Always the Same

madeocebreiro1‘So my girl, did you see a wolf
To take the words from your mouth?’
A young lad said this to a girl
Because she went silently by
Without saying a thing to him
Or those he was walking with.
‘So it seems,’ she said,
Without even looking him in the face.
‘And did he get a bite of you?’
‘You really want to know, do you?’
‘Of course I do, my darling?’
‘Well, if you’re interested…  some other day
When we are out walking, if you happen
To meet me, I’ll let you know.’
And the poor girl was quiet… and sobbed.
Boys were always the same
And still are with the girls.
They go seven times around hell,
If necessary, to catch them.
Everything is to the point, as they
Not blind to all this, direct it.
So that touching up the fat
We’re talking about the hemlines
And when they talk of rolling
What they mean is on your back.

This is a poem in the vernacular by Manuel Leiras Pulpeiro.  I have to confess I struggle with him because he uses colloquial expressions in the local dialect of Galician from Mondoñedo.  He made a dictionary of some of these expressions but it wasn’t enough to give me a complete understanding of the double meanings in the last lines.

Why put the poem up then?  Well, I have been thinking about some other blogs I have been reading dealing with sexual relationships.  Leiras Pulpeiro was writing at the end of the nineteenth century in a world where the girl was very much the victim of the cocky young lad.  Rosalía paints a similar picture of peasant life in the Cantares.

The two worlds collide in my head.  Think, for example, of someone who is writing a blog about her experiences with a terrible set of boyfriends who are egotistical, demanding and transitory.  Have things changed?  I guess there was as much honour and good faith then as now.

What do you think?

About Jason Preater

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8 Responses to Always the Same

  1. So much TO LEARN! Listen, be quiet, worship, and HEAR HER.


  2. julespaige says:

    Thinking is what should be part of any relationship. One of the most important things most often left out. You would thing that more chivalry would be found in the modern world…and yet. There still is much sadness.

    I agree with typosintheline. Listen…


    • Leiras Pulpeiro was writing at the end of the nineteenth century. He was the town doctor and was venerated almost like a holy man for treating poor people for nothing and there is a statue of him in one of the squares of Mondoñedo. There has been a lot of commentary on a horrific rape case involving two “jocks” on the internet over the past week. I can’t help reflecting on the shady area between banter and barbarity. Is it really “always the same”?


      • julespaige says:

        Hubby relates that the ‘news’ may have always be there…it is just how it gets transmitted now. What used to take months or weeks or perhaps was only learned after a life time just before death, is now in more ‘modern’ times so readily available that the saturation of the ‘barbarity’ is so commonly painted that some take a blind eye just to escape overpowering truth. If the media could focus and balance out with more actual factual good and unbais news perhaps life and humanity would be reflected differently.

        There often is a balance of good. Leiras Pulpeiro, Mother Teresa…or those whose service or acts of loving kindness go unrecorded because only those they have served are keen to the benefits. Learning to see that balance is today’s challenge.


  3. I think nothing has changed; there is always the good and the bad; I agree with the comment above about news being so readily available to us now, and so we are all exposed to the bad on a regular basis, so it seems things are worse than before. I think about my Dad who is in his 70s and can be very grumpy and down on the world, and it is because he has seen the same wars and human cruelty come round and round, time and time again. For him he has seen no improvement, no resolution. I like to think that the bad is balanced by the good, you have to pay attention to the good things in life, they are often not reported as much as the bad. I don’t mean turn a blind eye to the horrors in the world, but try to value the good things as much as you abhor the bad things. By the way I like the painting alongside your poem translation.


    • I agree with that. There is plenty of good in the world. Even with smaller things it is true that if you go around the world thinking that everyone is going to cheat you, you merely end up pessimistic.


  4. I greatly appreciate your commitment to bring out poetry from across the fields of expression. This is a particularly poignant piece, Jason, all the more so for its being located in the vernacular of a particular place. This really highlights the existential singularity of this young woman who at the same time can be the cipher for women in many cultures. ¡Gracías!


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