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El Unicornio Blanco (The White Unicorn)
Poems written by the poet in 2019 about Scotland and his visit to Aberdeen, Stonehaven, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. The poems have been translated into English. The poet writes about his love for Scotland, where he connected with his Celtic roots in the Valley of Liébana, Spain. He saw Scotland as a symbol of the pursuit of freedom.
Spanish poet and celebrated lyricist and musician Antonio Casares’ seventh poetry collection, published posthumously, is both a love letter to and a eulogy for Scotland, “a place north of dreams,” and all the literary masters who wrote their best work in the misty, gothic streets of its cities. On the surface, the collection reads like tourist poetry, complete with photos of the poet at Scottish landmarks, but Casares, a Cantabria native, is far more than a tourist in his travels there. In place of travel guides, he uses the works of Burns, Byron, and Walter Scott to steer him through “the country of poetry.”

To read Casares’s poems is to take a dreamlike tour through Scotland, where every cobblestone in the street is charged with some unspeakable, ancient force that has compelled artists to create for millennia. Readers experience Scotland in Casares’s poems like a Celtic Shangri-La, yet it is not some sorrowless fantasyland. The verses certainly radiate with a nearly obsessive admiration for Scotland and its poets, but the grief therein is just as powerful, almost to a mystical extent, for the death of his heroes, Scotland’s lack of independence, and the temporality of poetry and life itself. In his poetry, however, Casares makes the sadness radiant and romantic—just one of the many jewels that make up “the most melancholy country in the world.”

Lovers of Scottish literary history and poetry in general will appreciate the poems chronicling Casares’s insomniac walks through Aberdeen, hearing Byron’s “voice among the voices of the people who walk past me” and the search for his idol’s unmarked Edinburgh resting place in “Thomas de Quincey’s Grave.” Casares’s spellbinding poems evoke the magic aura in his forebears' work, and he reminds readers that a poet’s legacy isn’t maintained simply by their verse—it’s by the people who read it.

Takeaway: An endearing and haunting homage in English and Spanish verse to Scotland and its poets.

Great for fans of: Robert Burns, Luis Cernuda

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