Translation from Galician to English of more poems from Cantares Gallegos

Translator: Eduardo Freire Canosa
(University of Toronto Alumnus)

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


The purpose of this set of translations from Galician to English of poems by Rosalía de Castro is to finish tackling all thirty-eight poems of Cantares Gallegos, published in 1863. My webpage, "Translation from Galician to English of 11 poems by Rosalía de Castro," translated eleven. The webpage, "Archived translations from Galician to English of poems by Rosalía de Castro," translated eight more. Overall both translated nineteen poems. Nineteen others were not translated, and these are my objective here.

More Poems from Cantares Gallegos

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

  1.    Flow Past, River; Flow Past, River    (Pasa, río, pasa, río)

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

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

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

  5.    Castilian Woman of Castile    (Castellana de Castilla)

  6.    Darling of My Eyes    (Queridiña dos meus ollos)

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

  8.    Lass, You the Most Beautiful    (Meniña, ti a máis hermosa)

  9.    What's With the Boy?    (¿Que ten o mozo?)

10.    Castilians of Castile    (Castellanos de Castilla)

11.    The Galician Bagpipe    (A gaita gallega)

12.    Come, Girl    (Vente, rapasa)

13.    When the Solitary Moon Appears    (Cando a luniña aparece)

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

The river Sar

Source: Guías Masmar

1.   Flow Past, River; Flow Past, River     (Pasa, río, pasa, río)

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)


"Pasa, río, pasa, río" verses on the drama of separation when men emigrated leaving their wife behind to take care of the family alone.

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

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

The poems of "Cantares Gallegos" abound in the use of the affectionate diminutive peculiar to the Galician language. "Pasa, río, pasa, río" employs six. The affectionate diminutive of a word ending in "a" is iña (feminine case) and the affectionate diminutive of a word ending in "o" is iño (masculine case). The plural variance is iñas and iños. Affectionate diminutives make the exercise of translating harder and something of artwork, but to ignore them altogether is to miss the full emotivity of the poem. On the plus side Galician affectionate diminutives afford the translator an opportunity to add alliteration, internal rhyme or lyrical sharpness to the text as part of the exercise of finding the best modifier which conveys size, frailty, sympathy or endearment depending on the context.

All the words in "Pasa, río, pasa, río" whose singular form ends in iña or iño are listed below together with a range of possible translations and a short explanation of the choice made where useful. Please note that not every word that ends in iña or iño is an affectionate diminutive.

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

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

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

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

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


Listen-to-this icon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back To Index

Photographer: Carlos Valcárcel

Source: Homenaje a Galicia y al Inmigrante

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

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)


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

Typographical Error in the Original

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

Translator's Notes

"Ora, meu meniño, ora" 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. The affectionate diminutive ends in iña (singular feminine) or iño (singular masculine) but not every word that ends in iña or iño is an affectionate diminutive.

All the words in "Ora, meu meniño, ora" 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

And seemingly the Company danced in the woods (11.3-4)

Meiga Chuchona

Source: La Santa Compaña: La leyenda gallega más extendida

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

The hostile bloodsucking witches (11.5)

Meiga Chuchona

Source: Fátima Grandal Rodríguez

The hostile bloodsucking witches (11.5). In Galician folklore witches that enter a house at night to suck the blood of a sleeping child. This short film relates the legend of this witch. It is interesting to note that the tale has two meigas, one good, one bad. The good one (a "wise woman" who dwells on the far side of the woods) saves the last surviving child with her advice (min. 3:47-4:40).

Corredoira (24.2)

Galician Countryside Lane

Source: TeresalaLoba photostream. flickr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He sleeps no longer on a poor crib,
For small angels with their wings
Had made another cradle for him—
And with their light the stars.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back To Index

Photographer: Carlos Valcárcel

Source: Homenaje a Galicia y al Inmigrante

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

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)

Translator's Notes

"Non che digo nada" makes extensive use of the affectionate diminutive form peculiar to the Galician language. The affectionate diminutive ends in iña (singular feminine) or iño (singular masculine) but not every word that ends in iña or iño is an affectionate diminutive.

All the words in "Non che digo nada" 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."

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

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

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

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

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

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


Antroidada (2.8.2). Derived from Antroido, the Galician carnival. Peliqueiros and The Generals are two types of Antroido.

Musical Adaptation

Listen-to-this icon

Carol Sospedra and Juan Ramos


The translation tags the two talkers to let the English reader comprehend the poem at once. The first speaker, labelled "Senior," is Farruco or Frank (2.3.1). The second speaker, labelled "Junior," must be a young woman as attested by the speaker's use of the affectionate diminutive, "meu velliño" (2.6.1, 2.11.1).

Non che digo nada...
!Pero vaia!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I say nothing,
But really!


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

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

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

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

"When watch I watch you
So spotless and so groomed
Spar with the young lads
Till they have their fill of you
And you swear next
That you are an unsullied woman
And that there is no comparison
Between you and most,
I say nothing,
But really!

"And you, pretty and blonde,
Modest and prim,
Who talks so faintly,
Who walks so daintily,
Who looks at a man's feet
To avoid seeing his face
And who acts dumb
When they apeak to you about love,
I say nothing,
But really!

"You go to mass with the devout
In the early morning hours,
Then... (you alone know why)
You forsake their company
And whether in the lane
Beside the green grapevine
You linger or not
With I-know-not-what riff-raff,
I say nothing,
But really!

"And you winsome lad
Of such honeyed words,
Smart mountaineer cap,
Rich gaiters,
Choice shoes
And fine hands of a squire,
When you tell me that you like
To work in the mire
I say nothing,
But really!

"You may speak sweet things
Well spoken about love,
You may spar with the girls
Like no other,
You may drink grape juice
Till you wind up dumb,
But with your sweat moisten
The thankless earth...
I say nothing,
But really!

"Withal I see so many things
That seem a snare to me:
So much sun among clouds
And such churning waters
That endeavour to resemble
A dear clear fountain—
Then to waste no time
He rips what he doesn't take off,
I say nothing,
But really!


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

"And I sought to learn
Something of it, sorry me,
And no one was going to beat me
In net experience
For I have a wrinkled forehead
And white whiskers
When some laddies today
From the time they suck,
I say nothing,
But really!

Junior: "It no longer helps,
Frank, to dwell on
The thoughtful years
Or the bald experience
Or to go about as reason bids
With alert eye,
For where you least expect it
So big a hare pops up
That I say nothing,
But really!

"In a dark night they tell you
That the night is bright,
On a calm sea they tell you
That a gale is blowing,
And they baffle and cow you so
That although
You would like to say
What God commands,
I say nothing,
But really!

"If you be French, my elder,
Or hail from faraway Australia,
If you landed there from the sun
Or from the pale stars
Perhaps they asked you
With solemn gravity
And you, dumbfounded,
Tight-lipped, muttered:
I say nothing,
But really!

"Therefore, my dear old man,
If you don't try to study
The science of these times
Which is as clear as water
Although it also bears comparison
To a pigeon loft—
Science rests on this
And on owning different faces—
I say nothing,
But really!

"Without understanding a jot,
You'll see how well
Honourable and dishonest,
Sluts and devout make out,
You'll see how they mingle,
How they get along
While you mumble,
I say nothing,
But really!

"You'll see cherry-coloured
One who was formerly emerald
And they so blue
That blue blood flowed out
Issue red blood
According to the modern custom,
And this with such levity
And impudence such
That I say nothing,
But really!

"What mixtures you'll see,
What rich country dances,
What pipes with psaltery,
What fifes with harps,
What red shawls
With white mantilla veils
Garble and garble
In confusion so varied
That I say nothing,
But really!

"You'll presume that all this
Is a carnival, that here
A frock-coat is unwarranted
And a jacket wanted,
That there they consune hares
Instead of pumpkins
And flutes play
Where bells ought to ring out...
However I say nothing,
But really!

"Learn, my dear old man,
The well-beloved science
That wisely informs
So lavish a mishmash
If you wish to comprehend
Such odd matters—for amid
So many novelties
The stale parochial customs...
I say nothing,
But really!

Back To Index


Source: Nuria. Mis bordados a punto de cruz

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

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)

Translator's Notes

"Mais ó que ben quixo un día" has only one affectionate diminutive.

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Now with great repose I sleep by the side of the fountains (3.2.1-2). A typical "fountain" of the Galician countryside consisted of a pipe incrusted in rock to serve as a spout for human consumption and a sink underneath to serve as a watering hole for the cattle (illustration).

Musical Adaptation

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Amancio Prada


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Amelia Ónega

Mais ó que ben quixo un día,
si a querer ten afición,
sempre lle queda unha mágoa
dentro do seu corazón.


Aló nas tardes serenas,
aló nas tardes caladas,
fanse máis duras as penas
que nas brandas alboradas.

Aló nas tardes sombrisas,
aló nas tardes escuras,
fanse máis cortas as risas,
máis negras as desventuras.

Que non hai sera tranquila
para quen remorsos garda,
e máis presto se aniquila
canto máis á noite agarda.


Eu ben sei destos secretos
que se esconden nas entrañas,
que rebolen sempre inquietos
baixo mil formas estrañas.

Eu ben sei destes tormentos
que consomen e devoran,
dos que fan xemer os ventos,
dos que morden cando choran.

I anque ora sorrindo canto,
anque ora canto con brío,
tanto chorei, chorei tanto
como as auguiñas dun río.

Tiven en pasados días,
fondas penas e pesares,
e chorei bágoas tan frías
como as auguiñas dos mares.

Tiven tan fondos amores
e tan fondas amarguras,
que era fonte de dolores
nacida entre penas duras.


Ora río, ora contento
vou polas eiras cantando,
vendo de onda ven o vento
cando vou levar o gando.

Ora con grande sosiego
durmo na beira das fontes,
durmo na beira dos regos,
durmo na punta dos montes.

Mais ó que ben quixo un día,
si a querer ten afición,
sempre lle queda unha mágoa
dentro do seu corazón.

Yet he who one day loved true,
If to love he is wonted,
Always has a heartbreak
Stranded in his heart.


Lo, on serene evenings,
Lo, on hushed evenings,
Grief is harder to bear
Than in the gentle dawns.

Lo, on sombre evenings,
Lo, on gloomy evenings,
Laughs are made short,
Misfortunes blacker.

For there is no restful evening
For the remorseful one,
The more he hopes for the night
The faster he founders.


I am well acquainted with these
Secrets that lurk within,
That bustle ever restless
Under a thousand strange forms.

I well know these torments
That wear down and devour,
That make the winds whimper,
That bite when they weep.

And though I now sing smiling,
Though I now sing with zest,
I wept, I wept as much
As the flowing waters of a river.

In days past I had
Deep regrets and sorrows
And I cried tears as cold
As the cold waters of the sea.

I had such profound loves
And such profound woes
That I was a fountainhead of pain
Born among hard rocks.


Now I laugh, now I go glad
Through the fields singing,
Returning from where
I drive the cattle upwind to.

Now with great repose
I sleep beside the fountains,
I sleep beside the rills,
I slumber on top of the mountains.

Yet he who one day loved true,
If to love he is wonted,
Always has a heartbreak
Stranded in his heart.

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Isabella queen of Castile

Source: Wikipedia

5.   Castilian Woman of Castile     (Castellana de Castilla)

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)

Translator's Notes

"Castellana de Castilla" uses three affectionate diminutives (feminine termination iña, masculine iño). On the plus side, 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 "Castellana de Castilla" which end in iña or iño are listed below together with several translation options.

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

bascas (2.4). The translation of this word is uncertain. According to the online Diccionario de diccionarios made available by the University of Vigo, the Galician term "bascas" may mean "the nausea linked to a vomit" or "the name of a primitive boat used by sardine fishermen." Additionally De Castro's handwriting is hard to read and it may be that the printers mistook "barcas" for "bascas."

Cantando o doce ala lala (7.2). An alalá is a traditional song. Alalá de Muxía is one example.

Than skin of orange (9.4). A reference to the tiger.

Portos (9.7). Hamlet in the province of Lugo.

Ribeiro de Avia (9.8). County in the province of Ourense. These alalá plus jig originated there.


