Campanas de Bastabales

Rosalia de Castro lived and worked in the region of Galicia in northwest Spain (it’s the bit just north of Portugal) and so wrote poetry both in Castilian Spanish and her regional language, Galician. Today’s poem is in Galician, which I do not speak, but anyone with a reasonable knowledge of Castilian Spanish should be able to understand it.

The bells of Bastabales, from the first line of the poem, are in an actual church in a place called Bastavales in Galicia. This poem made the church, the place and the bells famous.

Campanas de Bastabales,
cando vos oio tocar,
mórrome de soidades.

Cando vos oio tocar,
campaniñas, campaniñas,
sin querer torno a chorar.

Cando de lonxe vos oio
penso que por min chamades
e das entrañas me doio.

Dóiome de dór ferida,
que antes tiña vida enteira
e hoxe teño media vida.

só media me deixaron
os que de aló me trouxeron,
os que de aló me roubaron.

Non me roubaron, traidores,
¡ai!, uns amores toliños,
¡ai!, uns toliños amores.

Que os amores xa fuxiron,
as soidades viñeron…
de pena me consumiron.

From <;

The poem recounts the emotions the poet feels when she hears the bells ringing at the church of Bastabales – loneliness, tearfulness, a pain in the stomach. The first three stanzas are taken up by these expressions of sadness and suffering brought about by hearing the bells. Why should this be?

The second half of the poem, the final four stanzas hint at the answer – within the sound of the bells, the narrator of the poem was attacked, robbed and worse, and left forsaken and alone. Love is no longer possible, only pain.

The poem evokes a state of loss, suffering and pain, without giving many details, but it succeeds in conveying these emotions and sensations in a poetic way.

The Poetry Dude

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