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

Translator: Eduardo Freire Canosa


I grant the translations herein to the public domain

 
 
 
18-year-old Rosalía de Castro in 1855

Source: File 8/61. Galería do IES Breamo: Fotobiografía de Rosalía. Xunta de Galicia. Consellería de Educación e Ordenación Universitaria

 
 
 
 
 
 

Foreword to Cantares Gallegos (1863)

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
 
 
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Galicia in the Year 1931

 
 
 

1987: Cantares Gallegos on the Radio

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Day 1      (½ hour)

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Day 2      (½ hour)

 
 

2013: 150 Years Since the First Edition of Cantares Gallegos

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

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

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Carril (Vilagarcía de Arousa, Pontevedra)

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Lugo, in front of the cathedral

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Portiño de Portocelo (Xove, A Mariña, Lugo)

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Santiago de Compostela

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Vigo

Schoolchildren of Marín (Pontevedra) commemorated the 150th anniversary with a short amateur film.

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Imaxina Rosalía (Imagine Rosalía)

 
 
 
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11 Poems from Cantares Gallegos

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

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

  2.    Conversation With a Pumpkin on All-Hallows' Eve    (Miña Santiña, miña Santasa)

  3.    Flight to Wonderland    (Fun un domingo, fun pola tarde)

  4.    How Can I Depart If I Love You?    (¿Como me hei de ir si te quero?)

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

  6.    Lassie of the Green Mountain    (Acolá enriba)

  7.    Lure of the Piper    (Un repoludo gaiteiro)

  8.    Morning Song    (Alborada)

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

10.    Where Many Spit, Loam Turns to Muck    (Vinte unha crara noite)

11.    You Must Sing    (Has de cantar)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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 is a species whose stem 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 soprano Laura Alonso Padín and Cristina Pato at the piano.

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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
Though he be the size
Of a grain of corn.

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

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;
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 skin 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
.

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

 
 
 

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Pumpkin Red melon Honeydew melon

Source: CEIP Pedrouzos (Brión). Xunta de Galicia. Consellería de Educación e Ordenación Universitaria

 
 

2.   Conversation With a Pumpkin on All-Hallows' Eve     (Miña Santiña, miña Santasa)

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)



Background

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

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

De Castro's bittersweet poem has three interwoven themes. The first is Halloween, which in Galicia went by the name of "feast of the pumpkins" or "feast of the skulls." The protagonist, a naive peasant girl, has just finished carving a jack-o'-lantern and is debating whether to embellish it with her earrings and necklace (see for example min. 1:05-1:12 of this video). She asks the magical pumpkin, the "Dear Saint," to teach her how to stitch, become a seamstress and climb the social ladder. The second theme, spun humorously via the literary device of a talking pumpkin, is the surrounding society's dispiriting cant. The squash sneers and snorts as a neighbour might. The third theme is the girl's resilience, she grows weary of the discouraging talk and brushes the jack-o'-lantern aside.

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

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

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

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

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



Translator's Notes

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

The poem 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 "Miña Santiña, miña Santasa" which end in iña or iño are listed below together with a short explanation of the choice made where necessary. Galician affectionate diminutives offer the translator an opportunity to add alliteration, internal rhyme and lyrical sharpness to the text. The aim is to find the best adjective, adverb or noun which conveys smallness, frailty, concern or affection depending on the context.

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

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

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

Falaime solo das muiñeiras (5.3). The muiñeira is a bagpipe melody in triple rhythm similar to the melodies of the Scottish Highlanders.1 Although the reel is the premier melody of the Scottish Highlands it is usually played in duple rhythm with a time signature of 4/4 whereas the jig is played in triple rhythm with a time signature of 6/8.2 Technically therefore the muiñeira resembles a jig more than a reel. In practice the average listener will find it difficult to distinguish between them (test yourself: here are some reels, here are some jigs).

