World poetry day. Why should I not love you? Domingo Rivero, a poet in images

Miércoles, 2 de Abril de 2014

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World poetry day. Why should I not love you? Domingo Rivero, a poet in images (María Santana)

María Santana

                                                                                                MARIA SANTANA FALCON

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Casa Gourié, the Municipal Museum in Arucas in the heart of the City Gardens, Historical House of the Mayorazgo founded in 1572. Only two weeks ago, we were here to welcome Domingo Rivero back once more to the city where he was born. Today, on the 0ccasion of World Poetry Day, he will be departing again, but his spirit will remain in Arucas, as we all know that Domingo Rivero cannot be separated from this city. However, today we will see him becoming a universal poet, in images, and in English, from Arucas to the world. It is a big responsibility as well as a pleasure for me to be here today, on such a big day for Domingo Rivero and for Universal Literature, so I would like to start with some special thanks.

Thanks to this House and of course to the Town Hall of Arucas, to the Major, Ángel Víctor Torres Pérez, to his Delegates Lidia Morales and Aurora Moreno Santana, and to the Museum of Poet Domingo Rivero, especially to the Director, José Rivero Gómez, for giving me this opportunity. Last, but not least, thanks to the Municipal Public Library in Arucas, especially to Loli León, for trusting and inspiring me to organize this event. Thank you so much.

Before we make a start, let me introduce myself. My name is María del Mar Santana Falcón and I was born on this beautiful island in 1977. After I got my Advanced Studies Diploma in Translating and Interpreting at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in 2001, I decided to change Canarian visions for European ones, like Domingo Rivero did himself. After visiting cities from his exile, such as Marseille and Paris, I also finally settled down for a time in London, like Rivero, before returning to Gran Canaria.

In 2003, I became a member of the educational staff at the British School of Gran Canaria, where I have taught Domingo Rivero’s grandchildren, and I am currently Coordinator of the Spanish Studies Section and Teacher of German as a Foreign Language and Spanish Language and Literature, one of my biggest passions.

Apart from my teaching commitments, as a translation researcher, last year I took part in the 6th International Congress of the Iberoamerican Association of Translating and Interpreting Studies, where I presented an article, which is currently being read at the University of Salamanca, about the cognitive issues regarding translation errors of gastronomical cultural references, the areas of study of my doctoral thesis, which is still under development.

Today I also have the biggest honour to first announce that I am currently preparing a selection of annotated translations of fifteen poems by Domingo Rivero, which will hopefully be available in electronic format and be published on paper before the end of this year.

Actually, today you will be first to enjoy listening to some of my translations of Domingo Rivero’s poems into English. In the second part of the ceremony, after this presentation, we will be able to enter the exhibition. The poems will be read in the first room.

As I said before, today is World Poetry Day. Today is the day when Unesco invites us to remember that poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that, like Domingo Rivero, as individuals, everywhere in the world, we share the same questions and feelings. For this purpose, at the end of the ceremony, I will be also reading the Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of Unesco, on this special day, in the second room of the museum. This reading will mark the formal closing of the exhibition.

Having said this, thank you for coming to beautiful venue where we are also honoured to be visited by the members of the project: Library, I love it! Special thanks too to the representatives of the European libraries which participate in this big initiative, who have come from so many different corners of Europe to the city of Arucas, where the project was born, like Domingo Rivero, only last year. Special thanks to the…

1. Municipal Public Library in Piekary Slaskie, Poland

2. City Library Dornbirn, Austria

3. Korčula City Library Ivan Vidali, Croatia

4. City Library of Iisalmi, Finland

5. Province of Rome Department, Italy

6. Library of the City Olomouc, the Czech Republic

7. Aydın Public Library, Turkey

Congratulations on your project’s success and for your third meeting. We wish you the best for the development and the conclusions of your work. In celebrating World Poetry Day, a time to appreciate and support poets and poetry around the world, it is very important for us that you are meeting here with us today, representing so many different libraries in Europe.

A very warm welcome everybody to the closing ceremony of the exhibition “Why should I not love you? Domingo Rivero, a poet in images”, a very special tribute to one of the best known personalities from Arucas. It is not the first time that this Historical House has hosted Domingo Rivero. The most important occasions celebrated here so far have been the tribute in 2002 on the occasion of his 150th birth-anniversary, or, more recently, the exhibition “Domingo Rivero, in time” which took place in 2008.

As a result of these celebrations, the publishing of the anthology En el dolor humano (In the human pain) in 2002, which had to be reedited two years later, after selling out, or the reprinting of Domingo Rivero’s complete poetry in hard-back format in 2008, have been good examples of how Arucas promotes the life and the work of the poet.

