LONG NIGHT OF STONE by Celso Emilio Ferreiro

Long Night of Stone is the most famous book of Galician poetry published during Franco’s dictatorship. The poem with this title is the result of the author’s imprisonment in Celanova Monastery during the Spanish Civil War; the book is read as a metaphor for the long years of dictatorship that ensued. Celso Emilio Ferreiro, a man of unwavering commitment, who stands with the downtrodden and oppressed and refuses to give up hope on the world, was himself born in Celanova, a town in the province of Ourense, in 1912 and died in Vigo in 1979. The message the book contains is surprisingly modern, inviting us as it does to investigate the truth of our own time and find our poetry.

Long Night of Stone

In the middle of the road there was a stone
there was a stone in the middle of the road
there was a stone
in the middle of the road there was a stone.
Carlos Drummond de Andrade

The roof is stone.
The walls are stone
and the night.
The ground is stone
and the railings.
The doors,
the chains,
the air,
the windows,
the looks,
are stone.
The hearts of men looking outwards
made of stone.
I too, dying
in this long night
of stone.


The Kingdom

when animals could talk,
to say freedom was not sad,
to say truth was like a river,
to say love,
to say friend,
was the same as referring to spring.
No one knew of insults.
When animals could talk,
men would sing in the evenings
of doves of light and goldfinches of dream.
To say yours and mine was not comprehensible,
to say sword was prohibited,
to say prison was only a word
without meaning, a breath which missed
the heart of the people.

when was it lost,
that great Kingdom?



We wanted freely
to eat our daily bread. Freely
to bite it, chew it, fearlessly digest it,
freely talking, singing on the banks
of rivers freely running down to the sea.
Freely, freely
we wanted only
to be freely men, to be stars,
to be sparks from the great fireplace of the world,
to be ants, birds, boys,
in the Noah’s ark on which we row.
We wanted freely to smile,
to speak of it to God in the passing wind
– in the long wind of the woods and plains –
without fear, without blackness, without chains,
without sin, freely, freely,
like the air of the morning and spray.
Like the wind.
But this our difficult love was broken
– the glass of a fragile dream –
on a reef of screams
and now we are no more than shadows.


Translated from Galician by Jack Hill

Additional Info

  • purchase text:

    LONG NIGHT OF STONE by Celso Emilio Ferreiro, the third 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: 978-954-384-071-7

    Publication Date: 20 April 2012 (29 June 2017)

    Language: English

    Paperback: 96 pages

    Dimensions: 216 x 140 mm