Sunday, 13 October 2013

Spain and Poetry 2: "My Thought Goes Back to the Land..."

  My thought goes back to the land,
- the olive groves at sunrise -
outlined sharply in the white
or golden or yellow moonlight,
that look forward to the coming back
of those humans who are neither its slaves nor its masters,
but who love it anyway...

-Juan Ramón Jiménez, from 'Night Piece'

Having now spent a few weeks in total in Andalucia, and keeping my eyes and ears open for poetry, my impression is that a good number of the greatest Spanish poets have been Andalucian; certainly a number of those who make up the famed Generation of '27. These authors came together in 1927 to celebrate Luis de Góngora (1561-1627). He was an extremely influential Spanish Baroque poet, and the Generation of '27 celebrated the three hundred years since his death. In Cordoba, his city of origin, I crossed paths with this poet.

This is one of his poems to Cordoba, on a plaque erected in 1927, near the Roman Bridge in Cordoba:

In the Mezquita, the great mosque of Cordoba which was converted into a cathedral, I found his tomb:

The Generation of '27 seem to have been a somewhat disparate lot, but amongst a variety of subjects, emotional and intellectual approaches, they strove for excellence. Juan Ramón Jiménez, who I came across at the Alhambra, is thought of more as a teacher or mentor for the Generation of '27 than a member of the group. Here is the full text of his wonderful (and very Andalucian) poem 'Night Piece', and another which particularly struck me, 'Road' (this poem made me wonder if Paul Celan was influenced by Jiménez).

In Cadiz, I came across more traces. Cadiz is wonderful itself, a city which is not just "seaside" but almost surrounded by the sea. Columbus left on some of his voyages from here, and it may be the oldest settlement in Europe. I found this plaque dedicated to and quoting another Generation of '27 poet, Rafael Alberti. While I'm not sure any translation I can provide would be accurate, the quote expresses a love for Cadiz:

Here you can read a translation of Alberti's 'If my voice should die on land...'.

In Cadiz I also found this monument to the great Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío. You can read some of his poems here. This monument appears to have been donated by the Nicaraguan government - I'm not sure if he had specific ties to Cadiz, but his connections to Spain were close and influential.

My next post, or one soon, will be about the great and oh-so-Andalucian Lorca, the most famous member of the Generation of '27.

All photos © Clarissa Aykroyd, 2013

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