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Barcelona, 19361



[The author left London alone on July 18th. She was in the last train to enter Spain after fighting began and arrived back in London on July 27th. This was her first visit to Europe. —Editors]

Torchlight Procession through the City
of Barcelona. Finish of the
International Relay-Courses.
           Program, Peoples Olympiad,
           First Day. 2

AS the train Began to wake up, Cerbère was reached, the last town in France, and the old water, the Mediterranean. Very quickly, the terraces became mountains, covered with cactus and olive, the Pyrenees produced their little pale villages, stonemasonry and plaster and stucco became prominent as we crossed the Spanish border.

The big shed of the customs building burst into noise as the train drew in. Everyone lined up; they were taking down the names. One or two of the Olympic teams, traveling on collective passports, had some difficulty, and the change from the smart, green metal of the French express to the wooden compartments of the Spanish third-class cars, plus heat, plus a first strange cataract of Spanish spoken, pushed the passengers into confusion.

The train started into Spain, very slowly, its noise wiped out by a tremendous conversation. Seven Catalonian peasant women discussing Spanish politics will wipe out any noise, any scene, fill


American Merchant Lines Ticket.


Demonstration in support of the Popular Front, Barcelona July 1936. Photo: Muriel Rukeyser.


  1. Life and Letters To-day 15.5 (1936). Robert Herring and Petrie Townshend, eds.
  2. The People’s Olympiad (Olympiada Popular July 19 – 26, 1936) was planned as a counter-Olympics to Hitler’s Berlin games. Twenty-two countries sent athletes, primarily via their labor unions.

From Barcelona, 1936: Selections from Muriel Rukeyser’s Spanish Civil War Archive, edited by Rowena Kennedy-Epstein as part of Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative. Lost & Found publishes original texts by figures central to and associated with New American Poetry. Poised at the intersection of scholarly investigation, innovative publishing, and cultural preservation, each Lost & Found chapbook emphasizes the importance of collaborative and archival research.


Muriel Rukeyser


The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2016

All Issues