restricted access The Alabados as Poetry
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22 The author of the Lamy Rules of 1856, among the earlier surviving documents pertaining to the Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus the Nazarene, was almost certainly Father Dámaso Taladrid. The Taladrid-Lamy eleventh rule required the Hermano Mayor in charge of each chapter of the brotherhood to have the pastor proofread and sign a copy of the rules “so as to avoid in this manner the adulteration of the original by the lack of a good copyist” (para evitar de este modo que sean adulterados los originales por falta de buenos escribanos). In 1933, two brothers of the Chama chapter, Sixto Alire and Fabián Madril, typed a copy of these rules with a brief explanation for each. Their comment on that same rule noted that because of copying and recopying the rules were “full of grammatical errors, meaningless words, and even obvious errors in doctrine” (llenas de incorreciones, palabras sin sentido y hasta errores palmares contra la doctrina) (Steele and Rivera 1985, 139). Since that is the case with prose, which is relatively easy to understand and transcribe, we should expect that copyists would fall into more errors while transcribing poetic texts such as the alabados. Good poetry is always the most difficult kind of writing in any language, and a cursory reading of a few handwritten New Mexican cuadernos will make clear that the poetic texts of the alabados are all too often marred with“grammatical errors,meaningless words, and obvious errors in doctrine.” The members of the heavenly court who listen to prayers deserve better. Elision i When Spanish is sung, two vowels without an intervening consonant (h does not count) almost always merge into one vowel sound or into a diphthong . (In classical Latin poetry, an m after a vowel at theendof awordwasnotpronouncedwhenitwasfollowedbyawordthatbeganwithavowel .)TheSpanish d between two vowels will sometimes elide the consonant as well as one vowel; Rubén Cobos collected a sung indita with the line“a las cuatro‘e la mañana”(at four o’clock in the morning) (Cobos 1950, 5). In the first part of an alabado line, accented syllables often lose their accents and unaccented syllables gain them because the musical accent dominates the poetic line. Toward the second part of the line, however, the musical accent and the poetic accent converge in practically every instance so that the tension in the first few feet of the line gives way to the resolution in the ending. This was the case with the first four feet of the classical Latin hexameter line, where the long quantitative vowels seldom coincided with the accented syllables, but the long vowels and the accented syllables of the final two feet always coincided and resolved the tension. It should come as no surprise that Latin Gregorian chant operates in almost exactly the same manner. Rhyme and Assonance i In traditional poetry, one rhyme word echoes another rhyme word with innovation followed by The Alabados as Poetry 06 Alabados 22-26 5/20/05 12:18 PM Page 22 23 THE ALABADOS repetition. The difference occurs before the final accented vowel, and the exact repetition occurs from the final accented vowel inclusive to the end of the line: hear-near, seven-eleven. Two sorts of rhyme are considered less than ideal. Identical rhyme occurs when the consonant just prior to the accented vowel is the same in both rhyme words (cause and because, mediodía and día). Slant rhyme occurs when either the vowel(s) or the consonant(s) are somewhat different (slant and delight, head and ride; fervoroso and preciosa, pagar and pecador).A truly strange feature of the alabados sung in New Mexico is the tendency for the liquid consonants (l, m, n, and r) to make rhymes such as aclamar and celestial, regalo and humano. For an English parallel, Edward Taylor’s poems often have rhymes on -n, -ng, and -m such as in and fling, done and crumb, thing and brim. Assonance, also known as vowel rhyme, is the repetition of vowel sounds without concern for consonants . Many alabados, especially the older ones, do not try to rhyme, pursuing instead a consistent pattern of vowel sounds at the end of the lines: son and señor, valgan and alma, anhelo and remedio. As the older Spanish tradition of religious poetry used assonance, a pattern of vowels, so Anglo-Saxon used alliteration,a pattern of consonants at the beginning of words (or at the start of their roots if they had...


Subject Headings

  • Alabados.
  • Hispanic American Catholics -- New Mexico.
  • Hispanic American Catholics -- Religious life.
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