Archived translations from Galician to English of poems by Rosalía de Castro

Translator: Eduardo Freire Canosa
(University of Toronto Alumnus)

I grant the translations herein to the public domain

A Few Words About Rosalía de Castro

Rosalía de Castro (b. 1837, d. 1885) Rosalía de Castro (b. 1837, d. 1885) is the unquestioned poet laureate of Spanish Galicia (also known as Galiza). Highly educated, expected to speak and write in Spanish only, she took the bold, unconventional step of writing her early poems in the Galician language. Her defiance earned her the contempt and spite of that segment of the population for whom Galician was a dialect fit only for the illiterate and the churlish, but De Castro's gallant gesture won her the love and admiration of the rest. Streets, schools, libraries, cultural associations, prizes, public parks, sports teams, monuments, a theater, restaurants, a label of white wine, hotels, rural lodgings, a banknote, a postage stamp, a FS98 Iberia Airbus A340 and a sea rescue plane have been named after her. The Asociación de Escritoras e Escritores en Lingua Galega (Association of Writers in the Galician Language) organizes acts of remembrance yearly.

The poetry of De Castro's Galician volumes—"Cantares Gallegos" (1863) and "Follas Novas" (1880)—at times poignant, others assertive, affirms the fullness of the feminine personality and champions the overlooked plight of the disadvantaged, the emigrant, the widow and the orphan. Her 1884 volume of Spanish poetry entitled, "En las orillas del Sar," is a brooding reflection on the immanent tragedy of living, a discourse reminiscent of existential pessimism.

In the year 1947 the Fundación Rosalía de Castro (Rosalía de Castro Foundation) was born with the express goal of purchasing De Castro's last residence and of perpetuating her memory and literary legacy. The arduous task of acquiring the house where she last dwelled dragged on until 1971, but at length, on July 15, 1972, the rehabilitated house opened to the public refurbished as a house-museum.

In July 1951 the Rosalía de Castro Foundation organized a "literary pilgrimage" in her honour. An amateur enthusiast recorded the singular event and his film is reproduced below (min. 8:38-27:34). The extraordinary footage recorded the presence of Gala Murguía de Castro between min. 20:52 and 21:16, and from min. 24:31 to 25:02, and it also recorded the aspect of several places mentioned in her mother's poetry.


The Literary Pilgrimage of July 15-25, 1951


By organizing that literary pilgrimage and other events of a similar nature the Rosalía de Castro Foundation helped to preserve Galicia's cultural and national identity in what was socially and politically a hostile environment, for it was not until July 25, 1965, that Franco's regime condoned the sole use of the Galician language in a public ceremony. This was the votive Catholic mass for De Castro,

The city of Santiago de Compostela quintessence of the Galician territory is an administrative, cultural and religious capital; in days of yore it was usual to dub her, "Santiago de Galicia." The city's patron saint is also Spain's and as a result the holiday combines the sacred with the profane. The date of the official state offering to St. James [July 25] coincides with the date of the most important country fair in the Autonomous Community and with the celebration of its Day of the Emigrant. Furthermore July 25 is also "Galicia Day," festivity established in 1920 by Galician nationalists, many of whom were devout Catholics who made this date their rallying banner; and it was at Santiago de Compostela on July 25, 1965, that Jesuit father Xaime Seixas officiated the first Catholic mass spoken exclusively in the Galician language in memory of Rosalía de Castro.

(Ramón Blanco. "'Gaudeamus, Exultemus' y 'Ultreia.'" ABC D Las Artes y Las Letras, 913, 25 July 2009)

Although the bitter division persists that De Castro triggered in Galician society by her rebellious, loving use of the native language, the resilience of her reputation together with the affection lavished on her memory by many at home and abroad portends that in a not too distant future she will cease to be a "foreigner in her homeland" (the title of a recent book about De Castro written by Francisco Rodríguez Sánchez).


Portuguese coat of arms

Portugal and Rosalía de Castro

On Wednesday August 4, 1954, Porto the capital of Northern Portugal unveiled a marble statue of De Castro in this public square.

The podium in Porto's Praça da Galiza on August 4, 1954

Aspect of the podium

Source: Arquivo Municipal do Porto: Homenagem a Rosália de Castro

In attendance were among other distinguished authorities José Machado Vaz the president of Porto's City Hall, the commander of Portugal's 1st Military Region, the prelate of Porto bishopric, the dean of Porto University and three Galician mayors. Gala, then 82 years old, unveiled the statue. Portuguese lawyer, writer and alderman Manuel de Figueiredo addressed the gathering and said that De Castro was one of the most beautiful and lyrical figures of Spanish literature. After him the Portuguese writers Aurora Jardim, Ludovica Frías de Matos and the Brazilian-born Zita Leão each laid a wreath at the foot of the monument.

José Machado Vaz places a bouquet at the foot of the statue

Machado Vaz places a nosegay on monument

Source: Arquivo Municipal do Porto: Homenagem a Rosália de Castro

Spanish writer Eugenio Montes lectured to a packed house later that day in the Literature/Music Room of Porto's Municipal Public Library. His dissertation entitled, "Rosalía de Castro, Star In the West," raised an enthusiastic round of applause. He said later that this had been the most moving conference of his entire life.

The audience in the Literature/Music Room

Audience in Montes conference

Source: Arquivo Municipal do Porto: Homenagem a Rosália de Castro

The day of celebration finished with a gala dinner hosted by City Hall.

The evening banquet

Evening banquet at City Hall

Source: Arquivo Municipal do Porto: Homenagem a Rosália de Castro

The following year the Gabinete De História Da Cidade Do Porto published a 48-page booklet entitled, "Homenagem a Rosália de Castro, agosto de 1954," with the text of the various speeches given and with the photographs taken during the 1954 event. According to the newspaper La Voz de Galicia of Sunday February 27, 1955, a simple but "impressive" ceremony was held in Porto to mark the occasion. Under a steady drizzle the Galician chorale Follas Novas sang De Castro's archetypal poem, "Negra Sombra" (see poem 10).

On Saturday June 4, 1955, illustrious writer Maria da Graça Freire pronounced a conference entitled, "Evocação de Rosalia de Castro," in the Noble Room of Porto's Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis. A massive audience of men of letters, artists and dignitaries heard her eulogize De Castro with these moving words: "The spirit of Rosalía and the spirit of her people are inseparable." The lecture was interrupted several times by hearty applause. María M. Couto Viana recited some of De Castro's verses and she like the main speaker enjoyed a great success at the event.


Joaquín Rodrigo (b. 1901, d. 1999)

Joaquín Rodrigo and Rosalía de Castro

Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999) the Valencian composer and virtuoso pianist whose most famous pieces are Concierto De Aranjuez and Fantasía Para Un Gentilhombre composed a classical score for soprano and orchestra entitled, "Rosaliana," which sets to music four excerpts of De Castro's poetry. One is presented next.

Listen-to-this icon Cantarte Hei, Galicia

Federico García Lorca (b. 1898, d. 1936)

Federico García Lorca and Rosalía de Castro

Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) travelled to Galicia at least three times: in 1916 to Santiago de Compostela with fellow undergraduates and twice in 1932 when he with other members of an "Intellectual Cooperation Committee" laid a bouquet at the foot of the monument to De Castro in that city.1,2 The visits inspired him to write "Salutación elegíaca a Rosalía de Castro" in 1919,


Elegiac Greeting for Rosalía de Castro (Salutación Elegíaca a Rosalía de Castro)

Me miré en tus ojos pensando en tu alma,
adelfa blanca.
Me miré en tus ojos pensando en tu boca,
adelfa roja.
Me miré en tus ojos...pero estabas muerta,
adelfa negra.

Desde las entrañas de la Andalucía,
mojados con sangre de mi corazón
te mando a Galicia, dulce Rosalía,
claveles atados con rayos de sol.

Caigan los claveles en tu calavera
manchando su blanco marfil de pasión
y hagan el efecto de una cabellera
con trenzas de sangre nevada de Olón.

Llevan el rocío de mi madrugada,
pondrán en tu cráneo vacío mi amor
y en tus huesos tristes rumor de Granada,
llenando de estrellas la noche cerrada
que, como ceniza de sombra que emanan,
cubre la covacha de tu panteón.

Quiero que consueles mi vida exaltada
ha tiempo mi alma perdió su pastor,
quiero que me cuentes tu vieja tonada
a la orilla tibia del hogar sentada
por toda la gente sin pan que sufrió.

Quiero que lloremos la melancolía
que sobre nosotros el cielo dejó
pues vamos cargados con cruz de poesía
y nadie que lleva esta cruz descansó.

Junto a los cipreses que rompen el cielo
saludo a los sauces que tiene Padrón.
Quiero que con estos claveles sangrientos
llegue a tu sepulcro mi llanto y mi voz.

I gazed into your eyes pondering your soul,
Oleander white.
I gazed into your eyes pondering your mouth,
Oleander red.
I gazed into your eyes...but you were dead,
Oleander black.

Moistened with blood of my heart,
I send to you in Galicia, sweet Rosalía,
Carnations fastened with rays of sunlight
From the bowels of Andalucía.

