart as its own heritage." The translation to the English language is particularly difficult—the playful rhymes are lost in the translation—but an approximation is worth the while.

Typographical Error in the Original

Original line 1.2.2 reads, "douche si non polo demo do dente" which makes stanza 1.2 say, "Come, Minguiño; Minguiño, come / Or I will give you in your troublesome tooth." The statement is incongruous and baffling. Changing one crucial vowel in line 1.2.2. clears up the confusion. What Rosalía de Castro wrote in fact was: "douche si non palo demo do dente," and the typesetter mistook the highlighted "a" for an "o" and the error is understandable because De Castro's caligraphy sometimes produced a's that look like o's when joined to a consonant.

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Cas-qui-tó (3.4.2). According to the "Glossary of Terms in Cantares Gallegos" (Wikisource, Galician Wikipedia) this cry, "Cas-qui-tó," was a farmer's way of telling a hog to get out of the way.

¡Gachi!, ¡gachi! (3.8.1). Unknown. Nevertheless the following guess, "Stop! Stop!" suits the script.

YouTube Videos

De Castro's caligraphy.


—Vente, rapasa, vente, miniña,
vente a lavar no pilón da fontiña.

—Vente, Minguiño, Minguiño, vente;
douche si non palo demo do dente.

—¡Que augua tan limpa! ¡Que rica frescura!
Vente a lavar que é un primor, criatura.

—Válganos Dios, que si auguiña n'houbera,
lama este corpo mortal se volvera.

—Vinde a lavarvos, andá lixeiriños,
a cara pirmeiro, dimpois os peíños.

—¡Ai!, ¡que miniña! ¡Que nena preciosa!
dempois de lavada parese unha rosa.

—I este miniño que teño no colo,
dempois de lavado parece un repolo.

—¡Ai!, ¡que tan cuco! ¡Ai!, ¡que santiño!
Ven ós meus brazos, dareiche un biquiño.

—¡Olliños de groria! ¡Cariña de meiga!
Apértame ben, corazón de manteiga!

—Corre, corre a que Antona te peite,
corre, daráche unha cunca de leite.

—Corre, corre a teu pai, Mariquiña,
que come cebola con pan e sardiña.


—¡Válgate Dios que inda os figos son duros!
¡Mais, que fartiña en estando maduros!

—El e mais eu i a comadre de abaixo
hemos de ter que alargar o refaixo.

—Rica figueira, que Dios te bendiga,
que hasme, abofé, de fartar a barriga.

—¡Jei!, o dos ovos que vas de camiño,
¿cantas duciñas topache no niño?

—¡Unha no máis! —¡No me teño ca risa!
Ese éche un conto que vai para a misa.

—Dáme acá seis, que un fricol che faría,
que ó mesmo rei que envidiar lle daría.

—Xa que non qués, no camiño che colla
vento de vira cun saco de molla.


—¡Turra, turra, Xan, pola burra!
Mira que Pedro a cadela che apurra.

—¡Ai, desdichada de min, que a vexo
fincarche o colmillo no triste pelexo!

—¡Diancre de Xan que non corre nin toa!
Ben haia, amén, quen os ósos che roa.

—¡Churras!, ¡churras! ¡Churriñas!, ¡churras!
Cas-qui-tó, que escorrenta-las burras.

—Pica, pica, suriña, pica,
lévalle un gran ó teu fillo na bica.

—Marcha, can, a ladrar ó palleiro,
¡sei que che agrada o demoro do cheiro!

—¡Vaiche co can, que o peixiño lle gusta!
Mais a teu dono o diñeiro lle custa.

—¡Gachi!, ¡gachi! ¡Que dencho de gato!
¡Como se farta no prebe do prato!

—¡Inda reventes, larpeiro rabudo!
¡Que inda na gorxa che aperten un nudo!

—Truca, perico, no gato rabelo
hastra deixalo quedar sin un pelo.

—Que eu, si outra vez o camiño me atranca,
hei de romperlle no lombo unha tranca.

—¡Malo daquel que non sabe de misa,
nin entra na igrexia nin gasta camisa!

—¡Ai!, que galiña saltou no valado!
¡Sei que quer vir a comer de prestado!

Isca de ahí, galiña maldita,
isca de ahí, non me mate-la Pita

Isca de ahí, galiña ladrona,
isca de ahí pra cás tua dona


"Come, girl; come, lass; come wash
At the sink of the dear fountain."

"Come, Minguiño; Minguiño, come;
Otherwise I'll treat your troublesome tooth."

"Such clean water! Wonderfully cool!
Come wash, child, it's very delightful."

"God help us if we had no dear water,
This mortal body would turn to mud."

"Come get washed, pace quick quick,
First your face then the little feet."

"Aye what a lass! What a precious baby!
Washed she resembles a rose."

"And this lad I hold snug in my lap,
Washed he resembles a white cabbage."

"Aye how cunning! Aye what a dear saint!
Come to my arms, I'll give you a fond kiss."

"Lovely glory eyes! Pretty enchantress face!
Give me a big hug, heart of cream!"

"Run, run to Antoinette to get combed,
Run, she will give you a bowl of milk."

"Run, Molly, run to your father who eats
Onion with bread and sardines."


"God help you, the figs are still hard!
But what glut when they ripen!"

"He and I and godmother down the road
We'll have to loosen the sash."

"God bless you, bountiful fig tree,
For you, my word, shall fill my belly."

"Hey! Fellow on the road with the eggs,
How many dozens did you find in the nest?"

"No more than one!" "I can't stop laughing!
That's a story that goes to mass."

"Bring me six here, I'd fry you a dish
Which the king himself would envy."

"Since you decline, may a whirwind with
A bagful of rain get you on the way."


"Stick with it, John, stick with the jennet!
See, Peter incites the bitch against you."

"Aye, hapless me, for I see her plunge
Her fangs in the sad hide!"

"That rascal John neither runs nor hollers!
Blessed be whoever chews your bones, amen."

"Hens! Hens! Good hens! Hens!
Get lost, hog that makes the jennets flee."

"Pick, pick, squab, pick,
Carry a grain in your beak to your chick."

"Go to the haystack and bark there, dog,
I see you relish the lingering odour!"

"Go with the dog that likes to eat small fish!
But it costs your owner money."

"Stop! stop! What a wicked cat! How it
Stuffs itself with the sauce on the plate!"

"May you burst yet, astute glutton! May
they tighten a noose around your neck yet!"

"Butt, kid, butt the cat with no tail
Until you leave it without a single hair."

"For if he ever bars my way again
I'll break a staff on its back."

"A bad sort is one who doesn't attend mass
Nor enters a church nor wears a shirt!"

"Aye! A hen jumped up on the fence!
I see you want to eat a borrowed meal!"

