HALOS by Xosé María Díaz Castro

Xosé María Díaz Castro (1914-1990) is considered one of the greatest exponents of twentieth-century Galician poetry, alongside such names as Álvaro Cunqueiro, Celso Emilio Ferreiro and Aquilino Iglesia Alvariño. He published only one book during his lifetime, Halos. A short book, it comprises thirty-two poems divided into seven sections and containing one of the most emblematic of all Galician poems, ‘Penelope’. The book embraces such themes as the writing of poetry, the poet’s love for Galicia and his philosophical concerns, including his religious faith. Many of the poems were written in hendecasyllables and alexandrines and this translation by John Rutherford has set out to reproduce the metre as well as the meaning with remarkable success. The deep-seated concerns of this man, a translator and schoolteacher as well as a poet, are brought into English for the first time.



Like the Fugitive Winds

These are not poems, nor are they foundations,
even, of poems. No, these are the fragments
of myself that were lost,
like the fugitive winds,
along ancient and long-forgotten ways:
Díaz Castro, gone missing down the road
of a lengthy remembrance, gathered up
by an angel and saved
in some brief instant of despairing love!



If the poem’s no more than a bright halo
that’s placed by our blind eyes around the things
that have been dreamed, or loved amidst the darkness,

of the things that have been and that have gone,
but continue to be and never go,
of the shadows that, playing in my eyes,
have mingled with the light during my life,

I’m leaving here the halos, like the ash
of roses that once filled with their aroma
the world, which died in childhood, of some dream.


Like Embers

A poet or not, I shall sing the things
that on the threshold of myself are waiting.
I’ll light with torches made of words – my broad
inheritance – this world that I was given.

And there they are, like embers in the night,
the things of the past, full of destinies.
Eyes that are begging, eyes of hungry children.
Eyes that are waiting, eyes of a young woman.

Galicia in me, God, bread I was given,
the milk and rye and dream and light of dawn!
The long street of the sea, hearth of my land;
this cross that measures us from top to toe.

With this encouragement, I’ll give to things
the drama that this life denies to them:
I’ll give them faces so they know each other,
and words to make them understand each other…


Translated from Galician by John Rutherford

Additional Info

  • purchase text:

    HALOS by Xosé María Díaz Castro, the fifth title in the series Galician Classics devoted to classics of Galician literature in English translation, is available for purchase through your local or online bookshop

    Barnes & Noble

    Book Depository


    ISBN: 978-954-384-033-5

    Publication date: 30 September 2014

    Language: English

    Paperback: 72 pages

    Dimensions: 216 x 140 mm