May the carnations fall on your skull
Staining of passion its white ivory
And may they create the effect of long hair
With tresses of snowy blood from Olón.

They fetch the dew of my dawn—
They will place in your hollow skull my love
And in your sad bones rumours of Granada,
Filling with stars the deep night
Which, like the shade's cinder they exude,
Blankets the grotto of your pantheon.

I want you to console my riotous life
Long since my soul lost its shepherd;
I want you to narrate to me your song of old—
Sitting by the fireside's mild air—
For all the folk without bread who suffered.

I desire us both to weep over the melancholy
Heaven bequeathed us—
For we are weighed down with the cross of poetry
And no one who carries this cross ever did rest.

Beside the cypresses that cleave the sky
I salute the willows that are in Padrón.
I desire that along with these bloodied carnations
Arrive at your sepulchre my tears and my voice.

Listen-to-this icon Amancio Prada

He also wrote six Galician poems between 1932 and 1933, which he acceded to publish in 1935 at the insistence of a friend. Their translated titles3 are:

  1. Madrigal to the City of Santiago

  2. Festive Pilgrimage in Honour of Our Lady of the Barge (see poem 7)

  3. Song of the Shopkeeper Boy

  4. Nocturne of the Dead Adolescent

  5. Lullaby for Dead Rosalía Castro (this full poem is translated next)

  6. Dance of the Moon in Santiago

1 Federico García Lorca. Galician Wikipedia.
2 José Luis Franco Grande and José Landeira Yrago. Cronología gallega de Federico García Lorca y datos sincrónicos.
3 Federico García Lorca. Seis poemas gallegos.


Lullaby for Dead Rosalía Castro (Canzón de cuna pra Rosalía Castro, morta)

(Seis poemas gallegos, 1935)

¡Erguete, miña amiga,
que xa cantan os galos do día!
¡Erguete, miña amada,
porque o vento muxe, como unha vaca!

Os arados van e ven
dende Santiago a Belén.
Dende Belén a Santiago
un anxo ven en un barco.
Un barco de prata fina
que trai a door de Galicia.

Galicia deitada e queda,
transida de tristes herbas.
Herbas que cobren teu leito
e a negra fonte dos tuos cabelos.
Cabelos que van ao mar
onde as nubes teñen seu nídio pombal.

¡Erguete, miña amiga,
que xa cantan os galos do día!
¡Erguete, miña amada,
porque o vento muxe, como unha vaca!

Arise, female friend of mine,
For already the roosters crow in the day!
Arise, my beloved,
For the wind moos like a cow!

The ploughs come and go
From Santiago to Bethlehem.
From Bethlehem to Santiago
Comes an angel on a boat.
A boat made of fine silver
That brings the heartache of Galicia.

Galicia lain down and still,
Weary with saddened pastures.
Pastures that cover your bed
And the black spring of your locks.
Locks that wander off to the sea
Where the clouds have their pristine pigeon loft.

Arise, female friend of mine,
For already the roosters crow in the day!
Arise, my beloved,
For the wind moos like a cow!

Listen-to-this icon Rafa Lorenzo from the 2007 album Primos Hermanos

Ramón Cabanillas Enríquez (b. 1876, d. 1959)

Ramón Cabanillas and Rosalía de Castro

Ramón Cabanillas Enríquez (1876-1959) was born in Cambados (Pontevedra). Poet, playwright, journalist, clerk, secretary, accountant, he managed the Centro Gallego De La Habana during his stay in the Caribbean island between 1910 and 1915. A moderate Galician-nationalist, he wrote the anthem of Acción Gallega, spearhead of the Galician agrarian movement which proclaimed the right of peasants to own the land they tilled. He ran for but failed to win a seat in the Constituent Assembly of the Second Spanish Republic (1931). In April 1958 his many admirers crowned him, "Poet of the Race," in Padrón (radio recording of the event). Cabanillas broadcast his epitaph, "I wish to have inscribed on the sepulchre that grants me rest this one word that has light, Galician, and this other word that has wings, Poet." Three of his poems became popular songs; their translated titles are: Rise Up!, Brother Daniel, and Poor Madwoman.

He was a fervent admirer of De Castro and paid her repeated homage.


To Rosalía de Castro (A Rosalía de Castro)

(Da Terra Asoballada, 1917)

Dúas nais me bican e me dan arrolo.
Unha, a do tempo neno, a pomba aquela
que me acochóu, mimosa, no seu colo
co xeito homilde da virtú sinxela.

Afundido no dor, frebente, tolo,
chamaba a morte a berros ó perdela,
cando ó ler os teus libros ¡ou consolo!
surdiche Ti: ¡contigo tornóu Ela!

Dende entón, si ferido dos penares
que ensanguentan a vida con que loito,
pouso a ialma nas FOLLAS i os CANTARES.

¡Rosalía! ¡ña Nai! ¡miña Santiña...!
¡mentrela Rula milagreira escoito,
sinto unha doce man que me acariña!

Two mothers kiss me and lull me to sleep:
The one of my childhood—that dove
Who coddled me snug in her lap
With the humble ways of simple virtue.

Drowned in pain, seething, insane,
I summoned death shouting after losing her;
Then upon reading your books—o solace!—
You turned up and with you She returned!

Thenceforth, when I'm wounded by the sorrows
That bloody the life I struggle with,
I rest my soul on FOLLAS and CANTARES.

Rosalía! My Mother! My Sweet Saint...!
Whenever I hear the miracle Turtle Dove
I feel a gentle hand caressing me!

Listen-to-this icon Juan Pardo from the 1976 album Galicia, Miña Nai dos Dous Mares


José Martínez Ruíz (b. 1873, d. 1967)

José Martínez Ruíz alias Azorín and Rosalía de Castro

José Martínez Ruíz alias Azorín (1873-1967) the Alicantine journalist, playwright, poet and writer was the prime example of that group of Spanish authors nicknamed "the generation of 1898." His style was terse, concise, full of short sentences, far removed from the traditional grandiloquence of Spanish prose. His contemporaries tagged him a master of the language. He entered politics and was appointed Undersecretary of Public Education twice. The Royal Spanish Academy inducted him on October 26, 1924.

Azorín paid homage to De Castro in an article written for the conservative newspaper ABC,

Rosalía has a lively, clear bearing and an expression of indefinite, sweet sorrow. She has sung of her country's scenery—so beautiful—and has seen pass by her door, "when the north wind blows hard and the fire burns in the hearth," the unending caravan of farmers who abandon their native land and go looking for the sea to travel to faraway places; the "gaunt, naked and hungry" farmers who leave the poet "distressed and saddened, as comfortless as they" ("How much they must suffer here, O homeland! If presently your sons depart without sorrow!"). Rosalía has crossed in swift journey the desolate and scorched Mancha; she has toured plentiful Extremadura; she has stared at the fine and clear landscapes of Alicante; she has let her eyes rove through the orchards of Murcia. All this has its beauty and charm but the poet glances backward—with so much love!—to her beloved Galicia. "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 air and poetry."

She was born on February 21, 1837; she died on July 15, 1885. Her last sigh was reserved for the open sea; the vision of the unceasing surf and of the infinite horizon was her last vision. "When I saw her confined between the four boards which await us all," her companion has written, "I exclaimed: Rest at last, poor tormented spirit, you who have suffered so much in this world!"

Rosalía: You have not died; your image lives on in our hearts, we who love the pure, delicate lyric and detest the bombast of officialdom and the evils that cause the good to leave the Motherland. Rosalía: One can read on your kind, sad face, as you have said in one of your poems, the vague promptings, the secret endearments...

(Azorín. "Rosalía de Castro." ABC 8 Jan 1914: 3-4, Leyendo a los poetas)


Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo (b. 1864, d. 1936)

Miguel de Unamuno and Rosalía de Castro

Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936) the Basque poet, novelist and playwright was an ardent Spanish-nationalist intellectual who did not admit of a better vehicle for the loftier poetic expression than the Castilian language (September 18, 1931, address to the Spanish Congress). Nevertheless he contributed to the dissemination of De Castro's literary stature. The main criticism he levelled against hers and Galician poetry in general was its proclivity to lament, sentiment for which he saw no justification.

The following excerpt is from his essay, "Spanish wanderings and perceptions,"

That very sea which takes refuge there, in the southern firths of Galicia, between green arms of the country, is it not inspecting them for something it lost, or possibly as a means of forgetting its nagging woes? There, cuddled beside its eternal spouse, it slumbers and perchance it dreams. And perhaps it longs to be a river once more, a humble stream, a secluded creek. Who knows! Maybe the broad Bay of Arousa dreams about the [river] Ulla that renders its waters, or about the unfortunate [river] Sar sung by Rosalía. And all that is thirst—the sea is thirsty, it thirsts for the fresh water of the streams which flows down from the summits—an unquenchable thirst, a thirst that made Rosalía say: "O land, fertile and beautiful yesteryear, today and forever! / Seeing how sadly there shines our ill-fated star / From the banks of the Sar, / As I near the end I feel the consuming thirst, / Never allayed, that drowns all feeling, / And the hunger for justice that fells and crushes / When our complaints are snapped away / By the wind of a mad tempest."

