Iglesia Alvariño- O Longo das Ribeiras

???????????????????????????????Ó Longo das Ribeiras


 Along the water’s edge, in longing

I go, my girl.


Where are the boats and flowers?


The rivers no longer flow anywhere.

The far distance and the sea don’t exist.

Everything is here at the edge and clear.


The hour, anchored,

a barren stretch with no birds, no wind.


The sources of sleep

are full of dust,

and these eyes are tired and ageing.


But night must come

that was lost behind the mountains of Urbazán,

with the happiness of its wake of longing.


And then I will hoist all the sails

of these anchored hours,

poor, barren, with no birds, no wind.




Ó longo das ribeiras, arelante,

eu, meniña.


¿Ónde as barcas e as froles?


Os ríos xa non corren pra ningures.

Non esisten os lonxes nin a mar.

Todo está â beira e craro.


A hora, ancrada,

insua erma sin páxaros nin vento.


As fontelas do sono

están cheas de pô,

e os ollos están cansos e velliños.


Mais ha vir a noitiña,

que se perdéu nos montes de Urbazán,

coa alegría do seu ronsel de arelas.


I-entón eu ergueréi as velas todas

destas horas ancradas,

pobres, ermas, sin páxaros nin vento.


Aquilino Iglesia Alvariño, Cómaros Verdes, 1947 (Voz de Galicia, 2002)


Aquilino Iglesia Alvariño (Seivane, Abadín, 1909-Santiago, 1961) emerged before the Spanish Civil War publishing the collections Señardá (1930) and Corazón ao vento (1933).  These books continue the landscape poetry of Noriega Varela.  He reached his poetic maturity with Cómaros Verdes, from which this poem is taken.


Here he abandons rhyme and achieves a richness of poetic tone using short lines and repeating key words, particularly arelante/arelas.  The themes of the collection are saudade, reflections on nature and the strange linking of death and longing that are such common features of Galician poetry.


I bought this book for myself for my fiftieth birthday.  This poem that talks about ageing seemed appropriate.  The rhythm of the day is seen reflected in the rhythm of a life.  We are taken to the hot middle of the day along the water’s edge where everything is still.  The sources, or fountains, of sleep are full of dust.  Night brings sleep and dreaming.  It has a “ronsel de arelas”, “a wake of longings”.


This wake of longing reminds me of Eduardo Blanco Amor’s Ronsel da Morte.


About Jason Preater

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1 Response to Iglesia Alvariño- O Longo das Ribeiras

  1. The image and words go well together


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