"Pasos de un peregrino son errante cuantos me dictó versos dulce Musa en soledad confusa perdidos unos otros inpirados"

Jan 5, 2017

Friday, 6 January 2017


Don Luis de Góngora is followed by a signifcant number of researchers, like any great poet. They are called gongoristas or Gongorists. The adjective is gongorista, or gongorist (in English). One could say that e.g. the adjective "mentido" is typically gongorista, or gongorist, or even gongoresque.
     Are there many Gongorists, persons who can read don Luis' works in detail? The outcome of a recent investigation indicates that the number might be as low as 50, worldwide, although this result will surely be discussed at length. Gongorists do respect one another greatly, that is a certainty. Most of them (not all) are found in Europe: Prof. Robert Jammes (Université Le Mirail, Toulouse, France) and Prof. Joaquín Roses (Head of the Cátedra Luis de Góngora, Universidad de Córdoba, Spain), to name just a few.
The real smart Alexes amongst us have already noticed
that this picture has been mirrored.

No one ever studies the huge oeuvre of poetry written by don Luis (and the few plays which have been recovered so far). It's a way of life, mainly because the research involves so much time. Any noun, any verb, any adjective may have a meaning which - so far - has not been understood properly. ("What's don Luis' primera verdad exactly?") In the world of Gongorism simple answers to simple questions simply do not exist; at times speakers refuse to answer questions from the audience.
     Don Luis' poetry has been translated. Readers often appreciate the results. They shortchange themselves, because the original texts cannot be translated. ("Let one expert do all the work, so that millions may enjoy Góngora's texts?") Don Luis wasn't a man of compromise when he spoke about pigs and pearls. He would have disliked any contemporary simplified, retweeted "Googledades".

I studied the relationship between Luis de Góngora and Federico García Lorca, a relationship which proved to be as complex as it is extensive. The ten years (or so) which it took to argue this relationship are only a drop in the ocean of time. Many scholars in Spain and elsewhere have dedicated most of their lives to the study of don Luis' oeuvre. Me too, without realizing it.
      During the seventies I studied classical guitar with Louis Ignatius Gall, one of Segovia's pupils. After that I studied the works of Federico García Lorca with Dr. Luis Sáchez Cuñat, a personal friend of the late Jorge Guillén. It was during this study that I realized that there was a relation with Góngora to be detected.
     My study was approved by prominent academics in Spain (Prof. María Clementa Millán, Prof. Javier Díez de Revenga), and published in the USA by the University Press of the South in New Orleans.

While living in the Albayzín of Granada I discovered the "Camino de Santiago" in the far north of Spain, and became a true veteran of the pilgrim road to Galicia. I owe the pilgrims a lot!

However, the poetry of don Luis is in my blood, not the guitar, nor the Flamenco or the adventure of long distance walking.
     Don Luis will not be studied. It' s a way of life.

The rare "Versos de Góngora" (1927)
bought in a bookshop in Córdoba for 5000 Pts (bound in leather)

A Mexican book, published by Anita Arroyo (1978),
bought in Mexico City for 18 Pesos.
It is very "complete".

A publication by Juan Ramón Jiménez (1969)
bought for 400 Pts in a Granadine bookshop.

Lorca's "Romancero gitano" (Mexico: 8th print 1963) and (right) the
first print of his "Gypsy Ballads" in Buenos Aires in 1943.

Written by Gerald Brenan. This book should be read by everyone
who wants to visit Andalucía. However, the residents of Yegen
do not agree. They find the book "too negative".
"We gave Brenan a lot of money and goods."
"He was very poor."

Yegen now. Pensión Puente is good, and houses a
small museum on the history of the Alpujarra.
Buses leave from Granada, Almeria and Ugijar.

Maybe one of Lorca's sources of inspiration?

There is a long street full of second hand book shops in Mexico City behind the cathedral. I bought the first Argentine edition of Lorca's RG there for 16 Mexican Pesos, some 10 years ago. The check-out man noticed the mistake (price: just over US$1=), but let it go. See: pictures above.


Nov 24, 2015


     ¡Oh Duque esclarecido!,
templa en sus ondas tu fatiga ardiente,
y, entregados tus miembros al reposo,
sobre el de grama césped no desnudo,
déjate un rato hallar del pie acertado
que sus errantes pasos ha votado
a la real cadena de tu escudo.

Dedication: lines 26 - 32. (Alonso).

The Duque is invited to relax his feet in a fountain, and, once back on safe ground (the "grama césped no desnudo"),*) to listen to the (rhythmic) verses ("del pie acertado") of the pilgrim who has dedicated these verses to the chain which features on the Duke's shield.

*). I refer to earlier comments made on this website on 28 July 2014.

Sep 5, 2015


Oh tú, que, de vanablos impedido
--Muros de abeto, almenas de diamante--
Bates los montes, que, de nieve armados,
Gigantes de cristal los teme el cielo;

The mountains near Béjar. This picture was taken in May.

Coat of arms of the Kings of Navarra,
from which the Dukes of Béjar descend.

que sus errantes pasos ha votado
a la real cadena de tu escudo.

