Curros Enríquez- The Virgin of the Crystal- Part X

X

The Virgin of the Crystal

The Virgin of the Crystal

Readers, if you set aside the labours of your life
And go for a walk through the valley of Vilanova,
Enter respectfully, enter quietly,
The beautiful chapel of the Crystal Virgin.

If you are down on your luck and kiss her feet,
If you go and see her because of ill health,
The miraculous image will give you succour;
There is no other in the world that has more power.

For the sad comfort, for the poor hope,
A guide for the lover, the support of the labourer,
Whatever you want from God, that is what you get from God,
There is no one to whom she does not give consolation and favour.

When I was small, taken there by my mother,
I asked her for the celestial legend,
If the way I have written it does not please you
Do not blame the Virgin of the Crystal.

This is the end of this narrative poem by Curros Enríquez.  It has been a pleasure to share it.  If this were more than a blog I would have spent more time trying to capture something of the magic of the wording in the original.  Curros Enríquez is a particularly lyrical poet and, in this poem, the speech is full of local flavour from Ourense.  This caused me some difficulties in the translation and I had to look at the University of Vigo, Dictionary of Dictionaries- the most invaluable resource I have been able to find on the web.

It would be worth dedicating more time to a more studied translation, but even from this sketchy version you get a good sense of the mixture of elements in the story: the local flavour, the love story itself with its echoes of Romeo and Juliet and fairy tale romances, the historical vignettes, and above all the fascinating descriptions of the Virgin herself.

When the Virgin appears to Rosiña I could not help thinking of Velázquez’s famous 0901velapainting The Fable of Arachne and other examples that pop and fizz in my mind where the supernatural is counterposed with the brutishly real.  It seems to me that the Virgin is not the same Virgin as you might see in a painting of the Nativity at all: she is a pagan goddess.  Her image has an independent power and she demands it be given homage in the same way Athene, Hera or Diana might in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

What do you make of the way the story turns out?  In many fairy tales- no matter the violence and cruelty that takes place during the story- the ending is a happy one.  It is a “fairy tale ending.”  In this fairy tale, however, there is no letting up.  This poem is not unique in its pessimism.  There is a Spanish short story called “The Two Hunchbacks” which has a cruel, amoral and desolate ending: I love to tell it to people when I am walking on the Camino because it generates a broader discussion about what life, literature and Spain is all about.

Getting back to this story, I am struck by the way the Virgin breaks into the place where Martiño hides from the storm.  She is a violent and powerful destroyer even though there is something mockingly coquettish about the way she appears in the crystal.  She seems like an awful Goddess of Death who is called into being by the macho, sexist jealousies of Martiño.  If we forget for a moment about Christianity and think only about what is told us here in the text, what kind of a religion would it be?  Rosa will no longer marry a real man, but instead chooses to retreat from the world, a death to the world that is made even more explicit by the need to don a shroud.

The paradoxical final section of the poem goes so far as to say that this Virgin is a “guide for the lover and support for the labourer”.  Curros Enríquez must have been aware of the irony in this.  In other poems he has a mordantly anti-clerical attitude that led to Aires da Miña Terra being banned when it first came out.  This is not a simple poem and merits rereading.

What I have done here comes on the back of other work I have done researching religious imagery and the traditions associated with it in Spain.  On these pages we have already had the briefest of looks at Santiago.  I shall certainly return to the subject because it interests me deeply.  Next stop San Andrés do Teixido.

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Curros Enríquez- The Virgin of the Crystal- Part IX

IX

In the morning of the following daywebcarr
On the mountain of Soutoverde,
On the crest above Vilanova,
There was no space for more people.

Everyone there was astonished,
Children, men, women,
And staring open-mouthed
At a trembling something.

On the boundary of a field
A stake could be seen stuck in the ground
And from the top of it
There is a tongue hanging down.

Some say: “It looks so long
It must belong to some animal.”
And others: “I’d say it’s a piglet’s
By the amount of blood it is spurting.”

As they were saying this and that
Without really knowing,  word got out
That it was the tongue of Xan de Ventrances
The rascal of the village.

Very early in the morning,
Xan, twisted over, dying,
Came to the town showing
That he had no tongue between his teeth.

When this news came out,
Many took pity on him,
But many more exclaimed
“Well done.  Teach him a lesson.”

The Justice ran around like crazy
Trying to find out who did it
But since Xan couldn’t talk
He wasn’t able to find out.

