Translation of the poem "¡Volved!" by Rosalía de Castro

Translator: Eduardo Freire Canosa

I grant the translations herein to the public domain

Galician migration

Return!     (¡Volved!)

(En Las Orillas Del Sar, 1884)

It is my hope and wish that this translation from Castilian to English of the poem "¡Volved!" will please those who expressed a desire to see it done. Although it was not my original intention to translate any of De Castro's Castilian poems, for it has been done with notable success already, I at length relented with the thought that this short webpage could serve as a second supplement to the "Historical Background" section that illustrates Rosalía de Castro's well-known poem, Adiós ríos, adios fontes. Emigration is a central topic in Galician poetry of the nineteenth century; unfortunately the massive exodus which saddened De Castro in her day resumed in earnest in the middle of the following century.

Translator's Notes

The odd insertion of two dotted lines between 2.26 and 2.27 suggests some type of censorship.

A synonym was used to translate the second instance of the following words,

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Of transparent lymph (2.3). According to the Royal Spanish Academy "lymph" is in Spanish poetry a substitute term for water. "Linfa.", def. 4, retrieved 26 October 2013.

And on every old bulwark...And played restlessly (2.5-2.7). During the Middle Ages many villages and hamlets were built near a watchtower or a castle. When these strongholds fell into disrepair they became the unintended playground of children. An example of such medieval fortresses can be seen in Moeche and Narahío, Vimianzo and Brión in the province of A Coruña.

Dios mío (2.26). Literally, "my God," an expression that connotes surprise in English. It is better translated, "dear Lord," which connotes fatigue.


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Maite Lorenzo


Bien sabe Dios que siempre me arrancan tristes lágrimas
aquellos que nos dejan,
pero aún más me lastiman y me llenan de luto
los que a volver se niegan.
¡Partid, y Dios os guíe!..., pobres desheredados,
para quienes no hay sitio en la hostigada tierra;
partid llenos de aliento en pos de otro horizonte,
pero... volved más tarde al viejo hogar que os llama.

Jamás del extranjero el pobre cuerpo inerte,
como en la propia tierra en la ajena descansa.


Volved, que os aseguro
que al pie de cada arroyo y cada fuente
de linfa trasparente
donde se reflejó vuestro semblante,
y en cada viejo muro
que os prestó sombra cuando niños erais
y jugabais inquietos,
y que escuchó más tarde los secretos
del que ya adolescente
o mozo enamorado,
en el soto, en el monte y en el prado,
dondequiera que un día
os guió el pie ligero...,
yo os lo digo y os juro
que hay genios misteriosos
que os llaman tan sentidos y amorosos
y con tan hondo y dolorido acento,
que hacen más triste el suspirar del viento
cuando en las noches del invierno duro
de vuestro hogar, que entristeció el ausente,
discurren por los ámbitos medrosos,
y en las eras sollozan silenciosos,
y van del monte al río
llenos de luto y siempre murmurando:
«¡Partieron...! ¿Hasta cuándo?
¡Qué soledad! ¿No volverán, Dios mío?»
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Tornó la golondrina al viejo nido,
y al ver los muros y el hogar desierto,
preguntóle a la brisa: —¿Es que se han muerto?
Y ella en silencio respondió: —¡Se han ido
como el barco perdido
que para siempre ha abandonado el puerto!


Well doth God know that those who leave us
Move me invariably to tears of sorrow,
Yet they who refuse to return
Afflict me even more and fill me with mourning.
Depart and may God guide you, poor destitute ones
For whom there is no room in the bedeviled homeland!
Depart full of courage seeking after another horizon
But return afterward to the old home that calls you.

The unfortunate, lifeless body of the foreigner
Never rests abroad as well as on its own sod.


Return, for I assure you
That by every brook and by every fountain
Of transparent lymph
Where your face was once reflected—
And on every old bulwark
Which lent you shade when you were children
And played restlessly
And which overheard later the secrets
Of the one turned adolescent
Or young boy in love—
In the thicket—on the hill—and in the meadow—
Wherever the swift foot
One day led you—
I say it to you and I swear to you
That there exist mysterious fairies
Who call to you with so much feeling and love
And with such profound and painful accent
That they make the sighing of the wind sadder
When on the nights of the hard winter
They roam fainthearted the locale of your home
Which the departure made doleful
And in the fields they whimper quietly
And they remove from hill to river
Deep in mourning and always murmuring,
"They left...! Until when? Such solitude!
Will they not come back, dear Lord?"
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The swallow returned to the old nest
And upon seeing the ramparts and the home deserted
Questioned the breeze, "Are they perchance dead?"
And she replied in silence, "They are gone
Like the lost vessel
That has forever left port!"

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