Translation from Galician to English of 11 poems by Eduardo Pondal

Translator: Eduardo Freire Canosa
(University of Toronto Alumnus)

I grant the translations herein to the public domain

A few words about Eduardo Pondal

Eduardo Pondal in 1862

Eduardo Pondal (b. 1835, d. 1917) is the second eminent poet of Spanish Galicia (also known as Galiza).1 He too was highly educated. He obtained the equivalent of a high-school diploma with pre-university training in medicine and surgery from the University of Santiago de Compostela (April 6, 1859) plus the equivalent of a Doctor of Medicine degree from the same university a year later (June 18, 1860) and the equivalent military rank of health care officer after passing tough entrance examinations at the military academy of health care in Madrid (1861 or 1863, sources vary). He served at the naval base of Ferrol and in the huge weapons factory at Trubia in the Spanish region of Asturias (also known as Asturies). After a month of service in Trubia he was granted leave of absence to attend to an urgent family matter, he never returned.

Pondal's decision to abort his medical career may have been an act of conscientious objection. On March 2, 1856, he had helped to organize a revolutionary banquet of camaraderie between liberal students and workers in Conxo where class conventions were laid aside and the students waited on the workers. Aurelio Aguirre and Eduardo Pondal wrote separate toasts for the gathering. Aguirre's proposed that all men were equal because Christ willed the unity of the human family and that as equals the workers and the people should defend their liberty and their rights. Pondal's reply also based the equality of men on religious principle but his tone was more aggressive,


And you the people who suffer resigned,
Who donate sons to the foul war,
Who wretched and bathed in sweat make the earth
Burst forth with brown cereals for the making of bread,
You who live in ignorance and humiliated:
Your grand future is locked up in yourselves.
People who live free! Arise and gaze undaunted
On the sun with daring forehead.2


The social repercussion of the toasts and banquet was enormous. Pondal and Aguirre narrowly escaped exile to the Northern Mariana Islands and they made a partial retraction.3,4 The retractions coincided with the consolidation of the Conservative coup d'état staged by general Leopoldo O'Donnell in July. The Conservatives returned general Narváez to the presidency in October of the following year (1857). This general had been responsible for the bloody suppression of the Liberal uprising of 1846.

Every writer of the Galician Literary Renaissance or Rexurdimento was deeply affected by the failed Liberal uprising of 1846.5 On April 2, 30-year-old colonel Solís the commander of the garrison in Lugo rebelled against President Narváez. There was widespread support for the insurrection in the cities, a Galician government was stitched together hurriedly, vestiges of the central government and its regime of taxation were abolished and the promise was made that Galicia would cease to be treated like a colony. Narváez suppressed the insurrection swiftly and many involved in the rebellion were executed without trial. They came to be known as "the martyrs of Carral." These dead became the triggering pin of the Rexurdimento. On April 23, 1899, Pondal contributed the following poem to a fund-raising campaign to erect the cenotaph that stands today in Carral,

Cando m'o referíno,
sendo cándido neno,
a execución odiosa
do bárbaro decreto;
Non choréi, no; quedei como estantío
diante do oprobio duro e ferroento.

Durmide, héroes, durmide;
que vos conceda o Ceo
un doce e brando sono,
de tanta infamia exento;
Durmide o eterno sono; non sabades
da patria o oprobio duro e ferroento.

Que s'á vida volvérades,
certo, eu teño por certo
volvérades da cova
ao doce sono eterno;
Por non ver abafados de vergonza
da patria o oprobio duro e ferroento.6

When they mentioned it to me—
The odious execution
Of the barbarous decree—
Being a candid child
I did not weep, no, I became as it were dazed,
Confronted with the hard, ironhanded affront.

Sleep, heroes, sleep;
May Heaven grant you
A sweet and mellow slumber
Exempt from so much infamy.
Sleep the eternal sleep, know not
The hard and ironhanded humiliation of the homeland.

For if you were to return to life,
Certainly, I have it for a fact,
You would return to the sweet
And mellow slumber of the grave
So as not to witness smothered with shame
The hard and ironhanded humiliation of the homeland.6

Listen-to-this icon The Failed Liberal Uprising of 1846
Listen-to-this icon Remembered In 2010

Pondal went from Trubia to Ponteceso in 1864. He was a happy man in the countryside that enchanted him so (poem 8). Naturally the friends he had made and the locales he had visited during his student years pulled him away to Santiago de Compostela on occasion. He also became a regular patron of the "Cova Céltica" (Celtic Cave) symposia held in a bookstore of the city of A Coruña where old friends like Manuel Murguía and new ones met for animated discussions on the future of Galicia and of Galician literature. Murguía acquainted him with the writings of the Scottish bard James Macpherson (b. 1736, d. 1796) and the Ossian cycle of poems became the second major influence on Pondal's literary imagination, the first being the voluminous work of poetry entitled "Os Lusíadas" written by the Portuguese bard Luiz Vaz de Camões (b. 1524, d. 1580). Pondal had these two mentors in mind when he wrote the two verses, "The time of the ages of bards has arrived" (poem 9, 4.1-2).

Listen-to-this icon James Macpherson
Listen-to-this icon Luiz Vaz de Camões

On February 9, 1902, the city of A Coruña welcomed enthusiastically a minstrel group of university students7 from Porto. Pondal contributed the following poem to Revista gallega where he alludes to the Galician ancestry of Luiz Vaz de Camões,


Bé-nos conozo:—escrito
Lévan na nobre frente,
O sello esplendoroso,
D'aquela forte gente,
Que nos pasados tempos,
O paso abrío ao luminoso Oriente.

De Lusitania fono,
Os esforzados peitos;
Do robusto Camoes,
Os sublimes afeitos;
Destino foi glorioso certamente;
Da boa Lusitania fono os feitos
Famosos:—De Galicia a musa ardente.8


I know them well—they bear
Written on the noble forehead
The resplendent seal
Of that strong people
Who in ages past
Opened the route to the bright East.

The hardy chests
Were from Lusitania,
The usual sublimeness
From robust Camoes.
The destiny was certainly a glorious one,
From the good Lusitania came the renowned
Deeds, from Galicia the ardent muse.8


Pondal's lifelong ambition was to pen an epic similar to "Os Lusíadas." His carried the title "Os Eoas" (The Sons of the Sun) but his punctiliousness barred him from finishing the oeuvre to his satisfaction and he died before publishing it, disappointing many of his contemporary readers at home and abroad, yet the failure underscores his commitment to make the Galician language a vehicle for literary masterpieces comparable to Camões' and thus to gain for it redemption from the "scurrilous soubriquet" (poem 9, 5.7).

Any public attempt to honour the native language offended the "odious, groveling vermin that commonly crawl on the trails...the deserters of the sweet, dear homeland" (below). These "vermin" refused to speak Galician, ridiculed those who did and demanded that others speak Spanish in their presence. The bard of Bergantiños wrote this acerbic poem to rebuff them, almost certainly returning the verbal abuse that he and other members of the "Cova Céltica" had to put up with now and then.


The odious, groveling vermin
That habitually crawl on the trails
Will not be winged companions
To the sublime, talented pilgrims
Sentenced to being tethered
To the sad, hard ground.
Galicians who defect from the sweet,
Dear homeland with your language:
How can you, demented ones, trade
Your ear-pleasing diction
For the rude accent of the Toledan?
Barbarians, what are you saying,
What are you chatting about
In those dour, strident accents?
How can you exchange, barbarians,
Your soft, silken speech for theirs?
Before stooping to such dishonour—
Since you own the words of servants—
Tear the tongue out of your mouths
So your own tongue won't be tainted.

(As read by Manuel Ferreiro)

Listen-to-this icon Speak Galician
Listen-to-this icon Ana Kiro

Pondal lived through the Spanish-American War of 1898.9 His habitual exaltation of the warrior figure (Villafañe in poem 8, Leonidas in poem 10) led him to write a panegyric to a Spanish general named Valeriano Weyler. This general was so popular that Melchor Bordoy composed an anthem in his honour in 1897, the same year that Pondal wrote this tribute. Weyler removed many Cuban peasants from their villages and interned them in overcrowded facilities guarded by troops, a policy he dubbed "reconcentration." As a result of his policy hundreds of thousands of Cubans died of starvation or disease. General Weyler was the father of the modern internment or concentration camp.