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Carmen Álvarez Carreira

Castellana de Castilla,
tan bonita e tan fidalga,
mais a quen para ser fera
ca procedensia lle abasta.

Desíme, miña señora,
xa que os mostrás tan ingrata,
si o meu rendimento homilde
bascas de enoxo vos causa,
pois cando onda vós me achego
cuspís con ardentes ansias,
i ese mirar de pombiña
volvés en fosca mirada,
tornando en sombrisa noite
o día que en sol se baña.

En vano intento, señora,
saber por que me maltrata
dama dun alma tan nobre,
aunque soberba por fama,
pois n'é motivo a desprezo
sintirse tan ben amada,
que as mesmas pedras, señora,
dun bon querer se folgaran.

Din que na nobre Castilla
así ós gallegos se trata,
mais debe saber Castilla
que de tan grande se alaba,
que sempre a soberbia torpe
foi filla de almas bastardas;
e sendo vós tan sabida,
nunca de vó-lo pensara,
que de tan alto baixando
vos emporcases na lama;
nin que chamándovos nobre,
tanta nobreza enfouzaras
imitando ós que vaidosos
no que está débil se ensañan.

Pero máis val que enmudeza,
pois tes condición de ingrata;
que predicar en deserto
na miña terra n'é usanza.

Si fun curpabre en quereros
coma ningún vos amara,
por ser de terra gallega
e serdes vós castellana,
en paz, señora, vos deixo
ca vosa soberba gracia,
e voume á Galicia hermosa
donde en xuntanza me agardan
o que non tendes, señora,
i o que en Castilla n'achara:
campiños de lindas rosas,
fontiñas de frescas auguas,
sombra na beira dos ríos,
sol nas alegres montañas,
caras que nacen sorrindo
e que sorrindo vos aman,
e que inda mesmo morrendo
en sonrisiñas se bañan.

Alí, señora, contento
cantando o doce ala lala,
baixo a figueira frondosa,
en baixo da verde parra,
c'aquelas frescas meniñas
que mel dos seus labios manan,
cando en falar amoroso
meigo nos din en voz maina
con tódalas de Castilla,
nobrísimas castellanas,
olvidareivos sin pena,
anque sos vós tan fidalga.

Que aló saben ser altivas,
pero non saben ser vanas,
i é fácil con doces tomas
olvidar tomas amargas.

Déchesmas vós, mi señora,
con desprezo envenenadas,
inda con fero máis fero
que pelica de laranxa;
mais teño por que me pase
aquel sarrapio que escalda,
teño unha dama nos Portos,
outra no Ribeiro de Avia;
si a dos Portos é bonita
a do Ribeiro lle gana

Castilian woman of Castile
So pretty and so genteel
But whose provenance suffices
To let her be a wild beast.

Tell me, my lady,
Since you act so ungrateful,
Whether my humble homage
Causes you bargeloads of irritation
For when I draw near
You spit with ardent fury
And that gaze of gentle dove
You switch to a glare,
Turning to sombre night
The sun-bathed day.

Madame, I endeavour in vain
To ascertain why mistreats me
Lady of such noble soul
Though famously haughty,
For there are no grounds for spite
In feeling yourself cherished dearly;
Even the very stones, Madame,
Would relish a true love.

They say that Galicians are treated
Likewise in noble Castile.
Withal Castile which boasts so much
Of her greatness must know
That obtuse pride always was
The daughter of bastard souls,
And you being so learned,
Never would I have thought it of you:
That descending from so high
You should wallow in the mud
Nor that, calling youself noble,
You should smear so much nobility
Imitating those who conceited pounce
Upon the weak one with cruelty.

But it behooves me to stay my tongue
For you bear stamp of ungrateful
And it is no practice of my land
To preach in the desert.

If for cherishing you like no other
Would love you I trespassed because
I hail from Galician territory
And you are Castilian,
In peace, Madame, I leave you
With your proud grace
And I remove to splendid Galicia
Where for me altogether wait
What you lack, Madame, and what
I'd never discover in Castile:
Fair fields of pretty roses,
Dear fountains of cool water,
Shade on the river banks,
Sun on the gleeful mountains,
Faces that are born smiling
And that smiling love you
And that even upon their very dying
Suffuse over with serene smiles.

Over there, Madame, contented
Singing the sweet alalá
Underneath a leafy fig tree
Or beneath the verdant vine
With those fresh lasses
Who ooze honey from their lips
When with soft voice in amorous chat
They say to us, "wizard,"
I shall forget you without sorrow
(Though you be so genteel)
Along with all the women of Castile,
Castilian women most noble.

For over there they can act proud
But forgo being vainglorious—
And taking sweet sips it is easy
To forget sour ones.

You gave them to me, my lady,
Poisoned with contempt,
Even with fury more ferocious
Than skin of orange,
But I have what will remedy
That acid taste that smarts:
I have a lady in Portos,
Another one in Ribeiro de Avia;
If the one from Portos is pretty
The one from Ribeiro outshines her

Back To Index

Military Uniform

Source: Spanish Wikipedia

6.   Darling of My Eyes     (Queridiña dos meus ollos)

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)


Quintos (3.4). At this time Spain had compulsory military service of up to six years for all men aged 20 to 22. Recruitment combined voluntary enrolment with a lottery draft called quinta. The yearly quinta enrolled a fifth of the male Spanish population earmarked for military service. Every town hall ran its own lottery supervised by the parish priest and a notary public to guarantee a fair draw. The new recruits drawn by lottery were nicknamed, quintos.

Cartillas de Cristus (18.2). Religious tracts, pamphlets or booklets that simultaneously taught the alphabet to illiterates.

Translator's Notes

"Queridiña dos meus ollos" contains thirteen 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 "Queridiña dos meus ollos" 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

Xinzo (1.4). Xinzo de Limia.

Xacinto (1.8). Hyacinth.

San Martiño (2.10). St. Martin of Tours. Feast day is November 11.

San Benito (5.8). St. Benedict. Feast day is July 11.

Camilo (20.2). Camille.

Queridiña dos meus ollos,
saberás como estou vivo
nesta vila donde adoito
dende que chegín de Xinzo.

Saberás como a Dios gracias
i ó escapulario bendito
non afogamos no mare
como coidaba Xacinto
que é tan valente, abofellas,
como os alentos dun pito.

Saberás como dempois
me puñeron moi vestido
con roupa azul e amarela,
cal andan tódolos quintos,
e logo todos xuntados,
inda máis de vintecinco,
nos paseamos polas calles,
que era mesmo un adimiro
de tan majos como ibamos,
e tan brancos e tan limpos.

¡Si me viras, queridiña,
cal outras que eu sei me viron!
Cada ollada me botaban
xa de través, xa de fito...

I eran meniñas graciosas
con moita salsa no pico,
mais ningunha deste peito
poido arrincarme un sospiro,
que o teu retrato alí estaba
rabuñando paseniño,
que anque de onda ti partín,
prendiña que tanto estimo,
non vin soio, miña xoia,
que ti viñeche conmigo.

¡Si souperas canto peno,
si souperas cal me afrixo
cando me acordo nas noites
daqueles teus cantariños!...

Ora en ti penso disperto,
ora en ti penso durmindo,
e sempre en ti estou pensando
coma si foses feitizo.

Seique meigallo me deche
na festa do San Martiño,
amasado cos teus dedos
nunha bola de pan trigo.

Mais non o sinto por eso,
que anque me deras martirio
por vir de ti, queridiña,
como un año recibírao.

Nada me distrai, Rosiña,
da pena que por ti sinto.
De día como de noite
este meu corazonciño
contigo decote fala,
porque eu falar ben o sinto,
un falar tan amoroso
que me estremezo de oílo.

¡Ai!, que estrañeza me causa
e soidás e martirio,
pois así cal el che fala,
quixera falar contigo,
cal outros tempos dichosos
dos nosos amores finos.

¡Cantas veces nos xuramos,
cando lavabas no río
o pé dun alto salgueiro,
antre risas e sospiros,
xa nunca máis separarnos,
xa nunca máis desunirnos!

Mais aqueles xuramentos,
tal como rosas de espiño,
lixeiriños se espallaron
a un sopro dos ventos fríos.

Ora co mar de por medio
¡adios, amantes cariños!
Nin ti me ves, nin te vexo
aló na beira do río,
naquelas crariñas noites
de folga polos domingos.

As amoriñas maduran
nas silveiras dos camiños,
nacen as froriñas brancas
por antre as canas do millo,
o río pasa que pasa,
cantan nas ponlas os xílgaros,
todo está verde e frondoso,
todo está fresco e frorido;
solo nós, Rosa, faltamos
naqueles verdes campiños.

Rosiña, dáme un consolo
para este dolor que eu sinto.
¡Ai, que os recordos me matan!
¡Ai, que acabarán conmigo!

Di si inda me queres moito,
mándamo a decir pretiño;
dime si garda-lo pano
que che din por San Benito,
que o merquei na quinta feira
por doce cartos e pico.

Dime tamén si deprendes
pola cartillas de Cristus
a ler como me ofreceches
para ler os meus escritos,
que en sabendo algunhas letras
dempois irás traducindo.

Eu xa lle perdín o medo
a escribiduras e libros,
pois fago uns palotes netos
de que eu mesmo me adimiro,
tan grandes como fungueiros
e máis gordos, si non minto.

Adios, espresiós che mando
polo burro de Camilo,
que non sei cal che dirá
estas cousas que lle esprico;
mais sabe, miña Rosiña,
rosiña de doce olido,
que si ti xa ler souperas
os palotes que eu escribo,
escribírache unha carta
nas alas dun paxariño

Darling of my eyes,
You will learn that I am alive
In this town where I reside
Since I arrived from Xinzo.

You will learn how thanks to God
And to the blessed scapular
We did not drown at sea
As supposed Xacinto
Who is as bold, my word,
As the huffs and puffs of a chick.

You will learn how afterward
They dressed me quite smartly
In blue and yellow raiment
Like all the conscripts wear
And then everyone together,
More than twenty-five even,
We paraded through the streets
And it was truly a wonder
How handsome we looked
And so white and so clean.

If you had seen me, darling,
Like I know other girls saw me!
Hard and long they stared at me
Now sidelong, now straight on...

And they were bubbly girls
With much sauce on their beak
But not one could wrest
A sigh from my breast
For your portrait was there
Scratching leisurely, for
Although I departed from you,
Precious holdfast I esteem so,
I did not travel alone, my gem,
For you came along with me.

If you knew how much I grieve,
If you knew how I torment myself
When I bring to mind at night
Those sweet songs of yours!...

Awake now I think about you,
Asleep now I think about you,
And I'm always dwelling on you
As if you were a magic spell.

Perhaps you handed me a spell
At the feast of San Martiño
Kneaded with your fingers
In a round loaf of wheat bread.

But I don't feel sorry about that
For even if you slew me
I would endure it like a lamb,
It coming from you, darling.

Nothing distracts me, dear Rose,
From the sorrow I feel over you.
By day as by night
This my poor heart
Chats with you continuously,
For well I sense it talk
In so amorous an address
That I shiver when I hear it.

Aye! What yearning it brings
And melancholy and affliction
For just the way it talks to you
I should like to chat with you
As we did in other joyful epochs
Of our fine loves.

How often we vowed to one another
Amid bouts of laughter and sighs
When you laundered in the river
At the foot of a tall white willow
To nevermore part company,
To nevermore break up!

But those vows
Scattered briskly briskly
Like the roses of a hawthorn tree
From a gust of the cold winds.

Now with the sea between us
Good-bye loving intimacies!
Neither you see me nor I see you
Over there beside the river
In those placid clear nights
Of leisure on Sundays.

The sweet blackberries ripen
On the brambles of country lanes,
Blossom dainty white flowers
Among the stalks of wheat,
The river flows and flows by,
Sing on branches the goldfinches,
All is dense and green,
All is fresh and flowerful—
We alone, Rose, are missing
On those lovely green fields.

Dear Rose, give me some relief
For this pain I feel.
Alas, the memories kill me!
Alas, they will do me in!

