Celso Emilio Ferreiro: Long night of stone

Celso Emilio Ferreiro Míguez is an important poet and renovator of Galician language and poetry. Born 1912, he was a follower of Curros Enríquez‘ poetry. His first book was released in 1936; his second book, at 1941, was his only work in Spanish: Al aire de tu vuelo (At your flight’s air). But his great book, at least the most famous, is Longa noite de pedra (Long night of stone). The poem is as symbolic of those darkyears that many people, especially Galician, still refers to the francoist ages as the long night of stone. He died in 1979, in Vigo.

Emilio Ferreiro’s poetry is one of the strongest and purest of the
poetry against Franco’s regime not only in Galician, but in all the
Spanish lands. As the poems of contemporary as Blas de Otero, Gabriel
Celaya, Jesús López Pacheco or the Basque Gabriel Aresti, among others,
Celso Emilio’s poetry talks about justice, about the man, the people;
he talks about Galicia, about the Galician people, about the Galician
language. Most of the Galician songwriters made songs with his poems.
For this reasons, Celso Emilio Ferreiro is not only one of the best
Galician poets, but one of the best of the Universal poetry.

Galician, the language of Galicia. Between the languages spoken
in Spain, Galician is one of the elder. As everyone of them (except
Basque) is a Latin language. It comes of an antique language called
Galaic-Portuguese (Sp. Galaico-portugués), from which descends Galician
and Portuguese. In the Middle Age, Galaic-Portuguese was the most
evolved language of the Iberic Peninsula: in which was written, by
example, the king Alfons X’s (called "The Wise") Cantigas a Santa María (Ballads to Saint Mary) and Martin Codax’s Cantigas de amigo
(Lover’s Ballad -here, "amigo", friend, have the meaning of "lover"-).
After a time of scorn to Galician language, in the XIX century some
poets as Rosalía de Castro and Manuel Curros Enríquez, rescued it of
bourgeois scorn, who have relegate to rural world. A second re-birth of
the language came too in the 30’s decade, during the 2nd Republic, with
Castelao’s Galicianist Party (Partido Galeguista), but, after the
Spanish Civil War, as the others no-Castilian Spanish languages, its
use was again relegated to private life until poets as Manuel María or
Celso Emilio Ferreiro, songwriters as those who formed Voces Ceibes
(Benedicto, Xerardo, Miro Casabella) and folk-groups rescued it of bad
folklore and regained for it its prestige. Actually is talked in
Galicia, west of Asturias and north of León.


Longa noite de pedra

O teito é de pedra.
De pedra son os muros
i as tebras.
De pedra o chan
i as reixas.
As portas,
as cadeas,
o aire,
as fenestras,
as olladas,
son de pedra.
Os corazós dos homes
que ao lonxe espreitan,
feitos están
de pedra.
I eu, morrendo
nesta longa noite
de pedra.

The roof is of stone./ Of stone are the walls/ and the darkness./ Of stone the soil/ and the bars./ The doors,/ the chains,/ the air,/ the windows,/ the looks,/ are of stone./ The hearts of men/ that are lurking in the distance,/ are also/ made/ of stone./ And I’m dying/ in this long night of stone.

Celso Emilio Ferreiro

The Nova Canción Galega (New Galician Song) was a
literary-musical movement of young people who were against Franco’s
regime and wanted to rescue culture and language of Galicia. In this
movement are the collective Voces Ceibes. In the 70’s decade, the
movement get folklorist attitude, instead many of them rejected it in
the beginnings.
Voces Ceibes (Free Voices) was the first
collective of the Nova Canción Galega. Their objectives were make an
opposition to Franco’s regime with music and poems of the great all of
times Galician poets and make a vindication of Galician culture,
language and literature. But they rejected to use Galician folklore due
to the illegitimacy use that Franco’s regime make of it as an
instrument of cohesion of all the Spanish lands.  Despite of this, in
the 70’s, they adopted finally the Galician folk-music for making art
and vindications.
Xavier González del Valle was a member of the collective Voces Ceibes, but his career was no longer of the group’s beginning. He recorded only on EP and made recitals with all the group during his existance (until 1970). But he can to presume of being the first songwriter in make a song of a Celso Emilio Ferreiro‘s poem; and so it was his only EP: four Celso Emilio poems: "Longa noite de pedra" was among them:


For learn more about Voces Ceibes and the New Galician Song: www.ghastaspista.com
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