Muitos qu'ás tuas ordes pelearon,
E as suas roxas faixas che deberon,
En cuanto os sumos grados atingueron,
Po-los pátridos eidos suspiraron.
Alguns, brandos afectos acucíaron
Do seu deixado lar, e esmoreceron;
Outros á uns lindos ollos se renderon;
Todos á doce patria retornaron.
Tan sô tí, Weyler forte, non tornastes
Da dura luita e militar desterro,
E o vasto incendio intrépido afrontastes.
E contra a tua obra alta e sin erro,
E contra a nobre gloria que alcanzastes
¡Nada podrán envidia, e fogo e ferro!10


Many who fought under your command
And owed their red sashes to you
As soon as they reached the top ranks
Sighed for the familiar places of the homeland,
Others were hounded by mellow affections
Of the home they had left behind and faltered,
Others surrendered to some pretty eyes,
Every one returned to the sweet homeland.
You alone, stalwart Weyler, did not pull back
From the tough fight and distant military station
And you faced the huge inferno without fear
And against your lofty, flawless achievement
And against the noble glory you attained to
Envy and fire and iron shall not succeed!10


The first issue of Revista gallega that circulated after the declaration of war on April 25, 1898, mirrored the jingoism that swept Spain. The poem that Pondal contributed to this issue was restrained and addressed the convenience of persuading France to join the war as an ally by pointing out the risk to "la douce et belle sa soeur pure et magique" (i.e. La Guadeloupe) posed by an expansionist United States of America. Pondal wrote this poem in French,



Eh quoi ! Révant des nouveax vols,
du Mississippi, plein de perfidie,
— A vous français — a nous espagnols —
le lourd alligator nous défie.

La douce et belle Martinique
craint le baiser des boucaniers;
et sa soeur pure et magique
tresaille dans se bois de palmiers.

Français, qu'est ce que nous entendons ?
Français, qu'est ce que vous entendez ?
Si l'heure arrive de marcher — marchons —
Marchez, français, avec nous — marchez.11


The sour and argumentative mood that followed defeat spawned the literary "Generación del 98" in Spain. Pondal took the outcome of the war in stride and tried to cheer up his readers with a short humorous poem,

¡Viva Beba!

Meus boos amigos:—¡Arriba!
O que se engruña se creba;
Quen queira beber, que beba,
Quen queira vivir que viva
E beba...¡e qué viva Beba!12

Long Live Have-A-Drink!

My good friends, liven up!
He who shrivels up shatters his spirit;
Let whoever wishes to drink drink,
Let whoever wishes to live live
And drink...and long live Have-A-Drink!12


In the midst of the war 63-year-old Pondal who lived in the city of A Coruña sent this letter to his last surviving sister (Josefa) who lived in Ponteceso. True to his word he wrote in Galician, true to his profession he gave her this medical advice,


As far as that slight swelling you have on the instep and on the lower shin it is an insignificant matter of little importance. That is a simple edema that usually affects women who venture little outdoors and it is not a symptom of a serious affliction [...]

My opinion is that you must wash your legs and feet with an infusion of leaves and small stems from the following plants growing in that orchard: rosemary, lemon balm, lemon verbena.

Place a small piece of cloth soaked in that water over the swollen area and wear a compression stocking. You can also drink [125 ml] of Mondariz water or of beer, I will be happy to send you the one out of the two which you prefer.

This and taking a walk outdoors around the orchard every once in a while will do you good, a lot of good.

Drink a good glass of milk with every chocolate and exercise moderately.

With nothing else for today, here is your very affectionate brother wishing that you keep well,



By 1903 he too was feeling the weight of years and he showed his fatigue in this short poem written in Ponteceso perhaps influenced by the delicate health of his sister,

Cando sin apoubigo e sin conforto,
Por este val de bágoas vou cruzando,
Unha profunda palidez mostrando
Do combate desleal, estanto e absorto;

Cando pl'a dura ruta, laso e esmorto
Mil cuidados pungentes vou cuidando,
As mesmas pedras pr'onde vou pasando,
Ao ver meu cor mortal, din:—Está morto.

—Oh, Dios! Canto dolor, canta amargura,
Canta triganza, canta adversa sorte,
Canta tribulación esquiva e dura.

Cavade unha gran fosa—cava forte,
Dádelle piadosa sepultura
Que piedá inspira ese color de morte!14

When without peace of mind and comfortless
I traverse this vale of tears,
A profound wanness showing
From the disloyal combat, dazed and engrossed;

When I walk the hard route feeble and disheartened,
Pondering a thousand grievous cares,
The very stones of the path I tread
Say upon seeing my mortal colour, "He is dead."

"O God! How much pain, how much bitterness,
How much distress, how much adverse fortune,
How much difficult and tough tribulation."

Dig a large grave, dig hard,
Afford him merciful interment
For that deathly colour inspires mercy!14


In 1908 Pondal took up permanent residence in a hotel of the city of A Coruña. He rejected cataracts surgery and went totally blind. He died in the hotel on March 8, 1917. The owner donated a wreath and an ample hall for the wake. City Hall donated the burial plot. The Galician Academy, the "Irmandade dos Amigos da Fala," the mayor, city council, mace-bearers, bailiffs, municipal guards in gala uniform and representatives from a long list of local organizations including the Chamber of Commerce, the Centro Castellano, the Casino Republicano, the Circulo Conservador, the Academy of Medicine and the Law School plus a large crowd of citizens accompanied the casket to the graveyard. There were also delegations and wreaths from expatriate centers in Havana and Buenos Aires. Every important building of the city placed black drapes or hung big, black bows from its windows or its balconies. Every shop on the route closed its doors respectfully as the cortege passed. At the interment several members of the "Irmandade dos Amigos da Fala" sang the Galician anthem (poem 9, 1-4) and impromptu a worker threw several bouquets of violets onto the lowered casket. Funeral services were held four days later on March 12, they were very solemn.15,16


1 There exists in Europe another Galicia whose origin is the whimsical title, "Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria," given by the Austro-Hungarian Empire to crownland on its northern frontier in the year 1772. The territory was inhabited mainly by Poles (who call it "Galicja") and by Ukrainians (who call it "Halychyna"). The empire made the town of Lwów (Ukrainian Lviv) capital of Galicia. In Lwów died the Polish Rosalía, María Konopnicka (b. 1842, d. 1910). Konopnicka wrote in Polish defying Prussia's colonization of her country and the gradual imposition of the German language, she composed late in life an epic poem decrying Polish emigration to the Americas, depicting in verse the misfortunes, suffering, endurance, disillusionment and nostalgia of a fictional bevy of Podlaks who emigrate to Brazil full of hope and enthusiasm but who return home bitterly disappointed in the end, and like Eduardo Pondal, she penned "The Oath," a rousing patriotic poem which set to music became the unofficial anthem of Poland for decades. The kingdom vanished with the empire at the conclusion of the First World War, but the placename "Galicia" stuck whereas "Lodomeria" did not. In 1920 Ternopil (Polish Tarnopol) was made the capital of the short-lived Galician Soviet Socialist Republic. The Second World War brought Ukrainian massacres of Poles in Eastern Galicia, this was followed by Soviet occupation and rule, still the placename endured to this day.

2 Revista galaica, 7, pp. 3-4, 15 Aug 1874.
3 José Barros Guede. "Eduardo Pondal, Bardo mítico de Bergantiños." La Opinión A Coruña 11 Jan 2008.
4 Daniel Salgado. "Pondal recúa." El País 3 Jun 2011.

5 On April 25, 2013, Sermos Galiza published a long-forgotten poem by Rosalía de Castro in 1867 to honour Liberal politician Salustiano de Olózaga (visit my webpage "Translation of the poem '¡Volved!' by Rosalía de Castro"). Olózaga was a promoter of the Revolution of 1868 which ushered in the chaotic, self-defeating Six-Year Revolution (1868-1874).

6 Revista gallega, 215, p. 2, 23 Apr 1899.
7 The Portuguese term for such a group is tuna. The contemporary Tuna Universitaria do Porto plays "Ondas do Douro" here.
8 Revista gallega, 360, pp. 2-3, 9 Feb 1902.

9 Readers with a musical bent may enjoy listening to the following songs played aboard the flagship of the U.S. Asian fleet during the conflict: Columbia the Gem of the Ocean, El Capitan March, La Paloma, Liberty Bell March, Nancy Lee and Swanee River (full list here). After the war two notorious American marches were composed, Hands Across the Sea to commemorate the victory in Cuba and Admiral Dewey March to celebrate the naval rout in the Bay of Manila. The Spanish wartime repertoire included the following songs and marches, Alma Sublime, Cadiz March, Coro de Repatriados, Felices Días, Los Voluntarios March, Margarita and Mis Amores (full list in Antonio Mena Calvo, "La guerra hispano-norteamericana de 1898 y su música," Militaria, 13, pp. 133-142, year 1999). Curiously a Cuban insurgency song became popular in Spain during the 1950's, María Cristina Me Quiere Gobernar. Very popular too around this time was the theme song "Yo Te Diré" from the 1945 Spanish movie, "Los Ultimos de Filipinas," which narrates the tardy siege of Baler. The Philippine movie version, "Baler," premiered in 2008 with its award-winning theme song, Ngayon Bukas at Kailanman. The leaders of the independence movement in Cuba and in the Philippines were nationalist poets like Eduardo Pondal; the Spanish American War broke out shortly after the two were killed, José Martí in Cuba (1895) and José Rizal in the Philippines (1896).

