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Walking unsteadily from Granada Airport to Granada through the Vega

A couple of literary extracts to get you going.

Posted by admin on Friday August 26th 2011. 4 comments

Andalusia's tribute to Lorca. CC Daniel Lobo. More.

As far as I know the first famous traveller recorded as having used ***this route*** was Rodrigo Tellez de Girón, Master of the bloodthirsty Order of Calatrava. He died aged 26 fighting the Moors at Loja a decade before the capitulation of Granada, and was rewarded for his youth, his exploits, his practice of changing sides, with a considerable quantity of praise poetry describing his heroism and non-sectarian gallantry. I know of half a dozen ballads recounting his duels with various Moorish champions. In Juan de Timoneda's 1573 Rosa de romances one of these opens with the tremendous image of a black horse walking across the vale of Granada - depopulated during the wars between the Catholic Kings and Boabdil in the 1480s - carrying a chevalier saddled à la genette, his shield on his arm, his lance bloody from the Moors he has killed before coming to the Vega:

Por la vega de Granada
Un caballero pasea
En un caballo morcillo
Ensillado a la gineta:
Adarga trae embrazada,
La lanza traía sangrienta
De los moros que había muerto
Antes de entrar en la Vega.

He rides up to the Alhambra and asks the Nasrid queen if any Moorish champion is prepared to expel him from the Vega. Barbarín accepts his challenge and promises to return with the Master's head. But the Moor is wounded and then killed as he flees, and the Master cuts off his head and sends it to the Queen, saying that if the Moor will not serve her then he is prepared to take his place.

The romance is in Agustín Duran (1789-1862)'s splendid Romancero general, which exerted a powerful influence on several generations of writers, including two of Spain's best-known poets, Antonio Machado and Federico García Lorca. Lorca was born just over the river from Chauchina in Fuente Vaqueros, part of estates rewarded to Wellington for liberating Spain. Although his language may recall that of the romances, I often find his meaning difficult to grasp. Here he is necrologising the Master of Calatrava or someone similar:

Honda ribera del río,
Cuerda enorme cuyo acento
Dice el viento, y la noche
Su silencio...
Álamos blancos del prado
Con pústulas de oro viejo.
Vivas columnas de carne,
Arcas de mil hormigueros.
Entre vosotros mi sombra,
Cubierta por negros velos,
Camina llena de gracia
Rumiando su sufrimiento
¡Verde ribera del río,
Llévame con tu secreto!

So, on the "broad bank of the river, a great cord, its accent spoken by the wind, its silence by the night... White poplars of the meadow with pustules of old gold [the falling leaves?], live columns of flesh, coffers of a thousand ant colonies", twixt which his shadow wanders, veiled in black etc etc, suggesting to this confused brain a wish to be interred in the swamp along with the glorious mouldering past.

Anyway, more of that kind of stuff if there's public demand. Although cheap money enabled by West Germany has permitted the locals to convert particularly the last stretch into a sorry parody of pre-Wende East Germany, it's still a remarkable patch of land.

Background from Wikipedia:

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    1. Javier says:

      "Con pustulas de oro viejo" strongly recalls the appearance of yellow lichens on a tree bark. Look at this

    2. Mr Baldie says:

      Of course!!! None so blind as those too lazy to see...

    3. [...] [ My two-day stroll from Granada Airport via Santa Fe to Granada, Andalusia is here. [...]

    4. [...] County of Barcelona to the Kingdom of Granada. I am not sure Santa Fe agrees with me or with having Reconquista romances recited from its church steps, but I'm rather fond of Granada itself, and Granada TV, despite its [...]

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