We are almost at the mid-point of winter and today it feels like a heavy cloak around my shoulders. It must be time for me to revisit PLATERO AND I, the marvelous prose poem by Juan Ramon Jimenez that was written early in the last century. This lyric homage to the poet’s pet donkey never fails to lift my spirits on cold January days when the heat of the sun seems too far away.
The poem is a portrait of life in a remote, semi-tropical Andalusian village where Platero and his caregiver move through a world at once enchanted and real, sharing adventures and dreams. Platero is a small, downy donkey and the poet tells us:
“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.”
There are many published translations of PLATERO AND I, some more poetic than others, and just last Fall a marvelous sound recording of excerpts from the poem was created by Colin Fox(narrator) and Simon Wynberg (guitar) . In this presentation, Mr. Wynberg plays works by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco to both accompany and enhance Mr. Fox’s narration. The resulting production is a multi-coloured, sensitive amalgamation of the spoken word with the music of the classical guitar. I can think of no lovelier way to pass a snowy, grey afternoon than being able to listen to this magical production of PLATERO AND I.
Sandra Pady, Founder