10 Revista gallega, 135, p. 4, 10 Oct 1897.
11 Revista gallega, 164, p. 2, 1 May 1898.
12 Revista gallega, 193, p. 4, 20 Nov 1898.
13 Ubaldo Cerqueiro. "Pondal PonteBen." Que pasa na Costa (diario dixital da Costa da Morte) 8 Dec 2010.
14 Revista gallega, 449, p. 5, 25 Oct 1903.
15 Entierro de D. Eduardo Pondal. Real Academia Galega, Boletín nº 116, Tomo 10, pp. 224-229. Year 1917.
16 El entierro de Eduardo Pondal. Crónicas Nerias.



To the Real Academia Galega whose online journals archive is the source for most of the poems shown in the Introduction.

To Galician Wikipedia whose list of places, parishes, municipalities and counties enabled me to discover the namesake of many proper nouns found in Pondal's poems (e.g. "Maroñas" of poem 2).


The Eleven Poems

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

  1.    Bell of Anllons    (E tí, campana d' Anllons)

  2.    Intrepid Maroñas    (Despois do duro combate)

  3.    Neither a Tramp Nor a Thief    (Que barba non cuidada!)

  4.    Night Delivery of Lumber    (Pol-o baixo cantando)

  5.    Sly Morpeguite    (Engañosa Morpeguite)

  6.    Swear You Won't Watch    (Á sombra tecida)

  7.    The Curious Wind Lifted Your Skirt    (Ibas gozando no meu tormento)

  8.    The Dolmen of Dombate    (O Dolmen de Dombate)

  9.    The Pine Trees    (Os Pinos)

10.    To Die On Downy Bed    (Morrer en brando leito)

11.    Wild Valley of Brantóa    (Salvage val de Brantóa)

Battle of Tetouan in 1860

1.   Bell of Anllons     (E tí, campana d' Anllons)

(Album de la Caridad, 1862)

Historical Background

On October 22, 1859, after protracted harassment of the Spanish garrisons at Ceuta and Melilla, President Leopoldo O'Donnell declared war on Mohammed the Fourth, Sultan of Morocco. The Spanish people reacted enthusiastically in favour of the war and many thousands volunteered to fight. The Spanish offensive captured Tetouan and Tangier and forced the formal surrender of the Moroccan side on April 26, 1860.


Translator's Notes

"E tí, campana d' Anllons" contains several reverse sentences (4.1-4, 5.2-3, 8.2-3, 10.3-4, 11.3-4, 12.1-3, 12.4-5). A reverse sentence barters logical order for rhyme or a baroque style. For example the lines, "How often did the captive man from Bergantiños on the African sea hear your sovereign pealing in unyielding dreaming" (4.1-4) are a rewording of the original, "How many (times) on the African sea, captive man from Bergantiños, heard he in unyielding dreaming your sovereign pealing." The original is replete with ambiguity, it would seem that the captive man from Bergantiños does the sovereign pealing and someone else on the African sea hears him. Confusing reverse sentences were restructured upon translation.

That sundered (6.4). The literal translation, With which you sundered, is redundant; rhyme (6.3, 6.4) is the sole reason for Pondal's use of this awkward reflexive phrase.

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

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

St. John's bonfire (8.2). A bonfire lit on the night of St. John's Eve for celebration.


Listen-to-this icon Eduardo Blanco Amor (Buenos Aires: July 24, 1956)

«E tí, campana d' Anllons,
Que vagamente tocando,
Derramas nos corazons,
Un bálsamo triste e brando,
De pasadas ilusións.

Alá nos pasados ventos,
Primeiros da miña vida,
Oyo os teus vagos concentos,
Reló dos tristes momentos,
Da miña pátria querida.

¡Cántas veces te lembróu,
O que marchóu para a guerra,
Cando á súa nai deixóu;
E partindo á estraña terra,
De Baneira t' escuitóu!

¡Cántas do mar africano,
Cautívo bergantiñan;
Oío n' hun soño tirano,
O teu tocar soberano,
Aló nas tardes do vran!

Cando te sinto tocar,
Campana d' Anllons doente,
N' unha nuite de lunar...
Rompo triste a suspirar,
Por cousas d' un mal ausente.

Cando doída tocabas,
Pol-as tardes á oracion,
Campana, sempre falabas,
Palabras con que cortabas,
As cordas do corazon.

Estabas contando ós ventos,
Cousas do meu mal presente;
Os meus futuros tormentos,
Que dabas con sentimentos,
Segun tocabas doente.

Campana, se pol-o vrán,
Ves lumiar na Ponte-Ceso,
A cachéla de San Joan;
Dílle a todos que estóu preso,
Nos calabozos d'Orán.

E a aquela rula inocente,
Que me morría d' amor,
No regazo docemente,
Tembrando com' unha fror,
Sobre escondida corrente;
Diráslle, que unha de ferro,
Arrastro, rouca cadéa,
Castigo atroz do meu erro;
E que dentro d' este encerro,
O seu amor me aluméa.

E tí, golondrina errante,
Dos longos campos d' Argel;
S' a miña terra distante,
Te leva o voxo constante,
Dílle o meu penar cruel.

S' alguén por min preguntar,
Dille que estou en prisións;
E unha nuite de lunar,
Iráste unha vés pousar,
No campanario d' Anllons.»

Así triste en terra alléa,
Aló nas prisions d' Orán,
Cantaba un mozo d' aldéa;
E nos grillons da cadéa,
Levaba ó compás ca man.

«Oh nai da miña vida,
Adios, adios, meu pai;
Prenda de min querida,
Adios, oh miña nai:
Sombras dos meus avós,
Río da Ponte-Ceso,
Pinal de Tella espeso,...
Acordávos d' hun preso,
Como él o fai de vós:
Campana de Anllons,
Noites de lunar,
Luna que te pós,
Detrás do pinar;

"And you, bell of Anllons,
That ringing in vague tones
Pours on every heart
A mellow and sad balsam
Of past illusions.

"Lo on the spent winds
Of the first years of my life
I hear your vague recitals,
Clock of the sad occasions
Of my beloved homeland.

"How often he remembered you
Who marched off to war
Leaving his mother behind
And departing for a foreign land
Listened to you from Baneira!

"How often did the captive man of
Bergantiños hear on the African sea
Your sovereign pealing
In unyielding dreaming
Of summer afternoons back when!

"When I sense you pealing
On a night of bright moonlight,
Aching bell of Anllons,
I break out in sad sighs
Over matters of an absent ailment.

"When you beckoned forlorn
To prayer in the afternoons,
Bell, you always uttered words
That sundered
The cords of the heart.

"You were relating to the winds
Details of my present woe—
The future sufferings of mine—
With the sentiments you transmitted
As you rang out dolefully.

"Bell, if in the summer season
You should spy St. John's bonfire
Burning at Ponte-Ceso
Inform everyone that I am jailed
In the prison cells of Oran.

"And to that innocent dove
Who used to die of love
On my lap tenderly—
Quivering like a flower
Over hidden brook—
You will say that I drag
A grating iron chain behind me
(Terrible punishment for my error)
And that in this confinement
Her love affords me light.

"And you, wandering swallow
Of the sprawling fields of Algeria,
If your constant flight takes you
To my distant homeland
Relate my cruel suffering to it.

"If someone inquires about me
Tell him that I am in jail
And go perch one time
On a night of brilliant moonlight
At the belfry of Anllons."

Thus sang a country boy
Grieving on alien land
Far away in the prisons of Oran
As his hand tapped a beat
On the couplings of the chain.

"O mother of my life,
Good-bye, good-bye my father;
Dear sweetheart of mine,
O mother of mine good-bye,
Shadows of my grandparents,
River of Ponte-Ceso,
Dense stand of pine in Tella...
Remember a prisoner
As he remembers you;
Bell of Anllons,
Nights of bright moonlight,
Moon that sets
Behind the pine grove,


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Celtic female warrior

2.   Intrepid Maroñas     (Despois do duro combate)

(Queixumes dos Pinos, 1886)


All the following names in "Despois do duro combate" are places found in the province of A Coruña,

Translator's Notes

"Despois do duro combate" is full of punctuation marks, creating a ponderous style which is fairly common in Spanish literature but rare in English. This translation removes a lot of the punctuation and reorders many sentences or phrases that sound awkward in English (1.3-4, 2.3-4, 2.5-6, 3.1-4, 4.1-4, 6.3-4, 9.7-8, 9.11-12, 11.7-8, 13.1-2, 14.2, 14.5-6).

