Orillas Del Sar Rosalia De Castro Analysis Essay

from publisher website: 

Double Diaspora in Sephardic Literature: Jewish Cultural Production Before and After 1492. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015.

The year 1492 has long divided the study of Sephardic culture into two distinct periods, before and after the expulsion of Jews from Spain. David A. Wacks examines the works of Sephardic writers from the 13th to the 16th centuries and shows that this literature was shaped by two interwoven experiences of diaspora: first from the Biblical homeland Zion and later from the ancestral hostland, Sefarad. Jewish in Spain and Spanish abroad, these writers negotiated Jewish, Spanish, and diasporic idioms to produce a uniquely Sephardic perspective. Wacks brings Diaspora Studies into dialogue with medieval and early modern Sephardic literature for the first time.

David Wacks’s study is groundbreaking for its pioneering scope and poignant analysis. Through the critical lens of a ‘double diaspora’ Wacks sheds new light on the themes of expulsion and redemption in works by some of the most important medieval Spanish Jewish authors in the post-Zion Iberian exile such as Moses Maimonides and Judah Halevi. Wacks also leads the field of Sephardic Studies in a new direction by casting his critical eye on texts by lesser known Jewish writers, including the kabbalist Joseph Karo, living in a second exile from post-1492 Spain. —Gregory B. Kaplan, University of Tennessee

David Wacks’s elegant monograph bridges the divide between Hebraists and Hispanists, medievalists and early modernists, with conceptual sophistication and substantive insights. It makes, indeed, a compelling case for the analytic viability of “double diaspora” in the literary history of Sephardic Jews and the inscription of Hispano-Jewish literature in the Weltliteratur canon. An important contribution and a superb read. —Luis M. Girón Negrón, Harvard University

Tags: David Wacks,Sephardic literature,Spain,Spanish Literature

In the organ’s echoes or the wind’s words
In a star’s shining or a drop of rain,
She felt you all round, saw you everywhere
Without ever finding you.

Maybe she found you, found you and lost you
Again, in the harsh battle of life
As she keeps seeking you and feels you all round
Without ever finding you.

But she knows you exist, are no vain dream,
Nameless beauty, perfect and unique,
So she lives sad, always looking for you
Without ever finding you.



I don’t know what I eternally seek
On earth, in the air and in the sky
I don’t know what I seek but it’s something
I lost who knows when and cannot find,
Even when I dream that it lives on unseen
In everything I touch and see.

Happiness, I’ll never get you back
On earth, in the air or in the sky,
Even when I know you exist
And are not a vain dream.

This poem is from Rosalía de Castro En las Orillas del Sar (Madrid, 1884).  Rosalía is supremely pessimistic.  This poem is not the exception in an otherwise optimistic collection of poetry and is, furthermore, a late expression of a pessimistic tendency in her whole thought that builds like rising storm clouds over the sea throughout her life.  In her earlier poetry there are intimations in the sad finales of her love poems where the young maiden all too easily gives up her kisses to the inconstant wanderer.  Then there are the poems of outrage against poverty, emigration and discrimination towards Galicians in the rest of Spain and the poems of yearning for the homeland.  Finally there are the deeply personal shadows of death and mourning, the loss of her mother and a son in 1875 and another daughter in childbirth two years later, with a backdrop of her own sickness and suffering.

This sense of lost happiness gives up its bitterness like a nut cracked in the mouth.  Once the flavour is released it permeates everything.  Here Rosalía is grappling with something more all-encompassing than the specific reasons she has to feel sad; she is developing an existential philosophy of bitter sadness.

To go with the poem I have included a dark little acrylic painting of trees in the wood.  The light was going down.  It was a winter afternoon with a hint of frost in the air.  A hawk was keening mournfully as it quartered the valley and in the distance cows lowed.

If you are interested in Rosalía de Castro there are some books out there in English but I do not recommend them highly.  It is better to read what I put here!  You can get the originals from Austral:  En las Orillas del Sar and Cantares Gallegos both with an introduction and guide by Mauro Armiño who is a versatile translator and commentator.

This entry was posted in 19th Century, Rosalía de Castro and tagged depression, Editorial Austral, Galician poetry, Gallego, Mauro Armiño, poetry, Rosalía, Rosalía de Castro, translation, Women poets. Bookmark the permalink.

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