Martiño escaped like a fox,
And when the one he loved so much
Went to Allariz to profess as a nun,
He, still in love with her,

Went after, to liveO
Opposite her convent.
Poor boy!  One night
In cold and sad December,
Four months after
Rosiña had professed,

Martiño, at the foot of the convent,
Burning up with fever,
Was watching the iron grille
Of the cell in which many times
It seemd to him he saw Rosa’s
Celestial apparition.

He thought that beyond the stones
Of that solemn enclosure
There would be someone who felt
That same way that he felt,

Without recognising that the girls
Who are offered to a life with Christ
Leave their loves at the door
When they go into the cloister.

It was snowing.  Softly, softly,
Slowly, slowly,
There started to fall
Snowflakes.

He stares with his eyes wide open
And stretches his head up a lot,
But through the grille of the cell
Martiño does not make out anything.

Always looking, looking
He dares not even breather,
And by thinking on his Rosa
He even forgets the cold.

After one hour, the next hour
Goes slowly past
And he neither shifts from the spot
Nor cares about the bad weather.

From time to time the wretch
Shivers unconsciously
His body trembling
And his teeth a-chatter.

Valleys, hills and mountains
Are blotted out and disappear
And a sad, white winding cloth
Extends over everything.

Up there above in the grille
In the meantime all is dark;
Nothing is heard and no one
Appears behind the ironwork.

At that moment Martiño
Sees Rosa appearing to him,
Wants to talk to her… and cannot…
He sighs out… and dies.
The snow that falls around him
Slowly makes for him- bit by bit-
A trough that swallows him
From head to toe.

Over his dead body
Slowly, slowly,
Came falling, falling
The flakes of snow.

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Curros Enríquez- The Virgin of the Crystal- Part VIII

poetrypaintingVIII

At this Rosa withdrew
From the window of the building
Leaving unlucky Martiño
Thunder-struck in the street.

Pale, sombre, astonished,
As cold as marble
Without even blinking
Nailed to the spot.

Then a jesting laugh
Came to his ears
The laugh of a full-bellied wolf…
The laugh of a crocodile…

-By God- he said at that
All caught up in a rage-O
Who is laughing?
-Xan de Ventrances.
-You, the thief of honour?
-The very same.
-Stop here!  Just like this,
I have a debt with you
And I want to have it out now.
-As much as you want.  I am ready.

-Well a word is enough.
-It is enough, I say the same to you.
-To Soutoverde, Xan.
-To wherever you want, Martiño.

Oh this doesn’t look good, does it?  Do you think there will be a happy ending?  Will Rosiña go to the convent and profess as a nun?  What will happen to Martiño?  He is so eaten up with rage and jealousy, it looks like he is going to lash out at Xan.  What do you think will happen then?  Who will win the fight and what will Rosa do?

Next instalment coming tomorrow!

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Curros Enríquez- The Virgin of the Crystal Part VII

montoroVII
One blue August night
Like a present from summer
Vilanova dos Infantes
Is all a buzz and uproar.

Never did mysterious moonlight
Pour such a silvery light,
Nor willows in the breezes
Spread out such fragrant odours.

Through the square and through the streets
The young girls go by singing,
And the boys go by behind them
Calling out and clapping their hands.

Improvising a dance song
At the door of every house,
From all over can be heard
The sound of tambourines and bagpipes.

From a league and half around
The young men from the mountain
Salute the fiesta with the light
Of straw beacons on the hills.

The old women of all the town
Come out of the balconies onto verandahs
And the tipsy little children
With their heads shaved,

Jumping and shouting get tangled
In the legs of the dancers.
Tonight the shoemakers
Do not want to take up their tools,
And the girls are not at their sewing,
And the bakers are not kneading the dough.

Tonight in Vilanova
Is the night of the festival;
That is what the town hall decided
And the lord Abbot commands.

