Río Duero, río Duero, nadie a acompañarte baja; nadie se detiene a oír tu eterna estrofa de agua.* (Douro River, Douro River, no one to accompany your descent; no one to stop and hear your eternal stanza of water.)
We had gone over this poem for the last five classes. At least. We had already unpacked the literal and figurative meaning of each word and noted the poetic devices.
We had written paragraphs and held discussions on the importance of water. And we had drawn a map of all the important rivers in Spain.
Río Duero, río Duero, nadie a acompañarte baja;
“Trish, you read. The first stanza.”
“Ah! That’s not poetry! That’s prose… badly read prose! Listen…”
My teacher burst into a triumphant recitation of the first lines. Once again, those syllables rattled around in my head.
I imitated her enthusiasm, but my version may have been more obnoxious than triumphant. “RÍO DUERO, RÍO DUERO…”
The second hour students paused their pencils over their copy books and stared at me. But my teacher remained unimpressed. “Not that either!”
What did I care about the Duero River with its silver beard and its eternal water stanzas?
But I tried again. And as I read, I heard the poem… maybe for the first time. I saw the Duero flowing on alone, used but unseen.
Used. Unseen. But still flowing.
And suddenly the poem was less about a river and more about a life lesson I needed to be learning.
* The first stanza of “Río Duero” by Gerardo Diego Photo by Migsar Navarro on Unsplash