Monday, November 21, 2016

Rosalia de Castro

Rosalia de Castro (1837—1885) is a poet who wrote in the Galician language of Northwest Spain, as well as in Spanish. She was born in scandal as the illegitimate daughter of a priest. In 1863 her first poetry collection, Galician Songs, was published on the 17th of May—a date still celebrated as Galician Literature Day. Her book helped the cause of reinstating the Galician language for literary purposes.

Seventeen years later her book New Leaves appeared—a book where she identifies closely with widows, orphans and other destitute individuals.
------When the North Wind blows cold
------and a fire warms our home,
------they pass by my door—
------thin, naked, and hungry—
------and my spirit becomes frozen
------like their bodies.
These homeless become a symbol of Galician poverty. In her latter poetry she also became tormented by spiritual doubts, often crying out in her poetry for God to restore her faith—a prayer that seems to have been answered before her death.

Federico Garcia Lorca is one of the twentieth century poets whose attention to her poetry helped to re-establish her literary reputation.

The following is from the English-language collection of her work, Poems, edited and translated by Anna-Marie Aldaz, Barbara N. Gantt, and Anne C. Bromley.

God Placed A Veil

God placed a veil
over our hearts,
a veil that conceals an abyss
that only He can see.

When I consider what would be revealed
about the one I adore —
humble and on my knees
as one worships the Lord —

if this veil were to drop
suddenly between the two of us,
I tremble...and bowing my head,
I say, "How wise is God!"

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.