Today, March 21st, is World Poetry Day. Hoy es el Día Mundial de la Poesía.
So I want to share with you one of my favorite poems in Spanish: "Oda a la Vida Retirada" by Fray Luis de León (1527-1591).
In it, the poet criticizes those who choose power and wealth as their goal in life and are guided only by greed and the opinion of others. The poem is an ode to those who choose a simpler, tranquil life in connection with nature, which is, according to the author, where peace, freedom and happiness can be found.
Poetry is meant to be heard, so click on the link to listen while you read this beautiful poem:
"¡Qué descansada vida
la del que huye del mundanal ruido,
y sigue la escondida
senda por donde han ido
los pocos sabios que en el mundo han sido!
Que no le enturbia el pecho
de los soberbios grandes el estado,
ni del dorado techo
se admira, fabricado
del sabio moro, en jaspes sustentado.
No cura si la fama
canta con voz su nombre pregonera,
ni cura si encarama
la lengua lisonjera
lo que condena la verdad sincera.
¿Qué presta a mi contento
si soy del vano dedo señalado,
si en busca de este viento
con ansias vivas y mortal cuidado?
¡Oh campo, oh monte, oh río!
¡oh secreto seguro deleitoso!
roto casi el navío,
a vuestro almo reposo
huyo de aqueste mar tempestüoso.
Un no rompido sueño,
Un día puro, alegre, libre quiero;
no quiero ver el ceño
de quien la sangre ensalza o el dinero.
Despiértenme las aves
con su cantar suave no aprendido,
no los cuidados graves
de que es siempre seguido
quien al ajeno arbitrio está atenido.
Vivir quiero conmigo,
gozar quiero del bien que debo al cielo,
a solas, sin testigo,
libre de amor, de celo,
de odio, de esperanzas, de recelo.
Del monte en la ladera
por mi mano plantado tengo un huerto
que con la primavera,
de bella flor cubierto,
ya muestra en esperanza el fruto cierto.
Y como codiciosa
de ver y acrecentar su hermosura,
desde la cumbre airosa
una fontana pura
hasta llegar corriendo se apresura.
Y luego sosegada
el paso entre los árboles torciendo,
el suelo de pasada
de verdura vistiendo,
y con diversas flores va esparciendo.
El aire el huerto orea
y ofrece mil olores al sentido,
los árboles menea
con un manso ruido
que del oro y del cetro pone olvido.
Ténganse su tesoro
los que de un flaco leño se confían:
no es mío ver el lloro
de los que desconfían
cuando el cierzo y el ábrego porfían.
La combatida antena
cruje, y en ciega noche el claro día
se torna, al cielo suena
y la mar enriquecen a porfía.
A mí una pobrecilla
mesa de amable paz bien abastada
me baste, y la vajilla
de fino oro labrada
sea de quien la mar no teme airada.
Y mientras miserable-
mente se están los otros abrasando
en sed insaciable
del no durable mando,
tendido yo a la sombra esté cantando.
A la sombra tendido
de yedra y lauro eterno coronado,
puesto el atento oído
al son dulce acordado
del plectro sabiamente meneado."
What is your favorite poem? ¿Cuál es tu poema favorito? Let me know in the comments!
To do something "al tuntún" means that you're doing or deciding something arbitrarily, randomly and/or without previous planning.
This popular idiom is thought to come from the Latin phrase ad vultum tuum, which means to do, say or decide something at first glance.
Other expresions with similar meaning are "a voleo" and "a tontas y a locas".
"He aprobado de milagro, porque contesté las preguntas al tuntún". - It's a miracle that I passed the test, because I chose the answers randomly.
"Me da igual el color. Elígelo a voleo". - I don't have a preference on color. Choose whichever.
"Se nota que no tiene ni idea, porque dice cosas al tuntún". - It's so obvious he doesn't know what he's talking about, because he keeps saying stuff that makes no sense.
"Hemos explotado la Tierra y consumido sus recursos a tontas y a locas, provocando daños irreversibles". - We have exploited the Earth and consumed its resources without thinking, causing irreversible damage.
"Volver a las andadas" is a Spanish expression that means someone fell back into a bad habit that they had abandoned before.
Literally meaning that someone "is walking the same path again", it's often said with a tone of reproach or even contempt.
"Me dijiste que ya no fumabas, pero veo que has vuelto a las andadas". - You told me you weren't smoking anymore, but I see you fell back into it.