The accuracy of the translated text is not compromised by the use of synonyms, and so synonyms were used to relieve repetition where it carries no special significance. The circumvented repetitions in "Despois do duro combate" were these,

The Celtism of Eduardo Pondal

Many poems of Eduardo Pondal promote the idea that Galicia is a Celtic nation at heart. The Celts were for Pondal the mysterious ancestors who had erected the dolmens and the ancient-hill-forts (stanza 13 here, #4.2 and #8.5). The preservation of these modest Iron Age monuments and settlements signified the preservation of a Celtic identity in the countryside and it insinuated that Romans and Celts coexisted on Galician soil since the first century AD à l'Astérix le Gaulois more or less. Certainly the massive Roman wall of Lugo evinces a hazardous occupation of that territory. At the start of the 5th century AD the Roman Empire disintegrated and the warlike Suevi or Suebi from Germany occupied Galicia. They too had a checkered relationship with the local population. Nevertheless the 170-year reign of the Suevi set the foundation for the medieval kingdom of Galicia.


Despois do duro combate,
Q' o nobre celta Folgar,
Contra do esquivo romano,
Librôu de Xallas no chan;
En que tantos esforzados,
Perdéno a luz xogoral;
No medio da esquiva gandra,
Asomellante ó estrelar,
Que s' apaga receoso,
Do monte Meda detrás;
Morría a linda Maroñas,
D' unha ferida mortal
No branco peito, cal rosa
Cortada do vento soán.

Maroñas, vírgen intrépida,
De magestüoso andar;
A cual os brandos adornos,
Desdeñóu da tenra edá;
E do escudo, e grave yelmo,
Cenguío o corpo lanzal:
E dend' os mais tenros anos,
Se compracía en dobrar
O arco, seguindo os corzos,
Da gandra no esquivo chan.

Das fillas dos nobres celtas,
A mais valente, en verdá;
Quixo éla do seu amado,
Ao lado peleár,
Sin que rogos á fixésen
Ceder, nin volver atrás.

Mil veces o curvo arco,
Brandéra con forza tal,
Que muitos a luz garrida
Do dia, non víran mais;
Cando unha frecha arribando,
Unha dura frecha audaz,
Cravóuse no branco peito,
Onde amor soe aniñar;
E caío cal tenro pino,
Das uces no escuro val.

Mais antes que dése o esprito,
O arco ainda firme na man,
Esto dixo á Margaride,
Bardo da voz sin igual:

—Doce e tenro Margaride,
Do gracïoso mirar;
A quen inda a dura lanza,
Non encallecío as mans;
Tan garrido e brando, como
O doce toxo molar,
Que crece na escura gandra,
No seu tempo xogoral;
Ou Margaride, a tua arpa
Héme muy doce escuitar...»

Dixo a valente Maroñas;
Con voz á do vento soán
Parecida, cando sopra
Por entr' as uces quezáis:

E esto dixo Margaride,
Bardo da voz sin igual:

—Maroñas, boa Maroñas,
Ou vírgen do seo albar,
Com' a escuma das Basontas,
Cando sinten tempestá;
Tan lixeira com' os corzos,
Que fóxen no carballal;
Cal pino da costa d' Ures,
D' esbelto e dereito van;
A valente antr' os valentes,
A quen ben as armas 'stán:
Teus tristes presentimentos,
He de razon olvidar;
Mais o son da miña arpa,
Se che prace, escuitarás.»

E así cantou Margaride,
Bardo da voz singular:

A fror garrida da gandra,
Que no doce mato está;
No seu tallo randeándose,
co sopro do vento soán;
Ó abrigo das hirtas uces,
Nais a sua tenra edá;
Que da tollente giada,
Acougo doce lle dan;
¡Dichos' éla, s' inda nova,
Cand' inda apuntando está
Do abrocho, unha doce causa
A corta amiga en agraz;
Antes que vellez escura,
Ou lodo a veña a manchar

Dixo; e ó son das doces cordas,
Maroñas perdendo vai,
A doce cor, e quedóu
Com' apagado estrelar;
Sin luz, e descolorida,
De Xallas no esquivo chan.

E Margaride, antr' as uces,
Erguida tumba lle dá,
A modo dos nobres celtas,
C' unhas antes por sinal;
Para que fósen memoria
Doce da futura edá.

Desde entonces, ou Maroñas,
De Xallas probe lugar:
Tomáche o nome garrido,
Da valente sin rival;
Pois no teu escuro eido,
Maroñas descansa en paz.

Following the tough combat
That Folgar the noble Celt
Fought on Xallas' meadows
Against the rude Roman—
In which so many hardy ones
Forsook the gay light—
In the middle of the harsh moor—
Like the starry sky
That fades warily
Behind Mount Meda—
Lay pretty Maroñas dying
From mortal wound
In the white breast like rose
Severed by the sounding wind.

Maroñas, intrepid maiden
Of majestic step
Who from an early age
Despised bland ornaments
And girded her slender body
With shield and heavy helmet—
Who since the most tender years
Delighted in bending the bow
Chasing after roe deer
On the uneven ground of the moor.

Verily the bravest of the daughters
Of the noble Celts
She chose to fight
Beside her lover
With no entreaty making her
Yield or turn back.

She had brandished the curved bow
A thousand times with such strength
That many gazed upon the joyous
Light of day no more
When there arrived an arrow
(A dauntless, cruel arrow)
That struck the white breast
Where love usually nests
And she fell like a pine sapling
In the gloomy glen of tree heaths.

But before the spirit parted from her,
The bow firm in hand still,
She said this to Margaride,
Bard of unmatched voice,

"Tender and sweet Margaride
Of graceful gaze
Whose hands the rigid spear
Has not yet calloused,
As soft and handsome
As the sweet dwarf furze
That grows in the dreary heathland
During its gladsome season:
O Margaride, your harp
Sounds very sweet to my ears..."

So said courageous Maroñas
With a voice like the loud wind's
When it blows through
The tree heaths perchance.

And this said Margaride,
Bard of unmatched voice,

"Maroñas, good Maroñas,
O maiden of white breast
Like the foam of the Basontas
When they feel the tempest,
As swift as the roe deer
That run away in the oak forest,
Of frame as svelte and straight
As a pine's on the coast of Urés,
Brave among the brave,
Whom the bearing of arms suits well:
Reason bids me to disregard
Your sad forebodings,
But you shall harken to the sound
Of my harp if it pleases you."

And thus sang Margaride,
Bard of singular voice:

Heathland's fair flower
That abides in the honey-scented bush,
Its stem waving to and fro
Under the breath of the sounding wind,
Sheltered by hirsute tree heaths—
Her mothers in the tender age
Who shield her lovingly
From the crippling frost—
Blessed she if still young,
Budding still from the star thistle,
A sweet, friendly cause
Should cut her off in the green years
Before sludge or grim old age
Come to sully her!

He spoke and to the cadence
Of the soft strings Maroñas shed
Her sweet colour until she lay
Like faded starlight
Lusterless and ashen
On Xallas' rough terrain.

And Margaride built for her
A raised tomb among the tree heaths
After the custom of the noble Celts,
With some standing stones as token
That they should compose a sweet
Memorial for future generations.

Since then, o Maroñas
Neglected place in Xallas,
You took the gallant name
Of the brave one without rival
For Maroñas rests in peace
On your forgotten farmland.


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Eduardo Pondal

3.   Neither a Tramp Nor a Thief     (Que barba non cuidada!)

(Queixumes dos Pinos, 1886)


Translator's Notes

Some verses of "Que barba non cuidada!" are reverse sentences (3.1-4, 3.5-8). Such sentences sacrifice logical order to obtain rhyme or a deliberately prolix style. For example the sentence, "The turbid regiment of a thousand profound yearnings took away (as it did from Lucifer) the original splendor" (3.5-8) reads in the original, "Of a thousand profound yearnings, the turbid regiment, took away (as it did from Lucifer), the original splendor." Reverse sentences show up in much of Pondal's poetry and they often translate poorly into English without rewording.


Que barba non cuidada!
Que pálida color!
Que vestido que longa
Noncuranza afeóu!
Quezáis he algun malvado,
Quezáis he algun ladron...
Miña madre, valédeme,
Valédeme, por Dios;
Quezáis he algun minguado,
Q'o juicio Ile mancou;
Oh! que vista tan brava,
Chea d'espanto e dor!
Non sei se me dá medo,
Se me dá compasión:
Parece un pino leixado do vento,
Parece botado do mar de Niñons.