(Miguel de Unamuno. "Junto a las Rías Bajas de Galicia." Andanzas y Visiones Españolas)


Manuel Curros Enríquez (b. 1851, d. 1908)

Manuel Curros Enríquez and Rosalía de Castro

Manuel Curros Enríquez (1851-1908) was born in Celanova (Ourense). Runaway teenager, Madrid City Hall clerk, journalist, war correspondent (wounded), failed student of Law, bohemian, Mason, Republican, scourge of the Roman Catholic Church (excommunicated), director of a failed newspaper in Cuba—his was an eventful life. A renowned writer and poet, sometimes satirical, others sentimental, he like De Castro wrote in Galician and in Spanish. Some of his poems became popular songs; their translated titles are: Once Upon a Night in the Wheat Fields, The Month of May, How Did It Happen? and Those Eyes of Yours.

On May 25, 1891, the mortal remains of Rosalía de Castro were exhumed and carried in solemn procession from Padrón to Santiago de Compostela. The funereal train arrived in Santiago at 6:00 PM sharp. Two long rows of candle-bearing children and the orphéons of Galicia with their ensigns preceded the hearse which was adorned with ribbons, flanked by City Hall officials and by representatives of the Galician community in Cuba. There followed the hearse business organizations, political associations, writers, professors and teachers, a second car and the city's fire truck trailed by a multitude of students, newspapermen, bureaucrats, presidents of financial, legal, educational and business institutions, the dean of the university, construction workers and ordinary citizens.1 Manuel Curros Enríquez delivered an eloquent eulogy while the cortege paused at the entrance to the university. There he recited his poem, A Rosalía (To Rosalía).

1 Javier Vales Failde. Rosalía de Castro. Madrid: Imprenta de la Revista de Archivos, 1906.


To Rosalía (A Rosalía)

Do mar pola orela
mireina pasar,
na frente unha estrela,
no bico un cantar.
E vina tan sola
na noite sin fin,
¡que inda recei pola probe da tola
eu, que non teño quen rece por min!

A musa dos pobos
que vin pasar eu,
comesta dos lobos,
comesta se veu...
Os ósos son dela
que vades gardar.
¡Ai, dos que levan na frente unha estrela!
¡Ai, dos que levan no bico un cantar!

I watched her go past
Along the shoreline,
A song on her lip,
On the forehead a star,
And saw her so alone
In the endless night
That I yet prayed for the poor disturbed woman,
I who have no one to pray for me!

The peoples' muse
I saw pass by—
Devoured by wolves,
Devoured she died...
To her belong the bones
You are going to keep.
Ah, pity those who bear a star on the brow!
Ah, pity those that carry a song on their lip!

Listen-to-this icon Adriano Correia de Oliveira from the 1971 album Gente de Aqui e de Agora
Listen-to-this icon Luis Emilio Batallán from the 1975 album Ahí Ven o Maio
Listen-to-this icon Chingla from the 2023 album Cantarche ei Galicia
Listen-to-this icon 2NaFronteira
Listen-to-this icon Camerata Vivace


The Archived Poems

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

Cantares Gallegos (1863)

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

  2.    Bells of Bastabales    (Campanas de Bastabales)

  3.    Black Carnation    (Quíxente tanto, meniña)

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

  5.    I Was Born When the Seedlings Sprout    (Nasín cando as prantas nasen)

  6.    My Sweet Kitchen Maid    (Miña carrapucheiriña)

  7.    Our Lady of the Barge    (Nosa Señora da Barca)

  8.    Though It Be a Sin    (Díxome nantronte o cura que é pecado)

Follas Novas (1880)

  9.    At the Tomb of British General Sir John Moore    (Na tomba do xeneral inglés Sir John Moore)

10.    Black Shadow    (Negra Sombra)

11.    Misfortune    (A Disgracia)

12.    Pharisees    (Tembra un neno no húmido pórtico)

13.    Sweet Dream    (Dulce sono)

14.    Why?    (¿Por qué?)

15.    Winter Months    (Meses do inverno)


Vintage photograph of girl and boy (Seville)

Source: Todo Colección


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

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)

Translator's Notes

"San Antonio bendito" like most poems of Cantares Gallegos employs the affectionate diminutive form peculiar to the Galician language—singular termination iña (feminine) or iño (masculine). Not every word that ends in iña or iño is an affectionate diminutive however.

All the words in "San Antonio bendito" that end in iña or iño are listed below together with a range of possible translations and a short explanation of the choice that was made. Galician affectionate diminutives lend 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 smallness, frailty, concern or affection depending on the context. This objective ends in a personal choice when more than one translation is available as is often the case. Sometimes an affectionate diminutive is best ignored because the context is unclear, because the extra term jars the smooth flow of the translation or because it makes the text too syrupy. The exercise can be fun, difficult and challenging. The extra work is worthwhile because it offers the English reader an approximation to 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."

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.

Musical Adaptation

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

Listen-to-this icon 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.


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Church of Bastavales

Source: Amaianos' photostream. flickr


2.   Bells of Bastabales     (Campanas de Bastabales)

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)

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 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 this video demonstrates that De Castro's caligraphy sometimes produced a's that look like o's when joined to a consonant.

Historical Background

De Castro was the illegitimate daughter of Father José Martínez Viojo and of María Teresa da Cruz de Castro e Abadía. He was born in 1798 in the hamlet of Ortoño and he died at the age of seventy-three in Iria Flavia. She was born in 1804 at Iria Flavia, 2 kilometers away from Padrón, and she died at the age of fifty-seven in Santiago de Compostela.1 Father Viojo and María Teresa kept seeing each other after Rosalia's birth.

The bells of Bastavales are audible in Ortoño, 3 kilometers away, but they can not be heard in Padrón (12 kilometers away) or in Santiago de Compostela (16 kilometers away). 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 Padrón. This poem certifies that she returned to Ortoño during the summer holidays. Furthermore her frequent allusions to the river Sar testify that the child had a wonderful time playing on its banks. In addition Viojo`s relatives hailed from Bastavales, guaranteeing that the child went along on family visits there. Indeed the conviction persists among some neighbours of Bastavales that De Castro eventually took up residence in the neighbourhood (source: xensboy, uploader of a Youtube video entitled, "The ringing bells of Bastavales in the summer of 2010," since removed).

The following excerpt of a letter written by Luis Tobío in 1923 affirms that De Castro was acquainted with her father,

When my aunt was 19 years old, in the spring of 1859, she 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—this 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

Tobío's letter elucidates many things. For example the line, "mill in the chestnut forest," of poem 4, "Adiós rios, adios fontes," tabs the watermill owned by Viojo's family. The letter portrays Rosalía's father as a "tall, swarthy, plump, ironic and engaging" man and it discloses that María Teresa had intended to abandon De Castro in a baby-drop-off facility run by the church, but that the father intervened and sent the newborn to Ortoño instead, first under the care of a tailor, and subsequently into the care of his own family.

To plot the trip taken by the protagonist of this poem, "Campanas de Bastabales," the reader must concede 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 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. Santiago de Compostela is the only one of De Castro's known addresses that fits. Thus it is posited that the poem depicts a journey from Santiago de Compostela to Bastavales.

"Campanas de Bastabales" has this 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 imaginary walk from the city to her beloved hamlet. In sections III and IV she 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 in fact a poetic escapade. Section V reflects her anguish at having been left alone in Santiago de Compostela. Her neighbours there are uncaring ("without a friend") her husband is away ("for whom I live pining") and her mother is 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.

The peculiar dashed line set near the poem's close may signal 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, sad poem was written shortly afterwards.

Translator's Notes

"Campanas de Bastabales" as do most poems of "Cantares Gallegos" makes extensive use of the affectionate diminutive form peculiar to the Galician language—singular termination iña (feminine) or iño (masculine). Notice that not every word that ends in iña or iño is an affectionate diminutive.

All the words in "Campanas de Bastabales" that end in iña or iño are listed below together with a range of possible translations and a short explanation of the choice that was made. Galician affectionate diminutives lend 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 small size, frailty, concern or endearment depending on the context. This objective ends in a personal choice when more than one translation is available as is often the case. Sometimes an affectionate diminutive is best ignored because the context is unclear, because the extra term jars the smooth flow of the translation or because it makes the text too syrupy. The exercise can be fun, difficult and challenging. The extra work is worthwhile because it offers the English reader an approximation to 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."

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 place 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.

Musical Adaptation

Troubadour and songwriter Amancio Prada arranged sections I and III of the poem. The audio of the first entry is from his 1997 album, "Rosas a Rosalía." Casablanca Choir and separately Mary C. Otero Rolle cover Prada on the next two entries. The audio of the fourth entry is from Prada's 1991 album, "Trovadores, Místicos y Románticos." Soprano María Orán offers an operatic interpretation of section I last.