"Después de un año caracterizado por la disminución del número de robos, los ladrones han vuelto a las andadas". - After a year when the number of thefts decreased, thieves are back to their old ways.
"Caer en saco roto" is a Spanish expression used to indicate that someone's efforts are not being effective, or that an advice or idea is being ignored —similar to the English idiom "to fall on deaf ears".
Literally meaning that something is falling in a broken sack, this is a well-known expression used mostly by educated people.
"Déjalo. No quiere escuchar consejos de nadie. Todo lo que le digas caerá en saco roto". - Drop it. He doesn't want to hear any advice. Everything you say will fall on deaf ears.
"La empresa de Antonio no funciona. Todo su tiempo y dedicación están cayendo en saco roto". - Antonio's company isn't going well. All his time and dedication are being in vain.
"No pegar ni con cola" is a Spanish expression used to point out that something is completely out of place, or that a number of things are opposed, incompatible or just don't go together.
Literally meaning that something doesn't stick together, not even with glue, this is an informal expression that is commonly used by people of all ages.
"En una revista tan seria, ese artículo no pegaba ni con cola." - That article was completely out of place in such a professional magazine.
"¿Juan y Marta están juntos? ¡Pero si no pegan ni con cola!" - Juan and Marta are together? They make such an odd pair!"
"El final de la película no pega ni con cola." - "The ending of the film is totally unconvincing."
Year 1492 was a turning point in Spanish history. Columbus arrived in America, and Granada, the last Muslim bastion in the Peninsula, surrended after a decade of war.
Also this year Antonio de Nebrija published his Grammatica, the first book ever devoted to the study of a Romance language. The first Spanish Grammar was published in Salamanca, though it was written in Latin. First book ever published in Spanish had been printed in Segovia in 1472.
After their marriage, Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella put a lot of effort into the unification of their two kingdoms, Castile and Aragon. They wanted their new country to be politically, religiously and linguistically unified. This meant the language of Castile was widely imposed and its use greatly encouraged to the detriment of other languages. Their dominion was not only extended all over the Peninsula (with the exception of Portugal and Navarre), but after 1492 also over part of the Americas.
During the XVI century, Spanish became the language for legal documents and politics. By 1550, 80% of the population of Spain spoke Spanish. Besides, the Spanish expansion over America extended the use of Spanish from California to Patagonia. Spanish vocabulary started to incorporate loanwords from native languages such as Quechua (alpaca, caucho, chirimoya, guanaco, papa, puma) or Nahuatl (aguacate, cacao, cacahuete, chile, tomate), while having a great influence on those languages in return.
Due to the great extension of the Spanish Empire, Spanish became the diplomatic language in Europe, America and part of Asia (Philippines, Guam, Mariana Islands and Caroline Islands). Up until the XVIII century, Spanish grammars and dictionaries were published all over Europe, as Spanish was the language of international politics.
Numerous neologisms were added to Spanish from Italian and other European languages. And lots of native American words were borrowed in return by European languages via Spanish to name new things unknown to Europeans up until then (tomato, cacao, chocolate, chili, guacamole are English words that come from Nahuatl, while potato, coca, cocaine, inca and llama are Quechua words).
This was also the era known as Siglo de Oro Español (or Golden Age) that lasted from 1492 to 1681. Almost two centuries of literary splendour that gave birth to authors such as Fernando de Rojas (La Celestina, 1499), Garcilaso de la Vega, Bartolomé de Las Casas, Bernal Díaz del Castillo, the unkown author of El Lazarillo de Tormes (1554), Félix Lope de Vega (1562-1635, one of the most prolific authors of universal literature), mystics Juan de la Cruz and Teresa de Jesús, Fray Luis de León, Miguel de Cervantes (Don Quijote de La Mancha, 1605-1615 -considered by many the most emblematic work of Spanish literature, it is one of the most-published books of all time), poets Luis de Góngora and Francisco de Quevedo (La vida del Buscón, 1626), and playwrights Tirso de Molina and Pedro Calderón de la Barca (La vida es sueño, 1635).
The first Spanish dictionary was published in 1611 by author Sebastián de Covarrubias. Tesoro de la lengua castellana o española was the first monolingual dictionary to be written in Europe for a Romance language.
Read on... Part 3
Spanish is an Indo-European language. Its earliest ancestor was spoken 5,000 years ago in the Black Sea area. The speakers of this language spread in different directions, and generated different varieties, which developed into new languages. Nearly all European languages spoken nowadays originated this way, with the exception of Basque, Finnish, Sami (Lapp) and Magyar (Hungarian).
