Poetry Reading

Textiles in the Language Classroom

A poetry workshop with Galician poet Dores Tembras


Textiles and literature

In many literary pages we can see the brushstrokes of the writers dedicated to the description of the clothes of the characters in real word paintings. And some of these characters have even influenced the way people in the street dressed. In the mid 1770’s a peculiar clothing fashion swept across Europe. For no immediately apparent reason, young men started dressing in yellow trousers, blue jackets and open-necked shirts. It turned out that these 18th century fashion victims all had one thing in common; they had all been exposed to the first novel of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther.

But textile activities have also been the subject of texts that make us see, hear, smell and feel a number of sensations, taking us on a tour of an interactive museum.


DoresTembras.jpgO Pouso Do Fume

O pouso do fume

The Dregs of Smoke


For me

The tin of buttons

The industrial magnet of the pins

Little and quiet

Among spools of acrylic yarn

The sound of the sewing machine

And measuring tapes that measured everything

Bobbins like treasures

Scissors like teeth

Fashion magazines from Paris

Not to be cut

And the tiny upholstered stool

To see everything


para min

a lata dos botóns

o imán industrial dos alfinetes

entre bobinas de fío acrílico

o son da remalladora

e cintas métricas que o medían todo

canelas coma tesouros

tesouras coma dentes

figuríns de Paris

para non recortar

e o banquiño forrado

para miralo todo


LaLavandaiaPavia.pngLa Lavandaia, Pavia


What was lost

washing white handkerchiefs

the only thing mum allowed

tiny red hands


half painted little nails

that bar of yellow soap


and I

wanting to use the brush

and mum

no way

for handkerchiefs

there was no need

and there I go

resembling her

in the river down

little wool cardigan

wet cuffs

roll up your sleeeeves

and foam with no scent

the most important thing

was to make foam

rub against the stone

the handkerchief

and mum

teaching me to squeeze it well


with a wooden peg

I attached my handkerchief to the line

how clean it was

teaching me the chore



with a perfection that hurt

the master of the craft

and the heir of the ceremony

in the river down



O que se perdeu

lavando panos brancos

o único que mamá consentía

manciñas vermellas


uñitas a meio pintar

aquel taco de xabrón lagarto


e eu

a querer usar o cepillo

e mamá

que non

que para os panos de peto

non era preciso

e veña

eu igualiña ca ela

no río d’abaixo

chaquetiña de la

puños mollados

remanga os puuuuuños

e escuma sen recendo

o máis importante era facer escuma

frotar contra a pedra

o pano de peto

e mamá

a aprenderme a escorrelo ben


cunha pinza de pau

prendía o meu pano no tendal

qué limpiño quedaba

ensinarme a faena



cunha perfección que doía

a mestra do labor

e a herdeira da cerimonia

no río d’abaixo


Of Brussels — it was not —



Of Brussels — it was not —
Of Kidderminster? Nay —
The Winds did buy it of the Woods —
They — sold it unto me

It was a gentle price —
The poorest — could afford —
It was within the frugal purse
Of Beggar — or of Bird —

Of small and spicy Yards —
In hue — a mellow Dun —
Of Sunshine — and of Sere — Composed —
But, principally — of Sun —

The Wind — unrolled it fast —
And spread it on the Ground —
Upholsterer of the Pines — is He —
Upholsterer — of the Pond —




Brussels carpet 1870.jpgBrussels carpet, 1870

Death of a Naturalist



All year the flax-dam festered in the heart

Of the townland; green and heavy headed

Flax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods.

Daily it sweltered in the punishing sun.

Bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles

Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell.

There were dragonflies, spotted butterflies,

But best of all was the warm thick slobber

Of frogspawn that grew like clotted water

In the shade of the banks. Here, every spring

I would fill jampotfuls of the jellied

Specks to range on window sills at home,

On shelves at school, and wait and watch until

The fattening dots burst, into nimble

Swimming tadpoles. Miss Walls would tell us how

The daddy frog was called a bullfrog

And how he croaked and how the mammy frog

Laid hundreds of little eggs and this was

Frogspawn. You could tell the weather by frogs too

For they were yellow in the sun and brown

In rain.

Then one hot day when fields were rank

With cowdung in the grass the angry frogs

Invaded the flax-dam; I ducked through hedges

To a coarse croaking that I had not heard

Before. The air was thick with a bass chorus.

Right down the dam gross bellied frogs were cocked

On sods; their loose necks pulsed like sails. Some hopped:

The slap and plop were obscene threats. Some sat

Poised like mud grenades, their blunt heads farting.

I sickened, turned, and ran. The great slime kings

Were gathered there for vengeance and I knew

That if I dipped my hand the spawn would clutch it.





Muerte de un naturalista


Seamus Heaney

Durante todo el año el dique de lino supuraba

en el corazón del pueblo; verde y de cabeza pesada

el lino se pudría allí, aplastado por enormes terruños.