Say if you are still fond of me,
Send me word quickly;
Tell me if you still have the shawl
I gave you around San Benito,
I bought it at the fifth fair
For twelve notes and some change.

Tell me also if you are learning
With the leaflets of Cristus
To read—as you promised me
To read my writings—
After you know some letters
Then you can start translating.

I already lost my dread
Of scribbles and books
For I draw real sticks
That I myself marvel at,
As big as wooden poles
And fatter, if I am not mistaken.

Good-bye. I send you greetings
By way of that ass-Camilo,
I ignore how he will tell you
These things I explain to him,
But know, my dear Rose,
Favourite rose of sweet fragrance,
That if you could already read
The big sticks I draw,
I would write you a letter
On the wings of a small bird

Back To Index

Roberto Robert Casacuberta

Roberto Robert Casacuberta
Source: Real Academia de la Historia.

Newspaper La Discusion (Madrid)

Front page of Friday February 10, 1865
Source: Todo Colección.

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

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)


De Castro dedicated this long poem to Roberto Robert journalist of La Discusión "who likes stories and the Galician language." The source for the information about Roberto Robert Casacuberta is the Royal Spanish Academy of History. The source for the information about La Discusión is the National Library of Spain.

Roberto Robert Casacuberta (1827-1873). Catalan journalist, literary figure, mason and republican politician elected to the Spanish Parliament several times. In the year 1855 he published the caustic El Tío Crispín (Uncle Crispín) whose first issue earned him a one-year jail sentence. Between 1856-57 he was guest columnist of several newspapers, among them La Discusión, and collaborated later in many other publications. He wrote several articles in the Catalan language and was a founder of the Spanish Association of Writers and Artists. He maintained friendly relations with notable Spanish writers Benito Pérez Galdós and Rosalía de Castro and with the future Cuban independence leader, José Martí, among others. He was described as "an aggressive debunker, a republican journalist who flaunted his condition of atheist and who at the very least had an incisive genius and was very learned." He contracted tuberculosis and died at the age of forty-five.

La Discusión (1856-1887). Madrid daily founded on March 2, 1856, by the president of the Democratic Party (break-away faction of the Progressive Party). Its front page banner carried the subheading, "Democratic Daily." The newspaper became a national benchmark with a large daily distribution and great prestige. Its several sections included a daily editorial, background articles of a political or didactic nature, a press review, international news, news from the provincial capitals, stock market quotations, meteorological observations, entertainment listings and "a plentiful and flamboyant advertisement section."

Translator's Notes

"A Roberto Robert redactore da Discusion" makes extensive use of the affectionate diminutive form peculiar to the Galician language. The affectionate diminutive ends in iña (singular feminine) or iño (singular masculine) but not every word that ends in iña or iño is an affectionate diminutive.

All the words in "A Roberto Robert redactore da Discusion" 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

Sar (1.5). This river.

Vidal (1.8). A Spanish surname.

enxido de reposo (7.3). This phrase is ambiguous. According to the online Diccionario de diccionarios made available by the University of Vigo, the Galician term "enxido" may mean "a backyard" or "a field shared by all the inhabitants of a village and destined for recreation or rest." The setting of this poem, a hamlet, inclines toward the second definition, a "village field." Another option: communal field.

compango (14.5). Whatever the peasants ate after the initial stew. Compango was effectively the second serving of a peasant's everyday meal. The word's origin may be the phrase, "con pan," i.e. food eaten with bread on the side.

frixolada (15.8). A dish of miscellaneous fried food.

Cais (23.3). Unknown. This source claims that "Cais" is the southern Spanish city of Cadiz.

recrebos (29.3). This word is not found in any dictionary, consequently it must be a typo assisted by De Castro's handwriting. I posit two alternatives: "recibos" (invoices for all the past meals given free of charge) and "recados" (minor requests). The second option is more credible.

antroido (37.4). The traditional Galician carnival. Peliqueiros and The Generals are two types of antroido.

a falsa de fertunha (38.5). I propose that this phrase combines a typesetter's error with a crude attempt on De Castro's part to force a rhyme with the preceding words, "unha" (38.1) and "ningunha" (38.3). The phrase should read, "a falsa da fortuna." Here "falsa" (false) has the sense of unreliable, not dependable.


Aló no currunchiño máis hermoso
que a luz do sol na terra alumeara,
veiga frorida e prado deleitoso
que aos campiños do Edén se acomparara;
aló onde o Sar soberbo e caudaloso
parece que se dorme e que se para
(tan maino corre antre a robreda escura),
alí naceu Vidal o sin ventura.


¡Que reposo! ¡Que luz...! ¡Que garruleiro,
brando cantar dos váreos paxariños
cando ó salir do sol polo quinteiro
douraba fontes, lagos e campiños!
¡Que libre respirar...! ¡Que placenteiro
ir e vir dos cabirtos xuntadiños!
¡Que frescas, que polidas, que galanas
iban co gando as feitas aldeanas!


Nunca o rumor do mundo corrompido,
nunca da louca sociedá as vaidades,
nin brillo dos honores fementido
foran trubar tan doces soledades.
Ceo azul, sol de amor, campo frorido,
santa paz sin remorso nin saudades,
horas que van mainiñas camiñando:
tal alí tempo e vida iban pasando.


¡Como o ventiño da mañán pirmeiro
no seio das rosiñas se dormía,
e cal dempois toliño e rebuldeiro
polo espazo inmensísimo subía,
e volvendo a baixar murmuradeiro
por enriba das chouzas rebulía,
nas aliñas levando o fumo leve
que en trubias ondas a subir se atreve!


¡E como ó mediodía, fasta o río,
brisas, aires, pradiños e arborado
pousaban calorosos e sin brío,
cal viaxeiro sedento e fatigado!
¡E como do serán o alento frío
de arrulos misteriosos impregnado,
con pasiño lixeiro se achegaba
i aire, río e floriñas axitaba!


Pasiño a paso a traballada xente
dos campos ás chousiñas se volvía,
mentras no lar o pote sarpullente
cas ricas berzas a cachón fervía.
As fabas i as balocas xuntamente
co touciño sabroso nel se vía
en compaña amigabre e farturenta
que alegra, que convida e que sustenta.


Dempois da frugal cea, ó cariñoso
resplandor do luar claro e soave,
iban gozar ó enxido de reposo
co abó, que a longa historia contar sabe.
O rosario da Virxe proveitoso
logo rezaban con asento grave,
i alma e corpo tranquilo se dormía
esperando o folgor do novo día.


Todo era paz e amor i augua serena,
todo era craro azul no firmamento,
nin houbo alí a soberba que envenena,
nin vano goce, nin fatal tormento,
nin louco rebuldar, nin fonda pena,
nin baixo aborrecido pensamento,
vidiña tan risoña adormentaba,
pois doce e mainamente se folgaba.


Naide naquel lugar probe se vira,
que uns ben i outros non mal foran vivindo,
i un que afroxa de máis i outro que estira,
fóranse acomodando e repartindo.
Ningún da negra fame a man sentira
o seu peito fortísimo oprimindo,
nomáis que a desdichada criatura
que se chamou Vidal o sin ventura.


Orfo ende que nacera, a sorte triste
déralle por herencia o desconsolo,
coa negra soledá, que ó probe asiste;
naide na terra se topou tan solo
de canto en polvo terrenal se viste
inda correndo un polo i outro polo,
que era probe e dorido antre os doridos
e afrixido antre os tristes afrixidos.


Tiña por casa un cortelliño escuro,
tiña por leito o chan humedecido,
por cubirtor a neve e vento duro
que entraba polas fendas arresido.
Tiña o sustento escaso e mal seguro
que dan de porta en porta ó que é perdido,
que así lle din con bulra non escasa
ó que por probe neste mundo pasa.


En jamás o infeliz decir poidera
«¡Esto que teño é meu!», que a sorte dura
n'inda por conceder lle concedera
un pouco de querer ou de ternura,
nin un pouco de amor, que donde houbera
pobreza, e soledade e desventura,
groria, dicha e querer correndo pasan
i a entradiña da porta non traspasan.


Sempre por dicha pra Vidal había
caldo e máis pan nalgún lariño alleo,
i a máis a caridá non se estendía,
que fora un mal matarlle outro deseo.
Que si a cousas mellores se afacía
i outro váreo comer i outro recreo,
traballo lle custara a bon seguro
comer dempois berciñas e pan duro.


Tal conta a xente corda se botaba
con parsimonia concenzuda e grave,
e refráns sabios con afán buscaba
dos que din «Nunca des do que ben sabe.»
I o compango Vidal nunca probaba,
porque era a sobriedá santa e saudabe,
según a xente de poder decía,
anque ela ben folgaba e ben comía.


Cando dos porcos a matanza viña
¡que amabre chamuscar nas limpas eiras
ó despertar da fresca mañanciña!...
¡Que alegre fumo antre olmos e figueiras
olendo a cocho polos aires viña!
¡Que arremangar das nenas mondongueiras!
¡Que ir e vir dende o banco hastra a cociña!
I aló no lar, ¡que fogo!, ¡que larada!,
¡que rica e que ben feita frixolada!


Fígado con cebola ben frixida
i unha folliña de laurel cheirosa,
que inda a un morto ben morto dera vida
de tan rica, tan tenra e tan sabrosa.
Raxo en sorsa cun cheiro que convida,
i a sangre das morcillas sustanciosa
en fregada caldeira rebotando,
a que fagan morcillas convidando.


Cuadro tan agradabre e farturento
por toda a vecindá se repetía
con garular, e risa, e gran contento,
que suceso tan grande o requería.
Mais, por que lle sirvise de tormento,
solo na chouza de Vidal n'había
nin porco, nin mondongo, nin fartura,
que era todo nubrado e desventura.


Nas frías pedras do seu lar sentado,
tan váreo movemento contempraba
de negra soledade acompañado:
naide á festa do porco o convidaba,
que era probe Vidal i era olvidado,
i a presenza dun probe alí estorbaba;
por eso entre suspiros repetía:
«¡Ai, quen fora riquiño un soio día!»


Tales eran decote os seus deseos,
mais nunca, ¡triste sorte!, se cumprían,
e todos, todos de miseria cheos,
anos tras anos sin cesar corrían.
Xa era vello Vidal, i os duros ceos
de tan negro sufrir non se doían,
que inda o porco Vidal nunca probara
nin naide a tal festiña o convidara.


Tal como era costume, a rica proba
veciños con veciños se trocaban
(inda hoxe esta costume se renova),
mais a Vidal, veciño non chamaban,
que fora indina misturanza boba
ir a dar donde daiva non topaban,
e por eso Vidal, probe coitado,
nunca catou morcilla o desdichado.


Mais, ¡ai, pícaro mundo!, ¡mundo aleve!,
¿quen de teus pasos e revoltas fía?
¿Quen afirmar empávedo se atreve
que non se pode a noite tornar día?
¿Quen en tempo tan rápido e tan breve
ós conocidos de Vidal diría
que aquela triste homilde criatura
iba nadar en ondas de ventura?


¡I así pasou!... Que Aquel que todo mira
aló da inmensa e trasparente esfera,
donde cos astros sentellantes xira,
misericordia de Vidal tivera;
o torpe olvido dos podentes vira
i a pena de Vidal compadecera,
e co seu brazo misterioso e forte
trocou dun sopro a temeraria sorte.


Tal polas portas de Vidal entrara
como en campo sedento farto río,
aló de Cais harencia que envidiara
o máis encopetado señorío.
Hucha de ouro, ós seus ollos relumbrara
dándolle desvareo, e risa, e frío,
sendo tamaña a dicha que sentía,
que o corasón con ela non podía.


Dempois chorou, sorreu, bicou a terra
inda polo seu pranto humedecida,
e canta dicha a humanidade encerra
verteuse do seu peito escandecida.
Logo, volvendo en si, casi se aterra
de ver ventura tan sin par cumprida,
e postrado ante Dios fervente ora
i o seu misterio portentoso adora.


Cumprido este deber, Vidal, reposto
de sorpresa tan grave e prasenteira,
ponse limpio, amañado e ben composto,
coa graciña de Dios por compañeira.
Cal se adimira de o mirar tan posto,
cal lle di que é galán por derradeira,
i, anque calvo quedou como San Pedro,
dinlle que ten risado pelo negro.