"Scram from there, damned hen,
Scram from there, don't kill my pullet

"Scram from there, thieving hen,
Scram from there to your mistress' house

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31.   When The Solitary Moon Appears     (Cando a luniña aparece)

Affectionate Diminutives

Cando a luniña aparece
i o sol nos mares se esconde,
todo é silencio nos campos,
todo na ribeira dorme.

Quedan as veigas sin xente,
sin ovelliñas os montes,
a fonte sin rosas vivas,
os árbores sin cantores.

Medroso o vento que pasa
os pinos xigantes move,
i á voz que levanta triste,
outra máis triste responde.

Son as campanas que tocan,
que tocan en sons de morte,
i ó corazón din: N'olvides
ós que para sempre dormen.

¡Que triste! ¡Que hora tan triste
aquela en que o sol se esconde,
en que as estrelliñas pálidas
tímidamente relosen!

Aló as montañas confusas
de espesas niebras se croben,
i a casa branca en que el vive
en sombra espesa se envolve.

En vano miro e máis miro,
que os velos da negra noite
entre ela i os meus olliños
traidoramente se poñen.

¿Que fas ti mentras, meu ben?
Dime donde estás, en donde,
que te aspero e nunca chegas,
que te chamo e non respondes.

¿Morreches, meu queridiño?
¿O mar sin fondo tragoute?
¿Leváronte as ondas feras
ou te perdeches nos montes?

Vou perguntando ós airiños,
vou perguntando ós pastores,
ás verdes ondas pergunto
e ninguén ¡ai! me responde.

Os aires mudiños pasan,
os pastoriños non me oien,
i as xordas ondas fervendo
contra os penedos se rompen.

Mais ti non morreche, ingrato,
nin te perdeches nos montes;
ti quisais mentras que eu peno,
dos meus pesares te goces.

¡Coitada de min! ¡Coitada!
Que este meu peitiño nobre
foi para ti deble xunco
que ó menor vento se torce.

¡I en recompensa ti olvídasme!
Dasme fel, e dasme a morte...
¡Que este é o pago, desdichada,
que á que ben quer dan os homes!

Mais ¡que importa! ben te quixen...
Querreite sempre... Así cómpre
a quen con grande firmesa,
vidiña i alma entregouche.

Ahí tes o meu corazón,
si o queres matar ben podes,
pero como estás ti dentro,
tamén si ti o matas, morres

When the solitary moon appears
And the sun hides in the seas
Everything is quiet in the fields,
Everything sleeps on the riverside.

The meadows are left without people,
Without innocent sheep the hills,
The fountain without bright roses,
The trees without singers.

Diffident the passing wind
Sways the giant pine trees,
And to the sad voice it raises
Sadder replies another.

It's the church bells that peal,
Which toll in tones of death,
And say to the heart: "Do not forget
Those who for ever sleep."

How sad! How sad is that hour
When the sun hides away,
When the pale twinkling stars
Glimmer timorously!

Yonder the blurred mountains
Are blanketed by thick fogs,
And the white house where he dwells
Wraps itself in thick shadow.

I look and look again in vain,
For the veils of the black night
Interpose themselves treacherously
Between it and my searching eyes.

What are you doing meanwhile, my boon?
Tell me where you are, where,
For I expect you and you never come,
For I call you and you don't answer.

Did you perish, my dearie? Did the
Fathomless sea swallow you up?
Did the raging waves wash you away
Or did you lose your way in the hills?

I go about asking the breezes,
I go about asking the shepherds,
I question the green waves
And no one aye! answers me.

The winds pass by blamelessly mute,
The dear shepherds do not hear me,
And the deaf waves churning
Crash against the stacks.

But you did not perish or lost
Your way in the hills, ingrate;
You, perhaps, while I grieve
Take pleasure in my sorrows.

Hapless me! Hapless!
For this poor breast of mine, noble,
Was to you a yielding reed
That bends with the lightest breeze.

And you forget me in recompense!
You give me gall and you give me
Death, for such is men's payment
To she who loves true, forlorn one!

But no matter! I loved you true...
I will always love you...Thus it
Behooves her who with great resolve
Surrendered dear life and soul to you.

There you have my heart at hand,
If you want to kill it you indeed can,
But since you are inside,
If you kill it, you too die

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32.   Spree At O Seixo     (Si a vernos, Marica, nantronte viñeras)

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Seixo (1.1.2). Unclear. Several places across Galicia share the name.

pawn!...pawn! (1.2.4). The approximate sound of a bass drum.

Cais (2.2.4). Unknown placename.


Si a vernos, Marica, nantronte viñeras
á festa do Seixo na beira do mar,
ti riras, Marica, cal nunca te riches
debaixo dos pinos do verde pinar.

Á sombra dos pinos, Marica, ¡que cousas
chistosas pasaron!, ¡que rir toleirón!
Relouca de arriba, relouca de abaixo,
iñamos, viñamos i o bombo... pon!...¡pon!

As cóchegas brandas, as loitas alegres,
os berros, os brincos, os contos sin fel,
todiños peneques, alegres todiños...
I a nosa señora detrás do tonel.


¡Coitada!, ¡que festa brandida perdeche!...
Cantaras, beberas, dormiras, i así
nun feixe miraras rolar xuntamente
mociños e vellos de aquí para alí.

Coa vista trubada, cos ollos dormentes,
sorrindo, comendo, pifando e aínda máis,
¡que apertas, que olladas tan chuscas trocaban
as nenas de xenio cos mozos de Cais!

Debaixo dos ricos pareauguas de seda
que abertos formaban tamaño rodel,
todiños chispados, ¡que cousas decían!
I a nosa señora detrás do tonel.


Mais ela decote tan grave e soberba,
tan fina de oído, tan curta de mans,
xordiña quedara, falando por sete,
con probes e ricos, con porcos e cans.

Meu amo folgado de tanta largueza,
que n'era costume na dona tal ver,
tamén ¡miña xoia! saltando da burra,
¡pin!, ¡pan!, río arriba botouse a correr.

I a dona sorría con ollo entraberto,
comendo castañas e viño con mel...
¡Que festa, Marica!...Todiños peneques...
I a nosa señora detrás do tonel.


Mary, if you had come to see us at the seaside
On Seixo's feast day, the day before yesterday,
You'd have laughed as you never have, Mary,
Beneath the pines of the green pine forest.

What funny things transpired in the shade of
The pine trees, Mary! What madcap laughter!
Cavort up, cavort down, we went, we came
And the bass drum...pawn!...pawn!

The light tickles, the playful scuffles,
Shouts, prances, stories without bile,
One and all tipsy, merry one and all...
And our mistress behind the butt barrel.


Sorry one! What splendid party you missed!...
You would have sung, drunk, slept, and thus
In one package watched laddies and old folks
Amble together back and forth.

With ruffled eyesight, with sleepy eyes,
Smiling, eating, sparring and even more,
What hugs, what flirtatious ogles traded
The girls of pluck with the lads of Cais!