The Abbot of Vilanova,
Whom they call don Xan de Barros,
Ordered all the bells to be rung
To call out all the parish.
alvar02
With his bonnet on his head,
Dressed in alb and stole,
He went up to the pulpit and spoke
To those who were listening below:

“My little brothers, you already know
How four weeks ago
Our Lady deigned
By means of a young girl
To come and visit this town-
To make it her home.
The Lord Bishop of Ourense
Astonished by how much mercy
God was bestowing upon us,
Wanted to see the Holy Image,
But its fame had travelled
So far in this time
That when the Bishop thought
To build her a chapel,
The King, Philip IV,
Who today reigns over Spain in peace,
Concerned that such a famous
Wonder might not be true,
Ordered it to be taken to him
So that he could see it and admire it.
I sent it to him wrapped up
With various other relics.
The king saw it, touched it,
Came back to it to see and touch again
And with his eyes alight
And his tongue hanging out
Doubted what he was seeing,
As doubting Thomas doubted.

Then what did he do? Fearing
That the crystal that enclosed
The Virgin was something
That might have some kind of trick,
He ordered the most famous
Craftsmen to his chamber.
He told them to examine
At ease the crystal
lovestrongAnd make formal declarations
Of anything strange they noted.
This was done: silversmiths
And experts of the Royal House,
Men of letters and science
Came together in a hall
Of his palace, in the presence
Of thousands of courtiers,
And after a great study
And boundless admiration
They all together said
That what they had just seen
Was unique in the whole world,
And thus that the crystal and the Santa
Were of divine origin
Since they could find no other explanation.

After this declaration
They all fell down at the feet
Of our Virgin, and then
King, knights and ladies
Made her rich offerings
Of jewels, gold and silver
So that a hermitage could be raised
In the field where she was found.
All these details are given
OBy the king in a letter
That the courier from Madrid
Himself has just delivered to me.

The Virgin will now come back
To Vilanova: adore her!
And until the stonemasons
Can put up her house
Come and pray to her in this church
Calling her the Virgin of the Crystal.

And now may God go with you,
And in remembrance of this day
Today and tomorrow, God-willing,
No one in the town should work.
The town hall agrees to the same
Consenting to my requests.
The towncrier is charged to proclaim
To you the same order.”

When all the people that had been inside
Came out of the church
Martiño went around to look
For Rosa under her window.

Rosa was in the castle
Surrounded by people,
Because she was pretty
And famed for being saintly
Ever since when watching cows
She found the Virgin in the valley,
Everyone liked her and everyone
Goes to see her and  tempt her.

SeazaIt is already a month since Martiño
Had words with Rosa
And they have still not made peace,
Because no one is more stubborn than they.

But Martiño is dry
With jealousy like straw
And he can no longer bear
The trouble he himself caused.

That’s why I often see others
In a similar state to this.
But Rosa, either didn’t see him,
Or went the other way to avoid him.

He had been waiting now
A good while under the window
But Rosa wouldn’t come out.
Like someone saying… I just don’t feel like it.

Martiño coughs and coughs…
Martiño sings and sings…
He walks and walks about…
But as for Rosiña… nothing!

The suffering boy could hear above
Joking and songs being sung
And occasionally Rosa would laugh
CaminoWhilst he got more and more angry.

At last, when Martiño
Was ready to set off for his own house,
Rosa leant out and then
They exchanged these words:

-Praise God, my Rosa…
Will you give me a little sprig of basil?
-When I am asked for something small
I never deny anything to anyone.

-May God serve you
If you give me my soul;
For since I haven’t seen you for so long
It seems something is lacking.

-Don’t come to me with that story,
Martiño, because… everything finishes…
Don’t you remember now that night
When you called me a traitor?

-Ay!  You are giving me a good punishment
And another greater one I was expecting.
I doubted you… a bad friend
Told me….  who would not doubt?

But that crime…cost me
If you could only see… so many tears…
-And did you repent
-Listen:
That cursed night
I told myself: “As clean
As a crytal.” And you spoke well!
Because the other day in the morning,
Without you saying anything else,

God himself gave me the proof
Of the purity of your soul.
The crystal that you found
EsperanzaBefore you even found it,

I discovered, I had it
In this calloused and rough hand,
I was the one who saw it fall,
I was the one who angrily threw it away,

Without knowing… the devil take it!
How much greatness was within it.
You certainly had good luck!
God wanted it so and his divine

Majesty is very wise.
-Who knows if God was not
Calling me to him in this way,
Martiño?
-What do you say?  What are you talking about?
-Do not swear by God, Martiño.
-Are you thinking about dying, girl?
-No, but in the balance it might be the same:
I’m thinking of marrying…!
-You will

Since as far as I am concerned… right
Now if you want to.
-It is necessary
To have a dowry: the lord Abbot
Gave his word that he would supply it.

