Blas de Otero: I keep the word


Blas de Otero (Bilbao, 1916-Madrid, 1979) was one of the most fierce and sensitives of the Spanish poets in Castilian language. His poetry is charged with a hopeful humanism and existencialism, and was one of the poets most readed by the opposition to Franco’s regime. His influences goes from the Middle Age mystics, as Saint John of the Cross, to Miguel Hernández or Rabindranath Tagore. Some of his works are Ancia, Ángel fieramente humano (Fiercely human angel), Pido la paz y la palabra (I ask for peace and word)… From this last one, is this poem, one of his most representatives. Like many of the poets of this age, Blas de Otero’s poems were sung by songwriters and folk-groups as Paco Ibáñez, Adolfo Celdrán, Luis Pastor, Imanol

This poem is a reflexion about life and poetry: talks about the great deceptions of life, but also about his time: the francoist dictatorship times; and talks about the useful of poetry and language in hard times.

Me queda la palabra


Si he perdido la vida, el tiempo, todo

lo que tiré, como un anillo, al agua,

si he perdido la voz en la maleza,

me queda la palabra.

Si he sufrido la sed, el hambre, todo

lo que era mío y resultó ser nada,

si he segado las sombras en silencio,

me queda la palabra.

Si abrí los labios para ver el rostro

puro y terrible de mi patria,

si abrí los labios hasta desgarrármelos,

me queda la palabra.

I keep the word


If I’ve lost the life, the time, everything/ what I throw away as a ring to the water,/ if I’ve lost the voice at the undergrowth,/ I keep the word.// If I have suffered thirst, hunger, everything/ what was mine and turned out to be nothing,/ if I have reaped the shadows silently,/ I keep the word.// If I opened my eyes to see the pure and terrible/ face of my fatherland,/ if I opened my lips until tear it up,/ I keep the word.

Blas de Otero

In many ways, Paco Ibáñez is almost the father of the Spanish songwriters movement, beside Chicho Sánchez Ferlosio and Raimon. Born during the Spanish Civil War, and went with his family as exiliated to France. In France he mets the work of the great French songwriters, specially that who will be his inspiration: Georges Brassens. In 1959 he starts to put music on the great Spanish poems: from Spanish literature Golden Age, as Quevedo, Luis de Góngora, Jorge Manrique; passing by the 27’s Generation, as Lorca, Alberti, Miguel Hernández; to the most contemporary and compromised poets: Blas de Otero, Gabriel Celaya, José Agustín Goytisolo… But also Latin-Americans poets like Jorge Guillén and Pablo Neruda. He tried to live in Spain at the 60’s, but his so known anti-francoism makes that the authorities are always following him; so he returned to France for singing in freedom. Finally returned when generals Franco was dead. Many songwriters took example from him, as in Castilian as in the others language from Spain: Catalonian, Basque and Galician. He sung, with Blas de Otero’s pleasure, this poem too:

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