Winds of the People

A Poetic Documentary of the Spanish Civil War

by Michael Rossman and Richard Vernier


/No preliminary announcement. Music: a saeta, crescendoing
until entry of singer, then fading under:/

/Orgulloso y ignorante
Herodes no comprendió
que se encontraba delante
el hijo de Dios Triunfante
y de Jesús se burló.

(Haughty and ignorant
Herod did not understand
that he had come upon
the son of Almighty God
and he mocked Jesus.)/


Voice 1, reflective:

He cerrado mi balcón
porque no quiero oír el llanto
pero por detrás de los grises muros
no se oye otra cosa pero el llanto.

Hay muy pocos ángeles que canten,
hay muy pocos perros que ladren,
mil violines caben en la palma de mi mano.

Pero el llanto es un perro inmenso,
el llanto es un ángel inmenso,
el llanto es un violín inmenso,
las lágrimas amordazan al viento,
y no se oye otra cosa que el llanto.

/Music up and out./


Narrator:      This program, commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Spanish Civil War, is dedicated to the dead, to the exiles, to the prisoners of the Franco tyranny: in short, to Spain.


V1:          He cerrado mi balcón
                porque no quiero oír el llanto ...

/Translation under Spanish for two lines, then over;
Spanish under and out, Voice 2 reflective:/

V2:              I have shut my balcony
                    because I don't want to hear the weeping,
                    but from behind the gray walls
                    nothing is heard but the weeping.

There are very small angels who sing,
there are very small dogs who bark,
a thousand violins fit in the palm of my hand.

But the weeping is an immense dog,
the weeping is an immense violin:
the tears muzzle the wind,
and nothing is heard but the weeping.


N:     The Casida of the Weeping! ... Was it only a poem, Federico García Lorca? Whose weeping did you speak of? Before l936 it could only have been the tears of lost lovers, only the lament of the Good Friday processions, only the grief of the gypsy mothers for their slain sons. ... Or did you know then, García Lorca, that this weeping would so soon fill the whole sky of your country? ... Now you lie dead, murdered, under that sky, under the sky of the weeping. But you, at least, will be remembered forever. Some murders, some victims, lie unremembered. Not forgotten, no. They lie not very far below the surface of the earth: only a thin shroud of dust covers them, covers the unremembered, covers Spain. And once in a while there is a wind: a wind that blows the dust away; and we remember Spain. A wind blows the dust, blows the rubbish of rags, hunger and spent cartridges: the wind they could not kill, exile, or starve to silence. ... We hear that wind in the voices of the poets. We hear you, wind of the people; we hear you, Miguel Hernández, though your body lies under the dust of Spain.

N:     “We, who have been born poets among all men, have been made poets beside all men by life. We come gushing the fountain of the guitars sheltered by the people: and each poet who dies leaves in another's hands, like a heritage, an instrument that comes wandering from the eternity of Nothingness to our scattered heart. Before the shadow of two poets two more of us rise, and before our shadow two others will rise tomorrow. Our source will always be the same: the earth. Our destiny is to wind up in the hands of the people. ... We poets are the wind of the people: we are born to pass blown across their pores, to lead their eyes and hearts to the most beautiful peaks ...”

N:     Yes, it is true: there was once a Spain who dared to reach for the most beautiful peaks. There was a moment of the Second Republic, a moment before l936, when hope lay in the eyes of the people and was blown across their pores towards those peaks. For that thin moment it seemed that there might be schools everywhere, for all; that the rich, the church, and the Army might no longer be permitted to terrorize the children of the bravest people. It even seemed that the peasants might hope that someday they would own the land they worked. This hope, this faith: there was not a poet who did not share in it. Even the older poets, who remembered how their generation, the generation of l898, had been betrayed by defeat and stagnation, even they sang of the New Republic. Even the quiet Antonio Machado, remembering his old Spain, had spoken longingly of a young Spain, and of the beautiful peaks ...


Voice 2 (close mike, reflective):

It was a time of lies, of vileness.
They dressed all Spain, wounded Spain, poor
and squalid and drunken, in Carnival dress
so our hand would not find her wound.

It was yesterday; we were still youths:
an evil time, heavy with sad portents
when we wanted to ride a chimera's mane
while the sea slept, glutted with shipwrecks.