-Dowry?  You do not need that.
-Well, I already sold my dresses
And my flowery shawl… everything
So that there can be bagpipes at the party.

-Then you are going to get married?
If instead of selling, you bought…
-The thing is… for my wedding
A shroud is enough.

-What?  Get married and then die?
-When one gets married to Christ,
One dies to the world…
-Rosiña!
You, a nun?
-Martiño, hush!
Hush and go away!  If it is not me
Let another girl make you happy!
-And so… you are leaving me… Rosiña…?
-Martiño… the Virgin demands it!

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Curros Enríquez- The Virgin of the Crystal Part VI

???????????????????????????????VI

If the tradition I follow does not lie
From the past scenes to the following day
In the morning,
Sitting in the shade of the willows sewing
In the valley of Vilanova watching her cattle
Is Rosiña.

Unaware of all that was happening
To poor Martiño, for whom she was suffering
A thousand pains,
Rosa, with that rock wedged in her stomach,
Sewing one thread of linen after another,
Was thinking of him.

And whilst she threw her sighs to the winds
The sighs her deep thoughts tugged out of her
Sad and cruel,
Across the field the goats ran around
And the cows and the sheep were grazing upon
The gorse and thistles.

Troubled shepherdess with neither peace nor calm,
How much bile did Love leave now
In the depth of your soul!
How many shadows in the sky of your dreams!
How many tears in your eyes- may the saints help you!-
How much pain!

An orphan since you were born, sad and hungry,
Although you were poor until now, your honourable life
Spoke for you.
What did it matter to you to sleep on shady oak-covered hills?
???????????????????????????????What did it matter to you to tread on prickles as a carpet?
What did it matter?

You went through it all laughing…  Everything is all right
So long as there is honour in the house;
But, poor you!
You turned down a man as your suitor
And since then your reputation, from mouth to mouth,
Goes around.

What did you do, unhappy Rosa?
What did you do?…  Were you so sinful
As to do this?
To scorn Martiño for Xan de Ventraces…
You don’t know what men are capable of doing to you,
Poor woman!

“To work your whole life without rest
To preserve the honour you inherited from your grandparents,
Holy virtue,
And one talks to her boyfriend
To hear him tell you:-  “I don’t believe you
So there!”

To go around buying all the bits and pieces for the wedding
Only to be missing this boyfriend all day long
Dying with desire
And when the lovers’ night falls,
To hear those beloved lips say:
“Go with Xan!”

“There is no suffering as horrible as this
???????????????????????????????There is no suffering like this,” murmurs Rosa
In the willow grove.
And soon the sorry thing, looking down at the ground
Picks up from out of the grass, trembling all over,
That glass.
“Goodness, how pretty,” she exclaimed. “Am I blind?
The Queen of beauty dressed as a Galician maid
In my hand, ooh?
It can’t be!  I must be going crazy…  Anyone I told this to would laugh;
But yesterday night I dreamt she came down from the sky
To the foot of my bed.

“Can it be true, Rosa?  Set into a little egg
So little and small, so pretty, so beautiful
Just as I saw her then?
The same cloak that fell around her!
The same coy look!…the velvet or corduroy cloak!
I am not silly… no.”

“If my cattle were not around me watching me and eating
Anyone would say that I was still dreaming…
Goodness!  Whatever.
What little eyes, what a look, what lips, what hair,
What ears, what an apron, what a mother-of-pearl forehead,
What a devil of a woman!

“And she is looking… and winking.. and laughing the holy image…
How she shows off her clothes!  How she blinks at me!
Something is going to happen to me!
What do you say?  Do you want to talk to me?  Will ???????????????????????????????I listen to her?  Hush!
It is true she is talking!… Lady?  What she wants…
Now I am listening.”

“I should go to the date?”  And then?  “She comes by the command of God
So that he who burning with jealousy  judged me a criminal
Will see me honoured?…
Lady!  A shepherdess, the lowest of the low,
Does not deserve to have such a defender…
But… that is what she said.

