Spanish Women Writers by Diana Ferraro (In Edit)

Besides the powerful influence of Cervantes and the repeated claim that all Spanish literature derives from “Don Quixote," there’s another lineage running in the veins of the Hispanic literary heritage. While the delusional world made of desire and impotence reflected in “Don Quixote" seems to have found its heiresses in Latin American women writers, women writers in Spain have chosen a different path: the gratifying invisible world of spirituality, where “another" life can certainly be lived. Under the protection of the religious truths of Catholicism, within the realm of accepted and self-enforced cultural sexual repression, or as an outlet in their struggles for freedom, Spanish women writers walk the ropes of the supernatural as though they belonged to one more room in the houses where they’re confined. A literature of freedom there where some can see a prison, this original literary trail goes from St. Teresa of Avila(1515-1582) "who also happens to be the patron-saint of writers--to the contemporary poet and philosopher Maria Zambrano (1904-1991 .)

Spanish literature is written not only in Spanish, but in Galician and Catalan as well. The major Spanish poetess in the 19th century was Rosalia de Castro (1837-1885) and she wrote primarily in Galician. The greatest Spanish Civil War novel in the 20th century is probably “La Plaza del Diamante," written in Catalan by Mercé Rodoreda (1908-1983.) Under the peninsula’s spirituality, these women writers join a legion of novelists starting with Marcia de Zaya(1590- 1661 ) in the 17th century, going to the first realistic novelist in the 1 9th century, the Countess Emilia Pardo Bazan (1851 -1921 ) and finally attaining a remarkable group of writers in the 20th century and our century, including Rosa Chacel (1898-1994) Gloria Fuertes(1917-1998) Carmen Martin Gaite (1925-2000) Ana Maria Matute (1925) Adelaida Garcia Morales (1945) Soledad Puértolas (1947) and Almudena Grandes (1960.)

These women writers deserve more attention in the Anglo-Saxon literary world. They all shine with their work based mostly on women characters, representatives not only of the universal female struggle embedded in this case within the Spanish history and culture, but of the very original connection to a spiritual world in which love and sex can be sublimed, transcended in a way which is aesthetic and, at the same time, comforting in the very Spanish idea that we’re a matter of death as much as of life.


por Santa Teresa de Avila

Vivo sin vivir en mi
y tan alta vida espero,
que muero porque no muero.

Vivo ya fuera de mi,
después que muero de amor;
porque vivo en el Señor,
que me quiso para si
cuando el corazón le di
puso en él este letrero,
que muero porque no muero.

Esta divina prisión,
del amor en que yo vivo,
ha hecho a Dios mi cautivo,
y libre mi corazón;
y causa en mi tal pasión
ver a Dios mi prisionero,
que muero porque no muero.

Ay, qué larga es esta vida!
Qué duros estos destierros,
esta carcel, estos hierros
en que el alma esta metida!
Sólo esperar la salida
me causa dolor tan fiero,
que muero porque no muero.

Ay, qué vida tan amarga
do no se goza el Señor!
Porque si es dulce el amor,
no lo es la esperanza larga:
que teme Dios esta carga,
mas pesada que el acero,
que muero porque no muero.

Sólo con la confianza vivo
de que he de morir,
porque muriendo el vivir
me asegura mi esperanza;
muerte do el vivir se alcanza,
no te tardes, que te espero,
que muero porque no muero.

Mira que el amor es fuerte;
vida, no me seas molesta,
mira que sólo me resta,
para ganarte perderte.
Venga ya la dulce muerte,
el morir venga ligero
que muero porque no muero.

Aquella vida de arriba,
que es la vida verdadera,
hasta que esta vida muera,
no se goza estando viva:
muerte, no me seas esquiva;
viva muriendo primero,
que muero porque no muero.

Vida, qué puedo yo darle
a mi Dios que vive en mi
si no es el perderte a ti,
para merecer ganarle?
Quiero muriendo alcanzarle,
pues tanto a mi Amado quiero,
que muero porque no muero.

by St. Teresa of Avila

I live not living within me
and, as I wait for an exalted life,
I die because I don’t die.

I now live out from myself
after dying of love;
because I live in the Lord,
who wanted me for himself:
when I gave him my heart
he put on it his sign,
that I’m dying because I don’t die.

This divine prison
made of the love in which I live,
has made God my captive
and my heart free;
and seeing God as my prisoner
causes in me such a passion
that I die because I don’t die.

Aye, how long this life is!
How hard these exiles,
this jail, these iron bars
enclosing the soul!
Just having to wait for the exit,
hurts me with a ferocious pain,
and I die because I don’t die.