Listen-to-this icon Amancio Prada, María del Mar Bonet and the Galicia Symphony Orchestra. This song recites section I
Listen-to-this icon Casablanca Choir
Listen-to-this icon Mary C. Otero Rolle
Listen-to-this icon Amancio Prada. This song recites section III
Listen-to-this icon María Orán and the Extremadura Symphony Orchestra render section I as a cantata

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


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Two Galician dolls

Source: Todo Colección


3.   Black Carnation     (Quíxente tanto, meniña)

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)

Translator's Notes

"Quíxente tanto, meniña" contains the four affectionate diminutives listed below. Galician affectionate diminutives bring the opportunity to add alliteration, internal rhyme and lyrical sharpness to the text. The task for the translator is to discover the best adjective, adverb or noun which conveys smallness, frailty, concern or affection depending on the context.

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 (2011) situated 3.4 kilometers south of Padrón beside the river Ulla. The economic mainstays of Pontecesures and the surrounding region are dairy farming and sea lamprey fishing.

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

Musical Adaptation

Raquel Pato composed a short piano piece for this poem (Ms. Pato is Head of the Music Department at IES As Lagoas in Ourense). Her composition was recorded by singer Rosa Cedrón and musician Cristina Pato in the 2010 album, "Soas."

Listen-to-this icon 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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Photograph by Alberto Martí

Source: Os Adeuses. Photographs of Galician emigration by Alberto Martí.
Mediateca: Consello da Cultura Galega


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

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)


"Good-bye rivers, good-bye fountains" recounts the drama of those forced to emigrate by the crisis of 1850-1860.

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. To compound the problem the domestic textile industry also spiralled into crisis.

In December 1836 the first commercial ad appeared offering transatlantic passage aboard the General Laborde from A Coruña to Montevideo/Buenos Aires. Transatlantic voyages increased steadily. Most were made on sailing ships. Somewhat reliable data suggest that 93,040 Galicians departed between 1836 and 1860. The Spanish government legalized emigration in 1853, and this made the count reliable: 122,875 people abandoned Galicia between the years 1860 and 1880.

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

The volume of emigration over the period 1836-1880 was staggering. The Galician census of 1857 gave a count of 1,776,879 people. Hence about 12% of the people emigrated.

Translator's Notes

This sentimental poem makes use of the affectionate diminutive form peculiar to the Galician language profusely. The affectionate diminutive has the singular termination iña (feminine) or iño (masculine). However not every word that ends in iña or iño is an affectionate diminutive.

All the words in "Adiós rios, adios fontes" that end in iña or iño are listed below together with an explanation of the translation made where needed. Galician affectionate diminutives offer the translator an opportunity to add alliteration, internal rhyme and lyrical sharpness to the text. Usually there is no one rigorous translation of an affectionate diminutive; consequently the goal is to select the best adjective, adverb or noun which conveys smallness, frailty, concern or affection, depending on the context, and which simultaneously embellishes the poem in the translator's eyes.

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 county Rois, some 20 kilometers away 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.

Musical Adaptation

Troubadour and songwriter Amancio Prada recorded a version of this poem accompanied by the Galicia Symphony Orchestra (first entry). Singer-songwriter Manoele de Felisa covers Prada's version on the second entry. María Xosé Silvar (stage name Sés) sings the full poem on the third entry.

Listen-to-this icon Amancio Prada and the Galicia Symphony Orchestra from the 1997 album Rosas a Rosalía
Listen-to-this icon Manoele de Felisa from the 1999 album Orballo
Listen-to-this icon Sés live at Teatro Colón (A Coruña) on February 25, 2018
Listen-to-this icon Julia Martínez Sánchez


Listen-to-this icon 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!


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Purple foxgloves

Source: Luis Guitian. No balcon do Sil


5.   I Was Born When the Seedlings Sprout     (Nasín cando as prantas nasen)

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)

Typographical Error in the Original

María del Carmen Sánchez Martínez below recites "mouro" instead of "Mauro" (4.1). A "mouro" in Galician folklore is a member of a legendary prehistoric race of giants who moved and set up huge boulders on the hilltops and who built underground tunnels, caverns and palaces housing immense riches. The change is further justified by the fact that a hill bordering on Bastavales has a flat top called Eira dos Mouros (Field of the Mouros). Accordingly the original line 4.1 read, "¿De que, pois, te queixas, mouro?," but the typesetter mistook the highlighted "o" for an "a" and his error is understandable because this video demonstrates that De Castro's caligraphy sometimes produced a's and o's that are hard to distinguish.

The word "mouro" is a colloquialism for "Neanderthal."

Translator's Note

"Nasín cando as prantas nasen" belongs to the 1863 tome of poetry Cantares Gallegos. Uncharacteristically this poem employs the affectionate diminutive once only.

Musical Adaptation

Galician-Argentinian composer and violinist Andrés Gaos Berea (b. 1874, d. 1959) set "Nasín cando as prantas nasen" to music under the title, "Rosa de Abril" (April Rose). Soprano María Bayo with the Galicia Symphony Orchestra and Choir performed the piece in 2007 (first entry). Soprano Cristina Gallardo-Domâs and the Gaos Orchestra cover the composition on the second entry.

The Galician folk group Madialeva wrote its own melody (third entry).

Listen-to-this icon María Bayo and the Galicia Symphony Orchestra and Choir
Listen-to-this icon Cristina Gallardo-Domâs and the Gaos Orchestra
Listen-to-this icon Madialeva from the 2004 album Rúa Aberta


Listen-to-this icon María del Carmen Sánchez Martínez (Centro Gallego de Palma de Mallorca)

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


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Pauper by Hans Baluschek, 1920

Source: Josillou. Hans Baluschek, pintor alemán


6.   My Sweet Kitchen Maid     (Miña carrapucheiriña)

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)

Translator's Notes

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) whence a "pot-carrier" or a kitchen maid. This opinion matches the slant of the traditional quatrain whose first two lines close "Miña carrapucheiriña,"

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

"Miña carrapucheiriña" belongs to the 1863 tome of poetry, Cantares Gallegos. The poem makes liberal use of the affectionate diminutive form peculiar to the Galician language. This form ends in iña (feminine) or iño (masculine), but not every word with these endings is an affectionate diminutive.

All the words in "Miña carrapucheiriña" that end in iña or iño are listed below together with an explanation of the translation made. Galician affectionate diminutives offer the translator an opportunity to add alliteration, internal rhyme and lyrical sharpness to the text. Usually there is no one rigorous translation of an affectionate diminutive. A translator then picks the adjective, adverb or noun which conveys smallness, frailty, concern or affection, depending on the context, and which simultaneously pleases him (or her) most.

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Gárdevos Santa Mariña (2.2). Most likely the Galician St. Marina de Aguas Santas.2

Yet clear pupils has lent you till now blessed Saint Lucy (8.2-4). Saint Lucy is the patron saint of the blind.3

Ring out the Ave Marías (13.10). That is the Angelus which was rung three times a day: 6:00 AM, noon and 6:00 PM.

I will rub the seashells together (16.1). A percussion accompaniment, e.g. to min. 1:00 and min. 1:15-1:29 of this video.

1 Xoaquín Lorenzo Fernández. "Cantigueiro popular da Limia Baixa." Vigo: Fundación Galaxia, 1973.
2 Marina de Aguas Santas. Spanish Wikipedia.
3 La Navidad de El Almanaque.

Musical Adaptation

Resonet has set this poem to music (track #3 MP3 sold here).


—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


Back To Index

Vintage photograph

Source: La romería, entre la fé y la leyenda.
Galicia Unica. July 13, 2012

7.   Our Lady of the Barge     (Nosa Señora da Barca)

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)


Legend has it that the fishing village of Muxía was the final place a fatigued Saint James reached when he came preaching 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, 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 same route he had taken. James obeyed and departed after ordering the villagers to erect a chapel in Mary's honour.

A stony slab reputed to be the hull of that legendary boat rocked and huffed when, according to tradition, anyone in state of grace stood upon it, declining to do so for someone in state of mortal sin. The slab was struck by lightning a few years ago and no longer operates.1 Nearby an arched boulder, reputed to be the boat's sail, is said to heal the kidneys of those who crawl under it nine times.

Muxía and five other villages mentioned in this poem, "Nosa Señora da Barca," lie on a stretch of coast known as the "Coast of Death" for its dangerous waters and high incidence of shipwrecks, the more famous of which 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).

1 Lightning is also blamed for the fire that gutted the sanctuary on Christmas Day, 2013.

Federico García Lorca (b. 1898, d. 1936)

Our Lady of the Barge and Federico García Lorca

Federico García Lorca paid homage to Our Lady of the Barge in his poem, "Romaxe de Nosa Señora Da Barca," published in 1935,

Festive Pilgrimage in Honour of Our Lady of the Barge (Romaxe de Nosa Señora Da Barca)

(Seis poemas gallegos, 1935)

¡Ay ruada, ruada, ruada
da Virxen pequena
e a súa barca!

A Virxen era pequena
e a súa coroa de prata.
Marelos os catro bois
que no seu carro a levaban.

Pombas de vidro traguían
a choiva pol-a montana.
Mortos e mortas de néboa
pol-as congostras chegaban.