—Singela rapaceta,
Non me teñas temor;
Non son un vagamundo,
Non son ningun ladron:
Geroglífico ousado
Do limo soñador,
Vou, e ignoto á min mismo
Escuro enígma eu son;
Se quezáis estou tolo,
Estou tolo d'amor:
Por eso as boas gentes,
Pr' onde vagante vou,
O ver meu abandono,
Din con admiracion:
Parece un pino leixado do vento,
Parece botado do mar de Niñons.

Pensamentos insómnes
Turbulenta ambición,
Propósitos de ferro,
O ánimo nobre ousou:
De mil suidades fondas,
O túrbido escadron,
Com'a Luzbel privára,
Do primeiro esplendor.
Son os bardos sapientes,
Que lei fatal lanzou,
Soñadores e vagos,
De sua condicion:
Por eso eu á min mesmo,
Non me conozo, non;
E escraman os camiños
Mesmos por onde vou:
Parece un pino leixado do vento,
Parece botado do mar de Niñons.

What unkempt beard!
What pallid colour!
What vestments soiled
By prolonged ailment!
Perhaps he is a scoundrel,
Perhaps he is a thief...
Dear mother, help me,
Help me for God's sake;
Perhaps he is some impaired fellow
Who has taken leave of his senses.
O what a wild look
Full of dread and affliction!
I can not tell whether he frightens me,
Whether he moves me to compassion:
He resembles a pine tree thrashed by the wind,
He looks as if he were cast up by the sea of Niñons.

"Simple young girl:
Do not fear me,
I am not a tramp,
I am not a thief.
Daring hieroglyph
Of the dreamy bog
I carry on, and to myself a stranger
Abstruse enigma am I.
If I am crazy perhaps,
Love crazy am I.
That is why the good folk
Wherever I go
Say with admiration
Upon seeing my slovenliness,
'He resembles a pine tree thrashed by the wind,
He looks as if he were cast up by the sea of Niñons.'

"The noble soul dared
Sleepless thoughts,
Turbulent ambition,
Ironhanded resolutions.
The turbid regiment
Of a thousand profound yearnings
Took away (as it did from Lucifer)
The original splendor.
Wise bards
Whom fateful law birthed
Dreamers and indolent
Partake of his nature.
That is why I do not
Know myself, no,
And the very trails
I tread exclaim:
'He resembles a pine tree thrashed by the wind,
He looks as if he were cast up by the sea of Niñons.'"


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Man carrying an ox goad on his back

4.   Night Delivery of Lumber     (Pol-o baixo cantando)

(Queixumes dos Pinos, 1886)

Translator's Notes

"Pol-o baixo cantando" contains several reverse sentences (1.1-8, 1.11-12, 1.13, 2.3-4, 2.5-6, 2.9-10). A reverse sentence transposes the logical flow for the sake of rhyme or a flowery style. For example the sentence, "They bunch together in dark and shapeless mass" (2.3-4) was originally, "In dark and shapeless mass they bunch together." Such sentences are a common feature of Pondal's and of Spanish poetry as a whole because they yield a rhetorical effect in the original language. However a direct translation of the feature into English can yield confusing prose. Consider the first eight lines of "Pol-o baixo cantando" translated verse by verse,

Singing softly,
The good man from Bergantiños,
Ox goad slung across the back
And cutting a fine figure,
Who delivers to Ponte-Ceso
On a night of bright moonlight,
With grave bearing, a cartload of lumber
(Preceding him perhaps)

To obviate this kind of garbled text most reverse sentences found in the eleven poems were recomposed in translation.

Lexicon of Proper Nouns


Pol-o baixo cantando,
O bóo bergantiñan,
Co' aguillada o lombo,
E garboso ademan;
Q' a Ponte-Ceso leva,
En noite de luar,
Grave o carro de táboas,
Anteposto quezáis;
Por cousas que n'esprica,
D' un fondo e vago afan;
Mil escuras suidades,
Ceibando ós ecos vái;
E da pátria a pungente servidume,
Parece recordar.

Ó pé do castro verde,
Ben' os mira ó pasar;
Q' en masa escura e informe,
Ajuntados están,
E na nativa costa,
Os escuita fungar:
Parécelle que soan,
Intrépido compás,
Cuida que do combate,
Murmuran o siñal;
En escadron formados,
Cal gente de Breogán,
En falange de ferro ben tecida,
Que s' aprest' a luitar.

On a night of bright moonlight
The good man from Bergantiños who
Singing softly,
Ox goad slung across the back
And cutting a fine figure
Delivers a cartload of lumber
(Preceding him perhaps)
To Ponte-Ceso with grave bearing—
For reasons he can't explain—
From a deep indefinite strife—
Walks along releasing to echoes
A thousand obscure yearnings,
And the painful bondage of the homeland
He seems to remember.

At the foot of the green ancient-hill-fort
He stares in passing at the ones
That bunch together
In dark and shapeless mass
And he hears them rumble
On the native coastland:
He thinks they sound
A brave cadence,
He imagines they murmur
The signal for combat
Arranged in squadrons
Like people of Breogán,
In well-knit phalanx of iron
Preparing to fight.


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5.   Sly Morpeguite     (Engañosa Morpeguite)

(Queixumes dos Pinos, 1886)

Lexicon of Proper Nouns

Translator's Notes

The key to the poem is the word "Mouco" (2.1-2, 2.8). "Mouco" has four possible meanings: (i) deaf, (ii) dehorned, (iii) simple-minded, or (iv) greyish, dark, depressing (weather). The fourth definition is the pertinent one because "Engañosa Morpeguite" anthropomorphizes a common weather event in the coast of Muxia during the winter: the passage of a squall line displacing persistent fog.


Engañosa Morpeguite,
Fada do doce mírar;
Filla ligeira da brétoma,
De corpo leve e lanzal;
Presurosa compañeira,
Da virazon da miñan:
Lévenm' os demos, s' agora
M' has de volver a escapar;
Nin outra vez, com' anguía,
Te m' has d' escorrer das mans.

—Mira, 'státe quedo Mouco,
Mouco non me fagas mal;
Se me soltas che prometo,
M' obrigo de che contár,
Quen repousa n' Arca d' Ogas,
Desd' a nosa antiga edá;
Non me préndal' a faldra de brétoma,
Déixame, Mouco, vagar.

—Fora léria... As tuas mentiras,
Cansado estou d' escuitar;
En tí curaréi á forza,
As suidades d' aquel mal,
Que deixas na alma, cando,
Correndo soes pasar.
Hei de fartárme de tí,
Ch' o juro por miña nai;
Coma' un oso q' atopa famento,
De mel un doce panal.

Sly Morpeguite,
Fairy lady of sweet gaze,
Fleet-footed daughter of the fog,
Slender and light-bodied,
Scurrying companion
Of the morning wind-shift line:
May the demons take me if this time
You elude my grasp once more,
You will not wriggle out of
My hands like an eel again.

"Look, Mouco, keep still.
Mouco, do me no harm.
If you let me go I promise
I'll be obliged to tell you
Who rests in the Ark of Ogas
Since our ancient days of yore.
Don't grab my skirt of fog,
Mouco, let me wander away."

"Humbug...I'm weary of
Listening to your lies.
By force I shall cure in you
The yearnings of that distress
You leave in the soul when
You come running by,
I shall satisfy my hunger of you
(I swear it by my own mother)
As does a hungry bear that finds
A sweet honeycomb."


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Jane Fonda in Barbarella

6.   Swear You Won't Watch     (Á sombra tecida)

(Queixumes dos Pinos, 1886)


The surname Ousinde (7.4) is extremely rare and confined to a narrow strip of coastland between Ponteceso (where it probably originated) and the city of A Coruña.

The growing of cherry trees in Pondal's time is reflected in the name of two parishes in the municipality of Ponteceso, Cerezo de Arriba and Cerezo de Abaixo.

Translator's Notes

Some verses of "Á sombra tecida" are reverse sentences (1.7-9, 1.15-16, 1.27-28, 2.9-12, 5.1-2, 5.7-10, 6.3-10). Such sentences are deliberately disordered to obtain rhyme or to don a florid style in Spanish. For example the sentence, "I don't know in what direction impish John started to peer with the eyes of a lizard" (2.9-12) was originally, "With the eyes of a lizard impish John, I don't know in what direction he started to peer." Most reverse sentences translate poorly into English unchanged.

