‘Meditación de Otoño’: a new bilingual poem

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.

Sound check, Inspira 2022,
Plaza de Toros Las Palomas, Algeciras
Friends in New Irish Arts, ‘Big Sing 5’, Sotogrande
Choral workshop ‘Big Sing 5’ in the beautiful
Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Merced, Sotogrande

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.

Poetry reading ‘Meditación de Otoño’ Inspira 2022, Plaza de Toros Las Palomas, Algeciras

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.

Inspira 2022, Plaza de Toros Las Palomas, Algeciras.
Light in the Plaza de Toros


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