We have experienced many cold, snowy days recently when sunshine has been at a premium. Of course so long as one bundles up, walks can be invigorating and there is so much at which to marvel in the still, blanketed woods.
Nevertheless, as I ambled along this morning while the dogs zigzagged through the trees, PLATERO AND I came suddenly to mind. I was not surprised. This prose poem, written in the early part of the last century by Juan Ramon Jimenez, always fills me with sunshine. The work conveys in elegant, spare language the charms of an Andalusian village where the poet shares his life with Platero, his donkey companion. Whenever I read this lyrical tribute, I am charmed anew by the respect and affection that the poet has for his equine friend. The warmth of their world is like a tonic that can relieve the weight of even the grayest winter’s day.
The following is the first passage of PLATERO AND I:
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