A synonym was used to translate the second occurrence of the word, "ligeira,"


Á sombra tecida,
D' espeso zreixal,
Muy ledo e folloso,
No tempo do vran;
En donde se sente,
Un doce zolás,
S' o vento antr' as follas,
Asopra quezáis;
(Tan ledo, que sempre
Frescura alí hai);
A garrida Ousinde,
Alegre sin par,
Rapaceta nova,
De tan curta edá,
Que segas catorce,
Non pode contar;
Ós niños andando,
C' o deño de Jan,
Dill' éste a meniña,
C' un doce mirar,
De pillo raposo:
¡Que de zreixas hai,
¡Que lindas, vermellas,
E ledas están!
Agora he o tempo
Das zreixas pillar.
E díxolle rindo,
A tenra beldá;
—Pois sube abranguélas,
Se che gusto dan.
—Non podo, estou coxo,
Non podo aganchar;
Subir tí puderas,
Que estás muy ben san,
Ligeira e gordecha,
Com' un pas-pallás;
E tés uns cachetes,
Com' unhas mazans.
—Eu subo, pró mira,
Non has de mirar...
E Jan lle contesta;
—Corrente, ben 'sta;
E logo o gran pillo,
Tumbóuse no chan.

Já sobe a meniña,
Ligeira sin par,
Já toca a espesura
Do alto zreixaI;
E cando mais leda,
Na faena está,
Collendo cereixas,
C' un doce cantar,
C' os ollos lagartos,
O deño de Jan,
Non sei para donde,
Se puxo a mirar.

Mais cólleo a rapaza,
No furto desleal,
E póndose acesa,
Como unha mazan,
Chorando e sorrindo,
Con grácia sin par,
Lle dí incomodada:
—Táte quedo, Jan,
Non... pois ten juicio,
Pois n' has de mirar:
Mira, eso non serve,
Pois eso non val.

—Pois vaya, non miro,
Lle dixo o rapás
Con sorna...
—Pois juróo,
Que n' has de mirar...
—Bofellas ó juro,
Plo santo San Joan..
—Mentira, pois tapa
Os ollos cas mans.
E por compracéla,
Aquel taleigan,
Tapou obedente,
Os ollos cas mans.

As zreixas a nena,
Volvía a pillar,
Apartando as follas,
C' a pequena man;
Mais, sin qu' ela o vise,
O diaño rapás,
Entrabrindo os dedos,
D' entrambas as mans,
Astuto, as furtadas,
Volvío á mirar.

Mais ela collendóo,
No furto desleal,
Lle dixo poñéndose,
Acesa ainda mais,
E linda, qu' as zreixas,
Que tiña na man;
E c' unha corraxe,
Donosa en verdá,
(Acaso deverias,
Fingido quezáis.)
—Fáltache a palabra...
Táte quedo, Jan;
Non... pois ten juicio;
Non has de mirar...
Mira, eso non serve,
Pois eso non val.
E toda asañada,
Baixóu do zreixal.

In the shade knitted
By a thickset cherry tree
Leafy and very pleasing
In the summertime—
Where one feels a sense
Of sweet relaxation
If the wind should blow
So blithe through
The leaves for it is always
Refreshingly cool there—
A good-looking Ousinde
Gladsome like no other—
A young adolescent girl
Of years so few that
They do not add up
To fourteen harvests—
On the prowl for bird nests
With impish John...
Says he to the lassie
With a sweet look
Of artful rascal,
"How many cherries there are!
How pretty, red
And delightful they are!
Now is the season
For picking cherries..."
And the callow beauty
Said to him laughing,
"Then go up and pick them
If you like them."
"I can't, I'm limping,
I can't climb.
You could go up because
You are very healthy,
Nimble and plump
Like a quail
And you have cheeks
Like red apples."
"I will, but see here:
You mustn't watch..."
And John replies,
"Au courant, okay."
And then the great rascal
Laid himself down on the ground.

Straightaway the lassie climbs
Agile like no other,
Already she touches the foliage
Of the lofty cherry tree
And when she is happiest
At the task
Of picking cherries
With a sweet song
I don't know in what direction
Impish John
Started to peer
With the eyes of a lizard.

But the girl caught him
At the disloyal caper
And lighting up
Like a red apple,
Crying and smiling
With unequalled charm,
Scolds him,
"Be still, John.
No...then be sensible
Because you mustn't watch.
See, that isn't right
Because that isn't legal."

"All right, I won't look,"
Replied the boy
Tongue in cheek...
"Then swear it:
That you won't watch..."
"Cross my heart I swear it
By the sainted saint John..."
"That's a lie. Cover the eyes
With the hands then."
And to please her
That rapscallion
Covered the eyes
With the hands obediently.

The lassie returned
To picking cherries,
Pushing back the leaves
With the small hand,
But without her being aware
The impish lad
Went back to
Watching on the sly
Astutely setting the fingers
Of both hands ajar.

But she, catching him
At the disloyal caper,
Lighting up even more
Than before
And prettier than the cherries
She held in her hand
And with a temper
Truly captivating—
Possibly genuine,
Feigned perhaps—told him,
"You broke your word...
"Be still, John.
No...then be sensible,
You mustn't watch.
See, that isn't right
Because that isn't legal."
And with a lot of spunk
She came down off the cherry tree.


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Wind blows up skirt

7.   The Curious Wind Lifted Your Skirt     (Ibas gozando no meu tormento)

(Queixumes dos Pinos, 1886)

Translator's Notes

As usual some verses of "Ibas gozando no meu tormento" are reverse sentences (1.4, 2.2-3, 3.4). Such sentences are deliberately disordered usually to obtain rhyme. For example the line, "Levóuch' a faldra curioso o vento" (1.4) which would translate literally as "Lifted your skirt, curious, the wind," garners a rhyme with 1.1, "Ibas gozando no meu tormento."


Ibas gozando no meu tormento,
Ibas fugindo,
Por medo a min;
Levóuch' a faldra curioso o vento...
Vállam' os ceos,
Ay o q' eu vin!

Déndesd' aquela, sempro sofrindo,
O doce sono,
Non conocin;
Se durmo, en soños, estou decindo:
—Vállam' os ceos,
Ay o q' eu vin!

Espera un pouco, doce enemiga,
Se non qués q' esto,
Salla de min;
S' a todos crúa, nón qués que diga:
—Vállam' os ceos,
Ay o q' eu vin!

You went relishing my torment,
You went running away
Afraid of me...
The curious wind lifted your skirt...
May the heavens help me,
My, what did I see!

Since then, always suffering,
I have not known
Sweet sleep—
If I do sleep, in dreams I am saying,
"May the heavens help me,
My, what did I see!"

Pause a while, sweet enemy,
If you do not want this
To come out of me,
If you'd rather not I tell everyone, cruel one,
"May the heavens help me,
My, what did I see!"


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Eduardo Pondal beside the dolmen of Dombate

8.   The Dolmen of Dombate     (O Dolmen de Dombate)

(Poemas Soltos, 1895)


The dolmen of Dombate is a megalithic burial chamber beside the hamlet of Dombate in the parish of Borneiro, municipality of Cabana de Bergantiños, county Bergantiños. This video has an interesting sequence of photographs of other dolmens in county Bergantiños (min. 5:08 to 6:48).

Listen-to-this icon Before the Shelter Was Built
Listen-to-this icon Archaeological Snippet

Lexicon of Proper Nouns


Aínda recordo, aínda, cando eu era estudante,
garrido rapacete, que ben rexerse sabe;
cando ía pra Nemiña a estudiar a arte
do erudito Nebrija e do bo Villafañe;
e ía a cabalo, ledo, cal soen os rapaces.

Pasado Vilaseco, lugar batido do aire
no alto da costa de Uces de montesía canle;
pasado Vilaseco, indo pla gandra adiante,
xa vía desde lonxe o dolmen de Dombate.

Deixando Fonte-Fría, cara ao lado de Laxe,
e levando o camiño de San Simón de Nande;
polo chan de Borneiro, de cativos pinales,
cuase pasaba a rentes do dolmen de Dombate.

Quedaba o misterioso, fillo doutras idades,
coa súa antiga mesa, coas súas antigas antes,
no seu monte de terra, no alto e ben roldante,
poboado en redondo de montesío estrame,
de pequenas queiroas e de toxos non grandes,
como calada esfinxe, que sublime non fale;
como náufrago leño, de soberbio cruzamen,
lanzado sobre a praia por potente oleaxe,
que de pasada rota mostre rudas señales,
e mostre aberto o flanco por glorioso combate,
e con linguaxe muda das súas glorias fale.
¡Canto, ai, mudar pode longa e vetusta idade!

Entonces eu deixando ambas rendas flotantes,
penoso ía cuidando, pla Viqueira salvaxe,
nos nosos xa pasados, nos celtas memorables,
nas súas antigas glorias, nos seus duros combates,
nos nosos vellos dolmens e castros verdexantes.

