In only two weeks this quarter will be history and we'll be celebrating Las Fallas here in Valencia. With only ten school days left everything has been quite busy and I haven't had time to do much more than homework, reading, and preparing for finals. Some of our classes have already begun presentations and final projects. In Literature today we will be acting out parts of Don Juan, which we read earlier this quarter and had to cut down to easy-to-read scenes and then perform. Spanish Literature has become one of my favorite classes I've ever taken, which shouldn't surprise me because I always enjoyed taking literature classes in English in high school and at Union. We've learned about a wide variety of styles and writers, but most of what we read is some sort of poetry or verse. We've read social-political discussions by Leandro Fernández de Moratín, dramas such as Don Juan adapted by José Zorilla, and even fábulas, or fables, just like we have in English.

Lydia always finds fun ways for us to do our homework, and one project we had to do was read several well-known Spanish fables and then find one of our own and read it to the class while explaining what it meant and what the moraleja, or moral, is. Here's one we read in class, La Lechera, that I enjoyed reading, and the rough translation in English. 
La Lechera

Llevaba en la cabeza
Una Lechera el cántaro al mercado
Con aquella presteza,
Aquel aire sencillo, aquel agrado,
Que va diciendo a todo el que lo advierte 
«¡Yo sí que estoy contenta con mi suerte!»
Porque no apetecía
Más compañía que su pensamiento,
Que alegre la ofrecía
Inocentes ideas de contento,
Marchaba sola la feliz Lechera,
Y decía entre sí de esta manera:
«Esta leche vendida,
En limpio me dará tanto dinero,
Y con esta partida
Un canasto de huevos comprar quiero,
Para sacar cien pollos, que al estío
Me rodeen cantando el pío, pío.
Del importe logrado
De tanto pollo mercaré un cochino;
Con bellota, salvado,
Berza, castaña engordará sin tino,
Tanto, que puede ser que yo consiga
Ver cómo se le arrastra la barriga.
Llevarélo al mercado,
Sacaré de él sin duda buen dinero;
Compraré de contado
Una robusta vaca y un ternero,
Que salte y corra toda la campaña,
Hasta el monte cercano a la cabaña.»
Con este pensamiento
Enajenada, brinca de manera,
Que a su salto violento
El cántaro cayó. ¡Pobre Lechera!
¡Qué compasión! Adiós leche, dinero,
Huevos, pollos, lechón, vaca y ternero.
¡Oh loca fantasía!
¡Qué palacios fabricas en el viento!
Modera tu alegría
No sea que saltando de contento,
Al contemplar dichosa tu mudanza,
Quiebre su cantando la esperanza.
No seas ambiciosa
De mejor o más próspera fortuna,
Que vivirás ansiosa
Sin que pueda saciarte cosa alguna.
No anheles impaciente el bien futuro;
Mira que ni el presente está seguro.
The Milkmaid

On her head
A pitcher for dairy market
With that quickness,
That still air, that pleasure,
That tells everyone and warns
"Yes I'm happy with what I've got!"
Because she did not want
More company than her thought,
Which gladly offered
Innocent, happy ideas,
She walked alone, the happy milkmaid,
And said to herself in this way:
"This milk is sold,
The money is so much,
And with this,
A basket of eggs buy if I want,
To get a hundred chickens,
Around me singing peep, peep.
Of the amount made
For the chicken I will trade a pig;
With acorn, bran,
Cabbage, chestnut, without holding back,
So much so that I can get,
See how he drags his belly.
I'll take him to the market,
I'll take him, without doubt good money;
Use cash to buy
A robust cow and a calf,
That jump and run in the countryside,
Up the hill near the cabin. "
With this thought
Concentrating, she skips along,
And when she jumped quickly,
The pitcher fell. Poor milkmaid!
What compassion! Goodbye milk, money,
Eggs, chicken, pig, cow and calf.
Oh crazy fantasy!
What palaces you make in the wind!
Modera your joy
Lest jumping for joy,
Contemplating happy your move,
Break your singing hope.
Do not be ambitious
Of better or more prosperous fortune,
That you live anxiously
Without that nothing can satiate.
Desire not impatient future good;
See that the present is not sure.
We summed it up in Spanish as "Tener los pies en la tierra" (keep your feet on the ground) or in English as "Don't count your chickens before they hatch." I love literature class because it's amazing to me that when I first came here, I couldn't read a paragraph without having to look up every single word, but now we read in class and everyone understands the basic points and we work through harder vocabulary together. I just finished a 250-page book for my conversation class, and while I certainly did not understand everything that happened, I got to practice readying quickly without stopping and had a pretty good idea of each chapter. It's amazing to me how much we've learned in two quarters and I'm so happy we still have one whole quarter left. Some people have begun counting the days, anxiously waiting for each week to pass, but for once in my life I'm not in a hurry. I love learning Spanish and I can't wait to see what next quarter has to offer! But first, Las Fallas, which I will explain in the coming days and weeks!
3/4/2013 12:23:05 am

I can't believe how much you're learning, Shelby, and you still have a quarter to go! I like "La Lachera" story. Keep up the good work, Shel!

Sheri Seibold
3/4/2013 12:28:07 am

It sounds like some of the students are counting their weeks before they arrive. I'm so glad this year has given you the opportunity to not only learn another language in great depth, but to remind you of the joy each day brings before the sun rises again over the Mediterranean to greet you with another new blessing. This is a good reminded to us all. Let's enjoy our present, and not stew over the past or worry too much about the future.

Grandpa Clyde
3/4/2013 05:16:28 am

I agree with what Grandma and your mom have said above. Don't rush things, savor each moment you are there. You might check to see if they need a translator next year and you could really become totally engaged in the culture.
I remember an american in Mexico telling me that when he first moved there he felt he would never be able to learn Spanish, then one day he was sitting in a cafe, and overheard the people at the next table speaking Spanish and he suddenly realized that he had understood every word!
Glad you love the literature class, that means you are really getting into it. Keep it up!!!

Tu Tia Carmen
4/9/2013 11:49:15 am

Sobrinita querida, aunque La Lechera perdió todo, el presente que tú estás disfrutando es un sueño hermoso que llevarás en tu corazón siempre.


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