Aye, what a bitter life
there where one doesn’t enjoy the Lord!
For if love is sweet,
prolonged hope is not;
May God take from me this burden,
heavier than steel,
for I die because I don’t die.

I only live trusting that I shall die,
because upon dying, living assures
me of my hope;
death where living is reached,
don’t be late, I’ m waiting for you,
for I die because I don’t die.

Life, beware that love is strong,
and, see, don’t bother me,
consider that to gain you
I only need losing you.
let sweet death come now,
let dying come swiftly,
for I die because I don’t die.

That life above is the true life
until this life dies
one which can’t be
enjoyed while alive: death, don’t avoid me;
may I live dying first,
for I die because I don’t die.

Life, what can I give
to my God who lives within me,
but losing you
to deserve winning him?
I want to attain him as I die,
For I love my Beloved so much,
That I die because I don’t die.

por Rosal1a de Castro (original Gallego)

San Antonio bendito,
dademe un home,
anque me mate,
anque me esfole.
Meu santo San Antonio
daime un homiño,
anque o tamaño teña dun gran de millo.
Daimo, meu santo,
anque os pés teña coxos,
mancos os brazos.
Unha muller sin home...
¡ santo bendito!,
e corpiño sin alma,
festa sin trigo,
pau viradoiro,
que onda queira que vaia
troncho que troncho.
Mais en tendo un homiño,
¡ Virxe do Carme!,
non hai mundo que chegue
para un folgarse;
que, zambo ou trenco,
sempre é bo ter un home
para un remedio.
Eu sei dun que cobiza causa miralo,
lanzaliño de corpo,
roxo e encarnado;
carniñas de manteiga,
e palabras tan doces cal mentireiras.
Por el peno de dia,
de noite peno,
pensando nos seus ollos
color de ceo; mais el, xa doito,
de amoriños entende, de casar pouco.
Facé, meu San Antonio,
que onda min veña
para casar conmigo,
nena solteira;
que levo en dote unha culler de ferro,
catro de boxe,
un hirmanciño novo que xa ten dentes,
unha vaquiña vella
que non da leite...
¡ Ai, meu santiño! Facé
que tal suceda,
cal volo pido.
San Antonio bendito,
dademe un home,
anque me mate,
anque me esfole.
Que, zambo ou trenco,
sempre é bo ter un home para un remedio.

A Maiden's Prayer by Rosal'a de Castro
(translated from Galician by Eduardo Freire Canosa)

Blessed Saint Anthony,
Grant me a man
Even if he kills me,
Even if he skins me.
My saintly Saint Anthony,
Grant me a greenhorn
Though he be the size
Of a grain of corn.
Bring him, my saint,
Even if he has lame feet
Or both arms missing.
A woman without a man 'Blessed saint! --
Is a frail, soulless frame,
A feast without wheat,
Fresh bread gone stale,
That wherever she goes
Goes walking stick kale.
But with a greenhorn for mate
'Virxe do Carme!'
The world isn't big enough
For relaxation;
Bowlegged or knock-kneed
It's always good to have a man
To mend a need.
I know of someone whom to see
Is to covet,
Spare of body, Red and ruddy,
Smooth skin of cream,
And words as sweet
As counterfeit.
For him I ache by day,
By night ache I,
Brooding over his eyes
The colour of sky,
But he, already savvy,
Knows a lot about love,
Little about getting married.
Bring him to me,
My saint Anthony,
To marry me,
A maiden child;
I bring for dowry
A spoon of iron,
Four of boxwood,
A new baby brother
Who has already sprung teeth,
A dear old cow
That doesn't give milk...
Please my cherished saint!
Bring it about
As I ask you.
Blessed Saint Anthony,
Grant me a man
Even if he kills me,
Even if he skins me.
Bowlegged or knock-kneed
It's always good to have a man

Vinte unha crara noite por Rosalía de Castro

Vinte unha crara noite por Rosalía de Castro

(Translation: Eduardo Freire Canosa)


Vinte unha crara noite, noitiña de San Xo¡n, poñendo as frescas herbas na fonte a serenar.
E tan bonita estabas cal rosa no rosal
que de orballiño fresco toda cuberta est¡.
Por eso, namorado, con manso suspirar
os meus amantes brazos boteiche polo van,
e ti con dulces ollos e m¡is dulce falar,
meiguiña, me emboucastes en pr¡cido sol¡s.
As estrelliñas todas
que aló no espazo est¡n, sorrindo nos miraban con soave crarid¡.
E foron, ¡ ai! , testigos daquel teu suspirar
que ó meu correspondía con amoriño igual.
Pero dempois con outros m¡is majos e gal¡ns
(mais non que m¡is te queiran,

que haber, non haber¡), tamén, tamén, meniña,

soupeches praticar
¡ sombra dos salgueiros, cabo do romeiral.
Por eso eu che cantaba en triste soled¡,
cando, ¡ ai de min! , te vía por riba da veiga llana, con eles parolar:
"Coida, miña meniña, das pr¡ticas que d¡s,
que donde moitos cospen, lama fan."