Beneath the rich umbrellas of silk,
Which open formed an impressive buckler,
What things they said, pickled one and all!
And our mistress behind the butt barrel.


But she usually so formal and haughty,
So sharp of hearing, so standoffish,
Ended deaf silly chatting like seven
With rich and poor, with hogs and dogs.

My master, relieved at so much largesse
Uncommon to witness in his wife,
Also my jewel! bounding out of the jennet
Splish! Splash! took to running upstream.

And his wife smiled with half-open eye,
Eating chestnuts and wine with honey...
What a binge, Mary!...Everyone tipsy...
And our mistress behind the butt barrel.

Back To Index

33.   How It Drizzles Heavily     (Como chove miudiño)

Affectionate Diminutives

YouTube Videos

Amancio Prada from the 1997 album Rosas a Rosalía.

Uxía from the 2013 album Rosalía Pequeniña.

Como chove miudiño,
como miudiño chove;
como chove miudiño
pola banda de Laíño,
pola banda de Lestrove

¡Como a triste branca nube
truba o sol que inquieto aluma,
cal o crube i o descrube,
pasa, torna, volve e sube,
enrisada branca pruma!

Xa, dempois, lonxe espallada
polos aires fuxitivos,
desteñida, sombrisada,
nos espazos desatada,
cae brillando en raios vivos.

Misteriosa regadeira
fino orballo no chan pousa
con feitiña curvadeira,
remollando na ribeira
frol por frol, chousa por chousa.

Semellando leve gasa
que sotil o vento move,
en frotantes ondas pasa
refrescando canto abrasa,
o que o sol ardente crobe.

¡Como chove miudiño
polas veigas de Campaña!
¡Cal se enxugan do camiño
os herbales de Laíño!
¡Como A Ponte en sol se baña!

Para Caldas todo é escuro,
ceo azul lose na Adina,
trasparente, limpo e puro;
de Arretén no monte duro
nube corre pelegrina.

Triste vai, que á terra toca
xa cos pés de branca neve,
xa ca fina fresca boca;
triste vai, que ós ceos invoca
i a bicar o chan se atreve.

Triste vai cando se abate
vaporosa, soia e muda,
cando maina as alas bate
como un corazón que late
ferido por pena ruda.

Tal maxino a sombra triste
de mi mae, soia vagando
nas esferas onde existe;
que ir á groria se resiste,
polos que quixo agardando.

Vexo O Souto en parda sombra
envolvendo o seu ramaxe,
que por ben do Rei se nombra,
donde fero o vento asombra,
roxe e estala de coraxe.

I O Palacio, serio e grave,
¡canto en pura luz se baña!
Tal parés pesada nave
que volver ó mar non sabe,
se encallou na fresca braña.

Vexo Valga á beira hermosa
dun camiño todo prata,
casta virxe candorosa,
sentadiña en chan de rosa,
vestidiña de escalrata.

A San Lois vexo brillando
bañado por tintas puras,
sol e sombras amostrando,
en reposo contemprando
montes, auguas e verduras.

I a Padrón, ponliña verde,
fada branca ó pé dun río,
froita en frol da que eu quixerde,
lonxe miro que se perde
baixo un manto de resío.

¡Que inchadiña branca vela
antre os millos corre soa,
misteriosa pura estrela!
Dille o vento en torno dela:
«Palomiña, ¡voa!, ¡voa!»

Faille arrolo o brando río
cun remanso mormuxante,
que nás da arboleda umbría
baixo un toldo de alegría,
ó calor dun sol amante.

¡Sol de Italia, sol de amore...!
¿Ti paisax mellor alumas?
¿Ti máis rosas, máis verdore,
mellor ceu, máis soave core
ves do golfo antre as espumas?

¡Sol de Italia, eu non sospiro
por sentirte ardente raio!
Que outro sol temprado miro;
docemente aquí respiro
nun perene, eterno maio.

Nesta terra tal encanto
se respira... Triste ou probe,
rico ou farto de querbanto,
¡se encariña nela tanto
quen baixo o seu ceu se crobe!...

Os que son nela nacidos,
os que son dela mimados,
lonxe dela están doridos
porque van de amor feridos
por quen fono amamantados.

Polos fillos a nai tira,
xorda, triste, plañideira,
xeme, chora, e mais sospira,
e non para, hastra que os mira
ben chegar por derradeira.

¡Probe nai, canto te quero!
¡Nai tamén, ¡ai!, da nai miña!
O teu chan de amor prefiero,
a canto hai grande ou severo
en toda a terra xuntiña.

¿Como non si ora estou vendo,
nun paisax de prata e rosas,
canto a vida foi querendo,
cos meus ollos remexendo
memoriñas cariñosas?

¡Bosques, casa, sepulturas,
campanarios e campanas
con sons vagos de dozuras
que despertan, ¡ai!, ternuras
que en jamáis podrán ser vanas!

Elas fono as que tocaron
cando os meus alí naceron;
elas fono as que choraron,
elas fono as que dobraron
cando os meus avós morreron.

Elas fono as que alegriñas
me chamaban mainamente
nas douradas mañanciñas,
de mi mae cas cantiguiñas
i os biquiños xuntamente.

Inda vexo onde xogaba
cas meniñas que eu quería,
o enxidiño onde folgaba,
os rosales que coidaba
i a fontiña onde bebía.

Vexo a rúa solitaria
que en paz baña un sol sereno,
sin que a trube man contraria,
igual sempre, nunca varia,
veiga llana en campo ameno.

E tamén vexo enloitada
da Arretén a casa nobre,
donde a miña nai foi nada,
cal viudiña abandonada
que cai triste ó pé dun robre.

Alí está, sombra perdida,
vos sin son, corpo sin alma,
amazona mal ferida
que ó sentir que perde a vida
se adormece en xorda calma.

Casa grande lle chamaban
noutro tempo venturoso,
cando os probes a improraban,
e fartiños se quentaban
ó seu lume cariñoso.

Casa grande, cando un santo
venerable cabaleiro
con tranquilo, nobre encanto,
baixo os priegues do seu manto
cobexaba ó perdioseiro.

Cando os cantos na capilla
da Gran casa resoaban
con fervor e fe sensilla,
rico fruto da semilla
que os varóns santos sembraban.

Ora todo silensioso
causa alí medo e pavura,
mora esprito temeroso
nos salóns onde o reposo
fixo un niño ca tristura.

Risas, cantos, armonía,
brandas músicas, contento,
festas, dansas, alegría,
se trocou na triste e fría,
xorda vos do forte vento.

No gran patio as herbas crecen
vigorosas sin coidado,
i as silveiras que frorecen
no seu tempo fruto ofrecen
ós meniños sazonado.

I ante aquel silencio mudo
que a trubar naide alí chega,
ante aquel ¡xa fun! tan rudo,
vese inteiro un nobre escudo
que a desir non son se nega.