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

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

Note. A previous entry, "Ollos de meiga, cara de mora," had the highlighted typographical error. De Castro's verse in fact reads, "Ollos de meiga, cara de mona," which translates as "Witch's eyes, monkey face" (11.2). My apologies to every reader of the earlier erroneous text.


1 X. R. Barreiro Fernández, F. Díaz-Fierros, G. Fabra Barreiro, et al. Los Gallegos. Madrid: Ediciones Istmo, 1984, 2nd ed., p. 216.
2 James R. Cowdery. The Melodic Tradition of Ireland. Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 1990, pp. 17-18.



Folklore

The entire atmosphere of "Miña Santiña, miña Santasa" is the magical world of the Galician countryside. The poem mentions a respected, sometimes feared, figure of that world, the meiga (11.2): witch or sorceress. She is on occasion beautiful, desirable and benevolent, esteemed for her knowledge of herbal remedies, psychology and magical powers of healing, but she can also be ugly, fearsome and evil, respected and feared for her curses and for her ability to cast spells. A popular Galician saw cautions skeptics, "I don't believe in witches myself, but exist they do."



Witch of Good Fortune

Source: Todo Colección



The only Galician woman tried for sorcery was a wealthy widow of the seaside town Cangas do Morrazo. Her name was Maria Soliña and the year was 1621. Today her conviction is seen as a frame-up by the Spanish Inquisition and by unscrupulous local officials eager to seize her wealth and properties.

The witch has broadly speaking become a lovable myth across Galicia, and so the wistful waltz "A Bruxa" (The Witch) recorded first by Milladoiro and covered below by the Argentinian Celtic folk group Xeito Novo and by the North American An Dro.

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Milladoiro

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Xeito Novo

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An Dro

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Mary Greenleaf

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David Hansen



Presentation

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



Theatrical Staging

Since the Middle Ages, perhaps from earlier times, the Galician farmer kept the yield of his farm in an outdoor storehouse raised off the ground to keep mice at bay. The granary or hórreo stood on a granite platform supported by two parallel rows of capped stone pillars or it rested on the staddle stones; a farmer employed a ladder to go inside it. These sheds on stilts usually have a standing cross at each end of the roof ridge which gives them the air of a shrine. Pumpkins were usually left outside the granary on a shelf, on a staddle stone or hung from a wall and so the jack-o'-lantern of "Miña Santiña, miña Santasa" would in the girl's imagination bear a resemblance to the figure of a saint in a wall shrine common inside the churches and chapels of her day.

 
 
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
 
 

Back To Index

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Water mill in Goente (A Coruña)

Source: Miguel Ángel Fernández. O Pico Vello

 
 

3.   Flight to Wonderland     (Fun un domingo, fun pola tarde)

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)



Explanation

In the tome "Cantares Gallegos" De Castro often constructs a poem around a popular couplet or quatrain which is quoted in italics. In "Fun un domingo, fun pola tarde" she borrows the leading two lines of the folk song "Pousa" whose first quatrain reads,

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

I went to the mill of my child's godfather,1
I went riding the wind, I came riding the air.
It's like a thing of enchantment,
I went riding the air, I came riding the wind.


1 The modern version of "Pousa" puts "tavern" for "mill."



Translator's Notes

"Fun un domingo, fun pola tarde" 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 "Fun un domingo, fun pola tarde" which 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."



Folklore

The water mill (muíño) was a place of work and social relaxation and sometimes a venue of consented promiscuity after hours. A gathering of neighbours to grind grain was termed a muiñada. Most mills were built on a wooded river bank (example).

The muíño lent its name to the muiñeira or jig whose lyrics often abound in puns, irony, jokes, jests and jives, a reflection of the jovial atmosphere found at every water mill. For example the third stanza of the muiñeira do Santo Amaro states:

Ser solteiro é boa cousa
E ser casado tamén;
Deixarei pra cando morra
Pensar o que me convén.

Being single is a fine thing
And so is being married:
Which is the more convenient
I'll decide after I'm buried.

