THE WARMTH OF AFFECTION
About this time every year, when the winter season is at its peak, like so many others I find myself thinking about warmth, and buzzing insects and sweet-scented flowers. This yearning, as likely as not, will prompt me to turn to PLATERO AND I, a lyric portrait of everyday life in an Andalusian village as it is experienced by the poet, Juan Ramon Jimenez, and his donkey, Platero. Together, they travel the countryside and the poet speaks of the sights and sounds that touch him.
At the heart of the poem, though, is Jimenez’ respect and affection for Platero. The first stanza is a moving, heart-felt homage by the poet to his humble companion; whenever I read it, sunshine and warmth flood my mind.
P L A T E R O
Platero is a small donkey, a soft, hairy donkey: so soft to the touch that he might be said to be made of cotton, with no bones. Only the jet mirrors of his eyes are hard like two black crystal scarabs.
I turn him loose, and he goes to the meadow, and, with his nose, he gently caresses the little flowers of rose and blue and gold…..I call him softly, “Platero?” and he comes to me at a gay little trot that is like laughter of a vague, idyllic, tinkling sound.
He eats whatever I give him. He likes mandarin oranges, amber-hued muscatel grapes, purple figs tipped with crystalline drops of honey.
He is as loving and tender as a child, but strong and sturdy as a rock. When on Sundays I ride him through the lanes in the outskirts of the town, slow-moving countrymen, dressed in their Sunday clean, watch him a while, speculatively:
“He is like steel,” they say.
Steel, yes. Steel and moon silver at the same time.
Sandra Pady, Founder