Craros timbres mostra ufano
cun soberbo casco airoso...
mais detrás dun son tan vano
vese o probe orgullo humano,
homillado e polvoroso.

Tras da calada visera,
que hai uns ollos feridores
que nos miran, se dixera;
que nous din: todo é quimera
neste mundo de dolores.

¡Casa grande!, ¡triste casa!,
quen de aquí tan soia miro
parda, escura, triste masa,
¡casa grande!, pasa, pasa...
Ti xa n'es más que un sospiro.

Meus avós, ¡ai!, xa morreron,
os demais te abandonaron,
os teus lustros pereceron,
i os que millor te quixeron,
tamén de ti se apartaron.

Mes tras mes, pedra tras pedra,
ti te irás desmoronando,
ceñida por sintas de hedra,
mentras que outra forte medra,
que así o mundo vai rolando.

¡Mais que lus, que colorido
nos espazos se dilata!
Luce o sol descolorido
i arco de iris xa nacido
longa sinta se desata.

Como chove miudiño,
como miudiño chove;
como chove miudiño
pola banda de Laíño,
pola banda de Lestrove

How it drizzles heavily,
How heavily it drizzles;
How it drizzles heavily
Over toward Laíño,
Over toward Lestrove

How the sad white cloud
Vexes the anxious shining sun,
How veils it and unveils it,
Passes, turns round, returns and rises,
Curled white feather!

Thereafter flung now afar
By the scurrying draughts,
Discoloured, shaded,
Set loose in the airy expanse,
It falls sparkling in bright rays.

The mysterious water sprinkler
Dribbles fine drizzle on the ground
With a perfectly curved trajectory,
Dousing flower by flower,
Item by item, on the riverside.

Resembling a light cotton gauze
Which the subtle wind displaces,
It drifts past in floating waves
Refreshing what the blazing sun
Scorches and shines upon.

How it drizzles heavily
Over the lowlands of Campaña!
How soak the grasslands
On the pathway to Laíño!
How A Ponte bathes in the sun!

Everything is dark toward Caldas,
Blue sky shows bright in Adina,
Transparent, clean and pure;
The pilgrim cloud races across
The rugged mount of Arretén.

Sad it goes for it grazes the earth
Now with the feet of white snow,
Now with the delicate fresh mouth;
Sad it goes, for it invokes the heavens
And dares to kiss the ground.

Sad it goes when it subsides
Vaporous, alone and mute,
When it flaps its wings gently
Like a heart that beats
Wounded by rude distress.

Thus I imagine my mother's
Sad shadow wandering solitary
In the spheres where she exists:
Turning down the transit to glory,
Waiting for those she loved.

I see O Souto—so named for being
Asset of the King—in ochre shadow
Enfolding its network of branches,
Where ferocious the wind stalks,
Roars and explodes in furore.

And O Palacio, serious and grave,
In how much pure light it bathes!
It resembles a bulky vessel
That foundered on the fresh brush
And ignores how to get back to sea.

I see Valga on the gorgeous shoulder
Of an all-silver trail,
Chaste candid virgin,
Demurely seated on rosy plain,
Demurely dressed scarlet.

I see San Lois shining
Bathed in pure hues,
Showing sun and shadows,
Contemplating at leisure
Hills, waters and greenery.

And Padrón, verdant twig,
White she-fay on the bank of a river,
Fruit in bloom I'd wish for,
I watch it disappear far off
Underneath a mantle of dew.

What delicately distended white sail
Runs alone among the stalks of corn,
Mysterious pure star!
The wind around her tells her,
"Butterfly, fly! fly!"

The benign river soothes her
With a murmuring safe haven,
Born of the shadowy coppice
Underneath a gladsome canopy,
In the warmth of a loving sun.

Sun of Italy, sun of love...!
Do you brighten a better landscape?
Do you see more roses, more greenery,
A better sky, softer colours
Among the whitecaps of the gulf?

Sun of Italy, I do not yearn
To feel your burning sunbeam!
For I set eyes on another sun mild;
Here I can breathe sweetly
In a perennial, eternal May.

In this land such enchantment
Is breathed...Sad or poor,
Wealthy or full of misfortune,
Whoever shelters under her sky
Becomes so fond of her!...

Those who are born in her bounds,
Those who are coddled by her,
Grieve when they are far away
Because they are love-struck
By the one who suckled them.

The mother summons the children,
Deaf, sad, wailing;
She whimpers, weeps and sighs,
And does not stop, until she watches
Them arrive in good repair at last.

Poor mother, I love you so!
Mother also ah! of my mother!
I prefer your turf of love over
Everything that is great or severe
In all the whole world.

How else if now I am watching
Over a landscape of silver and roses
All that I went loving in my life,
Rummaging with my eyes
Pleasant, fond memories?

Forests, house, sepulchres,
Belfries and bells
With vague sounds of sweetness
That awaken ah! tender feelings
Which shall never be vain!

They were the ones that pealed
When my children were born there;
They were the ones that cried,
They were the ones that tolled
When my grandparents died.

They were the ones that cheerful
And bounding called to me gently
In the golden early morning hours,
Along with my mother's singsongs
And the affectionate kisses.

I can still see where I used to play
With the girls I loved,
The small backyard where I rested,
The rose bushes I tended
And the dear fountain I drank from.

I watch the solitary road
Bathed in peace by a serene sun,
Undisturbed by discordant hand,
Always the same, never different,
Fertile plain in scenic countryside.

And I see also the manor-house of
Arretén (where my mother was born)
Shrouded in black like a forsaken
Forlorn widow who collapses
In sorrow at the foot of an oak.

There it is, stranded shadow,
Soundless voice, soulless body,
Badly wounded amazon
Who upon sensing she loses her life
Falls asleep in deaf quiescence.

Grand house they dubbed her
In the flourishing days of yore,
When poor people implored it,
And sated and satisfied warmed
Themselves by its loving fireplace.

Grand house, when a saintly
Venerable gentleman
With tranquil noble charm
Afforded shelter to the beggar
Beneath the folds of his mantle.

When the chants in the chapel
Of the Grand house resounded
With fervour and simple faith,
Savoury fruit sprung from the seed
That saintly men sowed.

Now in silence everything
Causes there fear and dread;
A fearful spirit inhabits
The chambers where the stillness
Built a nest with the sadness.

Laughter, songs, harmony,
Gentle melodies, contentment,
Parties, dances, joy,
Turned into the sad and cold
Thrumming voice of the strong wind.

The untended herbs grow
Vigorously in the main yard,
And the brambles blooming
In their season offer the children
Ripened fruit.

And confronting that mute silence
Which no one arrives there to disturb,
Confronting that I was! so rude,
Arises whole a noble coat of arms
That refuses to say, I am not.