“What? You want them to build you a chapel in the valley?
You want them to pray and sing to you on their knees?
Well good, my beloved, good.
But… she was quiet… so soon!  Now, now I can’t hear her!
Perhaps she does not speak so much as she is so small!
But how graceful she is!
“Well she said something to me that I don’t remember…
I don’t have bad hearing, but I cannot tell with certainty
What words they were…
Mama!…  “For those who do not love I will always be invisible,”
She said.  “And it is impossible for me not to attend those who call me
With all their heart…”
“What will I do that could serve her now more?
Take her to the Abbot?  Take her to Martiño?
What on earth shall I do?
Here, my lambkins, here…  I am here, come here, Bandy…
IMG_0349Prickly!  Here, youngster!…  Were you playing around then?
Hey, to the farmhouse, eh…”

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Curros Enríquez- The Virgin of the Crystal Part V

“You are up early this morning!”
Said Xan de Ventrances to Martiño
Finding him with a stony face
Early in the morning out on a path.
“I was never a layabout,”
Martiño replied rudely,
Because Martiño is short with his words,
“Well, mate, that’s the way of things
Everyone goes about their own business first…”
“Leave off… What do you want…?
If all men were like you then everyone…”
“Look, don’t take what I’ve said the wrong way,
But… well, you are not so good with women.”
“Xan, I am in a hurry
Because I have things to do in the fields.
I’m going to Porta de Outeiro
But even if I wasn’t, mark my words:
There is a lot I need to say to you
About this matter and others I have kept quiet.
Yes, a lot but better not say it now…”
“What? Are you angry already?
Ay, Martiño, anyone who overheard you
Even if they didn’t know you personally,
Would say you don’t have your head on right
By dint of thinking too much all day long.
Getting back to what I was saying
There isn’t a woman around who doesn’t laugh
At you for how silly you have been…”
“I don’t understand what you are saying.
Speak clearly if you even know how to.
Well the devil himself can take me
But, since you have been telling these important things
To me, I’ve been shivering like it was snowing.
Why then… do you say the girls in the area
Gossip about me? Watch out for the devil!
Since he is well served…!
Because what I am given to understand
Is that your friendship is like
The friendliness of the wolf to the lamb.
What can we do about it? And I who thought
That anyone who spoke about me would…”
“But…wait!! You are being deceived
Just last night
A local woman told me,
Speaking about your infatuation,
That more types than you have had her,
An ugly, wizened old man,
With bandy legs and a fierce face.
-And this is as much as you can say-
is what that girl said-
After the cat had carried her off
Is when he went in search of the sardine…”
“Shut up, Xan. Leave me alone. It is early
In the morning for me to fight with you.
Don’t make the wound deeper…
Don’t talk any more of that secret
That weighs on me like the plague…
Don’t make me want to fight.
Wasn’t what you said to me yesterday enough?
Go away, Xan, go away, quick now, soon.
Don’t let anyone know it or suspect it.
When I you need me I will find you…
Because there is something I would have out…
You bark well… You will be angry
But, if you had as much strength as malice,
You would show me proof of what you say,
Without waiting for your throat to be twisted.”
“So you believe it then, Martiño?
I would like to think that you are brave,
Because there are those who say- the things people say!-
That when you found out you shat yourself.”
“Whoever told you that, tell him he lies…
I was never a fan of blowing my own trumpet,
Nor do I start fights nor do I play around
But what that one girl did to me- watch what I say-
I would like to pay her for it later, or not.
If you don’t want to believe me,
That’s your lookout, but I promise you
That if you don’t give me in a month from today
The name of the girl who told you this secret about Rosa’s honour
I shall have to nail your tongue on a post
As a sign and warning to everyone!”
“Are you sure about what you say?”
“I won’t repeat it.”
“Well then… until August.”
“What I said…is said.”

Having spoken in this way
Xan de Ventrances and the unhappy Martiño
Went off in different directions
And without saying anything more
They both went their separate ways,
Martiño sad, Xan whistling.
The day was getting brighter.
The sun was beginning to shine
And a yellow fringe extended
Across the high clouds.
A breeze blew through the briar roses
And up there in the sky- a hanging star-
A lark made its warbling call.

From the side of the rising sun,
A floating pavilion of shadow and light,
A cloud runs softly, gently tripping
Covering the horizon- a black cloud-
And there in front of it
A dark rain shower burning with fire
Spreading a moist smell over the hot earth.

Martiño walked
Sadder and sadder as he went as fast as he could.
How many tears he shed
As he took his way across the highlands.