E despois a Nemiña, ou que fose ou tornase,
ao velo desde lonxe indo pla gandra adiante,
sempre ledo exclamaba: ¡O dolmen de Dombate!

Agora que pasaron meus anos xogorales,
agora que só vivo de tristes suidades,
que cumpro con traballo meu terrenal viaxe
e que á miña cabeza branquea a grave idade,
aínda recordo aínda, o dolmen de Dombate.

I remember still...still...when I was a student,
A robust young lad able to take care of himself,
When I travelled to Nemiña to study the art
Of the erudite Nebrija and of the good Villafañe
And I rode horseback happy as boys habitually are.

Having passed by Vilaseco, a windswept place
High up on the coast of Ucés with its mountain ravine,
Having passed by Vilaseco, over the moor advancing,
I'd spy afar for the first time the dolmen of Dombate.

Leaving Fonte-Fría behind in the direction of Laxe
And taking the way to San Simón de Nande through
The land of Borneiro with its beggarly stands of pine
I'd almost graze it as I passed the dolmen of Dombate.

Behind stayed the mysterious child of other ages
With its ancient table, with its ancient standing stones,
On its mound of earth, on the rise and well rounded,
Encircled by coarse scrub land
Of short heather and modest gorse bushes,
Like a silent sphynx sublime and speechless,
Like a castaway log of magnificent stretch
Which thrown up on the beach by a strong surf
Displays the raw marks of its precedent track
And shows the flank rent open by glorious combat
And speaks about its glories with unspoken language.
Ah, how many mutations may a long, long time fetch!

Whereupon letting both reins float
I went through wild Viqueira pondering sadly
Our ancestors, our memorable Celts,
Their ancient glories, their hard-fought battles,
Our aged dolmens and verdant ancient-hill-forts.

And thereafter, heading to or returning from Nemiña,
Upon seeing it afar on my excursion through the moor
I shouted always with joy, "The dolmen of Dombate!"

Now that my merry years are past,
Now that I live on sad nostalgia alone—
That I struggle to carry on my earthly journey
And that troublesome age whitens my head—
I remember still...still...the dolmen of Dombate.


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Moonlit path through pine forest

9.   The Pine Trees     (Os Pinos)

(Poemas Soltos, 1895)

Lexicon of Proper Nouns

Translator's Notes

"Os Pinos" has a few reverse sentences (4.1-2, 5.3-4, 6.1-2, 8.6, 9.3). Such sentences transpose the logical order usually to obtain a rhyme. Most reverse sentences translate poorly into English unaltered.

A synonym was used to translate the repetition of these words,

A synonym was used to translate the noun sonido (9.7) which means "sound." Pondal wrote sonido to obtain rhyme with the past participle parecido which ends the previous verse. The synonym used in the English translation, "clamour," rhymes with "rumour" (9.5) and it provides a better, even the intended description.

Explanation of some words, terms or expressions

Os brazos tende amigos (6.2). The literal translation is "Open the arms in friendship"; but the article implies the more precise possessive adjective, "your," which was used in the translation.

Musical Adaptation

Thanks to the enthusiastic dedication of José Fontenla Leal lithographer and member of the Centro Gallego de La Habana this poem of Eduardo Pondal was set to music by composer Pascual Veiga. The composition was nominated official anthem of Galicia and premiered at the centre on December 20, 1907.

The lyrics of the official anthem of Galicia span the first four stanzas of the poem.

Listen-to-this icon Susana Seivane (bagpipe)
Listen-to-this icon Royal Philharmonic of Galicia
Listen-to-this icon Lucía Pérez and the Real Banda de Gaitas da Deputación de Ourense
Listen-to-this icon Mini and Mero
Listen-to-this icon National Theatre's Ballet and Choir of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (A Estrada, 1990)
Listen-to-this icon María do Ceo and the Real Banda de Gaitas da Deputación de Ourense
Listen-to-this icon Real Banda de Gaitas da Deputación de Ourense
Listen-to-this icon Xoán Rubia from the 1973 album Cantares da Miña Terra
Listen-to-this icon El Sonido De Tu Boda string quartet
Listen-to-this icon Close of the Galician Nationalist Bloc act on the Day of the Galician Homeland (Santiago de Compostela)
Listen-to-this icon Orfeón Herculino at the gravesite of Pondal in A Coruña

¿Que din os rumorosos
na costa verdecente,
ao raio transparente
do plácido luar?
¿Que din as altas copas
de escuro arume arpado
co seu ben compasado
monótono fungar?

—Do teu verdor cinguido
e de benignos astros,
confín dos verdes castros
e valeroso chan,
non des a esquecemento
da inxuria o rudo encono;
desperta do teu sono,
fogar de Breogán.

Os bos e xenerosos
a nosa voz entenden,
e con arroubo atenden
o noso rouco son,
mais sóio os iñorantes
e féridos e duros,
imbéciles i escuros
non nos entenden, non.

Os tempos son chegados
dos bardos das idades,
que as vosas vaguedades
cumprido fin terán;
pois, onde quer, xigante
a nosa voz pregoa
a redenzón da boa
nazón de Breogán.

Teus fillos vigorosos
en que honor só late,
a intrépido combate
dispondo o peito van;
se, por ti mesma, libre
de indigna servidume
e de oprobioso alcume,
rexión de Breogán.

Á nobre Lusitania
os brazos tende amigos,
aos eidos ben antigos
con un punxente afán;
e cumpre as vaguedades
dos teus soantes pinos
duns máxicos destinos,
¡ouh, grei de Breogán!

Amore da terra verde,
da verde terra nosa,
acende a raza briosa
de Ousinde e de Froxán;
que aló nos seus garridos
xustillos, mal constreitos,
os doces e albos peitos
das fillas de Breogán;

que á nobre prole ensinen
fortísimos acentos,
non mólidos concentos
que ás virxes só ben están;
mais os robustos ecos
que, ¡oh, patria!, ben recordas
das sonorosas cordas
das harpas de Breogán.

Estima non se alcanza
cun vil xemido brando;
calquer requer rogando
con voz que esquecerán;
mais cun rumor xigante,
sublime e parecido
ao intrépido sonido
das armas de Breogán.

Galegos, sede fortes,
prontos a grandes feitos;
aparellade os peitos
a glorioso afán;
fillos dos nobres celtas,
fortes e peregrinos,
loitade polos destinos,
dos eidos de Breogán.

What do the rumorous ones
On the resplendent green coastland
Say to the transparent ray
Of placid, bright moonlight?
What do the tall treetops
Of spiked, dark needles say
With their regular, rhythmic,
Monotonous rumble?

"Girded by your greenery
And by benign celestial bodies,
Bounds of the green ancient-hill-forts
And courageous plain:
Do not strain to forget the offense
With rude stubbornness,
Awake from your slumber,
Home of Breogán.

"The good and generous ones
Understand our voice
And with delight listen
To our droning sound,
But only the ignorant ones
And coarse and cruel ones,
Imbeciles and unenlightened ones
Do not understand us, no.

"The time of the ages
Of bards has arrived
When your vague fancies will find
Ultimate fulfillment
For everywhere gigantic
Our voice proclaims
The redemption of the good
Nation of Breogán.

"Your vigorous sons
In whom honour alone beats
Brace themselves
For fearless combat.
Free yourself
From shameful servitude
And scurrilous soubriquet,
Region of Breogán.

"Open your arms in friendship
With prodding ambition
To the noble Lusitania—
To the home fields of long ago—
And realize the vague notions
Of your noisy pine trees
About some magical destinies,
O host of Breogán!

"Love of the verdant land—
Of our verdant land—
Arouses the spirited race of
Ousinde and of Froxán
And remote in their beautiful
Bodices, ill-constrained,
The soft and white breasts
Of the daughters of Breogán.

"Let them teach their noble children
Very firm manners of speech,
Not delicate songs which
Are fit only for virgins,
Rather the robust echoes
You well remember o homeland!
From the sounding strings
Of the harps of Breogán.

"Esteem is not earned
With an abject, meek moan,
Beseeching some request
In a tone they will forget,
But with a gigantic rumour
Sublime and similar unto
The intrepid clamour
Of the weapons of Breogán.

"Be strong, Galicians,
Disposed to great deeds.
Bind your chest
To glorious strife,
Sons of the noble Celts
Strong and pilgrim,
Fight for the destinies
Of the home fields of Breogán."


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Death of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

10.   To Die On Downy Bed     (Morrer en brando leito)

(Queixumes dos Pinos, 1886)

Lexicon of Proper Nouns


Morrer en brando leito,
Entre molentes brondas,
Rodeados d' amigos,
Q'o pracer nos recordan;
De tímidas doncellas,
Imbeles e chorosas,
Que pra mayor dozura,
Na nosa última hora,
Ó redor de nos ceiben,
Lirios e brandas rosas;
Certo he desparecer cal vírgen tímida,
Brandamente, e sin gloria.