Clear slogans it displays impudent
With a splendid, handsome helmet...
But behind an I am so vain
Can be seen the poor human pride
Humbled and tumbledown.

It might be said that piercing eyes
From behind the silent vizor
Stare at us, and say to us,
"Everything is an illusion
In this world of sorrows."

Grand house! Sad house!
From here I observe it so lonesome:
Ochre, dark, sad heap.
Grand house! Pass away, pass away...
You are now nothing more than a sigh.

My grandparents aye! died already,
The rest left you,
Your lustrous years perished,
And those who loved you best
Departed from you as well.

Month after month, stone by stone,
You will keep tumbling down,
Girded by ribbons of ivy,
While another house emerges strong,
For thus the world keeps rolling.

But what light, what feast of colour
Expands in the expanse!
Shines the sun colourless
And the newborn rainbow
Unties a lengthy ribbon.

How it drizzles heavily,
How heavily it drizzles;
How it drizzles heavily
Over toward Laíño,
Over toward Lestrove

Back To Index

34.   Morning Song     (Alborada)

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

atruxaremos, cantaremos o alalá! (last line). "Atruxar" is the blend of a yodel and a prolonged yell. An alalá is a traditional Galician song which some researchers trace back to the Gregorian chant.

YouTube Videos

Lucía Pérez and Rosa Cedrón (February 22, 2013).

Uxía from the 2013 album Rosalía Pequeniña.

Guadí Galego, Anxo Angueira and Abe Rábade from the 2008 album Rosalía 21 (jazz).

Partial Recital: Esperanza Calvo.


¡Vaite noite, vai fuxindo!
¡Vente aurora, vente abrindo
co teu rostro que sorrindo
á sombra espanta!

¡Canta, paxariño, canta
De ponliña en ponla que o sol se levanta
polo monte verde, polo verde monte,
alegrando as herbas, alegrando as fontes!

Canta, paxariño alegre, canta.
Canta por que o millo medre, canta;
Canta porque a luz te escoite,
Canta, canta que fuxeu a noite.


Noite escura logo ven moito dura
co seu manto de tristura,
con meigallos e temores,
agoreira de dolores,
agarimo de pesares,
cubridora en todo mal,

Que a auroriña o ceu colora
cuns arbores que namora,
cun sembrante de ouro e prata
teñidiño de escalrata,
cuns vestidos de diamante
que lle borda o sol amante
antre as ondas de cristal.

¡Sal! Señora en todo mal,
que o sol xa brila nas cunchiñas do areal,
que a luz do día viste a terra de alegría,
que o sol derrete con amor a escarcha fría.

Branca aurora, ven chegando
i ás portiñas vai chamando
dos que dormen esperando
ao teu folgor.

Cor de alba hermosa
lles estendes nos vidriños cariñosa,
donde o sol tamén suspende,
cando aló no mar se tende,
de fogax larada viva,
dempois leve, fuxitiva,
triste, vago resprandor.


Cantor dos aires, paxariño alegre,
canta, canta porque o millo medre.
Cantor da aurora, alegre namorado,
ás meniñas dille que xa sal o sol dourado;
que o gaiteiro, ben lavado,
ben vestido, ben peitado,
da gaitiña acompañado
A porta está... ¡xa!

Se espricando que te esprica,
repinica, repinica
na alborada ben amada
das meniñas cantadeiras,
bailadoras, rebuldeiras;
das velliñas alegriñas,
das que saben ben ruar.

¡Arriba todas, rapaciñas do lugar,
que o sol i a aurora xa vos vén a dispertar!
¡Arriba, arriba, toleirona mocidad,
que atruxaremos, cantaremos o alalá!


Depart, night, start fleeing!
Come, dawn, start breaking
With your face that smiling
Scares the shadow away!

Sing, little bird, sing
From twig to branch for the sun rises
Over the green hill, over the hill green,
Gladdening the grass, cheering the springs!

Sing, merry little bird, sing.
Sing so the corn will grow, sing;
Sing so the light will listen,
Sing, sing for the night has fled.


The dark night on its shift comes severe
With her mantle of sadness,
With magic spells and fears,
Harbinger of heartaches,
Haven of regrets,
Cloak to every evil,

For the darling dawn enamours
Colouring the sky with auroral colours,
With semblance of gold and silver
Daintily dyed scarlet,
With diamond gowns
Her lover sun embroiders
Among the crystal billows.

Leave, mistress of every evil! For the sun
Already shines on the seashells in the sand,
For daylight dresses the earth with mirth,
For the sun melts the frigid frost with love.

White aurora, start arriving
And go knocking at the friendly doors
Of those who slumber awaiting
Your splendour.

Dawn's gorgeous colour
You spread fond over the window panes,
Whereon the sun also dangles,
When it lies on the sea yonder,
A bonfire's vivid blaze,
Followed by feeble, fugitive,
Sad, vague glow.


Minstrel of the air, jolly little bird,
Sing, sing so the corn will grow.
Minstrel of the sunrise, jolly suitor,
Tell the girls that the golden sun is out;
That the piper, well washed,
Well dressed, well combed,
Of his trusty bagpipe accompanied
Is at the!

He chimes, he chimes,
Explaining and explaining himself
In the sunrise so well loved
By girls with a song on their lip,
By spright girls with dancing feet,
By the cheery, charming dear grannies,
By those who amble about the town.

Rise, lassies of the place, every one,
For sun and dawn are come to awaken you!
Rise, rise, wild youth,
We'll yell-yodel, we'll sing the alalá!

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35.   My Saint Margaret     (Miña Santa Margarida)


The following biography was extracted from the Spanish website, Vida de los santos (Life of the saints).

St. Margaret Queen of Scotland (1046-1093). Born in Hungary around the year 1045, the daughter of Prince Eduardo de Ultramar and Queen Agueda. While still a child she was sent to the English court, being the niece of King Edward the First. a.k.a. Confessor. Shortly after the death of King Edward in 1066 came the Norman invasion of William the Conqueror and Margaret's mother fled with her three children to Scotland and to King Malcom the Third. The Scottish king married Margaret and she became queen. As Queen of Scotland she chaired Christian councils and assemblies, managed the royal Dunfermline Palace and turned it into a hospital, for she housed there the sick and the invalid. She founded churches and financed many charitable organizations. An English blackguard murdered her husband and her first-born son, Edward. "Full of merits" she died on November 16, 1093. She was of a "kind, intelligent, charitable and devout" disposition.

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

xílmendro (4.1). Unknown. The almond tree most likely.

Thou hast thy house on the hill (12.3). There are several chapels built in honour of St. Margaret on high places of Galicia.

Miña Santa Margarida,
¿con quen te hei de comparare?
Coma ti non vin ningunha,
nin na terra nin no mare.

Coma ti, Santa bendita,
tan garrida e tan presiosa,
nin brilou ningunha estrela,
nin se abreu ningunha rosa.