We left the sordid galley in port
and chose to set sail in a ship of gold
toward the high sea, without guarding the shore,
launching sails and anchor and helm to the sea.

Even then in the depth of our dream - the heritage
of a century that withdrew defeated, disgraced -
a dawn was trying to enter: the light
of divine ideas struggled with our confusion.

But each of us followed the course of his madness:
limbered his arm, boasted his courage,
set aside his armor like a burnished mirror,
and said, "Today is evil, but tomorrow... is mine!"

And today is that tomorrow. And all Spain,
dressed in her Carnival tinsels, is still ours:
poor and squalid and drunken, but today
with an evil wine: the blood from her wound.

You younger youth: if desire comes to you
from a higher peak, go to your fortune
awake and open to the divine fire:
clear like the diamond, pure like the diamond.


/Music from the sardana "Cantem Tot Junta": up, then fading under:/

/Cantem l'amor que portem dins
femlo arribar dalt la finestra
fen-lo arribar als llavis vermells
fem-lo vessar tot asquet vetll
    Cantem i vetllem, cantem i vetllem,
     que ja dormirem quan morirem.

(Let us sing the love we carry within
let us make it reach up to the window
let us make it reach the red lips
let us make it flood the whole night.
      Let us sing and stay awake,
     for we'll sleep enough when we're dead.)/



N (quietly):     Let us sing and stay awake,
                      for we shall sleep when we are dead ...


/Music up and out. Minor break. The distant buzzing of an airplane, swelling, up to an explosion. The sounds of a night air-raid and muffled footsteps: ongoing, under Voice 4, secretarial:/


V4:     Rome, March 3l, l934. We the undersigned, Lieutenant-General Emilio Barrera, in his personal capacity; Don Rafael Olazábal and Senor Lizzara, on behalf of the Comunión Tradicionalista; and Don Antonio Giocoechea, as leader of the Party of Spanish Renovation, have drawn up this document so a record may remain of what took place in the interview which they had at four o'clock this afternoon with the head of the Italian Government, Signor Mussolini, together with Marshal Italo Balbo. The President, after carefully informing himself from the answers which those present gave to his questions concerning the present state of Spanish politics and the desires and condition of the Army and Navy and the Monarchist parties, declared the following to those assembled: (l) That he was ready to help with the necessary measures to assist the two parties in opposition to tne present regime in Spain in the task of overthrowing that regime and substituting a Regency which would prepare the complete restoration of the Monarchy. This declaration was solemnly repeated three times by Signor Mussolini, and those assembled received it with the natural expressions of esteem and gratitude. (2) That as a practical demonstration and as proof of his intentions he was ready to supply them immediately with 20,000 rifles, 20,000 hand-grenades, 200 machine-guns, and l,500,000 pesatas in cash. (3) That such help was merely of an initial nature and would be completed with greater help accordingly as the results achieved justified this and circumstances made it necessary ...

/sound effects out/


N:     Already they were preparing the close of a time of hope. Already they put armed guards on the paths to the most beautiful peaks. Already the people clenched their fists, and spoke in whispers ...


V3 (boy) and V5 (mother) alternating -- quietly at first, then rising and faster until the final, frightened line:

Mother, who plows the land
when the cold North wind
cuts at his flesh
through a homespun shirt?

     What do you mean, son, who plows?
    The plowman plows, that's who.

Mother, who sows the land
when the minstrel wind
passes wrapped in mist,
singing lovingly?

     Who do you want, son, to sow
    the land? The sower sows.

Who reaps the grain
in the scorching sun,
sprinkling dry earth
with a rain of good sweat?

     Who should it be? The reaper!

Who walks in circles
round the threshing machine?

     The thresher!

Who mills the grain and makes it flour?

     The miller!

Who bakes the bread
in the oven of fire?

     The baker!

And who eats it then?

    Hush, son! How should I know?


N:     But the landowners knew the answer to that question, poet Antonio Agraz. And so did the bishops and the generals, the village bosses and the bank presidents. But they kept this answer locked behind the door of their faces and their agreements: their gentlemen's agreements, their sensible agreements to preserve law and order . . .


