Of the magical solidity
of the dancing strings
among the least long
the precise quake
and the call of the mountain
more green and dark
more dear and damp
magical and robust
silky and decadent

(tr. Patrick Loughnane)

Lois Pereiro (Monforte de Lemos, 1958 – A Coruña, 1996) was one of the most innovative Galician poets of the 20th Century. Having studied English, French and German in Madrid his work, as suggested by the Real Academia Galega in 2011, possessed:

“Evidentes pegadas expresionistas, referencias á literatura xermánica e certos trazos de contracultura […] unha imaxe e unha estética que fixeron del un autor de culto.”

“Clear expressionist influences, references to Germanic literature and certain elements of counterculture […] an image and an aesthetic which made him into a cult author.”

Mural depicting Pereiro in the place of his birth, Monforte de Lemos [translator’s photo]

Though brief, Pereiro’s life was an intense one which saw him travel to many parts of Central Europe, Great Britain and Ireland. These travels inspired many of his poems, as can be seen in this translation.

Titled Dusk in Ireland, the poem offers an evocative image of nightfall in some rural corner of the island. The wind rustling through blades of grass, whistling down from the mountains.

Nightfall in Ireland [translator’s photo]

Though expressly written about Ireland, critic Irene Brea Azcona has suggested that the mystery of this landscape, and others like it throughout Pereiro’s work,  serve as an expression of his “galleguidad”. Indeed if one were to remove the title, the scene described could be based on his native Monforte de Lemos (or any number of places across Galicia).

View of mountains overlooking Monforte de Lemos [translator’s photo]

Though it is difficult to give a satisfactory representation of any poet’s work in just a single poem, there is no doubting the beauty and power of Pereiro’s voice from this short piece.

For anyone wishing to read more of Lois Pereiro’s poetry, his Collected Poems has been translated by Jonathan Dunne as part Small Station Press’ excellent Galician Classics series.