Chámalle aquel «amigo», ¡cousa rara!,
que antes «¡Vidal!» con sorna lle desía,
i outro lle volve pracenteiro a cara
que nantronte o carís lle retorsía.
Tal miniña de velo se trubara,
tal outra xunta del se revolvía,
e seica non faltou quen lle dixera
que feito como un santo se volvera.


Que é triste o rostro da mortal pobreza
que entre ximidos e dolores nace,
i hastra a hermosura ven, cando riqueza
co seu mirar risoño nos comprace;
presta o diñeiro encanto e gentilesa,
i un Dios o mesmo demo se tornase
si tomando figura de banqueiro
remexese diñeiro e máis diñeiro.


Estos misterios son... eu me confundo
i en vano os espricar me propuñera;
pero Vidal, filósofo profundo,
que anque xamáis nos libros deprendera
a conta propia deprendeu no mundo,
non de mudansa tal se soprendera,
que aló no seu caletre a adiviñara
cando en ser rico con afán soñara.


Por eso recibeu con cortesía
recrebos, agasaxo e comprimento,
que un tras outro homildoso lle facía,
escoria vil do humano sentimento.
El a baixesa deles comprendía,
i anque vano nin torpe pensamento
contra xentiñas tales meditaba,
forte e seria lisión darlles pensaba.


Unha mañán a un santo e bon suxeto
un quiño lle mercou, ¡soberbo quiño!,
tan níveo, tan plantado e tan repleto
cal nunca o vira tal ningún veciño.
Era curto de perna, o lombo neto,
do rabo hastra a cabeza redondiño,
i o coiro tan graxento relusía
que mesmo de manteiga paresía.


«¡Alabado sea Dios!», «¡Dios cho bendiga!»,
«¡San Antonio cho garde!», así escramaban
mentras que o cocho a paso de formiga
i o seu dono Vidal serios pasaban.
A falarlle a Vidal cada un se obriga,
que ó porco xa mortiño contempraban
e n'era de perder tan bon bocado
polas mans de Vidal morto e salgado.


Logo o berrido do infeliz pasente
que sofre co coitelo morte dura
fender os aires no lugar se sente,
pouco a pouco a gorxiña queda muda,
o suspiro postrer soa estredente,
a sangre corre, o matachín xa suda,
e naquel grave e quírtico momento
é o porco vida e mundo e pensamento


O difunto alí está repantrigado,
cunha cebola na antraberta boca
(que inda parés que a come o desdichado);
pero non o chorés, que a el solo toca
dormir sono tan triste descuidado,
pois as iras do inferno non provoca,
nin groria ten nin porgatorio ardente;
el dormirá insensible eternamente.


Non cabe en si Vidal de tan contento,
o cheiriño do porco lle enlouquece,
que antre os porcos nacidos é un portento
aquel que ante seus ollos aparece.
Certa satisfación, certo contento
no rostro dos presentes resplandece,
que mesmo quer decir en lenguax mudo:
«¡Este si que che é un porco repoludo!»


Mais co cocho Vidal soio se encerra,
mentras que a xente aturrullada mira...
Cal se pasma, cal bufa, cal se aterra,
que nunca tal naquel lugar se vira,
cal outro lle xurando eterna guerra,
das voltas que dá o mundo se adimira,
pois que nunca en xamais nengún veciño
lle batera ca porta no fociño


Era aquel un rifar desesperado,
pero Vidal o xordo se facía;
a noite enteira se pasou cerrado,
i ó arbor primeiro do siguente día,
cun varal de morcillas ben cargado,
que a pouco de cargado se rompía,
apareceu lavado e reverendo,
a todos co seu porte sorprendendo.


El direitiño ó seu facer marchaba
con paso despacioso camiñando,
e un sorrir nos seus labios se atopaba
que antroido iba decindo ou contrabando.
Dempois, con voz que ás xentes atroaba,
foise de porta en porta perguntando:
—¿Déronlle aquí morcillas a Vidal?
—¡¡¡Aquí non!!! —¡Pois adiante co varal!


Así as chousas correu unha por unha
i o varal inteiriño inda se vía;
que un triste si non respondeu ningunha
de cantas en redondo requería.
Ríndose en tanto a falsa de fertunha
con sonsa voz de bulra repetía:
—¿Déronlle aquí morcillas a Vidal?
—¡¡¡Aquí non!!! —¡Pois adiante co varal!



Vidal morreu, i o tempo foi pasando,
braso que os duros mármores arrasa,
antre helados escombros enterrando
do bon Vidal a solitaria casa.
Mais sempre esta historiña foi quedando;
inda hoxe mesmo por proverbio pasa,
e cando o nome de Vidal se invoca,
muda sole quedar máis dunha boca.


There on the most beautiful hidden corner
That the sunlight ever brightened on earth—
Flowerful lowland and delightful meadow
Comparable to Eden's beautiful fields—
There where the proud and voluminous Sar
Appears to fall asleep and loll
(Sluggish it traverses the dark oak forest)
There Vidal the luckless was born.


What repose! What light...! What garrulous
Mellow chirping of sundry small birds
When the sunrise above the animal pen
Gilded fountains, ponds and fair fields!
What easy breathing...! What delightful
Come-and-go of kids herded together!
How fresh, how polished, how dapper
Went the hamlet's women with the cattle!


Never the rumour of the corrupt world,
Never the vanities of madcap society
Nor the deceptive lustre of honours
Came to perturb such sweet solitudes.
Blue sky, sun of love, flower-filled field,
Saintly peace without remorse or regrets,
Hours that gently gently trek on their way:
Thus time and life elapsed there.


How the morning breeze first slumbered
In the bosom of the pretty roses
And how giddy and ebullient afterward
It climbed the uttermost immense space
And coming back down, murmuring,
Capered over the huts, carrying away
On ethereal wings the lightweight smoke
That dares to rise in murky curls!


And how at noon even the river, breezes,
Draughts, family plots and coppices
Settled down hot and listless
Like some thirsty and fatigued traveller!
And how the evening's cold breath
Pregnant with mysterious lullabies
Approached with jolly brisk step and
Stirred up the air, river and pretty flowers!


The toil-worn country folk
Trudged back to the sheltering huts
While the bubbling pot at home boiled
Strong with tasty cabbages. In it was
Seen beans and small round potatoes
Together with savoury bacon
In a friendly and filling congress
That gladdens, invites and nourishes.


After the frugal dinner, in the tender
Glitter of the clear and soft moonlight
They headed to the village field to enjoy
Grandpa's able telling of a long story.
Then they prayed with solemn accent
The profitable rosary of Our Lady
And body plus soul fell asleep peacefully
Awaiting the radiance of the new day.


All was love, peace and tranquil waters,
All was clear blue in the firmament
Nor visited there the hubris that poisons
Or vain pleasure or fatal torment
Or daft disturbance or profound sorrow
Or vulgar abhorrent sentiment;
Such simple, pleasant life dozed away
For sweet and gentle was their repose.


No one in that place saw himself poor,
Some fared well and not too bad others—
One fritters away, another one hoards—
They all carried on adapting and sharing.
No one felt the black hand of hunger
Pressing down heavily upon his chest,
No one except the unhappy creature
Who was known as Vidal the luckless.


Orphan since birth, sad Fate gave him
Distress for inheritance along with
The bleak loneliness that attends the poor;
No one on earth found himself so alone from
Among all that is clad in earthly dust,
Even scanning from one pole to the other,
For he was poor and hurt among the hurting
And aflicted among the sadly afflicted.


He had a deplorable dark stall for abode,
He had the damp ground for cot,
For bedding the snow and the harsh wind
That came through the cracks very cold.
He had the sparse and uncertain diet
Offered door to door to the one who is lost,
For so they tell him with no scant mockery
To he who passes for poor in this world.


Never could the hapless one say,
"What I have is mine!"; harsh fate
Had not even stooped to grant him
A little bit of fondness or tenderness
Or a little bit of love, for wherever
Poverty, loneliness and ill fortune dwell,
Glory, bliss and affection sprint past and
Do not step over the humble threshold.


Fortunately there was always for Vidal
Stew and bread at someone's dear home,
But charity extended no farther, for it'd be
Wrong to let him satisfy other craving:
For if he became used to better fare,
A varied meal and a different distraction,
He would surely find it hard thereafter
To eat left-over cabbages and hard bread.


Such calculation the rational people made
With grave and conscientious parsimony
And with zeal searched for those wise saws
That say, "Never give away what is tasty."
And Vidal never consumed compango
Because sobriety was holy and healthy
By the word of the people with power
Although they relaxed fine and ate well.


When the time came for slaughtering the pigs,
What amiable roasting across the clean fields
At the rise of the cool early morning!...
What cheery smoke smelling of pork wafted
On the air from among elms and fig trees!
How gossiping girls rolled up their sleeves!
What come-and-go twixt bench and kitchen!
And what fire in the fireplace! what a blaze!
What sumptuous and well fried frixolada!


Deep-fried liver with onion
And an indispensable pungent laurel leaf:
So tasty, so tender and so toothsome that
It would resuscitate a corpse well dead yet.
Pork loin and trimmings with inviting odour,
And the substantial blood of blood sausages
Rebounding inside a scoured cauldron,
Inviting to the making of blood sausages.


Such pleasant and stomach-filling portrait
Was replayed throughout the neighbouhood
With mirth, laughter and great contentment
Just like an event so big demanded.
But in Vidal's hut alone,
To confer on him torment,
There was no pork, tripe or glut;
Everything was overcast and misfortune.


Seated on the cold stones of his abode,
Accompanied by bleak loneliness
He watched the manifold activity:
No one invited him to the pork feast
For Vidal was destitute and forgotten
And the presence there of someone poor
Annoyed; that is why he repeated between
Sighs, "Ah, were I well-off for just a day!"


Such were always his wishes
But they were never fulfilled—sad destiny!—
Years on years hastened past ceaselessly,
Every one—every one full of misery.
Vidal was by now old and the dour heavens
Did not grieve over such bleak suffering,
Vidal had never tasted pork
Nor had anyone asked him to that feast.


Neighbours traded tasty samples with
Other neighbours as was the custom
(Even today this custom is renewed)
But Vidal was not regarded as a neighbour.
It would be degrading and foolish rapport
To go give where nothing was given
In return and so Vidal, poor hapless one,
Never ate blood sausage, the unhappy one.


But ah, puckish world! roguish world!
Who trusts in your steps and turn-abouts?
Who dares to affirm unruffled
That night cannot turn to day?
Who could say to Vidal's acquaintances
That in so quick and brief a spell
That sad, humble creature was going to
Swim in waves of good fortune?


And so it happened!... He who inspects
Everything from beyond the immense
And transparent sphere that rotates with
The sparkling stars had mercy on Vidal,
He witnessed the unsound neglect
Of the affluent and felt for Vidal's grief
And with his strong and mysterious arm
Changed at one go the dreadful destiny.


It crossed the doors of Vidal's
Like brimming river onto thirsty field,
An inheritance from Cais such as
The most spruce peerage would envy.
The hoard of gold dazzled his eyes,
Making him faint, laugh and cold;
So great was the happiness he felt
That the heart could not cope with it.


Afterward he cried, he smiled, he kissed
The ground still moist from his tears
And as much bliss as humanity hems in
Poured out of his chest inflamed.
Then, taking hold of himself, he is almost
Terror-struck to see such unrivalled luck
Fulfilled, and prostrate before God prays
Fervently and adores his portentous mystery.


This duty performed, Vidal, recovered from
So pleasing and momentous a surprise,
Gets himself clean, groomed and swell
With the kind grace of God for helpmate.
One marvels at seeing him so elegant,
One's parting word dubs him a gentleman
And although he went bald like Saint Peter
They tell him he's got curly black hair.


That one calls him, "friend,"—rare thing!—
For aforetime he called him, "Vidal!" snide,
And another one greets him pleasantly
Who the day before yesterday swerved aside.
Some girl was greatly troubled on seeing him,
Some other girl made circles about him
And I understand that someone even told him
That he had matured like a saint.


