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Miguel Hernández and Orihuela

The poet and goatherder Miguel Hernández was born in 1910 in Orihuela and died in 1942 of tuberculosis in a gaol in Alicante. He died because he chose to support the losing side in the last Spanish Civil War and a series of dark and dank prison cells eventually did for him. There are a number of things going on in Alicante province to mark his centenary

Orihuela is only an hour or so from Cartagena so he's considered to be a local. Maggie's school have been doing some projects based on his works. His poetry is Internationally recognised but it's also simply constructed and he wrote some things specifically for children. Combine the centenary, the proximity and what he wrote and you have something that any decent school would be keen to latch onto. On Saturday, Maggie and I went to Orihuela as part of a trip organised by the school for teachers, their friends and family. The cultural visits were, naturally, combined with a meal. After all we are in Spain.

Actually the trip only included one real Hernández stop. We went to the house where he grew up and, according to the guide books, where under the fig tree in the back garden he penned some of his most famous poems. His dad kept a flock of goats, so I suspect the garden may have smelled quite badly and looked a little less pristine than it does now. He spent a lot of his youth with those goats in the countryside outside the town watching the flock and copying down the verses he'd dreamt up in a school notebook.

Like A Young Fig Tree

Like a young fig tree
you were, on the cliffs.
And when I passed by
you rang in the mountains.
Like the young fig tree,
brilliant and blind.

Like a fig tree you are.
Like an ancient fig.
And I pass, and you greet me
with dry leaves and silence.

Like a fig tree you are
that the lightning has aged.


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