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

Author: Eduardo Freire Canosa
(University of Toronto Alumnus)

I grant the translations herein to the public domain

Galician migration

Return!     (¡Volved!)

(En Las Orillas Del Sar, 1884)

Translator's Notes

The odd insertion of two dotted lines between 2.26 and 2.27 suggests some type of censorship. It is suggested that the expunged verses condemned the existing, unjust social order, and this assertion is buttressed by a poem that De Castro wrote in praise of writer, lawyer and politician Salustiano Olózaga on the occasion of his visit to Santiago de Compostela. Member of the Progressive Liberal Party, inveterate opponent of absolute monarchy, Olózaga was arrested and exiled several times. He took part in the Revolution of 1868 and presided over the commission charged with drafting a new Constitution (1869). This document gave men older than twenty-five the right to vote, restricted the power of the monarch, ceded executive power to an elected government, legislative power to a House of Congress and Senate, and instituted freedom of worship. The absolute monarchy returned in 1874.

Here is an excerpt of the poem penned by De Castro, published in a liberal Madrid newspaper, and rescued from oblivion by Prof. Francisco Rodríguez Sánchez.

Salustiano Olozaga

To Mr. Salustiano Olózaga (Al señor Salustiano Olózaga)
(La Soberanía Nacional. Monday June 4, 1866)

Al escucharos, mi pecho
Se conmovió en lo profundo,
Pues vi, rodando deshecho
De iniquidades un mundo
Al soplo audaz de vuestro genio ardiente
Fecundo sol, inagotable fuente.

Sentí lo que siente el alma
Cuando cansada y rendida
Recobra la dulce calma
Que un tiempo lloró perdida
Y os contemplé en la senda del progreso
Astro que brilla en su pureza ileso.

Y bien, señor, la fortuna
Hoy quiere que ese astro bello
Brille donde no hay ninguna
Luz igual a su destello.
Hoy a Galicia… al pueblo que me ha dado
Llega aquel que en silencio he proclamado.

¿Callarme?, aunque quisisera,
Que es grande el contento mío,
Y acaso más fácil fuera
Torcer el cauce de un río.
¿Por qué callar? ¿Es crimen, por ventura
Cantar el bien...amar quien lo procura?

My breast stirred deep inside
Upon listening to thee,
For I saw revolving a world
Of wrongdoing ruined by
The bold breath of your fiery genius,
Fecund sun, ever flowing fountain.

I felt what the soul feels
When tired and spent
Recovers the sweet calm
One time lost and lamented
And I beheld thee on the trail of progress,
Star that shines with intact purity.

And so, sir, fate desires that today
That beautiful star should shine
Where there is no light
To match its sparkle.
To Galicia, to the people I've been given,
Comes today whom I've proclaimed in silence.

Keep silent, I? Not even if I wished to,
For great is my gladness
And it were easier perhaps
To vary the course of a river.
Why be silent? Is it perchance a felony
To sing the love who seeks it?

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

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

And on every old bulwark...And played restlessly (2.5-7). During the Middle Ages many villages and hamlets were built near a watchtower or a castle. When these strongholds fell into disrepair they became the unintended playground of children. An example of such medieval fortresses can be seen in Moeche and Narahío, Vimianzo and Brión in the province of A Coruña.

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

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


Listen-to-this icon Maite Lorenzo


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

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


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


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

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


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