 
 
 

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

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

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

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

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

Non hai sitiño que máis me agrade
que aquel muíño dos castañares,
donde hai meniñas, donde hai rapaces,
que ricamente saben loitare;
donde rechinan hasta cansarse
mozos e vellos, nenos e grandes,
e anque non queren que aló me baixe,
sin que o soupera na casa naide,
fun ó muíño do meu compadre;
fun polo vento, vin polo aire
.

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

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

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

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

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

There is no charming place that pleases me more
Than that water mill in the chestnut forest
Where there are lassies, where there are boys
Who richly know how to spar,
Where grate until they tire
Young and old, children and grownups,
And although they don't want me to go down there,
Without anyone in the house being aware
I went to the mill of my child's godfather,
I went riding the wind, I came riding the air
.

 
 
 

Back To Index

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Courtship

Source: Nuria. Mis bordados a punto de cruz

 

4.   How Can I Depart If I Love You?     (¿Como me hei de ir si te quero?)

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)



Translator's Notes

"¿Como me hei de ir si te quero?" is yet another poem that uses 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.

All the words in "¿Como me hei de ir si te quero?" which end in iña or iño are listed below together with the translation. Galician affectionate diminutives offer the translator an opportunity to add alliteration, internal rhyme and lyrical sharpness to the text. The goal is to find the best adjective, adverb or noun which conveys smallness, frailty, concern or affection depending on the context.

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

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

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

 
 
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—Conmigo, meu queridiño,
mitá da noite pasaches.

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

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

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

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

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

—¡Raparigo, Dios te garde!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"God keep you, laddie!"

 
 
 

Back To Index

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A common little owl

Source: Galicia Espallada

 
 

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

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)



Background

Once thriving the little-owl population of Galicia is in constant decline due to the indifference of successive governments to the destruction of the bird's habitat, the massive replacement of native forest land with subsidized plantations of eucalyptus.

The hoots of the little owl were deemed to announce the impending death of a neighbour or relative or of the hearer himself. However farmers considered it a good omen when the bird sought shelter in a pigeon loft (source: Galicia Espallada).



Translator's Notes

"Eu ben vin estar o moucho" uses two affectionate diminutives (feminine termination iña, masculine iño). Galician affectionate diminutives provide 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 based on the context.

All the words in "Eu ben vin estar o moucho" which end in iña or iño are listed below together with several translation options.

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

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

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

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

I cross the brook swimming like a seabird (2.2.11-12). That is, splashing about (min. 0:12-0:19 of this video).



Musical Adaptation of Section I

Listen-to-this icon

Radiometro e Meigas



Recital

Listen-to-this icon

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

 
 
 

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

I

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

II

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

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

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

I

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

II

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

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

 
 
 

Back To Index

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Record cover from 1975

Source: Sempre En Galiza. Música galega. Dixitaliza e comparte

 
 

6.   Lassie of the Green Mountain     (Acolá enriba)

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)



Background

The Galician Highlands run like an eastern buffer from the Atlantic coast bordering on the Principality of Asturias south to the Portuguese frontier. The better-known mountain ranges of this chain are Os Ancares, O Courel and the Central Ourense Range. Few people dwell in this mountainous region. In De Castro's day they were despised (see her letter-poem, "Ao Sr. D. Camilo Álvarez e Castro, Chantre da Catedral de Salamanca").

 

The Galician Highlands

The Ancares Mountain Range

O Courel



Translator's Notes

"Acolá enriba" contains four affectionate diminutives (feminine termination iña, masculine iño). Usually there is no rigorous one-to-one mapping between this grammatical form and an English word, hence the affectionate diminutive brings an opportunity to add alliteration, internal rhyme and lyrical sharpness to the text while staying true to the context.

All the words in "Acolá enriba" that end in iña or iño are listed below together with a short explanation of the translation made.

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

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

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

Eu lla vestira, eu lla calzara (6.8). Probably inspired by the popular romance "La Pedigüeña" (The Exacting Lady).



Musical Adaptation

Singer-songwriter Alfredo González Vilela adapted this poem to voice and guitar below.