Oh' quen morrer poidera,
Coma o forte Leónidas;
Envolto en duro ferro,
N'outras rudas Thermópilas;!
Por unha pátria escura
D'escravos e d'ilotas;
E deixar, cal cometa,
Longo rastro de gloria!
E caíra, non prono,
Coa faz a terra volta,
Mais as turmas conversa,
Audaz e miazosa;
Ainda apreixando o rutilante ferro,
Que verte gota á gota!

De modo, q'o viandante,
Vendo con gran zozobra,
Crubir a dura terra,
A cinza poderosa,
Dixéra con espanto:—Certamente
Este era grande cousa!

To die on downy bed
Among soft blonde silk laces
Surrounded by friends
That bring pleasure to our mind—
By shy damsels
Feeble and teary-eyed
Who for greater sweetness
In our final hour
Scatter about us
Lilies and soft roses—
Truly 't is to pass away like a shy virgin
Delicately and without glory.

O who could die
Like stout Leonidas
Girt about with hard iron
In some other savage Thermopylae!
For an obscure country
Of disenfranchised and slaves
And like a comet leave behind
Long trail of glory!
And I should not fall prone,
Face to the ground,
But toward the enemy ranks turned
Bold and menacing,
Clasping still the gleaming iron
Which trills drop by drop!

So that the traveller
Upon seeing with great distress
The mighty ash
Cover the hard ground
Should remark alarmed, "Surely
This one was something great!


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Brantoas Valley

11.   Wild Valley of Brantóa     (Salvage val de Brantóa)

(Queixumes dos Pinos, 1886)


The poet named most Celtic heroes of "Salvage val de Brantóa" after places found in the county of Bergantiños.

Translator's Notes

"Salvage val de Brantóa" is replete with punctuation, forging a ponderous style which is fairly common in Spanish literature but rare in English. This translation discards the excessive punctuation, in some instances by rearranging sentences (1.7-9, 2.11-12, 3.4-5, 6.7-8, 8.5-6, 8.11-16).


The original "Salvage val de Brantóa" is a colloquy between Gundar the bard (1-3) and the "wild valley of Brantóa" (4-8). Said colloquy poses three difficulties: (1) Stanza 1 and 3 are third-person self-referencing by Gundar, however stanza 2 is written in first person, (2) Line 5.1, "A bard who sings so well," contradicts the incertitude confessed on lines 4.10-13 about having heard the bard at all, and (3) Line 7.6, "You alone, lonesome hinterland," is second-person self-referencing, an absurdity.

Here the translated version assumes three speakers, Gundar the bard, the "wild valley of Brantóa" and the "oaks of Carballido" (2.4). Play annotation identifies each speaker. This presentation removes the aforementioned difficulties and the poem gains extraordinary clarity.


—Salvage val de Brantóa,
En terra de Bergantiños;
Ou val, amado dos celtas,
E dos fungadores pinos:
Cando Gundar prob' e 'scuro,
Sea d' este mundo ido;
No teu seo silencioso,
Concédelle, val amigo,
Sepulcro a modo dos celtas,
Tan só de ti conocido.
Qu' hai tempo que n' este mundo,
Anda o bardo peregrino,
Deseando chegar ó cabo,
D' un traballo escurecido;
E somente repousar,
Deséa do seu camiño.

N' hé a vellez a que causa
O fondo dolor que sinto;
Pois que son do tempo voso,
Carballos de Carballido:
Suidades de non sei qué,
Recordos quezáis do espírito,
D' aIgunha perdída pátria,
Ou d' antigo ben perdido,
N' esta peregrinación
Miña, van sempre comigo;
E son os meus compañeiros,
No traballoso camiño,
Suspiros por non sei quén,
E por non séi qué suspiros.

Salvage val de Brantóa,
Pátria do forte Cou-d'-lndo;
Ond' a garrida Rentar,
Trougo co paso fugitivo,
Os corzos, co curvo arco,
Animosa perseguindo;
Na tua soedá recebe,
Este bardo peregrino;
Ou valle das vagas brétomas,
E dos rumorosos pinos.»

—Nobre Gundar, fillo d' Ouco,
Ou bardo dos negros ollos,
De nobre andar e garrido
Escudo, de voz gemente,
D' un acento nunca oído;
O rumor asomellante,
Do vento nos altos pinos:
Teus vagos e doces cantos,
Certo non desconocidos
Me son, e non veces poucas,
Os teño quezáis oído;
Ben no m' acordo s' agora,
Ou quezáis en tempo antigo;
Mais cos oídos da alma,
Que cos corpóreos oidos.

Un bardo que tan ben canta,
Non debe temé-l-o olvido;
Ou cantor dos nobres celtas,
Os de corpos ben cumpridos,
Que na terra de Brigándsia,
Pol-a pátria sucumbino!

Esa indecisa inquietude,
Cando me vés, bardo amigo,
Suidades son d' unha pátria,
Q' un dia a alma perdío;
Son misteriosas lembranzas,
Do desterrado afrigido,
Que s' acorda da sua terra,
En terra alléa cautivo;
E quer volver outra vez,
Ós pátrios eidos amigos.

Os bardos son nobre cousa
E grande, e non comprendidos
Soen asaz ser dos fillos
Dos homes, e duros casos
Muitos, proban os divinos.
Tan só tí, soedade agreste,
Asilo és dos bardos digno!

E pois que qués repousar,
No meu seo verdecido,
Repousarás, sin que turbe
Ningun rumor teus oidos;
Refrescando cas suas augas,
Tua frente, doce olvido;
(Non pra memoria dos homes,
Mais pra olvido de ti mismo;
Q' he doce ó home olvidar
O pesar e o ben perdido)
Antr' as uces de Brigándsia,
Cabo do dólmen amigo,
Da fugitiva Rentar,
E do esforzado Cou-d'-lndo,
FilIa do moreno Ourens,
E do nobre Lugar fillo.»

Oaks: Wild Valley of Brantóa
In the land of Bergantiños,
O beloved valley of the Celts
And of the rumbling pines:
When poor and unknown Gundar
Be from this world parted
Grant him, friendly valley,
Sepulchre in your silent bosom
After the custom of the Celts
With which you alone are familiar,
For long since the pilgrim bard
Inhabits this world
Wishing to reach the end
Of an obscure task
And he desires only
Rest from his journey.

Gundar: It is not old age that causes
The deep pain that I feel
For I am as old as you,
Oaks of Carballido:
Hankerings after I know not what—
Souvenirs perhaps of the spirit,
Of some vanished homeland,
Of some vanished ancient blessing—
Accompany me always
In this pilgrimage
And on this toilsome path
My fellow travellers are
Sighs for I know not who
And sighs for I know not what.

Oaks: Wild Valley of Brantóa,
Land of sturdy Cou-d'-lndo,
Whereto the ravishing Rentar
Brought the roe deer
With elusive step and curved bow
Courageous in the chase:
Welcome in to your solitude
This roving bard,
O valley of the rambling fogs
And of the rumorous pines.

Valley: Noble Gundar son of Ouco,
O bard of the black eyes,
Of noble gait and flamboyant
Shield, of plaintive voice
With unheard of accent
Akin to the wind's rumour
Among the tall pines:
True, your vague and sweet songs
Are not unknown to me
And times not few
Perchance I've heard them—
I don't recall precisely if presently
Or maybe in ancient times—
With the ears of the spirit more
Than with corporeal ears.

Oaks: A bard who sings so well
Must not fear oblivion,
O singer to the noble Celts,
They of the well honed bodies
Who in the land of Brigándsia
Succumbed for the homeland!

Valley: That indecisive apprehension
Upon seeing me, bard friend of mine,
Is yearnings for a homeland
The soul left behind one day,
They are mysterious memories
Of the grief-stricken exile
Who captive in alien land
Remembers his own land
And longs to return again
To the friendly tilth of home.

Oaks: Bards are a noble and weighty matter
And usually not sufficiently
Understood by the sons of men
And many hard trials
Test the divine.
You alone, lonesome hinterland,
Are a worthy shelter for bards!

Valley: And since you wish to repose
In my verdant bosom
You shall repose with no rumour
Disturbing your ears,
Sweet oblivion refreshing
Your forehead with its waters—
Not oblivion by men
But oblivion of your own self
For it is sweet to man to forget
Sorrow and the lost blessing—
Past the welcoming dolmen
Among the tree heaths of Brigándsia
And of elusive Rentar
Daughter of tan Ourens
And of hardy Cou-d'-lndo
Son of noble Lugar.

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Archived translations from Galician to English of poems by Rosalia de Castro