-Escoitá: os algoasiles

Here is a poem of protest from Rosalia de Castro, a cry of anger at the tax collectors coming round to poor villagers who can hardly get enough money for a roof over their heads and food for their family. It is written in the Galician language, and I hope it is reasonably accessible to those with a good grasp of Castilian Spanish.

The title “Why?”, and the first word, “Listen:”, grab the reader’s attention, create a sense of momentum and urgency which conditions how we read the rest of the poem. The meat of the subject is then revealed – the tax collectors are coming to the village.

¿Por qué?

-Escoitá: os algoasiles
andan correndo a aldea;
mais ¿cómo pagar, cómo, si un non pode inda pagar a renda?

Embargaránnos todo, que non teñen
esas xentes concencia, nin tén alma.
¡Quedaremos por portas,
meus fillos das entrañas!

¡Mala morte vos mate
antes de que aquí entredes!
Dos probes, ao sentirvos,
os corazós, ¡cál baten tristemente!

-María, se non fora
porque hai un Dios que premia e que castiga,
eu matara eses homes
como mata un raposo a unha galiña.

-¡Silencio! ¡Non brafemes,
que éste é un valle de lágrimas…!
Mais ¿por qué a algúns lles toca sufrir tanto,
i outros a vida antre contentos pasan?

From <http://poemasderosalia.blogspot.com/search/label/As%20viuvas%20dos%20vivos%20e%20as%20viuvas%20dos%20mortos&gt;

The poem continues with the cry of despair, how can we pay our taxes if we can’t even pay the rent. But the tax collectors proceed remorselessly, without a conscience, without a soul and round everyone up.

The poet curses the tax collectors, wishing them a horrible death, and wishing she could kill them herself, like a fox kills a chicken, if only there were no God to judge everybody.

The poem finishes with a cry of protest, why do some people have nothing and suffer, while others live lives of ease and pleasure.

A poem for the 99% indeed.

The Poetry Dude


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