¡Virxen, deixa a túa cariña
nos doces ollos das vacas
e leva sobr'o teu manto
as froles da amortallada!

Pol-a testa de Galicia
xa ven salaiando a i-alba.
A Virxen mira pr'o mar
dend'a porta da súa casa.

¡Ay ruada, ruada, ruada
da Virxen pequena
e a súa barca!

Ah, street outing, street outing, street outing
Of the small Madonna
And her barge!

The Madonna was small
And her crown of silver.
Straw-coloured were the four oxen
That carried her on their cart.

Pigeons of glass were fetching
The rain over the mountain.
Dead men and dead women of fog
Arrived by the country lanes.

Our Lady, leave your lovely face
On the gentle eyes of the cows
And wear on your trailing gown
The flowers of the woman clad for the grave!

Anon across Galicia's forehead
The dawn comes whimpering.
The Madonna looks toward the sea
From the threshold of her house.

Ah, street outing, street outing, street outing
Of the small Madonna
And her barge!

Listen-to-this icon Amancio Prada and Cantigas E Agarimos
Listen-to-this icon Marful, before the sarcophagus of Daniel Castelao in the Pantheon of Illustrious Galicians

Translator's Notes

"Nosa Señora da Barca" is one of the poems in the volume "Cantares Gallegos" that employs the affectionate diminutive form peculiar to the Galician language most often. The affectionate diminutive—singular termination iña (feminine) or iño (masculine)—makes translating harder and something of artwork, but to yield to the temptation of treating it as a nuisance and ignoring it is to rob the translation of the full emotion with which the author wrapped her description of the festivities in honour of Our Lady of the Barge.

All the words in "Nosa Señora da Barca" which end in iña or iño are listed below together with a range of possible translations and a short explanation of the choice made where useful. Galician affectionate diminutives provide the translator with an opportunity to add alliteration, internal rhyme or lyrical sharpness to the text. The aim of the translator is to find the best adjective, adverb or noun which conveys size, frailty, sympathy or endearment according to the context.

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Para tocar o pandeiro (1.7.11). In Galicia a pandeiro is a square or rectangular board which is held between the arms and tapped with both hands (min. 2:55-2:57, 3:26-3:30 and 3:34-3:38 of this video).

Virxe do Carme (1.8.1). The Spanish religious icon known as 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% closely related to pastis, today it is a collector's item.

Ó son da alegre pandeira (2.1.18). A pandeira is a tambourine twice the diameter of a normal one.

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

Almond-cookie rings1

Traditional almond cookie

Source: Rosquillas de almendra. Robot de cocina: Thermomix


The traditional folk song to Our Lady of the Barge in Muxía is performed below by the female half of the group O Fiadeiro (first entry). In the second entry Coral De Ruada sings a traditional song whose second cycle copies the second stanza of Lorca's "Romaxe de Nosa Señora Da Barca." In the third entry Luar Na Lubre incorporates the refrain of De Castro's "Nosa Señora da Barca." Portuguese troubadour Augusto Madrugada sings the medieval romance, "Nossa Senhora da Barca," on the fourth entry. In the fifth entry Ana Kiro (b. 1942, d. 2010) sings "Romería en Muxía" (Festive Pilgrimage in Muxía).

Listen-to-this icon O Fiadeiro (to min 2:00)
Listen-to-this icon Coral De Ruada (Note: singing starts on min. 2:40)
Listen-to-this icon Luar Na Lubre from the 2007 album Camiños da Fin da Terra
Listen-to-this icon Augusto Madrugada from the 2008 CD Na memória que se alonga
Listen-to-this icon Ana Kiro from the 2013 album Grandes Éxitos, Vol. 1

Partial Recital

Listen-to-this icon 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

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You Must Be Married by Alfonso Daniel Rodríguez Castelao

Source: Hai que casarse. Alfonso Daniel Rodríguez Castelao.
All Paintings Home


8.   Though It Be a Sin     (Díxome nantronte o cura que é pecado)

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)

Translator's Notes

"Díxome nantronte o cura que é pecado" could not be an exception and it too contains many affectionate diminutives. The affectionate diminutive peculiar to the Galician language ends in iña (feminine) or iño (masculine). Notice that not every word that ends in iña or iño is an affectionate diminutive.

All the words in "Díxome nantronte o cura que é pecado" that end in iña or iño are listed below together with a range of possible translations and a short explanation of the choice that was made. Galician affectionate diminutives lend 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 small size, frailty, concern or endearment depending on the context. This objective ends in a personal choice when more than one translation is available as is often the case. Sometimes an affectionate diminutive is best ignored because the context is unclear, because the extra term jars the smooth flow of the translation or because it makes the text too syrupy. The exercise can be fun, difficult and challenging. The extra work is worthwhile because it offers the English reader an approximation to 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."

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 translation, "crackpot face," is wrong. Jacinto is not a nutter but a gypsy probably.

tan contento (23.2). Although the literal translation is, "so merrily," a better rendition is "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.


The Galician countryside regarded a parish priest with ambivalence. He was highly respected when he helped the poor, assisted them in their dealings with the law or looked after the basic education of the children. He was the butt of prudent jokes otherwise. In any case the Galician countryside did not expect a parish priest to be celibate; celibacy was deemed unnatural. Instead the rural priest is a stereotype of covert profligacy in many traditional songs, as for example in the refrain of the xota de Soutomaior which states,

Eu non vou, non vou,
eu non vou alá,
á casa do cura,
¿qué me quere dar,
qué me quere dar,
qué me ha de querer?
morreulle a criada,
quere unha muller.

I won't go, I won't go,
I won't go over there
To the padre's house,
What does he want to give me,
What does he want to give me,
What does he want me for!
His housemaid died,
He wants a woman.


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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Gravesite of Sir John Moore at A Coruña (Spain)

Courtesy of  Ramón José Rey Lage

Portrait of Sir John Moore

Source: The Rifles Collection


9.   At the Tomb of British General Sir John Moore     (Na tomba do xeneral inglés Sir John Moore)

To my friend Maria Bertorini, a native of Wales. Coruña, 1871
(Á miña amiga María Bertorini, nativa do país de Gales. Coruña, 1871)

(Follas Novas, 1880)

Historical Background

"At the tomb of British general Sir John Moore" is an elegy to Scottish-born Lt. Gen. Sir John Moore who died on January 16, 1809, in the Battle of Corunna fighting the army of Marshal Jean-de-Dieu Soult during the French invasion of Spain. Among John Moore's last words were these to 24-year-old Major Charles Stanhope, "Remember me to your sister, Stanhope," a reference to the notable Lady Hester Stanhope.1,2 For a long time it was said that every January 16th a vessel from the Far East arrived to port and a young woman in mourning disembarked, went to weep at Moore's grave and left behind a poppy as a memento.3

The Sir John Moore cenotaph is located in the Garden of St. Charles. Two marble plaques flank the gate to the lookout over the harbour, one reproduces the poem of Reverend Charles Wolfe, "The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna," and the other displays an abridged version of De Castro's poem.

At 12:00 noon on Thursday July 30, 1959, Spanish and British dignitaries laid wreaths at the foot of "the mausoleum containing the mortal remains of English general Sir John Moore" (newspaper La Voz de Galicia dated July 31, 1959). Half an hour earlier "troops from the ten British Army regiments that took part in the battle of Corunna" marched to the Garden where a company of Spanish regular infantry awaited. The Gordon Highlanders pipes and drums played the "Last Post"; French sailors from schooners La Belle Poule and L'Étoile were also present. After the brief ceremony all the participants staged a military parade that was watched by "a very numerous public." There was an official reception at Town Hall with music provided by Galician pipes and drums and with the local police donning gala uniforms. "A glass of Spanish wine was served and toasts were made to England, to France and to Spain." In the afternoon the Royal Navy hosted a party for local home children on one of three destroyers docked at the harbour, H.M.S. Camperdown, H.M.S. Armada and H.M.S. Saintes. "The children left the vessel delighted with the kindnesses showered upon them by the British navymen." A formal dinner was held aboard the British flotilla flagship to round out the day.

video icon   NO-DO 866 B reported on the ceremony of Thursday July 30, 1959.

De Castro dedicated this poem, "Na tomba do xeneral inglés Sir John Moore," to Welsh-born Maria Bertorini (née Mary Margaret Jones)4 who was the wife of Camilo Bertorini, a business partner of the Lancashire-born (1836) engineer and builder of the first railway in Galicia, John Stephenson Mould.5,6,7 The Bertorinis would turn out to be the great-grandparents of Camilo José Cela. Stephenson's father George Mould died in Padrón in 1874.8 De Castro also died there eleven years later. It is reasonable to assume that the poetess was as acquainted with the Moulds as she was with the Bertorinis. "Na tomba do xeneral inglés Sir John Moore" then is a token of personal friendship and possibly of gratitude over some financial assistance received.

