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Quijotic: The windmills of Consuegra, Castilla-La Mancha (©Loop Images/UIG via Getty Images)


Quijote was spelled Quixote in the time
before the days of Spanish holidays.
I grew up with a sumptuous edition,
heavy as the average church Bible is,
illustrated throughout by Gustave Doré.
Trying to read it without a lectern
gave me dead legs and cracked its gilded spine.
I enjoyed its wealth of anecdote,
hating the burning of his favourite books.

My grandfather, another iconoclast,
destroyed books that he thought heretical,
a preacher, self-taught reader of Ancient Greek,
who drew the line at the apocryphal.

Various Cervantes anniversaries
encouraged Spaniards to read the book.
The language is archaic for all now.
I stumbled through just over half of it,
translation at the ready alongside.

When I first took a bus journey in Spain
we passed the ruins of windmills everywhere.
“Slain by Quijote” was our family joke.
These broken windmills are a burden now,
quixotic mayors try to raise cash for them
and all the ruins that grace the countryside.
A conservationist is like a knight,
fighting for what is right against all odds.

Cervantes, in his time, was a Marine,
or the equivalent. His regiment,
the oldest European one, is based
in Cartagena where I live. I’ve met
some men from it, tough and intelligent,
while walking a 50 km mountain route.

What of Quijote’s character? Like Lear’s?
Renaissance Alzheimer’s? A standing joke
to all who came in contact with the man?
Treated with kindness by some of his friends,
Sancho plays Sam to Frodo in the tale.

We all must age. We are the lucky ones.
Those who’ve survived long past the follies of youth.
Should we age gracefully, or carry on,
swashbuckle our way throughout our latter years?
Embrace the courtly role, fight to the end,
against our adversaries, imagined or real,
paced by the music of our creaking joints?

Fiona Pitt-Kethley


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Greg Murphy
September 11th, 2017
3:09 PM
Beautiful work. More please!

Bestrice O'Malleynonymous
August 31st, 2017
7:08 PM
Swashbuckle on! Your poems speak to me.

Beatrice O'Malleyonymous
August 31st, 2017
7:08 PM
Duende. When art reaches out and pulls one in. Yes!

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