A diario chorreaba bajo un sol de justicia.

Burbujas gorgojeaban con delicadeza, moscardones

tejían una fuerte gasa de sonido en tomo al olor.

Había también libélulas, mariposas con lunares,

pero lo mejor de todo era esa baba caliente y espesa

de huevos de rana que, a la sombra de las orillas,

crecía como agua coagulada. Aquí, cada primavera

yo llenaría los tarros de mermelada con gelatinosas

motas para poner en fila en el alféizar de la casa,

y en el colegio, sobre estantes, y esperaría y miraría

hasta que los puntos engordasen estallando en ágiles

renacuajos nadadores. La Señora Walls nos contaría cómo

a la rana padre se le llamaba rana toro

y cómo croaba y cómo la mamá rana

depositaba centenares de pequeños huevos y eso eran

babas de rana. También se podía predecir el tiempo por las ranas

pues eran amarillas al sol y marrones

bajo la lluvia.

Entonces, un caluroso día cuando los campos apestaban

a boñiga de vaca sobre la hierba, las airadas ranas

invadieron el dique de lino; yo atravesaba los marjales

agachado y al son de un áspero croar que no había oído

antes. El aire se espesó con un coro de bajos.

Justo al pie del dique ranas de gordas barrigas sé mantenían alertas

sobre terruños; sus nucas sueltas latían como velas. Algunas saltaban:

el slap y plop eran amenazas obscenas. Algunas se sentaron

dispuestas como granadas de barro, con sus calvas cabezas pedorreando.

Me sentí enfermo, di la vuelta y corrí. Los grandes reyes babosos

se reunían allí para vengarse y supe

que si metía mi mano las babas la agarrarían.

Boots Of Spanish Leather


Oh, I’m sailin’ away my own true love
I’m sailin’ away in the morning
Is there something I can send you from across the sea
From the place that I’ll be landing?

No, there’s nothin’ you can send me, my own true love
There’s nothin’ I wish to be ownin’
Just carry yourself back to me unspoiled
From across that lonesome ocean

Oh, but I just thought you might want something fine
Made of silver or of golden
Either from the mountains of Madrid
Or from the coast of Barcelona

Oh, but if I had the stars from the darkest night
And the diamonds from the deepest ocean
I’d forsake them all for your sweet kiss
For that’s all I’m wishin’ to be ownin’

That I might be gone a long time
And it’s only that I’m askin’
Is there something I can send you to remember me by
To make your time more easy passin’

Oh, how can, how can you ask me again
It only brings me sorrow
The same thing I want from you today
I would want again tomorrow

I got a letter on a lonesome day
It was from her ship a-sailin’
Saying I don’t know when I’ll be comin’ back again
It depends on how I’m a-feelin’

Well, if you, my love, must think that-a-way
I’m sure your mind is roamin’
I’m sure your heart is not with me
But with the country to where you’re goin’

So take heed, take heed of the western wind
Take heed of the stormy weather
And yes, there’s something you can send back to me
Spanish boots of Spanish leather

Copyright © 1963, 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991, 1992 by Special Rider Music


Traducción de Eduardo Chamorro:


Botas de cuero españolas


"Zarparé de viaje, mi verdadero amor,

zarparé de viaje por la mañana.

¿Hay algo que pueda mandarte a través del océano,

desde el país en el que desembarque?"


No, no hay nada que puedas mandarme, amor mío,

no hay nada que desee poseer.

Solo quiero que regreses a mí, intacta,

desde el otro lado de aquel solitario océano.


"Oh, pero yo pensé que podrías querer algo bonito,

hecho de oro o de plata,

proveniente de las montañas de Madrid

o de las costas de Barcelona".


"Pero si poseyera las estrellas de la noche más oscura

y los diamantes del más profundo océano,

renunciaría a todo eso por un dulce beso tuyo,

porque eso es todo lo que deseo poseer".


"Pero quizá me ausente por un largo tiempo

y solo por eso te lo pregunto:

¿hay algo que pueda mandarte para que me recuerdes,

para hacer que el tiempo se te pase rápido?"


"Oh, ¿cómo puedes?, ¿cómo puedes preguntarlo de nuevo?

eso solo me causa tristeza.

Lo mismo que quiero hoy de ti

lo seguiré queriendo mañana".


Recibí una carta un solitario día,

desde el barco de ella en altamar,

decía "No sé cuuando regresaré de nuevo,

dependerá de cómo me sienta".


"Bueno, si tú, amor mío, piensas de esa manera,

estoy seguro de que tu mente está divagando,

estoy seguro de que tus pensamientos no están conmigo,

sino con el país al que te diriges.


Así que ten cuidado, ten cuidado con el viento occidental,

ten cuidado con el tiempo tormentoso.

Y sí, hay algo que puedes mandarme de vuelta:

las botas de cuero españolas".