V3 (boy):    What is law and order?

N:      It is the bread of the rich.

V3:    Who makes the bread of the rich?

N:      The poor gather the wheat,
          and the Civil Guard grinds the poor.


/Music: from the second movement of the DeFalla Harpsichord Concerto: fades under and out as Narrator reads from A. Barea, Lorca: The Poet and His People:/


N:     This is Spain: an enormous barracks of the Civil Guard. They are black, they, their horses, the horseshoes of their horses are black. Black means mourning. Everything in Spain is black. The Civil Guard are the keepers of this black soul of Spain. Their capes get stained with ink, the ink that runs out of the horn inkwells they use to fill out the official reports that flood Spain and stock her prisons. Their cloaks are stained with wax, wax from the candles of the pro- cessions in which the Civil Guard go along to guard the precious jewels. They are killers. It is their profession to use their rifles and to kill Spaniards. The Civil Guard have never killed anyone but Spaniards. Therefore their minds, their skulls, are full of the idea of killing, their skulls are lined and choked with lead. How could they shed tears at the death of a Spaniard whom they have killed with a bullet cast from the lead that fills their minds? Their souls are black, hard and glossy like the patent-leather of their winged hats. Two by two they ride along the roads, over the hills, their brains clogged with lead, their backs humped by their loaded packs. In each pack they have a horn inkwell to write a report on the dead, and a candle so they can write in its light even when there is no moon, so they can scan the face of the man they have just shot. For they ride by night. They hide in the dark with their ink and wax and rifle and wait in silence. They aim at a man's shape in the moonlight and fire ...

/Music: as above: up and out./


Voice 6 (flat, hard):

Their horses are black.
Their horseshoes are black.
On their cloaks shine stains
of ink and wax.
They have skulls of lead
and cannot cry.
With their black leather souls
they ride down the road.
Hunchbacked, nocturnal,
where they stir they command
dark rubber silence
and fears of fine sand.
They go where they please,
and hide in their heads
a vague astronomy
of intangible guns.

/Music: Surinach, Tiento De Alegria: up, fading under Voice 2./

V2 (joyous):

O city of gypsies!
Banners in your corners!
The moon and the pumpkin
candied with cherries.
O city of gypsies!
Who can forget you?
City of musk and sorrow
with cinnamon towers.

When night fell, night
that makes night night,
the gypsies forged arrows
and suns in their fires.
A dying horse
knocked at every door.
Glass cocks were crowing
along Jérez De La Frontera.
The naked wind turns
the corner of surprise
in the nightsilver night,
night that makes night night.

/Music up and out./

V5 (woman's voice, tinged with hysteria, accelerating):

Saint Joseph and the Virgin
have lost their castanets
and look for the gypsies
to see if they find them.
The Virgin comes dressed
in a duchess's robe
of tinfoil from chocolates
and almond necklaces.
Saint Joseph swings his arms
beneath a silk cape.
Pedro Dómecq follows
with three Persian sultans.
The half-moon dreamed
a delight of storks.
Banners and lanterns
invade the rooftops.
Hipless ballerinas
sob in their mirrors.

  /slow,         Water and shadow,
   deep/         shadow and water
                     along Jérez De La Frontera.

/Music: as above: up and then under Voice 2./

V2 (alternately joyous and hushed):

O city of gypsies!
Banners in your corners!
      Dim your green lights,
      for the Civil Guard comes.
O city of gypsies!
Who can forget you?
      Leave her far from the sea,
      without combs for her hair.

/Music: up and out./

V6 (flat, hard, slow at first, accelerating):

Two abreast they advance
to the festive city,
a rustle of pines
in their cartridge belts.
Two abreast they advance,
double nocturne of fabric.
The sky takes their fancy,
a showcase for spurs.
The unsuspecting city
multiplied its doors.
Forty Civil Guards
entered them to loot.
The clocks halted
and the bottled brandy
masqueraded as November
to avoid suspicion.
A flight of long shouts
rose in the weathervanes.
The sabers slice breezes
trampled by hooves.
The old gypsies flee
through shadowed streets
with hair fixed for sleep
and crocks of coins.
The sinister cloaks
climb the tilted streets
leaving fugitive whirls
of scissors behind.