Spanish is also a Romance language, together with Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian. This means that Latin, or more specifically, Vulgar Latin, is its main linguistic basis. Spanish words that come from Latin are mesa, rosa, paz, padre, madre, cabeza, cuerpo, sano, pureza, caridad, flor, mar, siervo, bueno, obra, mío, tuyo, rey, agua, cielo and many others.
Continuous contact and mutual influences between the Latin basis and other linguistic traditions led to the formation of Romance languages as we know them today. In Spanish, Iberian and Celtic influences were important in the beginning. We can also find Greek (through Latin) and Germanic roots, the latest because of Visigoths ruling the Iberian Peninsula during the sixth, seventh and part of eight centuries. They left words such as guerra, yelmo, franco, gótico and names such as Rodrigo, Roberto, Fernando, Álvaro or Rodolfo.
In 711 Arabs came to the Peninsula and defeated the Visigothic king. Different Arabic- speaking peoples dominated the Peninsula (or part of it) for almost eight centuries. This had a big impact on the Romance languages spoken in the north of the Peninsula (Galician-Portuguese, Astur-Leonese, Navarro-Aragonese, Catalonian and Castilian), most importantly on Castilian (Spanish), as this language spread more widely than others throughout the Middle Ages and had a bigger contact with Arabic.
This is why so many Spanish words have an Arabic origin. As a rule, all Spanish words beginning with the prefix "al" come from Arabic: alféizar, alondra, almohada, alacena, alcohol, albahaca, "al" meaning "the" in Arabic. But also words like arroz, azafrán, jabalí, ojalá, zanahoria, tambor, naranja, limón, aceite, azul, asesino, ajedrez or azúcar evolved from Arabic.
During the Early Middle Ages there were different kingdoms in the Iberian Peninsula, one of them being Castile (were Castilian was spoken). Castilian monarchs were successful in their battles against Muslims and extended their territory towards the south, along with the use of Castilian.
For many years, the so-called "Glosas Emiliacenses" were considered the first documents written in Spanish. These are commentaries and footnotes written by a monk in a Latin codex at the beginning of XI century. However, researchers have discovered that they were actually written in the Navarro-Aragonese language. The mistake is understandable, due to the similarity of these languages at that time.
It is believed nowadays that the first Castilian words were written on the "Cartularios de Valpuesta", a group of documents that are copies of manuscripts dating back to the IX century. These are written in a very late Latin and in them we can find some Castilian words.
Castilian was fully formed in the XIII century. King Alfonso X the Wise (1252-1284) greatly encouraged its use. He was the first king who ordered to write legal documents in Castilian instead of Latin, and he himself wrote numerous literary works in Castilian, giving this language great prestige.
Castilian continue to spread across the Peninsula. By the early XV century it already was the most spoken language, taking speakers from Leonese and Aragonese.
Read on... Part 2
Did you know that Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world? That's right: more than 427 million people have Spanish as their native language (according to Instituto Cervantes, an estimated 470 million speak Spanish with native competence), and around 548 million use it as a first or second language. That's a whole lot of people! A reason why it is also one of the official languages of the United Nations, the European Union and the African Union.
Only surpassed by Chinese by number of native speakers, Spanish is becoming more and more popular amongst language students. It's the third most learned language in the world, and the first in the United States (in fact, some studies say that by 2050 the US could have more Spanish speakers than any other country). Most Spanish speakers live in the west hemisphere (Europe, Central and Latin America, and Africa). With 106 million speakers, who use Spanish either as a first or second language, Mexico is the country with the largest Spanish-speaking population. Followed by Colombia (48 million speakers), USA and Spain (both with approximately 45 million speakers) and Argentina (42 million).
Spanish is the official language of 23 countries and territories: Argentina, Bolivia (together with Quechua and Aymara), Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Equatorial Guinea (besides French), Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay (together with Guarani), Puerto Rico, Peru (besides Quechua and Aymara), Dominican Republic, West Sahara (together with Arab), Spain (alongside Catalan, Basque and Galizian), Uruguay and Venezuela.
Spanish is also broadly spoken in the following countries: Andorra, Belize (English is the official language, but due to historical and geographical reasons Spanish plays a big role in daily life), Brazil (as a study language), Philippines (almost in disuse), Gibraltar, Israel and Morocco (Ladin variety), United States (where Spanish is the second most widely spoken language) and Trinidad and Tobago (again, historical and geographical reasons).
So what do you say? Are you willing to learn the second most spoken language in the world?