 
 


Presentation

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

 
 
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How comely! How pretty! How natural! How white
God made the lassie of the green mountain!
How gorgeous she looks whether she weeps or moans,
Singing—smiling—woken—slumbering!
Ah, if her father gave her to me for a present!
Ah, I'd have no more sorrows in the world!
Ah! To have her beside me for lady
I'd ply her with shoes, I'd ply her with dresses.

 
 
 

Back To Index

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vintage record cover from 1964

Source: Todo Colección

 
 

7.   Lure of the Piper     (Un repoludo gaiteiro)

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)



Translator's Notes

"Un repoludo gaiteiro" makes modest 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 "Un repoludo gaiteiro" which end in iña or iño are listed below together with a range of possible translations and a short explanation of the choice made. Galician affectionate diminutives provide the translator with an opportunity to add alliteration, internal rhyme or lyrical sharpness to the text. The aim is to find the best adjective, adverb or noun which conveys size, frailty, sympathy or endearment as dictated by the context.

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

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

Camiño da romería (4.1). A traditional romería is a festive picnic near a chapel or monastery on the holiday of its namesake (example from Brazil).

¡Canta risa nas fiadas! (6.2). A fiada was a gathering of women in the evening to make yarn in a festive atmosphere of storytelling, games and song.

Non veñan ó meu tocar (6.10). Double entendre. Tocar can mean to play a musical instrument or to touch.



Musical Adaptation

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

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Amancio Prada in an unpublished recording with the short-lived group Rumbadeira in 1994

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

 
 
 

Un repoludo gaiteiro
de pano sedán vestido,
como un príncipe cumprido,
cariñoso e falangueiro,
antre os mozos o pirmeiro
e nas siudades sin par,
tiña costume en cantar
aló pola mañanciña:
Con esta miña gaitiña
ás nenas hei de engañar
.

Sempre pola vila entraba
con aquel de señorío,
sempre con poxante brío
co tambor se acompasaba;
e si na gaita sopraba,
era tan doce soprar,
que ben fixera en cantar
aló pola mañanciña:
Con esta miña gaitiña
ás nenas hei de engañar
.

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

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

Elas louquiñas bailaban
e por xunta del corrían,
cegas..., cegas, que non vían
as espiñas que as cercaban;
probes palomas, buscaban
a luz que as iba queimar,
pois que el soupera cantar
aló pola mañanciña:
Ó son da miña gaitiña
ás nenas hei de engañar
.

¡Nas festas, canto contento!
¡Canta risa nas fiadas!
Todas, todas, namoradas,
déranlle o seu pensamento;
i el que de amores sedento
quixo a todas engañar,
cando as veu dimpois chorar
cantaba nas mañanciñas:
Non sean elas toliñas,
non veñan ó meu tocar
.

A pudgy bagpiper
Dressed in cloth of Sedan,
Well-mannered like a prince,
Affectionate, talkative and courteous,
First among the young men
And without peer in the cities,
Had a habit of singing
By the wee hours of the morning:
With this dear bagpipe of mine
I will surely dupe the lassies
.

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

All the girls yearned for him,
All the girls died for him,
If he was close by they smiled,
If he was far away they cried.
Base sin! They didn't realize
That with that flirty fettle of his
He had a habit of singing
By the wee hours of the morning:
With this dear bagpipe of mine
I will surely dupe the lassies
.

On the way to the romería,
Underneath a fig tree,
How many a single girl
Would tell him again, "I want you"!
And he replied with the bagpipe
To trick them all
Since he had done right in singing
By the wee hours of the morning:
With this dear bagpipe of mine
I will surely dupe the lassies
.

The poor raving girls danced
And raced to him blinded,
Blind lasses who didn't see
The thorns that compassed them,
Poor doves who went seeking
The light that would scorch them
Since he had sung knowingly
By the wee hours of the morning:
To the sound of my dear bagpipe
I will surely dupe the lassies
.