V5 (hysterical, rising): 

The gypsies gather
at Bethlehem's portal.
Full of wounds, Saint Joseph
shrouds a young maiden.
Sudden sharp rifles
ring through the night.
The Virgin heals children
with spittle from stars.
But the Civil Guard advances,
sowing bonfires.
where imagination burns
young and naked.
Rosa of Camborios
moans on her doorstep,
with her two severed breasts
lying on a platter.
And other girls fled,
pursued for their braids,
through an air where roses
of gunpowder bloomed.

V6 (calm, flat):

When all the rooftops
were furrows in the ground,
the dawn shrugged its shoulders
in a long stone profile.

/Music: Surinach's Tiento De Queja, under./

V2 (slow, echoing at end):

O city of gypsies!
The Civil Guard leaves
through a tunnel of silence
while the flames draw near you.

O city of gypsies!
Who can forget you?
Let them seek you in my forehead:
game of moon and sand.

/Music: up on English horn solo, and out. Major break: 4 seconds air space./


N:     l936! On March 7, German troops marched unopposed into the Rhineland demilitarized zone. On May 9, Mussolini, having conquered with gas and bombs over the resistance of African spears, proclaimed his little king Emperor of Ethiopia. ... On February l6 of that year the elections in Spain had provided a sweeping victory for the Popular Front, and plans were speeded up for schools, for hospitals, for distribution of land. But other plans had already been made ...

V4 (afar, echoing):     Signor Mussolini solemnly declared that he was ready to help with the necessary measures in the task of overthrowing the regime and was ready to supply immediately 20,000 rifles, 20,000 grenades...

N:     And other plans were being made. As Portela Valladares, leader of the defeated government, later said:

V3:     At four in the morning on the day after elections I was visited by Senor Gil Robles, who proposed that I should assume dictatorial powers, and offered me the support of all the groups defeated in the election. At seven that evening the same suggestion was made to me by General Franco himself ...

N:     Five months later, on July l9, those other plans bore their fruit; and General Don Francisco Franco sent this message from Morocco to his accomplice in Sevilla, General Queipo De Llano:

V2:     Upon taking command at Tetuan of the glorious and patriotic Spanish Army, I send to all loyal garrisons in Morocco and in Spain my enthusiastic greeting. Spain is saved!

N:     Within days the generals claimed the provinces of Andalucía, Valencia, Burgós, Valledolid, Aragón, the Canaries and the Balearic Islands. Only Madrid, they said, remained untaken.

V2 (Franco):     They will be punished! We will demand accounts from them as well as from those who remain on the fence. Let those who by ignorance are still far from us know that there remains little time to join our cause.

/Sound: muffled organ music and liturgical song, a crowd rustling, waiting:
under Voice 7, the Bishop of Burgós, pontifical:/

V7:     The Spanish National War is a holy war, the most holy war recorded by history.

Chorus:    Amen.

/Crowd noises and song up: then drums enter soft, crescendo, erupt
into gunfire that crescendos into explosion. Minor air break./


N:     But holy or not, the claims of the generals were premature. Madrid was more than just an exception. The people of Spain took up arms to resist this new Crusade. They formed militias, and their voice was heard in the rising winds that crossed the land ...


V6 (distant):

Valencians! Spaniards!
Listen to these words:
a son of the people speaks,
a son of Maacute;laga calls you,
for he sees his dead brothers
and their blasted lands,
sees his family shattered
and his house in ruins.
Maacute;laga had banners
that waved like flames:
today only sorrows
and blood on her back.
Look, Spaniards, look:
see how red is the water
that flows in the South;
hear how it calls you ...


N:     And voices answered:


Curse our black fate,
curse our destiny!
For a flock of crows trampled
with their black feet
from the Valencian plain
to the crags of Avila,
and the ghosts of Padilla
who breathe in our bellies
twist our hearts
with resentment and rage.
Strange hands drive us,
strange voices command us,
Spaniards without shame
prod our backs,
and we must fight
against our own land ...


N:     The militias formed, and came to Madrid.