Nin luceiro, nin diamante,
nin luniña trasparente,
luz verteu máis cariñosa
que o teu rostro relucente.

Nin as froles do xílmendro,
nin a rosa purpurina,
nin as neves da montaña,
nin fulgor da mañanciña;

nin alegre sol dourado,
nin corrente de augua pura,
miña Santa Margarida,
che asemella en hermosura.

¿Con quen te hei de comparare,
miña Santa Margarida,
si ti foche anxel de amore
polos anxes escollida?

Solo a Virxe é máis hermosa
que eres ti, bendita Santa,
i o teu rostro pelegrino
ó temido demo espanta.

De ti vivo namorada,
en ti penso con fervore,
que eu ben sei que che contenta
este puro e santo amore.

¡Quen poidera...! ¡Quen poidera
xunta ti vivir segura,
manantial que mel derrama,
pura fonte de ternura!

Onda ti, lonxe do mundo,
tan feliz me acobexara
que en jamáis o pracer vano
este meu mirar tornara.

Que no monte onda ti moras
tan bon aire se respira,
que o que máis do mundo foxe
solo alí por Dios suspira.

Miña Santa Margarida,
miña Margarida santa,
tendes a casa no monte,
donde o paxariño canta

My Saint Margaret,
Whom shall I compare you to?
I did not see anyone like you,
Either on land or at sea.

No star shone
Or rose bloomed
Like you, blessed Saint,
So attractive and so precious.

No celestial body or diamond,
Nor transparent mild moon,
Sent forth a kindlier light
Than your refulgent face.

Nor the flowers of the almond tree,
Nor the purple rose,
Nor the snows of the mountain,
Nor brightness of early morning hours;

Nor jovial gilded sun,
Nor stream of pure water,
My Saint Margaret,
Resembles you in beauty.

Whom shall I compare you to,
My Saint Margaret,
Since you were angel of love
Selected by the angels?

Our Lady alone is lovelier
Than you are, blessed Saint,
And your pilgrim semblance
Drives the feared devil away.

I live in love with you,
I ponder you with fervour,
For well I know that this pure
And saintly love gladdens you.

Who could...! Who could
Live secure beside you,
Fountain-head that pours forth honey,
Pure fountain of tenderness!

I'd take shelter where you are,
Far from the world, so happy
That I would never turn
My gaze toward vain pleasure.

For on the hill where you dwell
Such fine air is breathed,
That he who flees most from the world
There only sighs for God.

My Saint Margaret,
My Margaret sainted,
Thou hast thy house on the hill,
Where the little bird sings

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36.   I Sang As Best I Could     (Eu cantar, cantar, cantei)


The very title, "Eu cantar, cantar, cantei," attests that De Castro meant this to be the last poem of "Cantares Gallegos" in the same way that "Has de cantar" is the first. However she added two more poems, possibly motivated by the earliest criticism (divulged here) that her poetry lacked "sparkle," and both were published as an integral part of "Cantares Gallegos." Here they are consigned to the Appendix.

Affectionate Diminutives

YouTube Videos

Uxía from the 2013 album Rosalía Pequeniña.

Eu cantar, cantar, cantei,
a grasia non era moita

que nunca (delo me pesa)
fun eu meniña grasiosa.

Cantei como mal sabía
dándolle reviravoltas,
cal fan aqués que non saben
direitamente unha cousa.

Pero dempois paseniño,
i un pouco máis alto agora,
fun botando as miñas cántigas
como quen non quer a cousa.

Eu ben quixera, é verdade,
que máis boniteiras foran;
eu ben quixera que nelas
bailase o sol cas palomas,
as brandas auguas ca luz
i os aires mainos cas rosas;
que nelas craras se visen
a espuma das verdes ondas,
do ceu as brancas estrelas,
da terra as prantas hermosas,
as niebras de cor sombriso
que aló nas montañas rolan,
os berros do triste moucho,
as campaniñas que dobran,
a primadera que ríe
i os paxariños que voan.

Canta que te canta, mentras
os corazóns tristes choran.

Esto e inda máis, eu quixera
desir con lengua grasiosa;
mais donde a grasia me falta
o sentimiento me sobra,
anque este tampouco abasta
para espricar certas cousas,
que a veces por fora un canta
mentras que por dentro un chora.

Non me espriquei cal quixera
pois son de espricansa pouca;
si grasia en cantar non teño
o amor da patria me afoga.

Eu cantar, cantar, cantei,
a grasia non era moita

¡Mais que faser, desdichada,
si non nacín máis grasiosa!

I sang as best I could,
There was not much pizazz,

For never (this bothers me)
Was I a jolly girl.

I sang as I barely knew
Weaving twists and turns,
As do those who are not acquainted
Straight out with something.

But leisurely thereafter,
And now a little louder,
I started putting out my songs
In nonchalant fashion.

I dearly wish, it's true,
They were prettier;
I dearly wish that in them
The sun danced with the doves,
The tranquil waters with the light
And the breezes with the roses;
That through them were seen
The foam of the green ocean waves,
The white stars of the heaven,
The beautiful plants of the soil,
The fogs of murky colour
That yonder on the mountains roll,
The hoots of the sad little owl,
The dear bells that toll,
The springtime that chuckles
And the small birds that fly.

Sing and sing, while
The sorrowing hearts weep.

This and more I would like
To state with witty tongue;
But where fun is wanted
Too much sentiment is present.
Still neither does this suffice
To explain certain matters,
For sometimes one sings outwardly
While one weeps inwardly.

I did not explain myself as I'd like
For I am remiss at explaining:
If I lack sparkle in my singing,
Love of the homeland chokes me.

I sang as best I could,
There was not much pizazz

But what can be done, unhappy one,
If I was not born with more panache!

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De Castro clearly intended poem #36 to close the book. Its title, "Eu cantar, cantar, cantei," is an obvious rejoinder to the title of poem #1, "Has de cantar."

However she added the following two poems conceivably pressured by criticism that her poetry lacked "sparkle" (poem #36). The publishing house must be the primary suspect for the slight and for suggesting the body of the two extra poems to her.

Those two poems got published as an integral part of "Cantares Gallegos." In fact they should not have, they do not sit well with the remainder of the book.

Saturday Night     (Sábado á noite)


As explained in the introduction to "Fun un domingo" (poem #7) De Castro often constructs a poem around a popular couplet or quatrain which is quoted in italics. Here that quatrain is a ribald limerick which translated reads, "Hey you, my religious observant of holy days and feast days, how your flesh dazzles now among the Lydian broom shrubs!" The black humour employed by De Castro here shuns and utterly ruins the limerick's bawdy bent. Presumably the publishing house gave her the assignment, but the poetess did not take the bait.

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

ña (2.1, 13.1). A rustic contraction of "miña" (my). Translated "me" instead of "my" to highlight the rural setting.