Sad indeed is the face of mortal poverty
Birthed amid whimpers and pains
And even beauty approaches when wealth
Indulges us with its cheerful countenance;
Money lends charm and courtesy
And the very devil would turn into a God
If taking a banker's form he rummaged
Through money and more money.


These mysteries are... I get confused
And I would propose to explain them in vain;
However Vidal, profound philosopher
Who although he never learned from books
Learned of his own accord in the world,
Was not surprised at such a turn of events
For away in his discernment he foresaw it
When he dreamed earnestly about being rich.


That is why he accepted with courtesy
Minor requests, toast and compliment
That one humble after another made,
Vile scoria of the human sentiment.
Their baseness he understood and although
He did not entertain a vain or unsound
Deliberation against so abject a people, he
Meant to teach them a hard and bitter lesson.


From a good and saintly fellow one morning
He purchased a pig, wondrous pig!
So snowy, so stout and so replete
Such as no neighbour had ever seen.
Short of leg, clean back,
Delightfully rounded from head to tail
And so greasy glistened the skin
That it seemed to be made of cream.


"Praise the Lord!"—"May God bless it!"—
"May Saint Anthony preserve it!" they shouted
While at an ant's pace the hog and owner Vidal
Passed by, serious. Everyone obliged himself
To speak to Vidal for they envisaged already
The hog happily dead and there was no question
Of missing out on a good mouthful
By Vidal's hands butchered and salted.


Then the squealing of the unhappy patient
That endures a difficult death by the knife
Is felt rending the air of the place;
Gradually the grieved throat pipes down,
The final sigh sounds strident,
The blood runs, the butcher is now sweating
And at that grave and critical moment
The pig is life and world and intellect.


There lies the dead one belly up
With an onion in the half-open mouth
(It even seems he is eating it, the joyless one)
But don't weep over him, he alone is slated
To sleep so sad a slumber insouciant
For he does not arouse hell's wrath
Nor expects glory or burning purgatory;
He will slumber eternally insensible.


Vidal brims over with contentment,
The hog's appetizing smell excites him
For among all born pigs it's a portent
What lies there before his eyes.
A certain satisfaction, a certain gladness
Shines on the faces of those present,
Equivalent to stating in mute language:
"This is a ripsnorting pig indeed!"


But Vidal retires alone with the hog
While the flummoxed folks look on...
One is stunned, one huffs, one is alarmed
For that place never saw anything like it,
Another vowing eternal strife against him
Marvels at the world's turn-abouts
For never ever had a neighbour
Slammed the door in his face.


That one was one desperate hubbub,
But Vidal played deaf;
He spent the whole night shut in
And in the first light of the following day,
With a pole so laden with blood sausages
That a slight added weight would crack it,
He emerged washed and reverential,
Surprising everyone with his bearing.


He went right straight to his task
Walking with slow, dignified step
While a smile abided on his lips
Intimating antroido or smugglers' cargo.
Then with a voice that thundered at the folks
He went from door to door asking:
"Did they give blood sausages to Vidal here?"
"Here no!!!"—"Onward with the pole then!"


Thus he toured the huts one by one
And the pole remained intact nevertheless
Because not one answered a sad Yes
From all those he questioned roundabout.
Laughing meanwhile, fickle Fortune
Repeated in a sarcastic tone of jest:
"Did they give blood sausages to Vidal here?"
"Here no!!!"—"Onward with the pole then!"



Vidal died and Time kept pressing on,
Arm that razes the hard marble to the ground,
Burying among frozen rubble
The solitary house of good Vidal.
But this short story ever lived on,
Even this very day it passes for proverb,
And when the name of Vidal is brought up
More than one mouth usually clams up.

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Young woman in black at cemetery


8.   Lass, You the Most Beautiful     (Meniña, ti a máis hermosa)

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)

Translator's Notes

"Meniña, ti a máis hermosa" has four affectionate diminutives. The affectionate diminutive ends in iña (singular feminine) or iño (singular masculine).

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."

All the words in "Meniña, ti a máis hermosa" that end in iña or iño are listed below together with a range of possible translations and a short explanation of the term chosen. Preceding poems have already shown that some words which end in iña or iño are not affectionate diminutives.

Musical Adaptation

Listen-to-this icon

Roi Casal (2009)

-Meniña, ti a máis hermosa
que a luz do sol alumbrara;
ti a estrela da mañanciña
que en puras tintas se baña;
ti a frol das froridas cumbres,
ti a ninfa das frescas auguas,
ti como folla do lirio
branca, pura e contristada.
¿Quen eres, fada sin nome
de tan dormentes miradas,
de tan dorida sonrisa,
de feituriña tan cándida?
¿Quisais de muller naceches
sendo tan limpa e tan casta?
¿Quisais das brisas da tarde,
quisais das brétemas vagas...
das burbulliñas dun río,
quisais dunha nube branca?
¿Ou as espumas do mare
a un raio de sol xuntadas
pousáronte ó ser da aurora
nunha cunchiña de nacra?
Mais de onde queira que seas,
tristísima pasionaria,
por ti sinto un amor puro
que pouco a pouco me mata.
Por ti, de noite e de día,
cal vaga sombra encantada,
preto do teu vivir ximo,
ximo cos ventos que pasan
facendo vibrar sonoras
sentidas cordas dun arpa,
que con ecos tembradores
dos meus amores che falan.
Mais dime: ¿por que estás muda?,
di por que estás solitaria,
di por que vives nos montes
cos paxariños que cantan,
mentras ti choras e choras
ó pé dun olmo sentada,
toda de loito cuberta,
toda cuberta de lágrimas.

-Déixame vivir nos montes,
déixame estar solitaria,
déixame cos paxariños
que en derredor de min cantan.
Déixame vestir de loito,
cuberta por tristes bágoas,
i eco de homes non escoite
nin son de armoniosas arpas,
que eses sons de amor á vida
rompen as miñas entrañas.
¡Si deles, galán, por sorte
doce consolo arrancaras
para un dor que non ten cura,
para un mal que non se acaba!
¡Si ó seu vibrar sonoroso
as tombas se levantaran
i o polvo que nelas mora
volto a vivir se axitara!...
Mais, cala, galán...; non toques
as soaves cordas dun arpa
que nin dá vida ós que morren,
ni as tristes tombas levanta.
Cala, galán, cos cantares
que con pasión de amor cantas,
que os meus amores morreron
i aló antre tombas me agardan.
Para min morreu a dicha,
morreu tamén a esperanza,
cubreuse o seu de tristura
i a terra de ásperas prantas.
Déixame vivir nos montes,
déixame estar solitaria,
déixame vestir de loito,
cuberta de amargas lágrimas.
Que a rula que viudou,
xurou de non ser casada,
nin pousar en rama verde
nin beber da iaugua crara

"Lass, you the most beautiful
That the sunlight ever shone upon,
You the star of the early morning
That bathes in pure hues,
You the flower of the florid crests,
You the nymph of the fresh waters,
You like a leaf of the Madonna lily
White, pure and forlorn.
Who are you, nameless she-fairy
Of glances so sleepy,
Of smile so grieved,
Of elegant form so candid?
Were you perchance born of woman
Being so clean and so chaste?
Perhaps of the afternoon breezes,
Perhaps of the dim wind-borne fogs...
Of a stream's tiny bubbles,
Perchance of a white cloud?
Or did the sea's froth bonded to
A beam of sunlight lay you down
In a small mother-of-pearl seashell
Gently at the break of dawn?
Regardless of your provenance,
Most sorrowful passionflower,
I feel a pure love for you
That slays me little by little.
By night and by day,
Like some vague enchanted shadow,
I moan wishing to be near you,
I moan with the winds that pass
Making the rich heartfelt strings
Of a harp vibrate
Whose tremulous echoes
Speak to you of my loves.
But tell me: why are you so silent?
Tell why you are all alone,
Tell why you live in the hills
With the small birds that sing
While you weep and weep
Seated at the foot of an elm tree,
All clad in black,
All covered with tears."

"Let me live in the hills,
Let me be all alone,
Let me stay by the small birds
That roundabout me sing.
Let me dress in black
Covered with sad tears
And the echo of men not hear
Nor the sound of harmonious harps,
For those life-loving sounds
Sunder my inner core.
If from them, gallant, you could
By chance dig up sweet solace
For a pain that has no cure,
For an ailment that has no end!
If to the sound of their rich quaver
The tombs opened up
And the dust that dwells in them
Stirred back to life!...
But be quiet, gallant...; do not play
The mellow strings of a harp
Which neither returns the dead to life
Nor lifts open the dismal graves.
Gallant, refrain from the songs
You sing with love's passion,
For my loves passed away and they
Await me there among tombs.
Bliss died to me,
Hope died also,
The sky overspread with sorrow
And the earth with coarse plants.
Let me dwell in the hills,
Let me by myself,
Let me put on black
Swaddled in bitter tears.
For the widowed turtle dove
Swore not to be betrothed
Nor to perch on verdant branch
Nor to drink of the clear water

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Vintage photograph

Source: Alfonso Daniel Rodríguez Castelao

9.   What's With the Boy?     (¿Que ten o mozo?)

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)

Translator's Notes

"¿Que ten o mozo?" is another poem of "Cantares Gallegos" that employs the affectionate diminutive form peculiar to the Galician language. The affectionate diminutive ends in iña (singular feminine) or iño (singular masculine). It makes translating harder and something of artwork, but to yield to the temptation of ignoring it altogether is to deprive the reader of the full emotion stamped on the poem.

All the words in "¿Que ten o mozo?" 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 necessary. On the plus side, Galician affectionate diminutives provide the translator with an opportunity to add alliteration, internal rhyme or lyrical sharpness to the text. The goal of the translator is to find the best adjective, adverb or noun which conveys size, magnitude, frailty, sympathy or endearment depending on the context.

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

fiada (1.1.4). A fiada was a gathering of women in the evening to make yarn in a festive ambiance of storytelling, games and song.

Bras (1.2.4). A first name without an English equivalent.

atruxos (1.3.2). An "atruxo" is 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.

Musical Adaptation

Listen-to-this icon

Galiza Folk


¿Que ten o mozo?
¡Ai!, ¿que terá?
Ponme agora unha cara de inverno,
despois na fiada, ¡sonrisas de tal!
Quer que baile con el no muíño,
i aló pola vila, nin fala quisais...
¿Que ten o mozo?
Pois... ¿que tera?

Unhas veces, canciño de cego,
por onde eu andare seguíndome vai,
nin hai sitio donde eu non atope
un Bras con cirolas i os zocos na man.
¡Ai, que mociño!
¡Ai, que rapaz!

Noutro instante, ¡mirá que fachenda!...
atruxos que asombran ó mesmo lugar.
¡¡¡Brrr!!!, parece que pasa soberbo,
mandando nos homes su real maxestá.
Mociño, ¿es tolo?
¡Ai!, ¿si o serás?

Eu non podo entender, meu amore,
que airiños te levan, que airiños te tran,
nin tampouco cal xeito te cadra,
tratándose, mozo, do teu namorar.
¡Ai!, ¡Dios me libre
de ti, bon Bras!

Que no meu entender te acomparo,
ó mesiño de marzo marzal:
Pola mañán, cariña de rosas;
pola tarde, cara de can
¡Mala xuntanza
facemos! ¡¡Ai!!


¿Que di a meiguiña,
que di a traidora?
Corazón que enloitado te crubes
cos negros desprezos que a falsa che dona,
¿por que vives sofrindo por ela?,
¿por que, namorado, de pena saloucas?
Si ela é bonita,
ela é traidora.

Di, con mengua de min, que non sabe
que airiños me viran, veleta mal posta...
que cho digan, rapaza, os teus ollos,
que agora me chaman, dempois me desbotan.
Que anque es bonita,
eres traidora.

Si unhas veces amante che falo,
e si outras renego de ti... ¡pecadora!,
¿cales auguas repousan serenas,
si o vento que as manda rebole antre as ondas?
E ti ben sabes
que es revoltosa.