Voice 8:

Long live the revolution
of all the workers,
of Oviedans, Asturians,
the armed Madrilenans
who defended Madrid
like a single fighter!
We farmers all shout
to power's voice:
"They shall not pass
while one militiaman lives,
for we fight for bread
and our rights to the fields
that Queipo De Llano
and Mola would grab!"


N:     And their voices were bitter when they spoke of Franco:



An evil mother bore you
with the help of a hundred fathers
fifty were Italians,
and the other fifty Germans.
Always blood in your path,
always blood blood blood
filling the horizons,
flooding the streets.
May iron boots crush you,
may evil dogs eat you,
for the fields are barren
where your poison has flowed.
Let no one speak your name,
no one dare to mention you ...


N:      General Franco, now that your coup has failed in its immediate objective, how long is the massacre to go on?

V2:     There can be no compromise, no truce. I shall go on preparing my advance to Madrid. I shall save Spain from Marxism at whatever cost.

N:     That means you will have to shoot half of Spain.

V2:     I repeat: at whatever cost!

V4 (General Mola):     If we cannot take Madrid and the other cities by assault, we plan to starve them out. This is no fly-by-night coup.

V2:      We have more than two million persons card-indexed with proof of their crimes: names and witnesses. The age of the liberal regime is over. The State must intervene directly in the national life!

V7 (shouting and echoing):     Down with intelligence! Long live Death!!

/Sound: several sharp bursts of machine-gun fire. Minor air break./


V6 (distant at first, then swelling):

Let them talk, let them talk,
let the crows flap their wings,
for what my eyes have seen
must not die in silence.
I will tell what I saw;
let them talk, let them talk.
For if I have seen blood
so spilled on the wind
that my memory burns me
and keeps me from sleep,
that its red cry of flame
still aches in my nails,
I must not hold my tongue.

Let them talk, let them talk.
When evening awoke
on the drowsy port
that awaited its stars
among boats and flags,
evil stars arrived,
evil treacherous guns.
Evil drummers played,
false voices were heard:

V8 (distant, resounding):

Friends, we are brothers,
we're comrades all:
but keep your hands high
and your guns on the ground.


Friend, I'm unarmed,
without guns, without money;
breadless my children
await my heart's sorrow.

V6 (close, harsh; echoing last word):

Don't talk so much, fellow.
Now, up with your hands!


evil evening of death,
hollow-heart evening.
They say that our justice
is terror, ill-will,
that no human warmth
burns in our heart.
They say we sow sorrow
and harvest but hate,
that women and children
flee us like poison.
They say we crush wheat,
that we ruin the crops,
that we sow only hunger
and sorrow for winter,
that we burn without mercy
olives and plowland,
that we tear up the belly
and soul of our people.
Let the Fascists talk,
for the truth of what happened
and the truth that we fight for
will yet light the sky.
If now they fear justice,
if before their harsh flight
their nights are in terror,
their nerves are strained,
tell them we never wanted
this moment to come
with its hard wrinkled foreheads
and firm fearless fists.
Tell them the people
only asked work and peace,
sure bread and no fears,
brotherhood and clear skies.
Their black pride has aroused
that which hunts them through dreams.
Let them talk, let them talk,
all over the world,
for we carry the truth
like a light in our breast.
Let them talk, let them talk,
for what I have seen
must not hold itself still.
I have seen the blood flow,
breaking off the first steps
of a man's strong trunk.
The ground is still damp
with his eyes of fear
and the rose of his body;
with bullets black conscience
cut the stem of his throat.

Death came to shroud him
with her reddest bandana,
and Death fled weeping,
swearing vengeance for grief:
a fallen boy's grief,
a dead boy's silence.

I have seen the highways
filled with hungry
women and children
bleeding with terror
and the smell of fear:
anguished processions
that seek the calm breast
of our triumphant city
now freed from mad dogs.
If we sow only hatred,
if they fear only us,
why do women and children
run to our arms
trembling like lambs,
hungry for warmth?
Ask to their faces,
for their silence says more
than the loudest words
that can cross the wind.
Let them talk, let them talk,
with tricks and with lies,
for with crimes and with treason,
nothing ever was won.
Let them talk, for I saw
the gypsies and sailors,
riflemen, soldiers,
Civil Guard shock-troops
rise in an instant
and join the people
who with fists of steel
can revenge this treason
and erase its black footprints.
Who dares? Whoever,
right lies with the people!
If today they fear justice,
they have started the fire.

