The Galician writer dedicated these melancholic verses to the month of May

'Mayo longo': a beautiful poem by Rosalía de Castro written in Castilian lands

The month of May has begun, and with its arrival I have remembered a beautiful, small and melancholic poem by the great Galician writer.

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In 1880 it was published in the collection of poems "Follas novas" (New sheets) by Rosalía de Castro. This work was written in Galician when she lived in Simancas (Valladolid), after her husband, Manuel Murguía, was appointed director of the General Archive of the Kingdom of Spain, based in that town. That collection of poems included Rosalía's most famous poem, "Negra sombra" (Black shadow), on page 52. A few pages later the poem that concerns us now appeared. You can read it here written in the Galician of that time (which used the letter y, since the Middle Ages, by the way):

"Mayo longo... Mayo longo,
Todo cuberto de rosas,
Para algús telas de morte,
Para outros telas de bodas.

Mayo longo, Mayo longo,
Fuches curto para min,
Veu contigo a miña dicha,
Volveu contigo á fuxir".

You can read its English translation here:

"Long May... Long May,
All covered in roses
For some death cloths,
For other wedding cloths.

Long May, Long May,
You were short for me
My happiness came with you
It came back with you to run away".

The poem captures the sadness that invaded Rosalía's life due to a mixture of circumstances: her propensity for illness, the death a few years before of two of her children, and also the longing for her homeland. The third verse speaks of "death cloths" (that is, shrouds) and the fourth speaks of "wedding cloths" (the wedding dress and the groom's suit), as a contrast between the joy of some and the sadness of others.

There have been very good versions of this poem set to music. In 1997, Amancio Prada, from León, published this version accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic of Galicia, under the baton of Maximino Zumalave:

In the year 2000, Carlos Núñe, from Vigo, released an excellent album entitled "Mayo Longo", whose third track was a beautiful music version of Rosalía de Castro's poem, sung by Anabela Braz Pires, from Lisbon. It's my favorite version:

As an added note for Rosalía's admirers, on that same Carlos Núñez album there was another poem by the Galician writer: "Astros, fuentes y flores" (track seven), a poem in Spanish that appeared on the Rosalía de Castro's last work "En las orillas del Sar" (On the banks of the Sar), published a year before her death. It is another of my favorite poems by this writer, and I take the opportunity to put it here:

"Dicen que no hablan las plantas, ni las fuentes, ni los pájaros,
ni el onda con sus rumores, ni con su brillo los astros:
lo dicen, pero no es cierto, pues siempre cuando yo paso
de mí murmuran y exclaman: — Ahí va la loca soñando
con la eterna primavera de la vida y de los campos,
y ya bien pronto, bien pronto, tendrá los cabellos canos,
y ve temblando, aterida, que cubre la escarcha el prado.

— Hay canas en mi cabeza, hay en los prados escarcha;
mas yo prosigo soñando, pobre, incurable sonámbula,
con la eterna primavera de la vida que se apaga
y la perenne frescura de los campos y las almas,
aunque los unos se agostan y aunque las otras se abrasan.

Astros y fuentes y flores, no murmuréis de mis sueños;
sin ellos, ¿cómo admiraros, ni cómo vivir sin ellos?"

Here you can read its English translation:

"They say that the plants do not speak, nor the fountains, nor the birds,
Nor the waves with their rumors, nor with their brilliance the stars:
They say it, but it's not true, because always when I pass
Of me they murmur and exclaim: — There goes the crazy woman dreaming
With the eternal spring of life and fields,
And very soon, very soon, she will have gray hair,
And she sees trembling, numb, that the frost covers the meadow.

— There are gray hairs on my head, there is frost on the meadows;
But I continue dreaming, poor, incurable sleepwalker,
With the eternal spring of life that goes out
And the perennial freshness of fields and souls,
Although the ones wither and although the others burn up.

Stars and fountains and flowers, do not murmur about my dreams;
Without them, how to admire you, nor how to live without them?"

And here you can listen to it:

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