Son canciño de cego en quererte...
Tal bulra merece quen ama sin conta,
pois cos zocos na man ou sin eles
ás portas do inferno seguíndote fora.
Tal estou tolo,
tal es graciosa.

¡Que de marzo marzal teño a cara!...
Quixais que así sea, mais ti, miña xoia,
tamén es cal raiola de marzo,
que agora descrube, que agora se entolda.
Iguales semos,
nena fermosa.


What's with the boy?
Aye, what ails him?
Now he shows me a wintry face
Then at the fiada such winsome smiles!
He wants me to dance with him at the mill
And lo in the village doesn't even talk perhaps...
What's with the boy?
Well... what ails him?

Sometimes a diligent guide dog
He follows me wherever I go
Nor is there anywhere I don't come across
A Bras with plums and the clogs in hand.
Aye, what laddie!
Aye, what kid!

At another instant, see what nerve!...
Yell-yodels that astonish the very place.
(Snort) It looks like he parades proud
Ordering men about, his royal majesty.
Laddie, are you crazy?
Aye! Might you be?

I cannot understand, my love,
What breezes take you, what breezes fetch you,
Nor what character suits you
In the matter, boy, of your courting.
Aye! May God save me
From you, good Bras!

For in my understanding I liken you
To the fickle month of March a-plenty:
In the morning the pleasant look of roses;
In the afternoon a hound dog's poses
Aye!! We make
A bad pairing!


What does the dear enchantress say,
What does the disloyal one say?
Heart that clouds over lowering with the black
Brush-offs the double-faced one hands you:
Why do you live suffering for her?
Why do you, enamoured one, sob in sorrow?
If she is pretty
She is disloyal.

She says, diminishing me, that she ignores
What breezes whirl me, tottering wind vane...
Let your eyes inform you, lass,
For now they beckon me then they spurn me.
For although you are pretty
You are disloyal.

If I speak to you like a lover sometimes
And if others I disown you... sinner!
What waters indeed remain serene
If the wind swirls amid the waves it sends?
And you know full well
That you are a mischief-maker.

A diligent guide dog am I for loving you...
Such dig deserves he who loves without tally,
For with clogs in the hand or without them
I would follow you to the gates of hell.
I am that crazy,
You are that delightful.

That I have the face of March a-plenty!...
Perhaps it's so, but you, my jewel,
Are also like the sunshine of March
That now unveils and now covers up.
We are alike,
Beautiful girl.

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Alcázar de Segovia

Source: Pinterest

10.   Castilians of Castile     (Castellanos de Castilla)

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)

Translator's Notes

"Castellanos de Castilla" contains eleven affectionate diminutives (feminine termination iña, masculine iño). The affectionate diminutive complicates the job of translating because it does not have a unique English equivalent usually and sometimes not even a single interpretation. Nevertheless to yield to the temptation of treating them as a nuisance and ignoring them altogether deprives the poem of its full expressiveness. On the plus side an affectionate diminutive offers the translator an opportunity to add alliteration, internal rhyme and lyrical sharpness to the text. The objective is to find the best adjective, adverb or noun which conveys smallness, frailty, concern or affection depending on the context.

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

¡Castellanos de Castilla,
tratade ben ós gallegos;
cando van, van como rosas;
cando vén, vén como negros!

—Cando foi, iba sorrindo;
cando veu, viña morrendo
a luciña dos meus ollos,
o amantiño do meu peito.

Aquel máis que neve branco,
aquel de dozuras cheio,
aquel por quen eu vivía
e sin quen vivir non quero.

Foi a Castilla por pan,
e saramagos lle deron;
déronlle fel por bebida,
peniñas por alimento.

Déronlle, en fin, canto amargo
ten a vida no seu seo...
¡Castellanos, castellanos,
tendes corazón de ferro!

¡Ai!, no meu corazonciño
xa non pode haber contento,
que está de dolor ferido,
que está de loito cuberto.

Morreu aquel que eu quería,
e para min n'hai consuelo:
solo hai para min, Castilla,
a mala lei que che teño.

Premita Dios, castellanos,
castellanos que aborrezo,
que antes os gallegos morran
que ir a pedirvos sustento.

Pois tan mal corazón tendes,
secos fillos do deserto,
que si amargo pan vos ganan,
dádesllo envolto en veneno.

Aló van, malpocadiños,
todos de esperanzas cheios,
e volven, ¡ai!, sin ventura,
con un caudal de desprezos.

Van probes e tornan probes,
van sans e tornan enfermos,
que anque eles son como rosas,
tratádelos como negros.

¡Castellanos de Castilla,
tendes corazón de aceiro,
alma como as penas dura,
e sin entrañas o peito!

En trós de palla sentados,
sin fundamentos, soberbos,
pensás que os nosos filliños
para servirvos naceron.

E nunca tan torpe idea,
tan criminal pensamento
coupo en máis fatuas cabezas
ni en máis fatuos sentimentos.

Que Castilla e castellanos,
todos nun montón, a eito,
non valen o que unha herbiña
destes nosos campos frescos.

Solo pezoñosas charcas
detidas no ardente suelo,
tes, Castilla, que humedezan
esos teus labios sedentos.

Que o mar deixoute olvidada
e lonxe de ti correron
as brandas auguas que traen
de prantas cen semilleiros.

Nin arbres que che den sombra,
nin sombra que preste alento...
llanura e sempre llanura,
deserto e sempre deserto...

Esto che tocou, coitada,
por herencia no universo,
¡miserable fanfarrona!...
triste heirencia foi por certo.

En verdad non hai, Castilla,
nada como ti tan feio,
que aínda mellor que Castilla,
valera decir inferno.

¿Por que aló foches, meu ben?
¡Nunca tal houberas feito!
¡Trocar campiños frolidos
por tristes campos sin rego!

¡Trocar tan craras fontiñas,
ríos tan murmuradeiros,
por seco polvo que nunca
mollan as bágoas do ceo!

Mais, ¡ai!, de onde a min te foches
sin dor do meu sentimento,
i aló a vida che quitaron,
aló a mortiña che deron.

Morreches, meu queridiño,
e para min n'hai consuelo,
que onde antes te vía, agora
xa solo unha tomba vexo.

Triste como a mesma noite,
farto de dolor o peito,
pídolle a Dios que me mate,
porque xa vivir non quero.

Mais en tanto no me mata,
castellanos que aborrezo,
hei, para vergonza vosa,
heivos de cantar xemendo:

¡Castellanos de Castilla,
tratade ben ós gallegos;
cando van, van como rosas;
cando vén, vén como negros!

Castilians of Castile,
Treat Galicians well;
When they depart they leave like roses,
When they return they come like Negroes!

"When he left he went smiling;
When he returned he came dying,
The mild light of my eyes,
The gentle lover of my bosom.

"The one whiter than snow,
The one full of sweetness,
The one I lived for
And without whom I don't want to live.

"He went to Castile for bread
And they gave him wild radishes;
They handed him gall for drink,
Poignant sorrows for nourishment.

"They gave him, in short, all that life
Has of bitterness in her bosom...
Castilians, Castilians,
You have a heart of iron!

"Ah! There can no longer be
Happiness in my poor heart
Because it is wounded by pain,
Because it is cloaked in black.

"Passed away he whom I loved
And there is no comfort for me:
There is only for me, Castile,
The evil charter I hold against you.

"May God permit, Castilians,
Castilians I loathe,
That Galicians should die before going
To solicit a living from you.

"For you have such an evil heart,
Shrivelled sons of the desert,
That if they earn some bitter bread
You give it to them wrapped in poison.

"There they go, the poor unfortunate ones,
Every one full of hopes,
And they return aye! without fortune,
With a river of slights.

"They depart poor and they return poor,
They go healthy and they come back sick
For although they are like roses
You treat them like Negroes.

"Castilians of Castile,
You have a heart of steel,
A hard soul like the boulders
And a breast without innards!

"Seated upon thrones of straw,
Without arguments, arrogant,
You fancy that our sons
Were born to serve you.

"And never such a foolhardy idea,
Such a criminal thought,
Found place in more fatuous heads
Or in more fatuous sentiments.

"For Castile and Castilians
All piled willy-nilly in one heap
Are not worth one blade of green grass
From these fresh fields of ours.

"Only ponds of toxic water
Stagnant on the scorching ground
Have you, Castile, to moisten
Those thirsty lips of yours with.

"For the sea forsook you
And far away from you flowed
The soft waters that fetch
A hundred seed-banks of plants.

"Neither trees to give you shade
Nor a shadow to lend vitality...
Plain and unrelenting plain,
Desert and unrelenting desert...

"This was your alloted inheritance
In the universe, ill-starred one,
Miserable braggart!...
A dismal inheritance for certain.

"In truth, Castile, there is
Nothing quite as ugly as you,
For even better than to say Castile
Would be to say hell.

"Why did you go there, my boon?
You should have never done so!
To exchange lovely flowery fields
For dismal ones without watering!

"To exchange dear fountains so clear,
Rivers so murmuring,
For dry dust that never
Heaven's teardrops wet!

"Yet aye! you went away from me
Without qualm about my feelings
And over there they took your life,
Over there they gave you a tragic death.

"You passed away, my dearie,
And for me there is no comfort
For where I used to see you aforetime
Now only a tomb I see.

"Gloomy as the very night,
Full of pain my chest,
I ask God to slay me
Because I no longer wish to live.

"But as long as he doesn't slay me,
Castilians I loathe,
I will, to your shame,
I will sing to you whimpering:

"Castilians of Castile,
Treat Galicians well;
When they depart they leave like roses,
When they return they come like Negroes!

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Ventura Ruiz Aguilera

Ventura Ruiz Aguilera
Source: Real Academia de la Historia.

Ecos Nacionales (1849)

Ecos Nacionales (1849)
Source: Todo Colección.

11.   The Galician Bagpipe     (A gaita gallega)

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)


De Castro dedicated this short poem to "the eminent poet D. Ventura Ruiz Aguilera" who in 1854 had published the Spanish poem, "La Gaita Gallega," in the collection, "Eco Nacional." Aguilera dedicated his poem to Manuel Murguía, De Castro's husband. The Galician poem, "A Gaita Gallega," is De Castro's reply. Her poem's refrain, "It does not sing, it weeps," answers Aguilera's, "I am unable to say whether it sings or weeps," it referring to the Galician bagpipe.

The source for the following information about Ventura Ruiz Aguilera is the Royal Spanish Academy of History.

Ventura Ruiz Aguilera (1820-1881). Castilian poet, medical doctor and republican journalist. He joined the ranks of the Progressive Party in the year 1843. He published several articles in the liberal press against the Carlist monarchy movement for which he was exiled internally to a Mediterranean province in 1848. He directed two short-lived newspapers before 1852, Las Hijas de Eva and El Orden, and subsequently collaborated in many others, among them the influential daily, La Iberia. His journalism earned him several appointments to the state bureaucracy, among them the post of Director of the National Archeological Museum (1868-72). He was the author of many collections of poems: Elegías, Armonías, Inspiraciones, Cantares, Églogas e idilios, La leyenda de Nochebuena, Veladas poéticas. The collection Cantares had a great circulation and a plausible influence on the poetry of Rosalía de Castro. His most popular collection however was Ecos Nacionales. Its three parts were published separately in 1849, 1854 and 1868.

Translator's Notes

"A Gaita Gallega" has five affectionate diminutives only. An affectionate diminutive ends in iña (singular feminine) or iño (singular masculine); however not every word with such an ending is an affectionate diminutive.

All the words in "A Gaita Gallega" 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

Virgen-mártir (1.1.6, 5.2.4). Galicia herself. Aguilera did not allude to any religious virgin in his poem, but he imagines Galicia to be "beautiful, pensive and alone, like a beloved one without her lover, like a queen without her crown" (La Gaita Gallega, 1.6-8).

Knit brilliant crowns (2.2.4). Rainbows and haloes from ice-crystal clouds.