Mingo (9.3). Abbreviated form of the personal name, "Domingo" (lit. Sunday).

Sábado á noite
Marica pilla a roca

—Ña muller, pilla esa roca
e déixate de ir á misa,
pensa que non tés camisa
e fía unha mazaroca.

—Luns das almas, meu homiño,
déixame garda-lo día;
se eu fiare, ¿que diría
no outro mundo meu paiciño?

Pois... martes de San Antonio
tampouco hei de traballare,
pra que o santo me librare
das tentazós do demonio.

Miércoles... ¡Non digo eu!
O home de Nosa Señora,
San Xosé... de fiar hora
non me quisera no ceu.

¡E xueves...! N-hai que falar:
¡Santísimo Sacramento!
Con todo comedimento
o dia che hei de gardar.

¡I o viernes! ¿Recordazón
da agonía de Xesús?
Pasareino ó pé da crus,
maxinando na Pasión.

E ti, benaventurado
sábado da Virxen santa,
quen túa festa crebanta
debe estar excomungado.

Mais, dende as doce hastra a unha
antre o sábado e o domingo,
tráeme acá esa roca, Mingo,
que esa n-é falta ningunha.


¡Se viras como o resío
me entra por antre os farrapos!
Acóchame co ese trapos,
que estou tembrando de frío.

—Non vexo trapos nin toldo
con que te poida tapare,
arrímate o pé do lare
ou métete antre o rescoldo.

—Seica teño calentura...
¡Bruu!, seica vou morrere.

—Non te afrixas, ña mullere,
que che irei cata-lo cura.

—Mais quisera un cubirtore;
sinto callofríos... tantos...

—Pois que te cochen os santos,
que n-hai cuberta millore.
Folgaches noites e dias
só por ilos a bicare,
e débenche hora cochare
nas túas postrimeirías.

Deste modo Xan sin Terra
coa súa muller falaba,
cando veu que se quedaba,
¡malpocada!, feita terra;
e cuns codesos tapándolle
o triste coiro desnudo,
díxolle entonces (eu dudo
si chorando, si cantándolle):

Ei ti, miña gardadora
dos días santos e das festas,
¡como che relosen hora
as carnes por antre as xestas!

On Saturday night
Mary grabs the spindle

"Me woman, grab that spindle
And stop going to mass,
Consider you don't have a chemise
And spin a cop."

"Monday of all souls, dear husband,
Let me observe the day.
If I spun, what would Dad say
Over in the other world?

"Next...Tuesday of St. Anthony:
I won't work either,
So the saint will deliver me
From the devil's temptations.

"Wednesday...Don't I say!
The husband of Our Lady,
St. Joseph...Were I to spin then
He would not want me in heaven.

"And Thursday...! No way:
The Most Blessed Sacrament!
With all due reverence
I will observe the day.

"And Friday! The remembrance
Of the agony of Jesus?
I'll spend it at the foot of the cross,
Meditating on the Passion.

"And you, blessed Saturday
Of the holy Virgin,
Whoever transgresses your feast day
Ought to be excommunicated.

"But from twelve to one o'clock
Between Saturday and Sunday
Bring me that spindle, Mingo,
For that is no transgression at all."


"If you could feel how the dew
Penetrates through my tatters!
Cover me with those rags,
For I am shivering with the cold."

"I see no rags or canopy
I could cover you with.
Move close to the fireplace
Or crawl in among the cinders."

"Perhaps I have a mild fever...
(Shiver) Perhaps I'm going to die."

"Don't afflict yourself, me woman,
I'll go get the priest for you."

"I'd rather have a quilt;
I have the many..."

"Then let the saints cover you,
For there is no better covering.
You rested nights and days
Just to go kiss them,
And now they ought to bundle
You up in your final hours."

Thus John Without Land
Spoke with his wife,
When he saw her turn to dust,
Unfortunate one! And covering
With some broom-shrub shoots
The sad naked hide, he said then
To her (I can not resolve
Whether weeping or singing):

Hey you, my religious observant
Of holy days and feast days,
How your flesh dazzles now
Among the Lydian broom shrubs!

A Wine Duel     (Compadre, desque un vai vello)


"Compadre, desque un vai vello" is the second bonus poem that De Castro wrote after "Eu cantar, cantar, cantei."

"Compadre, desque un vai vello," is like the first bonus poem, "Sábado á noite," an essay in black humour. Black humour is incongruous with the whole tome of "Cantares Gallegos" and this implies that she wrote both poems against her will.

Affectionate Diminutives

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

ña (3.2, 27.1). A rustic contraction of "miña" (my). Translated "me" instead of "my" to highlight the rural setting.

neto (3.4, 5.3). An old measurement of volume equivalent to half a litre (i.e. a pint approximately).

del-con-dela (5.2). Unknown. The context suggests that del-con-dela is any trivial disagreement or squabble lacking a clear resolution.

Ulla (6.2). A secondary wine-producing district.

Ribeiro (6.4). A renowned wine-producing district.

¡Que noria! (8.1). The speaker feels giddy; figuratively speaking, his head has started to spin round like a noria (a waterwheel).

deño (10.3, 13.1, 21.1, 27.1). Demon, devil. This is a contraction of "demonio," which could be either "demo" or the more euphemistic "denio" → "deño". When it is used as an interjection, "deño" is translated "heck," an euphemism for "hell" (10.3, 21.1, 27.1). When it is used as a noun, "deño" is simply translated "devil" (13.1).

Farruco (14.1). Colloquial variant of "Francisco" (Francis) translated "Frank."

St. Lucy (17.1). Saint Lucy is the patron saint of the blind.

Angrois (20.4). A suburb of Santiago de Compostela. Xesús Ferro Ruibal explains that the expression, "to pass oneself off as a native of Angrois," meant to act listless, to show indifference, to feign ignorance. The two drunkards of the poem know the mortal danger of overdrinking but vow to ignore it and drink on nevertheless.

—Compadre, desque un vai vello
o mesmo sol lle fai frío,
cada regueiro élle un río,
un boi cada escarabello.

Pésame o lombo que pasma,
pero que inda Dios me leve
¡se é que non teño unha sede
que me fai volve-la iasma!

E ben, xa que estamos preto
de ña casa...¡Compadriño,
vinde proba-lo meu viño
e botaremos un neto!...

—¡Entra ti diante! —¡Non! —Si.
Ti que és máis vello. —¡Cal mentes!
—Pois que cho digan os dentes.
—Teño máis moas que ti.

Mais entrémo-los dous xuntos
e acabouse o del-con-dela;
mide seis netos, Manoela,
que traio enxóito-los untos;

enche o xarro do canteiro,
e non enchas co da Ulla
que é tan sóo pra meter bulla
senón co aquel do Ribeiro.


