As Spain disintegrates, Pedro de Miguel suggests that even sparrows are moving into the separate identity business:

In Bilbao it’s not just the Bilbainos who are from Bilbao. If you’re not from round here then you really should look out for Bilbao sparrows: fat, glossy and prone to cockiness, they barely make way as you pass and plummet from balconies, braking just as they land on Bilbao’s tiles.

En Bilbao no sólo los bilbainos son de Bilbao, sino también los gorriones. Tendríais que verlos los que no sois de Bilbao: gordos, lustrosos y bastante chulos. Casi ni se apartan cuando pasas. Caen en picado desde los balcones y frenan justo cuando aterrizan en el baldosín de Bilbao.

Those sound rather like London sparrows to me (wasn’t “I’m only a poor little sparrow” a capital song?), and I rather suspect them of glocalising gullery. Here, from a time when love was still to be found under an old Bilbao moon, are some more:

The immense plain stretched out under the sunrise’s blue splendour, a broad sash of light over the Mediterranean. The last nightingales, tired of enlivening with their trills that autumn night, spring-like in the coolness of its air, let out their final warble as if wounded by the steel-gleamed light of dawn. Flocks of sparrows fled the straw roofs of the cabins, a fleeting mob of rogues, and the tops of the trees began to tremble in the first gambols of these air urchins, aroused by the brushing of their feather blouses.

Desperezóse la inmensa vega bajo el resplandor azulado del amanecer, ancha faja de luz que asomaba por la parte del Mediterráneo. Los últimos ruiseñores, cansados de animar con sus trinos aquella noche de otoño, que por lo tibio de su ambiente parecía de primavera, lanzaban el gorjeo final como si les hiriese la luz del alba con sus reflejos de acero. De las techumbres de paja de las barracas salían las bandadas de gorriones como un tropel de pilluelos perseguidos, y las copas de los árboles empezaban á estremecerse bajo los primeros jugueteos de estos granujas del espacio, que todo lo alborotaban con el roce de sus blusas de plumas.

Vicente Blasco Ibáñez’z La barraca/The cabin, of which this is the opening scene, deals in naturalistic terms with the acceptance and brutal rejection of a stranger by the people of the Valencian lowlands. Whether you see it as pre-Dogville or post-Zola, it’s one of those things that really should be translated. There are some things that even Renfe can’t ruin.

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Last updated 04/04/2006

This post pre-dates my organ-grinding days, and may be imported from elsewhere.

Bilbao (2): Bilbao is a city in northern Spain, the largest city in the province of Biscay and in the Basque Country as a whole.

Kaleboel (4307):

Mediterranean Sea (73): The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant.

Natural history (512): Natural history is the research and study of organisms including animals, fungi and plants in their environment, leaning more towards observational than experimental methods of study.

Spain (1881):

Spanish literature (171):

Sparrows (1):

Translation (788):

Tree (284):

Vicente Blasco Ibáñez (12): Vicente Blasco Ibáñez was a journalist, politician and best-selling Spanish novelist in various genres whose most widespread and lasting fame in the English-speaking world is from Hollywood films adapted from his works.


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