And aye! on them sail the sons... For mercy from the homeland (3.2.1-6). The source for the following information is Cambrón Infante.1

By the early 1830's the Spanish colonial authorities of Cuba, the landowners and the sugar exporters realized that the growing population of African slaves posed a serious threat to the stability of the Caribbean island. In 1853 slave trafficker Urbano Feijóo Sotomayor and captain general Valentín Cañedo elaborated a White Paper to fill the demand for slave labour in the sugar cane plantations of Cuba with Galician workers brought in under a five-year contract. The plan was approved by the Spanish Courts on May 2, 1854. In March of that same year the frigate Villa Neda had transported the first 314 Galician workers to Havana. The official plan promised a decent life in Cuba. However the reality turned out to be quite different...Upon arrival the employer secluded the workers in barracks lacking minimum living conditions and hygiene; this was to be their residence during a period of "adaptation." The barracks were in fact derelict venues where landowners flocked to buy workers: a marketplace for buying and selling human "cargo." The food provided was sparse and dismal, potatoes and salt-cured meat, and the period of "adaptation" lasted for as long as it took to negotiate the price of a worker with slave trafficker Feijóo. Ramón Fernández Armada the director of the Havana enterprise resumed the situation thus,

The Galicians were taken from their homes tricked with false and vague promises and have arrived in Cuba to find opprobrium, fraud, ignominy and death. Until now approximately 500 have died from hunger, ill treatment or as a result of being abandoned [...] Their entire blame consisted in asking for bread to avert starvation; and to restrain the [rebellious] impulse the bosses ordered that they should be held in foul-smelling quarters, chained and fettered, naked and barefoot. They feed them rotting meats which the African blacks reject. They force them to work fifteen hours daily by way of the whip, the stick and the sword. This situation has led them to despair and the ones who did not escape died in the byways, the jails or the hospitals. A scandal—horrendous—a slaughter.

A third of the Galician emigrants died in Cuba during the first three months of the Feijóo project. Toward the end of 1854 news arrived to Galicia about their desperate situation,

We are treated worse than the slaves, sold like them to employers. Feijóo has outraged humanity and nature refounding slavery.

1 Ascensión Cambrón Infante, 2000: "Emigración gallega y esclavitud en Cuba (1854). Un problema de Estado." Anuario da Facultade de Dereito, pp. 83-108. Universidade da Coruña. PDF file.

aló nas Castillas oias (5.4.2). The administrative division of Spain by Secretary of State Javier de Burgos in 1833 created two regions called New Castile and Old Castile.


Listen-to-this icon

C.P.I. do Toural


Cando ese cantar, poeta,
na lira xemendo entonas,
non sei o que por min pasa
que as lagrimiñas me afogan,
que ante de min cruzar vexo
a Virgen-mártir que invocas,
cos pes cravados de espiñas,
cas mans cubertas de rosas.

En vano a gaita tocando
unha alborada de groria
sons polos aires espalla
que cán nas tembrantes ondas.
En vano baila contenta
nas eiras a turba louca,
que aqueles sons, tal me afrixen,
cousas tan tristes me contan,
que eu podo decirche:
Non canta, que chora


Vexo contigo estos ceos,
vexo estas brancas auroras,
vexo estes campos froridos
donde se arrullan as pombas,
i estas montañas xigantes
que aló cas nubes se tocan
cubertas de verdes pinos
e de froliñas cheirosas.

Vexo esta terra bendita
donde o ben de Dios rebota
e donde anxiños hermosos
tecen brillantes coroas.

Mas, ¡ai!, como tamén vexo
pasar macilentas sombras,
grilos de ferro arrastrando
antre sorrisas de mofa.

Anque mimosa gaitiña
toque alborada de groria,
eu podo decirche:
Non canta, que chora


Falas, i o meu pensamento
mira pasar temerosas
as sombras deses cen portos
que ó pé das ondiñas moran,
e pouco a pouco marchando
fráxiles, tristes e soias,
vagar as naves soberbas
aló nunha mar traidora.

I, ¡ai!, como nelas navegan
os fillos das nosas costas
con rumbo a América infanda
que a morte co pan lles dona,
desnudos pedindo en vano
á patria misericordia.

Anque contenta a gaitiña
o probe gaiteiro toca,
eu podo decirche:
Non canta, que chora


Probe Galicia, non debes
chamarte nunca española,
que España de ti se olvida
cando eres, ¡ai!, tan hermosa.
Cal si na infamia naceras,
torpe, de ti se avergonza,
i a nai que un fillo despreza
nai sin corazón se noma.

Naide por que te levantes
che alarga a man bondadosa;
naide os teus prantos enxuga,
i homilde choras e choras.

Galicia, ti non tes patria,
ti vives no mundo soia,
i a prole fecunda túa
se espalla en errantes hordas,
mentras triste e solitaria
tendida na verde alfombra
ó mar esperanzas pides,
de Dios a esperanza imploras.

Por eso anque en son de festa
alegre á gaitiña se oia,
eu podo decirche:
Non canta, que chora


«Espera, Galicia, espera»
¡Canto este grito consola!
Páguecho Dios, bon poeta,
mais é unha esperanza louca;
que antes de que os tempos cheguen
de dicha tan venturosa,
antes que Galicia suba
ca cruz que o seu lombo agobia
aquel difícil camiño
que ó pé dos abismos toca,
quisais, cansada e sedenta,
quisais que de angustias morra.

Págueche Dios, bon poeta,
esa esperanza de groria,
que de teu peito surxindo,
á Virgen-mártir coroa,
i esta a recompensa sea
de amargas penas tan fondas.

Págueche este cantar triste
que as nosas tristezas conta,
que soio ti... ¡ti entre tantos!,
das nosas mágoas se acorda.
¡Dina voluntad dun xenio,
alma pura e xenerosa!

E cando a gaita gallega
aló nas Castillas oias,
ó teu corazón pergunta,
verás que che di en resposta
que a gaita gallega:
Non canta, que chora


When you intone that song,
Poet, on the whimpering lyre
I know not what overtakes me
For spontaneous tears stifle me,
For I see crossing in front of me
The Virgin-martyr you invoke,
Her feet pierced with thorns,
Her hands covered with roses.

In vain the bagpipe playing
A morning song of glory
Scatters through the air notes
That fall on the tossing waves.
In vain the boisterous throng
Dances merry in the fields
For those notes so afflict me—
They tell me such sad stories—
That I can tell you:
It does not sing, it weeps


I see these skies, as you do,
I see these white dawns,
I see these florid fields
Where pigeons coo
And these giant mountains
That touch the clouds far up
Covered with green pine trees
And fragrant pretty flowers.

I see this blessed land where
The goodness of God spills over
And where beautiful boyish angels
Knit brilliant crowns.

Yet aye! I see also
Emaciated shadows pass by
Dragging iron shackles
Surrounded by scornful smiles.

Alhough a native bagpipe may play
Enticing a morning song of glory
I can tell you:
It does not sing, it weeps


You speak and my fancy beholds
Fearfully passing the shadows
Of those one hundred harbours
At the foot of the gentle waves,
And sailing away little by little,
Fragile, sad and solitary,
The proud vessels voyaging
Yonder on a treacherous ocean.

And aye! on them sail the sons
Of our shores bound for heinous
America which doles out to them
Death along with their bread,
Petitioning in vain, naked,
For mercy from the homeland.

Alhough the poor bagpiper plays
The merry native bagpipe
I can tell you:
It does not sing, it weeps


Poor Galicia, you must never
Call yourself Spanish
For Spain forsakes you
Though you are ah! so gorgeous.
As if you were born in infamy she,
Dim-witted, is ashamed of you
And the mother who disdains a son
A heartless mother is called.

No one extends a kind hand
To lift you up;
No one dries your tears
And humble you cry and cry.

Galicia, you have no fatherland:
You dwell alone in the world
And your prolific progeny
Disperses in wandering hordes
While sad and solitary,
Lying on the green carpet,
You solicit the ocean for answers,
You implore God for hope.

Hence though in festive tone gay
The native bagpipe may play
I can tell you:
It does not sing, it weeps


"Wait, Galicia, wait" How much
This cry consoles! May God
Recompense you, good poet,
But it's an extravagant hope.
Before the epoch of such
Fortunate bliss arrives,
Before Galicia climbs with the
Cross that burdens her back
That difficult path which borders
On the brink of the abysses,
Perhaps—tired and thirsty—
Perhaps she will die of anguish.

May God recompense, good poet,
That hope of glory
Which surging from your breast
Crowns the Virgin-martyr
And may this be the recompense
Of sorrows so deep and bitter.

May God recompense this sad
Song that recounts our miseries;
You alone... you among so many!
Remember our misfortunes.
Praiseworthy will of a genius,
Of a generous and pure soul!

And when you hear the Galician
Bagpipe over there in the Castiles
Ask your heart:
You will hear that it replies
That the Galician bagpipe
Does not sing, that it weeps

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Countryside fountain

A typical countryside fountain with sink. Section I of this poem
hints that peasant families used to bathe their small children here.
Photograph: George Quinn. Walk Ten Thousand Miles.

12.   Come, Girl     (Vente, rapasa)

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)

Typographical Error in the Original

Original line 1.2.2 reads, "douche si non polo demo do dente" which makes stanza 1.2 say, ""Come, Minguiño; Minguiño, come / Or I will give you in your troublesome tooth." The statement is incongruous and baffling. Changing one crucial vowel in line 1.2.2. clears up the confusion. What Rosalía de Castro wrote in fact was: "douche si non palo demo do dente," and the typesetter mistook the highlighted "a" for an "o" and the error is understandable because this video demonstrates that De Castro's caligraphy sometimes produced a's that look like o's when joined to a consonant.

Translator's Notes

"Vente, rapasa" is a collection of (I) affectionate words spoken by a mother to her small children, (II) manners of speech between Galician peasants and (III) verbal reproaches to pets or farm animals. It is a sample of what De Castro called "those tender words and those idioms never forgotten which sounded so sweet to my ears since the cradle and which were gathered up by my heart as its own heritage." The translation to the English language is particularly difficult, but an approximation is worth the while.

As might be expected section I of the poem is replete with affectionate diminutives. An affectionate diminutive ends in iña (singular feminine) or iño (singular masculine) but not every word that ends in iña or iño is an affectionate diminutive.

All the words in "Vente, rapasa" 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

Cas-qui-tó (3.4.2). According to the "Glossary of Terms in Cantares Gallegos" (Wikisource, Galician Wikipedia) this cry, "Cas-qui-tó," was a farmer's way of telling a hog to get out of the way.

¡Gachi!, ¡gachi! (3.8.1). Unknown. Nevertheless the following guess, "Stop! Stop!" suits the script.


—Vente, rapasa, vente, miniña,
vente a lavar no pilón da fontiña.

—Vente, Minguiño, Minguiño, vente;
douche si non palo demo do dente.

—¡Que augua tan limpa! ¡Que rica frescura!
Vente a lavar que é un primor, criatura.

—Válganos Dios, que si auguiña n'houbera,
lama este corpo mortal se volvera.

—Vinde a lavarvos, andá lixeiriños,
a cara pirmeiro, dimpois os peíños.

—¡Ai!, ¡que miniña! ¡Que nena preciosa!
dempois de lavada parese unha rosa.

—I este miniño que teño no colo,
dempois de lavado parece un repolo.

—¡Ai!, ¡que tan cuco! ¡Ai!, ¡que santiño!
Ven ós meus brazos, dareiche un biquiño.

—¡Olliños de groria! ¡Cariña de meiga!
Apértame ben, corazón de manteiga!

—Corre, corre a que Antona te peite,
corre, daráche unha cunca de leite.

—Corre, corre a teu pai, Mariquiña,
que come cebola con pan e sardiña.


—¡Válgate Dios que inda os figos son duros!
¡Mais, que fartiña en estando maduros!

—El e mais eu i a comadre de abaixo
hemos de ter que alargar o refaixo.

—Rica figueira, que Dios te bendiga,
que hasme, abofé, de fartar a barriga.

—¡Jei!, o dos ovos que vas de camiño,
¿cantas duciñas topache no niño?

—¡Unha no máis! —¡No me teño ca risa!
Ese éche un conto que vai para a misa.

—Dáme acá seis, que un fricol che faría,
que ó mesmo rei que envidiar lle daría.

—Xa que non qués, no camiño che colla
vento de vira cun saco de molla.


