Miguel Torga

the great herald of the beauties and mysteries of Trás-os-Montes

I’ll tell you about a Wonderful Kingdom. Although many people say otherwise , there have always been and there will always be wonderful Kingdoms in this world. What is necessary, to see them, is that the eyes do not lose the original virginity before reality, and the heart, then, does not hesitate. Now, what I want to show, mine and all those who want to deserve it, not only exists, but the most beautiful you can imagine. It starts soon because it is at the top of Portugal, as the nests are at the top of the trees so that distance makes them more impossible and desirable. And whoever loves nests from below, if he really is a boy and is not afraid of heights, after climbing and reaching the crest of the dream, he contemplates his own bliss. One sees first a sea of stones. Vacant and vacant positions, stern and hostile, contained in their unbridled strength by the inexorable hand of a creator and dominator God. Everything is still and silent.

It only moves and makes one hear the heart in the chest, restless, announcing the beginning of a great hour. Suddenly, the crust of silence is ripped by a voice of outspoken frankness:

– Here from Marão, send those who are here! …

There’s a chill. The view widens with eagerness and wonder. What rock talked? What respectful terror takes hold of us? But it’s no use to interrogate the great megalithic ocean, because the invisible commands:

– Enter!

We come in, and you’re already in the Wonderful Kingdom. Authority emanates from the inner strength that each brings from the cradle. A cradle that officially goes from Vila Real to Chaves, from Chaves to Bragança, from Bragança to Miranda, from Miranda to Régua.

One World! A never ending land of thick, frail, brave land that so much rises to the pin in an impetus to ascend to the sky, as it sinks in abysses of anguish, it is not known by what telluric contrition. Warm-Earth and Cold-Earth. Leagues and leagues of angry ground, contorted, burned by a sun of fire or by a cold of snow. Saws superimposed on saws. Mountains parallel to mountains. In the intervals, pressed between rivers of crystalline water, singers, to quench the thirst of so much distress. And from time to time, oasis of restlessness that has made such geological wrinkles, an immense valley, a pure humus, where the view rests from the aggression of the rocks. But again the granite protests. Again it awakens us to the core strength of everything. And they are again saws until they lose sight of them. You can not see how this soil is capable of giving bread and wine. But it does. On the banks of a river of gold, crucified between the heat of the sky that from above drinks and the thirst of the bed that underneath dries, the walls of the miracle rise. On steep terraces, narrow balconies that no palace possesses, the stumps grow like the basil to the windows. In September, the men leave the Earth-Cold banks and descend  the staircase of the shale mill. They sing, dance and work. Then they go up. And soon there is bottled sun to drink the four corners of the world. The earth is generosity itself. Like a paradise, you just have to reach out. Knock on a door, rich or poor, and always the same confident voice answers us:

– Enter, who is it! Without anyone asking anything else, without anyone coming to the window to peer, the intimacy of an entire family is opened. What is needed now is to deserve the magnificence of the gift. In codes and in catechism the sin of pride is the worst. Maybe the codes and the catechism are right. It remains to be seen whether there will be anything more beautiful in this life than the pure gift of looking at a stranger as if he were a welcome brother, although the price of disappointment is sometimes a stab. In or out of your dolmen (the way I have to call the holes where most people live) these men are afraid only of smallness. Fear of falling short of the mark where, since the world is a world, the size of a creature is measured at the time of death.

Bound by need and love of adventure they emigrate. They put all the chimera in a scrap of bag, and there they go. Those who stay, dig for their entire life. And when they get tired, they lie down in the coffin with the serenity of those who arrive honorably at the end of a long and laborious day. The name of Trasmontano, that’s to say son of Trás-os-Montes, therefore it is called the Wonderful Kingdom of which I spoke to you.