1 Obituary, with Anecdotes, of remarkable Persons. The Gentleman's Magazine, 79, Part I, p. 283. March 1809.
2 Temple Bar. "Sir John Moore and Lady Hester Stanhope." The New York Times 28 Nov 1880.
3 kittygirl. "La leyenda de Sir John Moore." January 8, 2009.
4 James Kirkup. "Camilo Jose Cela." The Independent 8 Jan 2002: Obituaries.
5 Baptisms at St Elphin in The Parish of Warrington in the County of Lancashire. Years 1835-1836, entry 601.
6 Juan R. Baliñas. "Apuntes para una historia de Galicia (revisada)." October 11, 2007.
7 Asociación Compostelana de Amigos do Ferrocarril. "El ferrocarril Cornes-Carril."
8 "Railman George, darling of the Spanish Queen." The Cumberland News 6 Feb 2009.


¡Cuan lonxe, canto, das escuras niebras,
dos verdes pinos, das ferventes olas
que o nacer viron!...dos paternos lares,
do ceo da patria que o alumou mimoso,
dos sitios, ¡ai! do seu querer, ¡que lexos!...
viu a caer, baixo enemigo golpe
pra nunca máis se levantar, ¡coitado!
¡Morrer asín en estranxeiras plaias,
morrer tan mozo, abandona-la vida
non farto aínda de vivir e ansiando
gustar da froita que coidado houbera!
¡I en vez das ponlas do loureiro altivo
que do heroe a testa varonil coroan,
baixar á tomba silenciosa e muda!...

¡Ouh brancos cisnes das britanas islas,
ouh arboredos que bordás galanos
dos mansos ríos as ribeiras verdes
i os frescos campos donde John correra!...
Se a vós amargo xemidor sospiro
chegou daquel que no postreiro alento
vos dixo ¡adios! con amorosas ansias
a vós volvendo o pensamento último,
que da súa mente se escapaba inxele,
¡Con que pesar, con que dolor sin nome,
con que estrañeza sin igual diríades
tamén ¡adios! ó que tan lonxe, tanto,
da patria, soio, a eternidás baixaba!

I o gran sillón, a colgadura inmóbil
do para sempre abandonado leito;
a cinza fría do fogar sin lume,
a branda alfombra que leal conserva
do pé do morto unha sinal visibre,
o can que agarda polo dono ausente
i o busca errante por camiños ermos,
as altas herbas da alameda escura
por onde el antes con solás paseaba,
o sempre igual mormoruxar da fonte
donde el nas tardes a sentarse iña...
¡Cal falarían sin parar de Moore,
co seu calado afrixidor lenguaxe,
ós ollos, ¡ai!, dos que por el choraban!
¡Xa nunca máis...xa nunca máis, ¡ouh!, triste,
ha de volver, onde por el esperan!
Parteu valente, a combatir con groria.
¡Parteu, parteu!...e non tornou, que a morte
segouno alí nos estranxeiros campos,
cal frol que cae onde a semilla súa
terra n'atopa en que arraigar poidera.

Lonxe caíche, pobre John, da tomba
onde cos teus en descansar pensaras.
En terra allea inda os teus restos dormen
i os que te amaron e recordan inda,
mirando as ondas do velado Oceano,
doridos din, desde as nativas praias:
-¡Aló está el, tras dese mar bravío;
aló quedou, quisais, quisais por sempre;
tomba onde naide vai chorar, cobexa
amadas cinzas do que nós perdemos!...
I os tristes ventos i as caladas brisas
que os mortos aman si lexanos dormen
do patrio chan, a refrescarte veñen
do vran na noite calorosa, e traen
pra ti nas alas cariñosas queixas,
brandos suspiros, amorosos ecos,
algunha bágoa sin secar, que molla
a seca pedra do mausoleo frío,
do teu país algún perfume agreste.

¡Mais que fermosa e sin igual morada
lle coupo en sorte ós teus mortales restos!...
¡Quixera Dios que para ti non fora
nobre estranxeiro habitación allea!...
Que n'hai poeta, ensoñador esprito
non pode haber que ó contemprar no outono
o mar de seca amarillenta folla
que o teu mausoleo con amor cobexa;
que ó contemprar nas alboradas frescas
do mes de Maio as sonrosadas luces
que alegres sempre a visitarche venen,
non diga: «¡Asín cando eu morrer, poidera
dormir en paz neste xardín frorido,
preto do mar.. do cimeterio lonxe!...»

Que ti n'escoitas enjamás, ¡ouh, Moore!
Choros amargos, queixumbrosos rezos,
ni-os outros mortos a chamarte veñen,
pra que con eles na calada noite
a incerta danza dos sepulcros bailes.
Só doce alento do cogollo que abre,
da frol que mucha o postrimeiro adiose,
loucos rebuldos, infantiles risas
de lindos nenos que a esconderse veñen
sin medo a ti tras do sepulcro branco.
I algunha vez, ¡moitas quizais!, sospiros
de ardente amor que o vento leva donde
Dios sabe só...por sin igual compaña
dichoso tés na habitación postreira.
¡I o mar, o mar, o bravo mar que ruxe
cal ruxe aquel que te arrolou na cuna,
mora onda ti, vén a bicar as pedras
dun chan de amor que con amor te garda,
i arredor teu deixa crece-las rosas!...
¡Descansa en paz, descansa en paz, ouh, Moore!

E vós que o amás, do voso honor celosos,
fillos de Albión, permanecei tranquilos.
Terra fidalga é nosa terra—tanto
cal linda Dios a quixo dar—, ben sabe
honra facer a quen merece honra,
i honrado así, cal mereceu, foi Moore.
Soio n'está no seu sepulcro; un puebro
co seu respeto compasivo véla
polo estranxeiro a quen traidora morte
fixo fincar lonxe dos seus, i a alleos
vir a pedir o derradeiro asilo.

Cando do mar atravesés as ondas
i ó voso irmán a visitar vaiades,
poñé na tomba o cariñoso oído,
e se sentís rebuligar as cinzas
e se escoitás indefinibres voces
e se entendés o que esas voces digan,
a ialma vosa sentirá consolo.
¡El vos dirá que arrededor do mundo
tomba mellor que a que atopou n'achara
sinón dos seus antre o amoroso abrigo!

How far—how far from the gloomy fogs,
From the green pines, from the seething waves
That saw him born! From the ancestral estates,
From the homeland's sky that caressed him with its light,
From the places alas! he cherished, how far...!
Came he to fall 'neath the enemy's blow
To never more rise, ill-starred!
Thus to perish on alien strands,
To die so young, to leave life behind
Unfilled still of living and eager
To taste the fruit he would have tended!
And instead of the proud laurel wreath
That crowns the hero's manly head
To descend to the mute and silent grave...!

O white swans of the British Isles,
O copses that embroider courtly
The green banks of the tame rivers
And the fresh fields where John used to run!
If to you reached bitter the mournful sigh,
The parting thought of his transparent mind
Which sped to you
Bidding good-bye! with anxiety
And love entwined in the dying gasp—
With what heartache, with what inexpressible sorrow,
With what unmatched surprise you too must have said
Good-bye! to him who so distant, far-flung
From the homeland, lonesome sank into eternity!

And the throne armchair, the unstirring curtain
Of the forever-relinquished bed,
The cold cinders of the unlit hearth,
The soft carpet that faithfully preserves
The visible print of the departed's footstep,
The dog that listens for the absent master
And seeks him out by errant untilled tracks,
The tall grasses of the shady boulevard
Where he used to stroll for solace,
The unvarying murmur of the spring
Beside which he'd sit in the afternoons...
How they would speak unceasingly of Moore
With their silent grieving language
To the eyes of those who for him were weeping!
Nevermore—nevermore alas! will he sad
Return to the place where they expect him!
He departed bold to strive for glory,
He left, he left...! And did not return
For death cut him low on foreign fields
Like the flower falls whose seed
Finds no earth to root on.

Poor John, you fell far from the tomb
Where you thought to rest with your own.
Your remains yet repose on foreign land
And they who loved you and remember still
On gazing upon the waves of the mistéd Ocean
Say pained from the native shore,
"He lies over there beyond this unruly sea,
There he was abandoned, perhaps...perhaps forever.
A grave that no one weeps over shelters
The beloved ashes of the one we lost...!"
And the mournful winds and the silent breezes
(Delight of the dead who slumber far removed
From the native turf) arrive to refresh you
In the summer's hot night and bring
On their wings tender plaints,
Soft sighs, loving echoes,
An undried teardrop that bedews
The arid stone of the chilled sarcophagus,
Some sylvan perfume from your country.

Yet what unparalleled gorgeous abode
Fate bestowed on your mortal remains!
Would it please God that it weren't for you,
Noble stranger, an alien dwelling!
For no poet or dreamer can there be
Who beholding in autumn
The sea of sere, yellowish leaf
That your mausoleum hosts lovingly—
Who watching in the cool dawns
Of the month of May the rosy lights
That come to visit you cheerily—
Says not, "Thus, when I die, would I
Sleep peaceably in this flowerful garden
By the sea...remote from a graveyard!"