¡ Que triste ora te vexo! ...
¡ Que triste, nena, est¡s! ... Os teus frescos colores,
¿donde, meniña, van? O teu mirar sereno,
o teu doce cantar,
¿donde, meniña, donde, coitada, topar¡s?
Xa non te vin, meniña, na noite de San Xo¡n,
poñendo as frescas herbas na fonte a serenar.
Xa non te vin fresquiña cal rosa no rosal,
que muchadiña estabas de tanto saloucar.
Ora, de dor ferida, buscando a honriña vas, honriña que perdeches, mais ¿quen cha volver¡? Eu ben, miña meniña, ben cha quixera dar,
que aquel que ben te quixo doise de verte mal.

Where Many Spit, Loam Turns to Muck By Rosal'a de Castro

(Translation: Eduardo Freire Canosa)


I saw you on a cloudless night
At twilight Saint John's Eve Setting the fresh herbs to steep
In the table bowl for the night
And you looked as cute As a rose in the rose bush Drenched
In fresh dew.
That is why, enamoured, With soft sighs
I threw my loving arms Around your waist; And you, charming enchantress,
With sweet eyes and sweeter talk
Beguiled me
In placid solace.
All the twinkling stars That above in space reside Looked at us smiling
With soft-light shine
And they were witnesses ah! Of those sighs of yours Which reciprocated mine In equal, gentle love.
Yet afterward with others

More handsome and gallant than I
(Though none who love you more,
For no one ever ever shall) As well, as well, lassie, You were wont to chatter Under the shade of the willow trees
Past the festive picnics' site. That is why I used to sing to you
In sullen solitude
When wretched me! I saw you
With them chatting Across the flat lowland, "Be careful, my lassie,
About the conversations you have
For where many spit, Loam turns to muck."

How sad now I see you...! How sad, girl, you are...! Your glowing colours, lassie,

Whither did they part? Your serene gaze,
Your sweet singing, lassie, Where, o ill-starred one, Where shall you find?
No longer did I see you, lassie,
On the night of Saint John's Eve
Setting the fresh herbs to steep
In the table bowl for the night.

No longer did I see you sparkling fresh
Like rose in the rose hedge, Sadly withered you were From weeping so much.
Now you go scarred by pain In search of your good name,

Reputation you surrendered, But who will render it?
O how, how I wish, my lassie,
I could lend it back to you For he who loved you true Su fers to see you ailing. But however much I say and say
What a wholesome girl you are
They reply to me smiling To make of me fun, "Well you know, Frankie, Frank from Pombal, that Where many spit,
Loam turns to muck. "

Se beben la luz by Gloria Fuertes
Puedo deciros...

Yo puedo deciros
que el carbón no mancha, que el malo no es malo,
que el soldado nunca quiere ir, que el olvido no existe,
que no hay muerte que mate.

Yo puedo deciros dónde est¡ la Luz, la otra,
no ésta,
la luz donde crece la Armonía... A veces me pregunto:
¿Hay cosa m¡s f¡cil
que hacer un hombre de un criminal?

Nada tan sencillo
como comunicarnos sin teléfono.

Escribo para niños, para peces,
para rameras honradas... para ti.
A veces digo que la estrella es un clavel blanco,

pero eso no vale para nada.
Yo sé cu¡ndo fallo y cu¡ndo tengo razón.
Porque aún estoy viva
y tengo que manifestarme en la sombra, porque hay hombres ¡ que se beben la luz!

They drink up the light
by Gloria Fuertes I can tell you...
I can tell you
that coal doesn’t stain, that a bad man is not bad
that a soldier never wants to go, that oblivion doesn’t exist,
that there’s no death that kills.

I can tell you where Light is, the other one, not this,
the light where Harmony grows… Sometimes I wonder:
is there anything easier
than to made a man from a criminal?

Nothing as simple
as communicating without a telephone.

I write for children, for fish,
for honest hookers, for you.
Sometimes I say that the star is a white carnation,
but this amounts to nothing.
I know when I fail and when I’ m right.
Because I’ m still alive
and I’ ve to show up within shadow,
because there’ re men who drink up the light!

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