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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