The story goes something like this: about four decades ago I fell in love. And it was beautiful! The language I fell in love with is Spanish. It is lyrical, evocative, sometimes explosive, deeply musical, and always, always, expressive. Its roots lie in an exotic coming together of East and West: melded and sculpted as Spanish has been by influences of Latin, Arabic, and Hebrew.
In 1992 I spent a year abroad as a student of Medieval Languages and Literature in Spain. And I left part of my heart there, in the little town of Soria.
All this to say that the opportunity to travel to Andalucía with a wonderful group of artist friends from my home in Ireland to collaborate in two special events with Spanish musicians from over 20 local churches, in Algeciras and Sotogrande, was simply wonderful. ¡Maravilloso! even.
To mark this very special international collaboration, a new bilingual poem, ‘Meditación de Otoño’, was commissioned by New Irish Arts. The stanzas of the poem, written in English, are inspired by the captivating beauty of Andalucía. It begins with light over the Mediterranean sea; turns to the olive groves and ancient vineyards that cling to the mountains; and encourages the eye upwards to the majestic Iberian sky.
The stanzas are interwoven with lines in Spanish taken directly from the ancient Hebrew poem, Psalm 103. This is a song of gratitude for God’s blessing and healing, for His mercy, compassion and eternal justice. The final stanza of the poem points to Christ, depicted as the True Vine in the chapter 15 of the Gospel of John.
A progression from morning into afternoon, and eventually into evening, gives the poem its structure, and this is embroidered with further fragments of Spanish, like little threads of gold, sewn in at intervals, in a tapestry.
It was a joy to read this new poem in two contrasting iconic Spanish venues: the Plaza de Toros in Algeciras, and the beautifully peaceful Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Merced in Sotogrande. I am very grateful to New Irish Arts and to our Spanish hosts.
Meditación de Otoño Have you seen the flames on the water, the first blaze, luz del sol? Nuevo día, clothed in fresh fire, in petals of gold and rose? Bendice, alma mía, a Jehová Y no olvides ninguno de sus beneficios. Have you known el cantar del monte, the breeze in the olive grove, la historia inolvidable of an ancient afternoon? Él es quien perdona todas tus iniquidades El que sana todas tus dolencias. Have you gazed in the silence at nightfall on an ink-filled cielo azul, a canvas bejewelled with diamonds, y la luna, a lamp swung low? Él que rescata del hoyo tu vida El que te corona de favores y misericordias. Have you found the vineyard Camino, have you sought the Vine that is True? Have you tasted the wine that meets every desire, el Cristo who makes all things new? El que sacia de bien tu boca. Bless the Lord oh my soul, And forget not all His benefits. Taste and see that the Lord is Good Blessed is the one that trusteth in Him. Sharon Jones, October 2022.