“To love a beautiful and pure young woman;
To ask her to marry you with all due courtesy;
To start saving for the wedding and the priest;
To look out for her day after day;
To respect her and wildly adore her;
To jump up with joy for her;
And, when you are wrapt, blinded
By the fever of love,
To hear one night on the road:
“Don’t get married, Martiño,
If you don’t want to be given cat meat for rabbit…”

“To work your whole life
To always be struggling with this hoe,
To conserve untarnished the noble
And clean reputation I inherited from my parents,
And suddenly to hear in someone’s mouth
One morning while I am on the road,
“Watch what you are doing, Martiño,
They are laughing at you all round the village…”

“Ay, compared to these
The torments of the condemned are nothing!
Can it be true, Xan de Ventrances? Tell!
Take pity on me, on these tears of mine,
This hell in which I groan,
Eaten up by claw-like teeth.
I don’t know if I bleieve you
But… Virgin Mary!
If you are telling the truth it would kill me.
Could he be the Devil? Curse him.”

Muttering like this the miserable labourer
With no calm or peace of mind
Went up into the highlands
And armed with his hoe
Began to work without delay.

Martiño, a hardworking lad,
Had been at his labours,
For seven solid hours,
When in one moment a whirlwind
Whipped up dust from the field in front of him.
The dense dustcloud
Obscured the sun for an instant,
And shaking the valley and the oakwood
The rough sound of a tremendous thunderclap
Ripped through the dark cloud in the east.

The waterspouts of the sky
Opened up then and from its breast
Sent so much rain
That the vegetable gardens were flattened,
The river broke its banks, full,
And trees and plants lost their leaves.
In that tempest
Each drop fell like a lightning bolt.
Nothing like it had been seen before.

Martiño, all over goose-flesh,
Hid in a hollow tree trunk.
What did he care for the damage?
If the water from the skies caresses him-
Ay- what of the water that streams from his eyes?
“Could it be,” he said,
“Could it be that Rosa is deceiving me?
Rosa, for whom I would give
Everything created by God in this world,
Even a kingdom if I had the chance to win one.
It cannot be; for sure it cannot be.
Pure as crystal she said yesterday night.
Pure as crystal… When she said that
I had no reason to doubt her.”

Then there suddenly flashed
A lightning bolt in the sky
Which in one flash broke through
And cleared up the mist.
The atmosphere burned in flames
The countryside was lit up
And the tree in which Martiño had hidden
Was shattered in pieces.

From the electrical shock
That the bolt had given him,
Martin fell blinded, astonished,
Tumbling into the mud.
But then, pulling himself together
From that natural faint,
Thinking himself a dead man,
He raised his hand to his chest.

Little by little his eyelids
Began to open, and he became aware
When he saw that
Such a strong tempest had passed,
That he was safe and sound.
He raised himself from the ground
And came out of the hollow
Of the tree trunk feeling calmer now.

But then, my angel,
He had not taken more than one step
When transported by joy
He knelt down in the mud.
“I was never born!”… he said to himself
And taking up his hoe again,
A stone he hadn’t seen
Sprung up from the ground.

It was a small stony stone
It was a stony little stone
Like a chicken’s egg
Carved in fine crystal,
A handsome stone,
Elliptical, clean, pure,
Without the slightest sign
Of artifice or joints in it.

Looked at from a distance
It gleamed like a diamond,
It seemed like the lidless
Eye of some atrocious giant,
But considered from up close
He hangs it up, admires it, is stunned
To see within the stone the holy image
Of the Blessed Mother of God.

It is not a small pebble formed
By water action in the earth,
And no one could have found it
In a quarry or a mountain.
It is not a block of ice
That will be melted by heat
Nor an excresence that would have
A different form from this.

It is not a burning aerolite,
A strange piece of stone
Whose underground origin
Has yet to be found.
It is not volvanic lava,
Which would have a darker colour,
Nor a stalactite or meteorite…
Nor the devil who invented it.

This is a stonish small stone
This is a small stony stone,
So rare, so polished,
There is none other like it in the world.
It seems just like a tear
Fallen from the eyes of God
To then be converted
Into his Mother’s prison!

How beautiful she is inside it,
How beautiful is Our Lady!
With what seductive grace
Does she let her semblance be seen!
For eyes she has two bright stars,
For teeth, pearls from the sea,
For hair she has rays of sunshine,
For a laugh… a new day dawning!

Seeing so much wonder
Shut up in such a tight space,
So much of God’s greatness
In such a little palace,
Martiño, completely astounded,
Feeling the weight of the crystal
Exclaimed, “My goodness, what’s this!
My goodness what’s this…just look at it.”