O Moore! You never hear
Bitter sobs or plaintive prayers
Nor do other dead come in the quiet night
Calling on you to join them
In the uncertain dance of the sepulchres.
Yours only the sweet breath of blooming buds,
A withering flower's parting good-bye,
The mad scamper and boisterous laughter
Of pretty children who come fearlessly
To hide behind the white sepulchre
And at times—many perhaps!—the sighs
Of burning love which the wind hauls away
To God only knows where...have you—fortunate one—
For unrivalled company in your last dwelling.
And the sea—the sea—the swollen sea that roars
As roars that other one which lulled you in the cradle—
Dwells here and washes ashore to kiss the stones
Of a land of love that watches over you fondly
And lets the roses about you burgeon...!
Rest in peace, rest in peace o Moore!

And you who love him, zealous for your honour,
Sons of Albion, rest at ease.
Our land is a land of country squires—as chivalrous
As it is pretty by God's brimming desire—
That well knows how to honour they who deserve it
And therefore honoured as he deserved was Moore.
He does not lie forsaken in his sepulchre;
A people cares with compassionate respect
For the foreigner whom treacherous death
Forced to stay far removed from his own
And to strangers come solicit the final haven.

When you cross over the waves of the sea
And you travel to visit your brother
Press your ear to the tomb tenderly
And should you feel the ashes stirring—
Should you hear unfamiliar voices
And grasp what they are saying—
Your soul will be comforted.
He will tell you that nowhere in the world
Could he have found a better resting place
But among his own by their loving embrace!


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Dead baby

Source: Archivo Ramón Caamaño Bentín. Fotos: "El retrato y la muerte."
Mediateca de, retrieved 4 Nov 2013


10.   Black Shadow     (Negra Sombra)

(Follas Novas, 1880)


The poem reflects De Castro's apprehension at the recurrence of sudden misfortune in her life.

Historical Background

"Negra Sombra" was probably written after two of De Castro's babies died a short time apart. Twenty-month-old Adrian died from a fall in November of 1876 and Valentina was stillborn three months later (Marina Mayoral. "Biografía de Rosalía de Castro." Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes).

Translator's Notes

Negra sombra que me asombras (1.2) and Sombra que sempre me asombras (4.4). The verb asombrar has four definitions in the Galician language: (1) To give shade. (2) To instill dread or fear; to haunt. (3) To amaze, to astound. (4) To be amazed or to be astounded. Only the first two are appropriate here, De Castro dreads the recurrence of sudden misfortune, an apprehension clearly expressed in her poem A Disgracia (poem 11). Therefore these two lines could equally well be translated, "Black shadow that haunts me" (1.2) and "Shadow that always haunts me" (4.4).

At the foot of my head pillows (1.3). Almost certainly depicts the laying down of Valentina's dead body on the pillow beside the mother after giving birth. An earlier translation, To the hem of my head pillows, is more beautiful poetically because of its alliteration but a little less precise: it admits distress for any other motive.

From the very sun you taunt me (2.2). The literal translation is: "On the very sun you show yourself to me," perhaps prefiguring a solar eclipse, but the literal translation is awkward and foils the ambition of preserving the poem's meter and musicality. The chosen translation transmits the emotional pitch spot-on and molds the English text to the arrangement of Juan Montes Capón.

And you are the river's rumour (3.3). The literal translation is: "And you are the river's murmur," but this option forfeits the alliteration present in the Galician "marmurio do río" which the chosen translation reproduces somewhat.

And the night and the dawn (3.4). The literal translation is: "And you are the night and you are the dawn." The removal of the inflection better adapts the translation to the melody of Capón.

Musical Adaptation

The Provincial Museum of Lugo holds the score of the musical adaptation of "Negra Sombra"; the sheet of music dates from 1890-1892.

This poem, "Negra Sombra," became one of the most emblematic Galician ballads ever when composer Juan Montes Capón fused it with an alalá written down in Cruz do Incio (Lugo). The musical arrangement had its debut at Havana's Grand Theatre in 1892. The ballad is arguably one of the most beautiful and prominent in the Galician repertoire; its lyrics so blend with the melody that it is no longer possible to conceive them apart.

(Apuntes de "Negra Sombra." Casavaria)

Many artists have interpreted this ballad, eleven selections are offered below.

Listen-to-this icon Orfeón Donostiarra and the Orquesta Clásica del Reino de Aragón
Listen-to-this icon Luz Casal and Carlos Núñez from the soundtrack of the 2004 movie Mar Adentro
Listen-to-this icon Fadista María do Ceo
Listen-to-this icon Najla Shami from the 2013 album Na Lingua que Eu Falo
Listen-to-this icon Milladoiro from the 1989 album Castellum Honesti (Celtic)
Listen-to-this icon

Sung in Catalan by María del Mar Bonet

Listen-to-this icon Baritone Antonio Campó (vintage recording)
Listen-to-this icon Reviravolta from the 1997 album O Miño Non Pasa Por Escocia
Listen-to-this icon Antoñita Moreno from the 1965 album Ronda de España
Listen-to-this icon Pucho Boedo and Los Tamara from the 1974 album Miña Galicia Verde
Listen-to-this icon Manoele de Felisa from the 1999 album Orballo

Cando penso que te fuches,
negra sombra que me asombras,
ó pé dos meus cabezales
tornas facéndome mofa.

Cando maxino que es ida,
no mesmo sol te me amostras,
i eres a estrela que brila,
i eres o vento que zoa.

Si cantan, es ti que cantas,
si choran, es ti que choras,
i es o marmurio do río
i es a noite i es a aurora.

En todo estás e ti es todo,
pra min i en min mesma moras,
nin me abandonarás nunca,
sombra que sempre me asombras.

When I think that you have parted,
Black shadow that overshades me,
At the foot of my head pillows
You return making fun of me.

When I fancy that you've gone,
From the very sun you taunt me
And you are the star that shines
And you are the wind that moans.

If there's singing it's you who sings,
If there's weeping it's you who weeps,
And you are the river's rumour
And the night and the dawn.

Everywhere you are in everything,
For and within me you live
Nor will you ever leave me,
Shadow that always shades me.


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Wreck in the Moonlight by Caspar David Friedrich

Source: Caspar David Friedrich


11.   Misfortune     (A Disgracia)

(Follas Novas, 1880)


¿Por qué existe? ¿Quen é? ¿Donde a soberba
morada tén? ¿Arteira, en donde habita?
Sono lixeiro ou pasaxeira nube
pra moitos é, que a penas deixa rastro.
Outros os golpes alevosos sinten
que lles asesta con negra traidoría
dende o comenzo ó fin da vida escrava.
Pero n'a ven, anque a mirada tendan
arrededor, para evitaren, cautos
o seu bafo pestífero, n'atopan
no espazo, nin na terra, nin no mare,
anque ela en todo está sempre dañina.

O mal do inferno é fillo, o ben do ceo;
a disgracia ¿de quen? Loba que nunca
farta se ve, que o seu furor redobra
da fonda frida, á vista ensangrentada,
¿De donde vén?, ¿que quer?, ¿por que a consintes,

potente Dios, que os nosos males miras?
¿Non ves, Señor, que o seu poder afoga
a fe i o amor no esprito que en ti fía?
¡Como endurece o corazón que un tempo
era todo brandura! ¡Como mata
da espranza a luz, que un resprandor tranquilo
nos astros derramaba da existencia,
nova forza prestando ó pé cansado
e máis valor á ialma temerosa!
Todo o mucha ó seu paso, a pranta súa
maldita todo para sempre estraga.
Todo a súa lama pegaxosa entrubia.
¡E que oco tan profundo fai en torno
daquel a quen persigue! ¡Como fuxen
as xentes del pra non oír os laios
que o seu penar lle arrinca, ou a espantosa
brasfemia que con labio balbucente
a sí mesmo mordéndose prenuncia!
Que apestado n'existe nesta vida
que tanto horror á humanidade cause
como o que da disgracia vai tocado.

E como non, se o ben contra el se volve!
Se o mesmo sol non loce onde el habita,
se a fonte onde beber envenenada
decote está, se o pan se volve asentes
para seu paladar, i o mar sin fondo
enxoito nun instante se quedara
se el na onda amarga se afogar quixera;
¡e nos brazos da morte que aborrece,
a mesma morte o deixa abandonado!

¡Ah, piedade, Señor! ¡Varre esa sombra
que en noite eterna para sempre envolve
a luz da fé, do amor e da esperanza!
¡Sombra de horror que os astros briladores
escurece dos ceos, que un novo inferno
neste mundo formou, e un mundo novo,
donde todo valor perde os seu bríos
e toda forza sin loitar se estrela,
onde as tinebras da impiedá, estendidas,
borran todo camino que a ti guíe!

¡Dios de bondá, co teu potente sopro,
de nós aparta ese fantasma horribre
que a desesperazón dá por remate;
pois xa abasta cas dores, ca miseria
da carne fraca e coa infalibre morte
pra tormento e castigo dos que, tristes
porque pecaron, viven desterrados
da patria celestial por que suspiran!

