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self, in order to interpret and realize the sense and meaning of his utterances before taking them, as it were, into our hands, before weighing and assaying them as so many pieces of precious metal, we should seek a touchstone in a general idea of his life and surroundings of which the influence must inevitably be reflected even in the sublimest and most spiritual of his productions.

Gabriel y Galán was, above all, a countryman. I cannot describe him as a peasant, although in one sense such he was, consciously and deliberately, through and through. But not ashamed to put his hand to the plough, that most noble and sacred tool of man, he was no mere tiller of the soil, no plodding husbandman, no mere soulless reaper or callous herdsman. A small farmer and the son of a small farmer, he was all this, as he tells us himself in his poems, and yet above it all. He was accustomed to possess, to command, to govern. Placed neither very high nor at the foot of the social scale, he was so happily situated as to be able to look upon those above him, those around him, those below him, with equal detachment, and through the medium of a singularly honest, pure, and sensitive heart to gauge their several qualities and faults, their rights and wants, their happiness, and their misery.

But he was first and foremost a countryman, a lover of the country, of the soil, of rural life, of Nature, her landscapes, which are her picture gallery, her continual process of change and repetition wherein are her good works. Profoundly religious, like a true countryman, we find Gabriel y Galán so far removed from mawkishness or bigotry that, as I will presently show you, we must consider him as eminently philosophical, soaring to heights unsurpassable, not only in the purely lyrical outpourings of a Christian soul, but in his interpretation of the works of God as he sees them around him and in his judgment of the acts of men and the state of society he knew.

Y en la sierra, y en el monte, y en el valle

Y en el río, y en el antro, y en el piélago
Dondequiera que mis ojos se posaron,
Dondequiera que mis pies me condujeron,
Me decían-¿ Ves a Dios?-todas las cosas

Y mi espíritu decía:-Sí, le veo.

¿Y confiesas?-Y confieso-¿Y amas?—Y amo.
¿Y en tu Dios esperarás?-En El espero.2

José María Gabriel y Galán was born in the early 'seventies of the last century, the son of a farmer, of the village of Frades de la Sierra in the province of Salamanca. He prepared in this famous old University town, and later in Madrid, for the profession of schoolmaster, and at seventeen years of age won by competitive examination the post of teacher at the village of Guijuela, province of Salamanca, and four years later, also by competition, a similar appointment in the historical township of Piedrahita, situated in the province of Avila. After another period of four years he married a young girl from Extremadura, a circumstance of considerable importance in his future development as a poet, and at twenty-one resigned, "porque mis aficiones todas

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estaban en el campo." Until his death in 1905 he lived, as he wrote himself to one who was to be his biographer and critic, the great Spanish authoress, Condesa de Pardo Bazán, "wholly given up to the cultivation of a few acres and to the care and love of my people, my wife, and three children." Already during his lifetime he made himself a name in those literary jousts we know in Spain as Juegos Florales. His successes at Salamanca, Zaragoza, Bejar, Murcia, and Lugo-that is, in half-Spain, the publication of his poems in local reviews and journals, assured him a justified popularity. "Mis paisanos los salamanquinos y lo mismo los extremeños, me quieren mucho, me miman. Yo también les quiero con toda mi alma." So writes Gabriel y Galán himself.

Does not this epitome of his passage on earth remind you in its general lines of the life of Robert Burns? Countrymen both, intellectuals by their education and the flowering of their talent, both of them deliberately go back to the land from love of the land, Gabriel y Galán perhaps more completely than Burns, although there is no saying what he might have done had he been as cruelly treated by fate as his fellow-poet in Scotland. He, too, might have ended his days as an exciseman, or, as we have them in Spain, a tax collector. "Un recaudador de contribuciones," after the pattern of Miguel de Cervantes. ¿Quién sabe?

It is an abiding persuasion with me that nearly every British author has his counterpart in Spanish literature, for better or for worse, more or less precisely and perhaps at epochs far apart in the annals of chronology. In spite of this relativity of resemblance and a natural diversity of form, I make no doubt but that the thoughts and sentiments of Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, Wordsworth, Southey, English of the English though they be, will be found again in the mouths of Spanish poets, with the same outlook on life and the innermost meaning of its problem, their love and interpretation of Nature, their spontaneity, their unconventionality, their human feeling. I speak only of those who presumably were not directly or consciously influenced by the literature of one country in the other, for such there have been most certainly since the end of the fifteenth century down to our own day. Among the former few are so mutually akin in my opinion as Gabriel y Galán and the great Scottish poet, who had preceded him by nearly a hundred years, and of whom he probably had heard little more than the name or maybe even less. Gabriel y Galán, however, lived and died Spanish to the core-that is to say, a latinized Celtiberian, and Latin he is in many respects, almost Virgilian in some. Listen!

