The legacy of the Moors migrated with the camel trains and Saracen horsemen to Andalusia when it became part of the Arab empire. Spanish galleons carried this warm breeze to the tropical sands of the New World. There, among native and black cultures, the melting pot simmered with new ingredients. Latin American writers from multiracial backgrounds adapted and shaped their distinctive hybrid poetry to reflect the sounds of a variegated tropical environment. In “Os Trés Amores” by Castro Alvez (1847-71) we can still hear music from the Oriental desert and the African steppe.
My soul is like the dreaming front
Of the crazy bard, who cries Ferrara
I am Tasso!... the spring of your laughs
Flowers my life’s solitudes..
Far from you I drink your perfumes,
I follow on earth the lights of your steps...
You are Eleonora...
My pensive heart faints
Mulling over your favorite rose
I’m your pale misty lover
I’m your Romeo... Your languid poet!...
I dream about you sometimes
I steal from you a chaste kiss by the moonlight
And you’re Juliet...
In the voluptuousness of Andalusian nights
The fiery blood rolls in my veins...
I’m Don Juan!... Loving damsels,
You know my dirge on the guitar!
Over the love bed your breast shines...
I’ll die if I undo your mantilla
Your are Julia, The Spaniard
Tales of New World riches set Renaissance imaginations ablaze. It would be left to Spain, liberated from the Arab empire, to cross an ocean to trade, conquer, convert and plunder as fortunes were made and dissipated. Mediterranean languages were incorporated into the myriad spoken by indigenous cultures. The results gave newly-blended races of people, their religions, traditions, music and literature a distinctive eloquence. French, Portuguese and Spanish contributed vitality and elasticity to the music inherent in regional vocabularies. We can look for inspiration in lyrics that gestured and danced among polyrhythms!