How much joy at the festivities!
How much laughter at the spindle parties!
All the girls, love-struck every one,
Had given him their thought
And he who thirsty for love
Had wished to hoodwink them all
When he later saw them weeping
Sang in the wee hours of the morning:
Let them not be adorably daffy,
Let them not come to my playing
.

 
 
 

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Woman at Dawn by Caspar David Friedrich

Source: Caspar David Friedrich

 
 

8.   Morning Song     (Alborada)

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)



Translator's Notes

All the preceding poems have made extensive use of the affectionate diminutive form peculiar to the Galician language—singular termination iña (feminine) or iño (masculine)—and "Alborada" is no exception. Preceding poems have already shown that some words which end in iña or iño are not affectionate diminutives.

All the words in "Alborada" that end in iña or iño are listed below together with a range of possible translations and a short explanation of the term chosen. Galician affectionate diminutives let the translator add alliteration, internal rhyme and lyrical sharpness to the text. The goal of the exercise is to select the best adjective, adverb or noun which expresses affection, concern, frailty or smallness depending on the context. This selection becomes a personal choice when there is more than one translation available as it often occurs. Occasionally it is even advisable to ignore an affectionate diminutive because the context is unclear, because the extra term crimps the fluidity of the translated poem or makes the text unadvisedly cloy. The exercise can be tedious, challenging and time-consuming, but to sideline the affectionate diminutive altogether in the translation of "Cantares Gallegos" is to deprive the English reader of an approximation to what De Castro dubbed "those tender words and those idioms never forgotten which sounded so sweet to my ears since the cradle and which were gathered up by my heart as its own heritage."

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Atruxaremos, cantaremos o alalá! (last line). "Atruxar" is a blend of a yodel and a prolonged yell. Examples: Minutes 0:28-0:31 (somewhat muted) and 2:22-2:27 of this recording. An alalá is a traditional Galician song of remote origin; some researchers trace it back to the Gregorian chant.1 Alalá das Mariñas is an example.


1 Alalá. Galician Wikipedia.



Musical Adaptation

De Castro molded the meter of "Alborada" on this morning song of Ourense which a neighbourhood piper used to play. The resultant lyrics and tune became known as the "Alborada de Rosalía de Castro" (Morning Song of Rosalía de Castro).

As part of the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Cantares Gallegos Daniel Bellón plays the "Alborada de Rosalía de Castro" on the bagpipe (first entry).

As part of the same commemoration Lucía Pérez and Rosa Cedrón gave a youthful interpretation of the "Alborada de Rosalía de Castro" on Radio Televisión Galicia (second entry).

In 2008 Abe Rábade arranged a jazz vocal together with Guadí Galego and Anxo Angueira (third entry).

In 2009 singer Fernanda Takai of the Brazilian alternative rock band Pato Fú together with Galician bagpiper Carlos Núñez fused the morning song with hip-hop (fourth entry).

Mary C. Otero Rolle wrote her own musical adaptation of the poem (sixth entry).

The Peque Coro Do Xan Viaño sings two stanzas (1.3, 2.2.1-4) with a distinct melody (seventh entry).

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Daniel Bellón (February 24, 2013)

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Lucía Pérez and Rosa Cedrón (February 22, 2013)

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Guadí Galego, Anxo Angueira and Abe Rábade from the 2008 album Rosalía 21 (jazz)

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Fernanda Takai, Pato Fú and Carlos Núñez from the 2009 album Alborada do Brasil (fusion)

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Moncho do Orzán and Ricardo Morente (accordion and violin)

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Mary C. Otero Rolle

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Peque Coro Do Xan Viaño



Alborada para Rosalía de Castro (De Castro's birthday, 2013)

On February 24, 2013, the Rosalía de Castro Foundation, the Royal Galician Academy, the University of Vigo and the Galician Bagpipers Association invited pipers to play the "Alborada de Rosalía de Castro" in unison across Galicia to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Cantares Gallegos. A short sample of localities and performances of the morning song is given below.