This time, Domingo Rivero, known as the poet of the body, a poet in images, has come back to Arucas as a gift to our eyes. We can observe him. We can try to see him, to look at the world through his eyes. We may even feel we can reach him from many perspectives, through the visions of so many artists put together here. In this exhibition, Domingo Rivero has been definitely and universally projected to the world in the universal language of images. May a picture speak a thousand words..., they say. However, new ways of reading change so quickly, that this time the exhibition is supplemented by an electronic book, introduced by Juan Ferrera Gil, which is already available on the Internet and can be downloaded from the Town Hall web page, which is

Back in 1852, on the year when he was born, there was no way we could imagine that Domingo Rivero, who left this city at the age of twelve to start his secondary education in Las Palmas and, later on, travel away to France, to England, to Seville…, would be welcomed back to Arucas again, more than 150 years later, from such a worldwide perspective, as such a universal poet, in images.

That is why today we must believe that Domingo Rivero is more alive than ever: he can also look at us, and he speaks to us from the images on display in this exhibition, images which tell us his story, as they are the tracks after which we can find the soul of the author. Having seen the poet in images, we will feel his presence with us, and we will leave this place today after we have shared so many images but just one vision: Domingo Rivero, in images, beyond his poetry.

From Arucas to the world, we are glad to celebrate and support World Poetry Day according to Unesco’s principles: returning to the oral tradition of poetry recitals, promoting poetry from our libraries, teaching poetry, restoring a dialogue between poetry and the other arts, such as painting or photography, adapting to the new times and technologies, so that the art of poetry will no longer be considered an outdated form of expression.

That is why, when we leave today, after having seen Domingo Rivero in images, we must keep trying to find out what he wants to tell us, we must read and re-read Domingo Rivero’s poetry, in his originals, his books or in electronic format, and today we must believe in the continuity of his life and his work, more than ever, as the day has come when we are not only going to enjoy Domingo Rivero in images, we are also going to pay fair tribute to his poetry in English, the universal language.

For this big objective, before his translated poems are published, and the whole world can read Domingo Rivero in English, if you would like to follow me to the first exhibition room, it will be a privilege for me to read out to you my translations into English of two of his poems.

The first one will be Piedra Canaria (Canarian Stone), dedicated to his family house in Las Palmas, and the second, his most studied sonnet Yo, a mi cuerpo (Me, to my body). We will also be very pleased if someone would like to recite some of his poems in Spanish too, or volunteer to read the Message from Unesco with me. Thank you very much again for your attention and I hope you enjoy the event.





After coming back from London to the island, Domingo Rivero made his home in the family house at nº 10, Torres Street, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, by 1884. This poem is dedicated to the stone used in the construction of this building, which currently hosts his Museum. The noblest profession of stone cutting is also marginally connected with this city, Rivero’s native town of Arucas, where at the beginning of the 16th century stone cutters began quarrying the so called “blue stone”, typical in this area. This marked the beginning of an industry of great aesthetical value which has lasted until the present day. >From a metaphorical point of view, the image of the stone is connected not only to Rivero’s house, but also to his mountains, his pain, his sorrow, his shelter or even his grave. It will give you a few minutes to read the original text, and we would all be really pleased if someone would like to recite the poem in Spanish.



Dark stone, indestructible

inner strength.

In your hands you hold the austere sorrow

of my native mountains.


In you I found strength to bear my sufferings,

as I searched for shelter from my pain,

and dark, like the colour, the colour of your sorrow,

only my shadow, a companion, on my journey.


You have embellished my house, a house to cherish,

relentlessly absorbing my own silent sadness,

you feel my touch in the mysterious night and in its darkness.


As you do today, within the walls of my dear home,

one day you’ll hold my sorrow

on my grave within your stone.




This grand composition, considered a lyrical masterpiece of Spanish poetry, is the synthesis of Domingo Rivero’s existentialist philosophy. It is enough to consider him as “a poet of the first magnitude”, says Oswaldo Guerra Sánchez in his Introduction to Canarian Literature. This sonnet gained our poet his greatest renown, raising him as a master of meter, to the point where he merited the praise of Dámaso Alonso. There is a poster by Dámaso on display in the second room. As an anecdote, it was first published in July 1922 by the Madrid-based magazine La Pluma without the consent of the poet. I am sure he gives us plenty of his consent today if someone would like to read the poem out to us in Spanish. Any volunteers?



And why shouldn´t I love you, oh body, in which

I live? Why shouldn´t I love you humbly,

if I were a child in you, then a young man, and soon

as an elder arriving at the sad shores of death?


Your breast did sob for me, compassionate,

under the harsh relentless blows of circumstance,

it panted with my thirst, and in

the strength of my ambition it also boasted proudly.


And now at last you yield, oh mortal shell,

exhausted by misery and agony.

Why should I not love you? What shall I be


the day you are no more? Oh, deep arcanum!

I only know that on your shoulders, the

cross I had to bear, I made it mine, my part in human pain.


(*) Intervención de María Santana Falcón, profesora del British School of Gran Canaria, ante los componentes del proyecto municipal Lybrary, I Loves it ¡durante el acto de clausura de la exposición ¿Por qué no te he de amar?: Domingo Rivero, un poeta en imágenes, celebrada en el Museo Municipal de Arucas.


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