Let them talk, let them talk,
all over the world,
for the truth now lights
its red dawn in the sky!


N:     There was no radio to carry your voice, poet Emilio Prados: only the wind of song, only the guitars of the people, the hushed voices of the militiamen in the trenches at night. In Jarama, in Córdoba, in Benicasim and Guadalajara; in the trenches at night, on the hard bare rock of the mountains by day: there was no time, no strength, no water to let throats speak. Yet somehow your poems were sung, were passed from hand to hand down the trenches and carried to other fronts. And somehow we hear you still, you and the others who stood by their people: poets, yes; but men before that. There were no poets on the Fascist side of the lines. Franco had no poets and no use for poets. Italian planes and German bombs were more deadly than poets. But when the bombs had fallen and the planes had passed, when every other voice had been silenced, the voice of the poets came on the wind: naming the battles and the men who fought them, naming the traitors and the betrayals and the men who died by these betrayals, naming those who sold their country and those who bought it. Naming what they fought for, and who came to take it away ...


Castilla has wretched ones,
frightened ones who cannot read.
She is shaken by the sun
and hidden in a convent.
Now the priests of Castilla
do not read the saints,
they do not preach faith
or show people the way.

Castilla has no stars
happy with new times:
Castilla nurses rifles
with cannon at her temples,
and the children of Castilla
are old and sad and grave.
Their schools have been closed
to make room for the fire,
for the young wild playboy
and the black-stained priest.
How they hate to work!
How they frighten the workers!
How they rob! How they kill!

V5 (woman):

Children of Castilla,
of the field almost a desert,
bring grief, bring flowers:
they have killed the schoolteacher.

V3 (boy):      Comrade, but he was clever!

V6:               That's why, child, that's why
                     the Fascists killed him.

V3:                Comrade, but he was good!

V6:                These men know nothing
                      of love or feeling.

V3:                Ai, mother, my mother,
                      they've killed our teacher!

V5 (crescendoing):

The poplars are in mourning,
the black cypresses have turned red,
the mountains rise in arms,
the winds are hurricanes,
the sun has rays of death,
the valleys flow with poison,
the plants are colorless,
the orchards bear no crops.

Comrades in my Spain,
brothers over the earth,
workers, lift your fists of steel
to kill the Fascists
who murder their people.

Many children in Castilla
are left without a teacher!

/Music: a woman, accompanied, singing "Ya se van los pastores": under Narrator and out./

/Ya se van los pastores
a la Estremadura,
ya se queda la sierra
triste y oscura ...

(Now the shepherds are fleeing
to Extremadura,
now the mountain is left
sad and dark ...)/

N:     Somehow the poets were always there, even when they could do nothing but wait for the bombs to fall and the planes with the strange markings to grow small and fade away like innocent mosquitos. Ortega Arredondo was there in Madrid, in a Madrid that Franco had sworn to take, in a Madrid beseiged and murdered every day from the 6th of November l937 to the 28th of March l939, day after day for five hundred days ...


Who is weeping in Madrid? who is weeping?
No one, no one, no one.
The children are weeping, the children
who are looking for their mothers.
V5 (woman):
The dawn stains its gold
with the dust of the roads
that rises from houses
shattered like windows.


The children are weeping, the children,
and curses of blood resound in the corners:


May you kill yourself, flyer,
in your black night;
may clouds of iron crush you;
and when you would flee
may the air fill with flame.
The children are innocent,
their mothers are guiltless,
yet you slaughter them all
as if they were guilty.
What a hate for your wings
oozes everywhere!


Who is weeping in Madrid? who is weeping?
No one, no one, no one:
The children are weeping, the children
who are searching for their mothers
stretched among the ruins.


Air, air, air
if only you could close yourself
so no one could enter!


N:     And always the poets were there. They were there to sing of the men who fought for Spain:

/Music: instrumental (guitar) from "Viva La Quince Brigada": under./


I sing of the sailor Antonio Coll:
Three times he was shot
and he kept on fighting,
for he wanted to die
with his gun in his hand...

/Music up, out./


Onward to Part 2 ==>


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