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A Coruña, at the site of Sir John Moore's cenotaph

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Allariz (Ourense)

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Ordes (A Coruña)

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Pico Sacro, at an altitude of 530 meters (Lestedo-Boqueixón, A Coruña)

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

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Villafranca del Bierzo (León)



Partial Recital

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Esperanza Calvo

 
 
 

I

¡Vaite noite, vai fuxindo!
¡Vente aurora, vente abrindo
co teu rostro que sorrindo
á sombra espanta!

¡Canta, paxariño, canta
De ponliña en ponla que o sol se levanta
polo monte verde, polo verde monte,
alegrando as herbas, alegrando as fontes!

Canta, paxariño alegre, canta.
Canta por que o millo medre, canta;
Canta porque a luz te escoite,
Canta, canta que fuxeu a noite.

II

Noite escura logo ven moito dura
co seu manto de tristura,
con meigallos e temores,
agoreira de dolores,
agarimo de pesares,
cubridora en todo mal,
¡Sal!

Que a auroriña o ceu colora
cuns arbores que namora,
cun sembrante de ouro e prata
teñidiño de escalrata,
cuns vestidos de diamante
que lle borda o sol amante
antre as ondas de cristal.

¡Sal! Señora en todo mal,
que o sol xa brila nas cunchiñas do areal,
que a luz do día viste a terra de alegría,
que o sol derrete con amor a escarcha fría.

Branca aurora, ven chegando
i ás portiñas vai chamando
dos que dormen esperando
ao teu folgor.

Cor de alba hermosa
lles estendes nos vidriños cariñosa,
donde o sol tamén suspende,
cando aló no mar se tende,
de fogax larada viva,
dempois leve, fuxitiva,
triste, vago resprandor.

III

Cantor dos aires, paxariño alegre,
canta, canta porque o millo medre.
Cantor da aurora, alegre namorado,
ás meniñas dille que xa sal o sol dourado;
que o gaiteiro, ben lavado,
ben vestido, ben peitado,
da gaitiña acompañado
A porta está... ¡xa!

Se espricando que te esprica,
repinica, repinica
na alborada ben amada
das meniñas cantadeiras,
bailadoras, rebuldeiras;
das velliñas alegriñas,
das que saben ben ruar.

¡Arriba todas, rapaciñas do lugar,
que o sol i a aurora xa vos vén a dispertar!
¡Arriba, arriba, toleirona mocidad,
que atruxaremos, cantaremos o alalá!

I

Depart, night, start fleeing!
Come, dawn, start breaking
With your face that smiling
Scares away the shadow!

Sing, little bird, sing
From twig to branch for the sun rises
Over the green hill, over the hill green,
Gladdening the grass, gladdening the springs!

Sing, merry little bird, sing.
Sing so the wheat will grow, sing;
Sing so the light will listen;
Sing, sing for the night has fled.

II

The dark night on the switch comes severe
With her mantle of sadness,
With magic spells and fears,
Harbinger of heartaches,
Haven of regrets,
Cloak to every evil,
Leave!

For the darling dawn enamours
Colouring the sky with auroral colours
With a semblance of gold and silver
Daintily dyed scarlet,
With some diamond gowns
Her lover sun embroiders
Amid the glassy billows.

Leave, mistress in every evil!
For the sun already shines on the seashells in the sand,
For daylight dresses the earth with mirth,
For the sun melts the frigid frost with love.

White aurora, start arriving
And go knocking at the friendly doors
Of those who slumber waiting for
Your splendour.

Dawn's gorgeous colour
You spread fond over the window panes
Whereon the sun also dangles
When it lies on the sea yonder
A bonfire's vivid blaze
Followed by feeble, fugitive,
Sad, vague glow.

III

Minstrel of the air, jolly little bird,
Sing, sing so the wheat will grow.
Minstrel of the sunrise, jolly suitor,
Tell the girls that the golden sun is out—
That the piper, well washed,
Well dressed, well combed,
Of his trusty bagpipe accompanied
Is at the door...now!