—¡Turra, turra, Xan, pola burra!
Mira que Pedro a cadela che apurra.

—¡Ai, desdichada de min, que a vexo
fincarche o colmillo no triste pelexo!

—¡Diancre de Xan que non corre nin toa!
Ben haia, amén, quen os ósos che roa.

—¡Churras!, ¡churras! ¡Churriñas!, ¡churras!
Cas-qui-tó, que escorrenta-las burras.

—Pica, pica, suriña, pica,
lévalle un gran ó teu fillo na bica.

—Marcha, can, a ladrar ó palleiro,
¡sei que che agrada o demoro do cheiro!

—¡Vaiche co can, que o peixiño lle gusta!
Mais a teu dono o diñeiro lle custa.

—¡Gachi!, ¡gachi! ¡Que dencho de gato!
¡Como se farta no prebe do prato!

—¡Inda reventes, larpeiro rabudo!
¡Que inda na gorxa che aperten un nudo!

—Truca, perico, no gato rabelo
hastra deixalo quedar sin un pelo.

—Que eu, si outra vez o camiño me atranca,
hei de romperlle no lombo unha tranca.

—¡Malo daquel que non sabe de misa,
nin entra na igrexia nin gasta camisa!

—¡Ai!, que galiña saltou no valado!
¡Sei que quer vir a comer de prestado!

Isca de ahí, galiña maldita,
isca de ahí, non me mate-la Pita

Isca de ahí, galiña ladrona,
isca de ahí pra cás tua dona


"Come, girl; come, lassie; come wash
At the sink of the dear fountain."

"Come, Minguiño; Minguiño, come
Or I'll treat your troublesome tooth."

"Such clean water! Wonderfully cool!
Come wash, child, it's very delightful."

"God help us if we had no dear water,
This mortal body would turn to mud."

"Come get washed, pace quick quick,
First your face then the little feet."

"Aye what a lassie! What a precious baby!
Washed she resembles a rose."

"And this laddie I hold snug in my lap,
Washed he resembles a white cabbage."

"Aye how cunning! Aye what a dear saint!
Come to my arms, I'll give you a fond kiss."

"Lovely glory eyes! Pretty enchantress face!
Give me a big hug, heart of cream!"

"Run, run to Antoinette to get combed,
Run, she will give you a bowl of milk."

"Run, Molly, run to your father who eats
Onion with bread and sardines."


"God help you, the figs are still tough!
But what glut when they ripen!"

"He and I and godmother down the road
We'll have to loosen the sash."

"God bless you, bountiful fig tree,
For you, my word, shall fill my belly."

"Hey! Fellow on the road with the eggs,
How many dozens did you find in the nest?"

"No more than one!" "I can't stop laughing!
That's a story that goes to mass."

"Bring me six here, I'd fry you a dish
Which the king himself would envy."

"Since you decline, may a whirwind with
A sack of rain get you on the way."


"Stick with it, John, stick with the jennet!
See, Peter incites the bitch against you."

"Aye, hapless me, for I see her plunge
Her fangs in the sad hide!"

"That rascal John neither runs nor thunders!
It blessed be that chews your bones, amen."

"Hens! Hens! Good hens! Hens!
Get lost, pig that makes the jennets flee."

"Pick, pick, squab, pick,
Carry a grain in your beak to your chick."

"Go to the haystack and bark there, dog,
I see you relish the lingering odour!"

"Go with the dog that likes to eat small fish!
But it costs your owner money."

"Stop! stop! What a wicked cat! How it
Stuffs itself with the sauce on the plate!"

"May you burst yet, astute glutton! May
they tighten a noose around your neck yet!"

"Butt, kid, butt the cat with no tail
Until you leave it without a hair."

"For if he ever bars my way again
I'll break a staff on its back."

"A bad sort is one who doesn't attend mass
Nor enters a church nor wears a shirt!"

"Aye! A hen jumped up on the fence!
I see you want to eat a borrowed meal!"

"Scram from there, damned hen,
Scram from there, don't kill my pullet

"Scram from there, thieving hen,
Scram from there to your mistress' house

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Homage to Caspar David Friedrich

Source: Juan Pedro Quiñonero

13.   When the Solitary Moon Appears     (Cando a luniña aparece)

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)

Translator's Notes

"Cando a luniña aparece" uses ten affectionate diminutives. The affectionate diminutive ends in iña (singular feminine) or iño (singular masculine) but not every word that ends in iña or iño is an affectionate diminutive.

All the words in "Cando a luniña aparece" 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."

Cando a luniña aparece
i o sol nos mares se esconde,
todo é silencio nos campos,
todo na ribeira dorme.

Quedan as veigas sin xente,
sin ovelliñas os montes,
a fonte sin rosas vivas,
os árbores sin cantores.

Medroso o vento que pasa
os pinos xigantes move,
i á voz que levanta triste,
outra máis triste responde.

Son as campanas que tocan,
que tocan en sons de morte,
i ó corazón din: N'olvides
ós que para sempre dormen.

¡Que triste! ¡Que hora tan triste
aquela en que o sol se esconde,
en que as estrelliñas pálidas
tímidamente relosen!

Aló as montañas confusas
de espesas niebras se croben,
i a casa branca en que el vive
en sombra espesa se envolve.

En vano miro e máis miro,
que os velos da negra noite
entre ela i os meus olliños
traidoramente se poñen.

¿Que fas ti mentras, meu ben?
Dime donde estás, en donde,
que te aspero e nunca chegas,
que te chamo e non respondes.

¿Morreches, meu queridiño?
¿O mar sin fondo tragoute?
¿Leváronte as ondas feras
ou te perdeches nos montes?

Vou perguntando ós airiños,
vou perguntando ós pastores,
ás verdes ondas pergunto
e ninguén ¡ai! me responde.

Os aires mudiños pasan,
os pastoriños non me oien,
i as xordas ondas fervendo
contra os penedos se rompen.

Mais ti non morreche, ingrato,
nin te perdeches nos montes;
ti quisais mentras que eu peno,
dos meus pesares te goces.

¡Coitada de min! ¡Coitada!
Que este meu peitiño nobre
foi para ti deble xunco
que ó menor vento se torce.

¡I en recompensa ti olvídasme!
Dasme fel, e dasme a morte...
¡Que este é o pago, desdichada,
que á que ben quer dan os homes!

Mais ¡que importa! ben te quixen...
Querreite sempre... Así cómpre
a quen con grande firmesa,
vidiña i alma entregouche.

Ahí tes o meu corazón,
si o queres matar ben podes,
pero como estás ti dentro,
tamén si ti o matas, morres

When the solitary moon appears
And the sun hides in the seas
Everything is quiet in the fields,
Everything sleeps on the riverside.

The meadows are left without people,
Without innocent sheep the hills,
The fountain without bright roses,
The trees without singers.

Diffident the passing wind
Waves the giant pine trees
And to the sad voice it raises
Sadder replies another.

It's the church bells that peal,
That toll in tones of death
And say to the heart: "Do not forget
Those who for ever sleep."

How sad! How sad that hour
When the sun hides away,
When the pale twinkling stars
Glimmer timorously!

Yonder the blurred mountains
Are blanketed by thick fogs and
The white house where he dwells
Wraps itself in dense shadow.

I watch and watch again in vain,
For the veils of the black night
Interpose themselves treacherously
Between it and my searching eyes.

What do you meanwhile, my boon?
Tell me where you are, where,
For I expect you and you never come,
For I call you and you do not answer.

Did you perish, my dearie? Did the
Bottomless sea swallow you up?
Did the raging waves wash you away
Or did you lose your way in the hills?

I go about asking the breezes,
I go about asking the shepherds,
I question the green waves
And no one aye! answers me.

The winds go by blamelessly silent,
The dear shepherds do not hear me
And the deaf waves churning
Crash against the stacks.

But you did not perish or lost
Your way in the hills, ingrate.
You, perhaps, while I grieve
Take pleasure in my sorrows.

Hapless me! Hapless!
For this poor breast of mine, noble,
Was to you a yielding reed
That bends with the lightest breeze.

And you forget me in recompense!
You give me gall and you give me
Death, for such is men's payment
To she who loves true, forlorn one!

But no matter! I loved you true...
I will always love you...Thus it
Behooves her who with great resolve
Surrendered dear life and soul to you.

You have my heart there at hand,
If you want to kill it you indeed can,
But since you are inside,
If you kill it you too die

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Romería galega do século XIX

Source: A guía de Laborde de 1812: "Galicians are poor, simple and happy."

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

(Cantares Gallegos, 1863)

Translator's Notes

"Si a vernos, Marica, nantronte viñeras" employs just three affectionate diminutives. The affectionate diminutive ends in iña (singular feminine) or iño (singular masculine) but not every word that ends in iña or iño is an affectionate diminutive. 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.

The five words in "Si a vernos, Marica, nantronte viñeras" that end in iña or iño are listed below together with their translation.

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

O Seixo (1.1.2). Unclear. Several places across Galicia share the name.

pawn!...pawn! (1.2.4). The approximate sound of a big drum (Spanish pon! pon!).

Cais (2.2.4). Unknown placename.


Si a vernos, Marica, nantronte viñeras
á festa do Seixo na beira do mar,
ti riras, Marica, cal nunca te riches
debaixo dos pinos do verde pinar.

Á sombra dos pinos, Marica, ¡que cousas
chistosas pasaron!, ¡que rir toleirón!
Relouca de arriba, relouca de abaixo,
iñamos, viñamos i o bombo... pon!...¡pon!

As cóchegas brandas, as loitas alegres,
os berros, os brincos, os contos sin fel,
todiños peneques, alegres todiños...
I a nosa señora detrás do tonel.


¡Coitada!, ¡que festa brandida perdeche!...
Cantaras, beberas, dormiras, i así
nun feixe miraras rolar xuntamente
mociños e vellos de aquí para alí.

Coa vista trubada, cos ollos dormentes,
sorrindo, comendo, pifando e aínda máis,
¡que apertas, que olladas tan chuscas trocaban
as nenas de xenio cos mozos de Cais!

Debaixo dos ricos pareauguas de seda
que abertos formaban tamaño rodel,
todiños chispados, ¡que cousas decían!
I a nosa señora detrás do tonel.


Mais ela decote tan grave e soberba,
tan fina de oído, tan curta de mans,
xordiña quedara, falando por sete,
con probes e ricos, con porcos e cans.

Meu amo folgado de tanta largueza,
que n'era costume na dona tal ver,
tamén ¡miña xoia! saltando da burra,
¡pin!, ¡pan!, río arriba botouse a correr.

I a dona sorría con ollo entraberto,
comendo castañas e viño con mel...
¡Que festa, Marica!...Todiños peneques...
I a nosa señora detrás do tonel.


Mary, if you had come to see us at the seaside
On Seixo's feast day the day before yesterday
You'd have laughed as you never have, Mary,
Beneath the pines of the green pine forest.

What funny things transpired in the shade of
The pine trees, Mary! What madcap laughter!
Cavort up, cavort down, we went, we came
And the bass drum...pawn!...pawn!

The light tickles, the playful scuffles,
Shouts, prances, stories without bile,
One and all tipsy, merry one and all...
And our mistress behind the butt barrel.


Sorry one! What splendid party you missed!...
You would have sung, drunk, slept and thus
In one package watched laddies and old folks
Amble together back and forth.

With ruffled eyesight, with sleepy eyes,
Smiling, eating, sparring and even more,
What hugs, what flirtatious ogles traded
The girls of pluck with the lads of Cais!

Beneath the rich umbrellas of silk
Which opened formed an impressive buckler
What things they said, pickled one and all!
And our mistress behind the butt barrel.


But she so formal and haughty normally,
So sharp of hearing, so standoffish,
Ended deaf silly chatting like seven
With rich and poor, with hogs and dogs.

My master, relieved at so much largesse
Uncommon to witness in his wife,
Also my jewel! bounding out of the jennet
Pim! Pam! took to running upstream.

And his wife smiled with half-open eye,
Eating chestnuts and wine with honey...
What a binge, Mary!...Everyone tipsy...
And our mistress behind the butt barrel.

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