Ramón Cabanillas

Ramón Cabanillas (Cambados, Pontevedra, 1876-1959) was considered the link between the Rexurdimento and twentieth century modernism in Galician literature. He is intimately tied with galleguismo (Galicianism) and Galician nationalism, collaborating with the Irmandades da Fala (Brotherhood of Language) and earning the title Poeta da Raza (Poet of the Galician Race).


Before a cup of Espadeiro wine

O espadeiro! Dark bunches of grapes, twisted vine-stocks,
leaves green, golden and red,
gala dress of the living lands of Castrelo,
the Castles of Oubiña and the sands
of Tragove and Sisán, Arousa Bay
and the banks of the crystalline Umia!

O delicious espadeiro! O delectable wine!
Cheer of threshings and of scutchings,
companion of hot bread rolls
and of chestnuts roasted on the hearth!

O espadeiro! O ambrosia praised
in simple beguiling pages
by the old abbots of the monastery
of Xan Daval, in the town of Cambados,
those masters of life, of virtue and of knowledge
who knew–O forgotten times!–
how to sing mass, drive witches away,
welcome and succour orphans and paupers,
laugh with young lasses, advise old women,
give pilgrims bed and food,
lock their church doors, backed by rights and privileges,
against the King’s authorities, collect tithes
and organize grape-harvests and wine-rackings!

O warm espadeiro! O red wine,
blood of the heart of our land,
redolent of apples and wild roses,
which warms breasts and lights souls,
and tastes of the kisses of a young lass,
an auburn-haired village-girl.

How it sings as it falls
from the mottled beaked jugs into the white wine-cups!
How it trembles and glistens as it traces its crown inside them!
And how it sparkles and chuckles as it decorates them
with a rosary of bloody foam
like strings of rubies!

Espadeiro! Espadeiro! Happy wine
of youthful nights! Starlight.
They joycry echoing through the gorges…
Young men… Tambourines… A love beginning…
Aromas of broom and of clover…
From hand to hand, the wineskin…
A song under a window…
Behind the glass, Her!
O delicious espadeiro! O warm red
blood of the heart of our land!
Fire the hearts of the poor-spirited!
Set light to souls, wine of the Celts!

From An Oppressed Land (1917)
Translated by John Rutherford

In the Tavern

The sailor lads, laughing, cafefree,
recall the festa by the water-mill;
the dressing for a horse-mackerel stew
smells of burnt oil and red pepper.

The landlord tells a group of customers about the storm
of 1870–a story of drowned men–
and, jostling each other, panting,
the crew of a longboat comes in, soaking wet.

The red jug of albariño wine goes
from hand to hand and, as the rain falls
and the wind shakes the whole building

behind the bar the sky grows clear in the golden plaits, in the serene gaze,
in the smile of light of the landlord’s wife.

Translated by John Rutherford



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s