Explaining and explaining himself,
Chime, chime
In the sunrise so well loved
By girls with a song on their lip,
By spright girls with dancing feet,
By the cheery, charming dear grannies
Who amble about the town.

Rise, all the lassies of the place,
For sun and dawn are presently come to awaken you!
Rise, rise, wild youth,
We'll yell-yodel, we'll sing the alalá!

 
 
 

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Vintage photograph

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

 
 

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

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)



Background

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

The rocky slab known as the hull wobbled and huffed when according to legend a person in state of grace stood on it, declining to do so for a mortal sinner. The rock was struck by lightning a few years ago and no longer wobbles.1 Nearby lies the slightly arched rock known as the sail which is said to heal the kidneys of anyone who crawls across underneath it.2 The visual evidence is not overwhelming and others interpret the nature of the various boulders differently.3

Muxía and five of the villages mentioned in the poem, Muros and Noia, Camariñas, Cée (modern spelling) and Laxe lie on a stretch of coast of the province of A Coruña known as the "Coast of Death" for its dangerous waters and high incidence of shipwrecks; among them 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). The remaining villages, Rianxo, Redondela and Ponteareas are situated south of the Coast of Death; the last two belong to the province of Pontevedra.


1 Lightning is also blamed for the fire that gutted the sanctuary on Christmas Day, 2013.
2 franlend. Leyenda de la Virgen de la Barca (Muxía). La Casa de Asterión.
3 Bill the Beaver. See Ya in Muxía. Bill Beaver's Best Laid Plans.

 


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


Our Lady of the Barge and Federico García Lorca

Federico García Lorca sang to Our Lady of the Barge in his "Romaxe de Nosa Señora da Barca," one of the six Galician poems 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 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 in grave clothes!

Already 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!

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Amancio Prada and Cantigas E Agarimos

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Marful before Daniel Castelao's tomb at 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 big round frame drum (description and history here). A song sung to the beat of a pandeira is called a pandeirada (e.g. pandeirada de Tella).

Con rosquilliñas de almendra (2.1.14)...



Almond-cookie rings1

Traditional almond cookie

Source: Rosquillas de almendra. Robot de cocina: Thermomix

Ingredients

700 g of fine white flour
270 g of crushed almonds
180 g of sugar
100 ml of anisette
90 ml of cooking oil
16 g of baking soda
4 eggs
Grated rind of 1 lemon

Preparation using a Thermomix food processor

Blend the 4 eggs at speed 4 for 5 seconds.

Add the sugar and blend at speed 4 for 5 seconds again.

Add the anisette and the cooking oil. Blend at speed 4 for 10 seconds.

Add the flour, almonds, grated lemon rind and baking soda. Blend at speed 6 for 15 seconds.

Switch to dough mode and work the batch for about 1 minute.

Scoop the dough out of the mixing bowl and let settle on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for an hour.

Break up the dough into long strips with your fingers, mold each strip into a ring and fry in very hot oil to your choice of browning.

Remove each ring and optionally dust with granulated sugar.


1 Rosquillas de almendra. Robot de cocina: Thermomix.



Folklore

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).

Coral De Ruada sings a traditional song whose second cycle copies the second stanza of Lorca's poem (second entry).

Luar Na Lubre gives a rendition which incorporates the refrain of this poem (third entry).

Portuguese troubadour Augusto Madrugada sings the Galician-Portuguese medieval romance "Our Lady of the Barge" on the fourth.

Ana Kiro (b. 1942, d. 2010) sings Romería en Muxía (Festive Pilgrimage in Muxía) last.

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O Fiadeiro (to min 2:00)

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Coral De Ruada (Note: singing starts on min. 2:40)

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Luar Na Lubre from the 2007 album Camiños da Fin da Terra

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Augusto Madrugada from the 2008 CD Na memória que se alonga

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Ana Kiro from the 2013 album Grandes Exitos, Vol. 1



Partial Recital

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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
.

I

¡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 trenza