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Era un campo con flores y frutos,
con hombres y pájaros,

con caricias de sol y aguas puras
de limpios regatos,

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Colmenares que zumban y labran

palomares blancos

majadillas que alegran las cuestas,
sonoros rebaños.1

Y ví una tarde el amoroso idilio
sobre la cima de la azul montaña;

un sol que se ponía,

una limpia caseta que humeaba,

una cuna de helechos a la puerta

y una mujer que ante la cuna canta.

Y el hombre en un peñasco

tañendo dulce gaita

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que va atrayendo hacia el dorado aprisco
los chivos y las cabras.5

The second step in this brief and superficial study of the literary personality of José María Gabriel y Galán is an examination of the surroundings in which he was born, lived, and died. In the presence of such an audience as this it seems superfluous to stress the part played by environment in the foundation and expression of a particular talent or character. We are all deeply, unceasingly, unconsciously susceptible to the influence of the "atmosphere" in whose midst we breathe and act, whether material or spiritual. There is not, and has never been a painter, sculptor, musician, poet, or prose-writer who p. 241.


'Dos Paisajes, T. II., Fecundidad, T. II., p. 141.


is not or was not wholly or to some extent the product of the subtle and complex conjunction of factors arising from his racial origin and individual atavism, the period and place of his birth and later development and life, of the things and men with which in one way or another he comes or has come or came into daily contact.

With this fundamental consideration before our minds we must not lose sight of one fact overshadowing all else in the poet's nature and life. Gabriel y Galán was a Castilian.

Very rarely, if ever, did he go beyond the borders of Castile. The capital of Spain, Madrid itself, where José María studied as a youth and won his first appointment, is in Castile. He must on some occasion have stood on the seashore, for only one who had himself looked upon the immensity of the ocean, watched the play of the waves, the heaving of its bosom, the rapidly changing lines of its waters, the incessant alternation of light and shadow chasing each other over its surface, could have written such a poem as El Arrullo del Atlántico. Moreover, he recounts how he threw his harpoon into the waters ("he arrojado los harpones en el piélago," in Desde el Campo), but it is not clear whether when he did so he was hunting the whale or merely an otter. With this exception we may therefore believe and affirm that Gabriel y Galán lived and died in the land of his birth, in the heart of Castile-"el riñón de Castilla."

Castile! The word evokes for the Spaniard not only the golden glories of a region paramount in the making and government of one of the greatest empires in history, the consequences of whose achievements we still witness today, but also the vision of vast plains hedged in by dark blue mountain ranges of clear-cut, majestic contour, those "sierras" famous in every European tongue, covered in summer with the waving crops of wheat which once made them a granary of Rome, or in winter with that earth rich in ochers and browns graded against the indigo of hill and cloud we know so well from the background of the masterpieces painted by Velázquez and Zurbarán.

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It is the picture so vividly drawn by Longfellow in his Castles in Spain, and again by Gaspar Núñez de Arce, another modern Castilian poet, a far more powerful genius than Gabriel y Galán, when in his Idilio he exclaims:

"GABRIEL Y GALÁN: El Ama, Tomo I., p. 36.

¡Cuántas veces mi espíritu errabundo
apartado del mundo

en aquel torreón del homenaje,
con íntima y tenaz melancolía
se engolfaba y hundía

en la infinita calma del paisaje !

Ni aislada roca, ni escarpado monte
del diáfano horizonte

el indeciso término cortaban :

por todas partes se extendía el llano
hasta el confín lejano

en que el cielo y la tierra se abrazaban.

¡Oh tierra en que nací, noble y sencilla!
¡Oh compos de Castilla

donde corrió mi infancia! ¡Aire sereno!
¡ Fecundadora luz! ¡ Pobre cultivo! . . .
¡Con qué placer tan vivo

se espaciaba mi vista en vuestro seno!

Cual dilatado mar, la mies dorada

a trechos esmaltada

de ya escasas y mustias amapolas,
cediendo al soplo halagador del viento
acompasado y lento,

a los rayos del sol mueve sus olas.

Corta y cambia de pronto la campiña

alguna hojosa viña

que en las umbrías y laderas crece,

y entre las ondas de la mies madura,
cual isla de verdura,

con sus varios matices resplandece.

Serpean y se enlazan por los prados,
barbechos y sembrados,

los arroyos, las lindes y caminos,
y donde apenas la mirada alcanza,
cierran la lontananza

espesos bosques de perennes pinos.


Here the whole of Nature is pervaded by the rays of the sun-god, beating on "the distant town that seems so near," showing up each twig, each blade of grass, each clod of earth, casting shadows of hard, uncompromising black

Longfellow, Castles in Spain.

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