¡Coló, coló! —Ben nos preste,
porque sin estos consolos
andivéramos máis solos
os vellos do que anda a peste.

—¡Ten un piquiño! —¡Que noria!
Con pique ou non, compadriño,
dempois de Dios, ¡viva o viño!
—¿E haberá viño na groria?

¡Coló, coló! —¡Cousa boa!
¡Cólase como xarabe!
—Meu compadre, o que ben sabe
corre sin trigo nin broa.

—O viño de quente pasa,
mais é mellor o que eu teño.
—¿Como que? —A probalo, deño,
vas vir hora á miña casa.

—Eso pouco a pouco, amigo.
¡Mellor que o meu non o paso!
—Pois botemos outro vaso
e veno a probar conmigo.

—Dis ben. ¡Ñas pernas...arriba!
Peito xa estás calentado;
podemos un punteado
bailar cun pé nunha criba.

—Que non che me leve o deño...
¿Ei andamos ou n-andamos?
Unha vez paréz que vamos
i outras maxino que veño.

—Déixate de eso, Farruco,
que eu vou coma unha pedrada,
e inda así nesta escampada
seica oirei canta-lo cuco.

—Non o penses que abofellas
xa á miña porta chegamos,
mais ten tino, porque entramos
no cortello das ovellas.

—¡Mentes...; eu vou indo a fío
cara a bodega, larpeiro!
—Mais déixame entrar primeiro,
que me fai mal o resío.

—Vállame Santa Lusía...
Todo o vexo tan trubado;
dime aquí, de reservado:
¿É de noite ou é de día?

—¡Se o sei que bote máis canas!
Pero, en secreto cho digo,
deste non ver, meu amigo,
deben ter culpa as pestanas.

Ora séntate e bebamos;
¡teño unha sede!...—¡Eh!, ¿qué tal?
—Se non me fixese mal...
—¡Mal! ¿Tan fortes coma estamos?

Sabe que gorecha...pois
¿Esprícome...? —¡Por sabido!
—O bebido, vai bebido
e se un quer máis... hastra Angrois.

—¡É que este teu viño!, ¡deño!...
É do que un pode beber
pero, compadre, a meu ver
éche mellor o que eu teño.

-¡N-é verdá eso!... — ¿Que non?
Tornas hora a vir conmigo
e disme, se és meu amigo,
se non é moito más bon.

—¡Poida!...; mais á túa bodega
dime cando chegaremos,
teño una sede dos demos...
E mais penso que lostrega.

—O que hai, meu compañeiriño,
non son lóstregos nin rollos;
é que tes lume nos ollos
e a gorxa pídeche viño.

¡Ei!, move esos pés lixeiro,
que estamos ó pé da pipa,
e bebe, que di Filipa
que a sede avolve o calleiro.

—¡Jeén...! Dio-lo pague que é forte;
bebín canto me botache;
tés un viño que...carache,
fai resucita-la morte.

—¿E logo si? ¡Ña, que deño!
Nin o dun padre bendito.
—¡É bon, mais o dito, dito:
Inda é mellor o que eu teño!


E indo e vindo no camiño
tanto os compadres bebeno
que nunca en xamás volveno
a probar augua nin viño.

Co ventre como unha uva
tras de tanta e tanta proba,
levánonos para a cova
dende o mesmo pé da cuba.

"Colleague, since one's grown old
The very sunshine feels cold,
Every rill has become a river,
An ox every beetle.

"My back's heaviness amazes me,
But may God whisk me away
If I don't have a thirst that makes
The asthma come back!

"And well, since we are near
Me house...Buddy,
Come try my wine
And we'll swig a pint!..."

"You go in first." "No!" "Yes.
You are older." "How you lie!"
"Then let your teeth inform you."
"I got more molars than you do.

"But let us both enter together
And be done with the tiff.
Emmanuelle, pour us six pints,
I come with the bone marrow stiff;

"Fill up the stonemason's jar,
Though not with wine from Ulla
Fit only for starting brawls
But with that one from Ribeiro."


(Gulp, gulp) "May it do us good,
For without these consolations
Us old folks would be more lonely
Than lonesome roams the plague."

"It prickles a bit!" "Waterwheel!
With prickle or without it, buddy,
After God long live wine!"
"Eh, will there be wine in glory?"

(Gulp, gulp) "Good stuff,
It goes down easy like syrup!"
"Colleague, what tastes good flows
Without wheat or cornbread."

"The wine is beyond fair,
But the one I have is better."
"How is that?" "Try it, heck,
You are coming to my house now."

"Slow down there, friend. 'Better
Than mine'...I won't let that pass!"
"Then let's swig another glass
And come taste it with me."

"Rightly spoken. Me legs...up!
Chest, you are warmed already;
We could dance a set
Single-footed on a sieve."

"May the devil not take me away...
Say, are we moving or are we not?
One turn it seems that we go out
And others I imagine I come in."

"Forget about that, Frank,
For I feel like I've been stoned,
And even so in this clearing maybe
I'll hear the cuckoo bird sing."

"Don't count on it for, my word,
We are already at my door,
But be on your toes because
We enter through the sheep pen."

"You lie...I am heading straight
For the wine cellar, swiller!"
"Still let me enter first,
The dew makes me ill."

"May St. Lucy help me...
I see everything so muddled;
Tell me here confidentially:
Is it night or is it day?"

"May I grow more white whiskers
If I know! But I tell you privately,
The eyelashes must be to blame for
This deficient eyesight, my friend.

"Now sit down and let us drink,
I'm so thirsty!"..."Well, how is it?"
"If it didn't make me unwell..."
"Unwell! As sturdy as we are?

"Its taste is pure
Do I explain myself...?" "Spot on!"
"It's wine under the bridge and
If one wants more...till Angrois."

"'Cause this wine of yours, heck!...
It's the kind that can be drunk,
But in my reckoning, colleague,
The one I got is better."

"That ain't true!"... "Not so?
You come back with me now
And tell me, if you are my friend,
Whether it isn't much better."

"Perhaps!...but tell me when
We'll get to your wine cellar,
I got a demon's thirst...withal
I gather there's lightning about."

"What there is, my pal, is neither
Flashes of lightning or yarns;
You have fire in your eyes
And your throat demands wine.

"Hey! Move those feet smartly
'Cause we are at the cask's stand,
And drink because Philippa says
That a thirst taints the gut."

(Cough) "God bless it, it's strong;
I drank what you served me all;
You have a wine that...darn,
Makes Death resurrect."

"Then agreed? Heck! Like mine
Not even a blessed Father's."
"It is good, but what I said sticks:
The one I got is even better!"


And retracing their steps to and fro
The two fellows drank so much
That they never ever reverted
To tasting water or wine.

With their belly like a grape
After so many a sampling trial
They were carried to the grave
From the very foot of the barrel.

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When I Was a Child in Ferrol, Spain (1953-65)