Peaceful and muddy, the Ebro River winds her way through the lonely, unsmiling plain. Gray clods of soil; trees that have lost their leaves; no bird or gay color. A severe, forbidding landscape. The one aspect of Spain, the unsmiling one. Further down on the sun-washed shores of the Mediterranean, or in the Oriental gardens of Andalusia, we take delight in the other face of Spain, the laughing face.
On the banks of the Ebro, the poor huts of Miranda stand crowded together. Narrow dirty streets; primitive carts carrying dung; men with harsh features; dried-up women. I moved through the narrow lanes, gazing slowly and lingeringly, greeting and bidding farewell to the miserable low huts and dry trees and dusty windows. Suddenly a tiny church to Saint Nicholas made my heart beat faster. Once upon a time it had been an Arab mosque. Surely, here in front, there must have been a courtyard and a little fountain and green trees. There might also have been a jasmine plant and two or three pairs of doves. But the monk had come and chased them away. The cupola, that graceful curve rising from the ground and falling back to the ground, had turned into an ascetic Gothic arch with stone trees, stone flowers and stone doves. The arrow had left the earth, rushed into the sky and no longer wanted to return.
The Spaniard's way of thinking is in harmony with his spirit. The Spaniard reflects on his life, both external and internal, waiting for the Idea to emerge of itself. He has an extraordinarily acute power of perception, but no critical ability. He is able to make a synthesis, and he does so with great joy, as though it alone is worthy of him. But any critical analysis he undertakes with difficulty and distaste. In temperament and spirit the Spaniard is fantastically well qualified. But he lacks method, technique, the patience for meticulous revision. "The Spaniard," says a Castilian proverb, "either gallops like a horse or, like a mule, stands still." He finds it very disagreeable, contrary to his nature, to move ahead at a calm regular pace.