He wanted to get down on his knees
He wanted to take off his cap
And stow the miraculous crystal
In his waistband.
But his thoughts came back
And assaulted him a second time
And shouted, “I’m finished!”
And he pitched it one great throw into the valley.

“No,” he went on, “God does not want
Me to reach my goal.
God does not send his Mother
To take care of lovers.
Those were other times…
And this crystal gemstone
Was no more than the spark of the bolt
That should have ripped me open!”

At this he saw night coming on
And, with his work finished,
Martiño, still grieving,
Then set out for home.
And, when he entered the town
He said, full of remorse:
“Could it be that it was a message from Heaven?
I wouldn’t want to bet on it.”

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Curros Enríquez: The Virgin of the Crystal Part IV

Meanwhile, overwhelmed, the loving girl
Was fainting away with suffering and cried feverishly;
But she lives in an isolated room of the castle
And no will take pity on her ills.

Look at her! Her hair falls down her back,
Her eyes are blank, her heart is breaking.
She gets into her room, shuts the door with a bolt
And is, poor little thing, groaning in a corner.

From the high room where she sleeps through the window
Carpeted with basil, poppies and ALELIS
A white ray of pleasant moonlight bursts in
And the perfumed aroma of the fresh countryside.

From there Rosiña listens to the burbling of the stream
Which tumbles over the rocks nearby the castle,
The resounding call of two night birds
And the music that the wind makes in the tree-tops.

But her heart is so eaten up with grief
That she can find no consolation or pleasure in anything
And she cries and cries like the Magdalene,
It is pitiful, quite pitiful to see her like this.

O, first disappointment of our first love
You bring with you cold, sunless mornings,
You show us the worm in the orange blossom
And turn our heart into dry parsley.

Wherever you past you leave the corrupt spit
Of the venomous snake, bitter like bile,
You turn the most beautiful life into a hell,
And leave behind nothing but cruel weariness.

This disappappointment eats away at Rosiña’s breast
As she unbaptises herself, drying herself out with grief;
She dries her tears with the edge of her handkerchief
And many times exclaims, weeping all over again:

“Oh, may God love me if I know what he was talking about!
It must be someone else’s spiteful lies,
because I will swear at the foot of the cross,
that I love no one but him and do not want to either.

“If he should ask for proofs, if I could give them,
I could show him the treasure box of my virtues
And he would see I have saved, even if he doesn’t care,
That one virtue which it is my duty to preserve.”

She was so tired with sobbing and struggling in the end,
With so much in her head from so much thinking,
That care-worn Rosa fell heavily down,
Knocking her weary temple on the bedstead.

Little by little her eyes began to close
And sharp pains lit up in her of a pure love,
And praying to the Virgin from a half-closed mouth,
She drifted off into an enchanted sleep.

The a Lady
all clothed in light
crowned with stars
that are like diamonds,
a cloak on her head
of black velvet, so pretty,
came quietly smiling
into the room.

Never in the world has been seen
Such and enchanting creature,
Nor can there be anything to compare
To such great beauty:
For eyes she has two bright stars,
For teeth, pearls from the sea,
For hair she has rays of sunshine
For her laugh… a dawning day.

From her ears hanging down
She wore crescent moons
And her Galician costume,
A tunic of silken velvet,
Little clogs of almond wood
On her pretty little feet,
And around her waist a band
With folds that bring it all together.

Step by step she approached
The bed in which Rosa was sleeping
And graciously bestowing
A loving look upon her,
She said in a soft tone,
“Rosiña, the Virgin Mary
Brings you consolation and favour.

I know very well that your soul
Is overwhelmed with grief;
I know very well that you are suffering
Due to someone who doubts your virtue;
But I, who come from Heaven
Care for those who call on me,
I will make it so- yes?- that your good name
Will be restored to what it was before.

Don’t cry, my little one,
Don’t cry any more, little shepherdess;
I am looking out for you, my child,
You are under my protection.
Martiño will be repentant
Tomorrow for what I shall do to him;
The following day he will be with you
On the mountain, if to the mountain you go.”

Our Lady was quiet
And wrapped up in a gilded cloud
She rose up slowly… slowly… slowly
And was lost in the immense sky.
Rose remained there sleeping
In easeful repose, the gift of the Virgin.
She will wake up soon. The cock has already
Called, bringing on the morning.

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