Why does she exist? Who is she? Does she dwell
Where pride dwells? A rogue, where does she live?
She is for many a light sleep
Or a passing cloud that leaves hardly a trace,
Others feel the deceitful blows
Dealt in black treachery
From start to finish of a toilsome life,
But none see her though they glance
Round about warily to avoid
Her pestilent vapour, they don't discover her
In the cosmos or on land or at sea
Though she is everywhere always harmful.

Evil is hell's offspring, goodness heaven's,
Misfortune whose? Fae that is never
Satisfied—who redoubles her fury
At the bloodied sight of the deep wound—
Where does she come from? What does she want?
        Why do you indulge her,
Mighty God who gaze upon our woes?
Do you not realize, Lord, that her force strangles
Faith and love in the spirit who trusts in you?
How she hardens the heart which was
Once all gentleness! How she snuffs out
The light of hope which decanted a tranquil luster
Of existence on the heavenly bodies
Lending new vigor to the weary step
And greater courage to the fearful soul!
Everything wilts where she treads, her accursed
Sole ruins everything for evermore,
Her sticky mire muddles everything
And what a deep hole she digs around
Whom she badgers! How people flee from him
To eschew hearing the complaints
His grief brings out or the terrible
Blasphemy which with halting lip—
Biting himself—he utters!
There is no one so shunned in this life
Who causes as much horror to mankind
As he who is beleaguered by calamity.

And how not so if goodness opposes him!
If the very sun shines not where he lodges,
If the drinking fountain is always poisoned,
If the bread tastes like wormwood on his palate
And the sea would drain in a moment
Were he wont to drown
In its bitter wave
And even in the arms of detested death
Death herself disowns him!

Ah, have mercy, Lord! Sweep away that shadow
Which for evermore shrouds in endless night
The light of faith—of love and of hope!
Shade of horror which dims the shining bodies
Of the heavens, which shaped a new hell
In this world and a new world where
All courage loses its pluck
And all strength crumbles without a struggle—
Where the darkness of far-flung callousness
Erases every path that leads to you!

God of kindness, push away from us
With your powerful blast that horrible spectre
Which ultimately drives to despair.
More than suffice already the pains, the misery
Of the weak flesh and of unavoidable death
To punish and torment they who saddened
Because they sinned live in exile
From the heavenly home that they sigh for!


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Neno mendigo

Source: Poema de Marta Zabaleta para un niño amigo, mendigo de Santiago


12.   Pharisees     (Tembra un neno no húmido pórtico)

(Follas Novas, 1880)

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

But the book of great mysteries is sealed not in vain (6.1-2). Most likely the Book of Revelation.


Tembra un neno no húmido pórtico...
Da fame e do frío
ten o sello o seu rostro de ánxel,
inda hermoso, mais mucho e sin brilo.

Farrapento e descalzo, nas pedras
os probes peíños,
que as xiadas do inverno lañaron,
apousa indeciso;
pois parés que llos cortan coitelos
de aceirados fíos.

Coma can sin palleiro nin dono,
que todos desprezan,
nun curruncho se esconde, tembrando,
da dura escaleira.
E cal lirio se dobra ó secárese,
o inocente a dourada cabesa
tamén dobra, esvaesido ca fame,
e descansa co rostro nas pedras.

E mentras que el dorme,
triste imaxen da dor i a miseria,
van e vén ¡a adoraren o Altisimo!
fariseios, os grandes da terra,
sin que ó ver do inocente a orfandade
se calme dos ricos a sede avarienta.

O meu peito ca angustia se oprime.
¡Señor! ¡Dios do ceo!
¿Por que hai almas tan negras e duras?
¿Por que hai orfos na terra, Dios boeno?

Mais n'en vano sellado está o libro
dos grandes misterios...
Pasa a groria, o poder i a alegría...
Todo pasa na terra. ¡Esperemos!

A child shivers in the clammy portico...
The seal of hunger and cold
Is written over his angelic face
Still beautiful yet wilted and dun.

In tatters and barefoot
He drops his little feet,
Bitten by the winter's frosts,
Dithering on the stones
As if knives of steely blade
Were slashing them.

Like a dog without a haystack or master,
Despised by everyone,
He hides quivering
In a recess of the stony steps.
And like a lily that droops when it dries,
The innocent boy of golden head
Keels over, faint with hunger,
And rests with his face on the stones.

And while he slumbers,
Doleful image of pain and misery,
Enter and leave —to worship the Most High!—
Pharisees—the grandees of this world—
For whom the sight of the innocent's orphanhood
Slakes not the greed of the wealthy.

Anguish weighs heavy on my bosom.
Lord! God of heaven!
Why are there souls so dark and dour?
Why are there orphans on earth, good God?

But the book of great mysteries
Is sealed not in vain...
Glory, power and glee fade away...
Everything fades away on earth. Let's wait!


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'Mommy': Vintage collectible photograph

Source: Todo Colección


13.   Sweet Dream     (Dulce sono)

(Follas Novas, 1880)

Musical Adaptation

"Dulce Sono" was set to music by distinguished Galician composer Juan Montes Capón who changed the title to Doce Sono, one of his Six Galician Ballads. He entered this ballad together with Negra Sombra in the 1892 Musical Competition of Pontevedra organized by the Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País (Economic Society of Friends of the Land) and won first prize. The composition is performed on the first entry below. Marta Sancho Andrés and Jorge Abreu adapt the piece to clarinet and piano in the second entry. Singer-songwriter Graciela Pistocchi Pereira offers her own composition on the third.

Listen-to-this icon Carmen Subrido Tubío and Xoán Elías Castiñeira Varela
Listen-to-this icon

Marta Sancho Andrés and Jorge Abreu (clarinet and piano)

Listen-to-this icon Graciela Pistocchi Pereira

Baixaron os ánxeles
Adonde ela estaba,
Fixéronlle un leito
Cas prácidas alas,
E lonxe a levano
Na noite calada.

Cando a alba do dia
Tocóu a campana,
E no alto da torre
Cantou a calandria,
Os ánxeles mesmos,
Pregadas as alas
—"¿Por que, marmurano,
Por que despertala...?"

Came down the angels
To where she lay,
They made her a bed
With the placid wings
And took her far away
In the quiet night.

When the bell rang
The break of day
And the lark sang
Atop the belfry
The selfsame angels,
Wings folded,
Murmured, "Why?
Why wake her?"


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Spanish tax collection officers and night watchmen from Navarre in 1948

Source: Imágenes del recuerdo. Azagra (Navarra)


14.   Why?     (¿Por qué?)

(Follas Novas, 1880)


—¡Escoita!: Os algoasiles
Andan correndo a aldea;
Mais, ¿como pagar, como, se un non pode
Inda paga-la renda?

"Embargarannos todo, que non teñen
Esas xentes concencia, nin tén alma.
¡Quedaremos por portas,
Meus fillos das entrañas!

"¡Mala morte vos mate
Antes de que aquí entredes...!
Dos probes, ó sentirvos,
Os corazós ¡cal baten tristemente!

—María, se non fora
Porque hai un Dios que premia e castiga,
Eu matara eses homes
Como mata un raposo a unha galiña.

—¡Silencio! ¡Non brasfemes,
Que este é un valle de lágrimas...!
¿Mais por que a algúns lles toca sufrir tanto
I outros a vida antre contentos pasan?

"Listen! The tax collectors
Are making the run of the hamlet,
But how does one pay—how—if one
Can't even afford the rent?

"They will impound everything,
Their sort has no conscience or soul;
They will evict us,
Children of my innards!

"May a black hand strike you down
Before you get here...!
How sadly beat the hearts of the poor
When you are near!"

"Mary, if it weren't
Because there is a God who rewards and punishes
I would kill those men
Like a fox slays a hen."

"Silence! Don't blaspheme,
This is a vale of tears...!
But why must some suffer so much
And others spend their lives in merriment?"


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River Miño as it exits Quinte, county O Corgo in Lugo (Spain)

Source: Xelo2004. Wikimedia Commons


15.   Winter Months     (Meses do inverno)

(Follas Novas, 1880)


The Celtic band Milladoiro captured the spirit of a normal Galician winter in their piece, "Invernía" (track 11 of the 1989 album As Fadas de Estraño Nome).

Listen-to-this icon Milladoiro

Meses do inverno fríos,
Que eu amo a todo amar;
Meses dos fartos ríos
I o dóce amor do lar.

Meses das tempestades,
Imaxen da delor
Que afrixe as mocedades
I as vidas corta en frol.

Chegade e, tras do outono
Que as follas fai caer,
Nelas deixá que o sono
Eu durma do non ser.

E cando o sol fermoso
De abril torne a sorrir,
Que alume o meu reposo,
Xa non o meu sofrir.

Cold months of winter
That I love with all my love,
Months of rivers that run full
And the sweet love of home.

Months of wild storms,
Image of the pain
That besets the young
And severs lives in bloom.

Come after the autumn
That makes the leaves fall
And let me sleep among them
The slumber of dissolution.

And when the lovely sun
Of April returns smiling
Let it shine upon my repose,
No longer upon my suffering.


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Translation from Galician to English of 11 poems by Rosalia de Castro

Rosalía de Castro

Translation from Galician to English of  CANTARES GALLEGOS (1863)