Honre süave, generoso nudo
libertad, de fortuna perseguida:
que, a tu piedad Euterpe agradecida
su canoro dará dulce instrumento,
cuando la Fama no su trompa al viento.

Coat of arms of the Dukes of Béjar.


Here are some pictures of Béjar:

Nov 12, 2014






Aug 22, 2014


Pasos de un peregrino son errante
cuantos me dictó versos dulce musa,
en soledad confusa
perdidos unos, otros inspirados.
¡Oh tú que, de venablos impedido,
muros de abeto, almenas de diamante,
bates los montes que, de nieve armados,
gigantes de cristal los teme el cielo,
donde el cuerno, del eco repetido,
fieras te expone que, al teñido suelo
muertas pidiendo términos disformes,
espumoso coral le dan al Tormes!:

The dedication commences with a few statements which would have sounded familiar to the Duke of Béjar, who resided on the pilgrim road to Santiago de Compostela. A wandering pilgrim dedicates his inspired thoughts (not his steps) to him, some written down, some lost. From the fifth line onward the Duke is mentioned specifically: tú. This Duke combats the giant mountains around Béjar, topped with snow. While doing so he is hindered by trees which seem like muros de abeto [with] almenas de diamante. (I refer to my comments later on this website)
     Next the poet describes those parts of the mountains which reach above the tree line. He applies sharp "e" sounds to express fear and drama: los teme el cielo, cuerno, eco. In fact, virtually every word in the last four lines contains the "e" sound. In don Luis' Andalusian tongue this would have sounded even more dramatic, and nothing is ever coincidence in his works. From the dull, safe pasos, musa, confusa, venablos, dulce and muros he constructs a narrative which explodes into the "espumoso coral le dan al Tormes!" From the pasos and versos dangerous action emerges: the (mythological) unicorn, doubled by its echo, alerts a fearful sky which overlooks the numerous cadavers of bears.


Poetry fragment: Carreira, Antonio. Antología poética.

Jun 28, 2014


I would like to make a few comments on the rather complex dedication to the Duke of Béjar:

Line 29: sobre el de grama césped no desnudo,

A lawn with white flowers: Stellaria Graminea

Lines 5-8: ¡Oh tu que, de venablos impedido,
                muros de abeto, almenas de diamante,
                bates los montes que, de nieve armados,
                gigantes de cristal los teme el cielo,

Salcedo Coronel describes the venablos as the spears of the guards who surround the Duke. Jammes believes that Góngora describes the trees on the mountains. I personally agree with Robert Jammes.
     Don Luis pictures the Duke as an heroic man who combats the giants (the huge mountains which surround Béjar), but does not use stones or trees in this combat: in stead he is hindered (impedir: stopped, burdened, obscured, overwhelmed) by them. Another conceit.


Carreira, Antonio. Antología poética. Barcelona: Crítica, 2009
Jammes, Robert. Soledades. 1994

Oct 18, 2013



<< Ven, Himeneo, ven donde te espera
con ojos y sin alas un Cupido
cuyo cabello intonso dulcemente
niega el vello que el vulto ha colorido:
el vello, flores de su primavera,
y rayos el cabello de su frente.
Niño amó la que adora adolescente,
villana Psiques, ninfa labradora
de la tostada Ceres. Esta, ahora
en los inciertos de su edad segunda
crepúsculos, vincule tu coyunda
 a su ardiente deseo.
Ven, Himeneo, ven; ven, Himeneo. >>

This "Hymn to Himeneo" is sung during the wedding ceremony of a mature man and a young girl (approximately 14 years old.) The groom is described by Góngora as "de años floresciente, y de caudal más floresciente [...]" (Sol. I. lines 757 - 58). Góngora's six coros, sung by serranos and serranas contain some of the most complex lines of the first Solitude. The first coro is sung by the serranos.

The groom is described as a (mature) Cupido, not blindfold and without wings, in contrast to the Mythological Cupido. His long hair hides what is underneath it, down, which has colored his face. Don Luis alludes to springtime and sunlight when he images the man's face. Or, as Salcedo Coronel states: "Cuyo cabello no cortado encubre el vello que da color a su rostro". And Jones: "His boyishly long hair belies the down that covers his face."
    Already as a boy the groom loved the (now) adolescent girl, who is to be his wife while still in the uncertain years of her life: a teenager. She is compared to Cupido's wife Psique, a hard working nymfh of a colored Ceres, the Goddess of Agriculture (in particular grain: cereals). Life was divided up into seven sequences, and the young girl, who was in the second stage, should have looked to be approximately fourteen years of age. Ceres should have had colored skin because of the sunlight which makes the grain turn golden.
     Alonso interpretes this gongorine fragment as follows: "Desde niño amó a la que hoy, ya mancebo, adora, Psiques aldeana de este Cupido," [...] and: "una tu lazo al ardiente deseo del mozo."


Alonso, Dámaso. Obras completas. Madrid: Gredos, 1978-82
Carreira, Antonio. Antología poética. Barcelona: Crítica, 2009.
Jones, R.O. Poems of Góngora. Cambridge: University Press, 1966.