Poets, Revolutionaries, and Pilgrims: Graffiti on the Camino de Santiago

DON'T STEAL, THE POLITICIANS HATE COMPETITION

Ever since I arrived in Basque Country about a week ago, I have started seeing graffiti popping up. It’s mostly confined to highway overpasses or isolated alleyways, but occasionally I have seen pieces on more congested streets; no guesses as to how long they will remain. The graffiti I see ranges from furious scribbles of black spray-paint to intricate drawings that were done with the care and precision of someone wielding a felt-tip marker rather than an aerosol can. I have also noticed that the subjects tend to fall into one of three categories:

1) The philosopher/poet who leaves a poem or words of wisdom on the wall
2) The revolutionary who writes his/her manifesto in spray-paint—always in capital letters
3) The pilgrim who draws him/herself or perhaps simply writes “Buen Camino!” in lazy script

Here are some examples of poetical graffiti I have seen:

tread softly

THE HEART KNOWS REASONS

LIFE HAPPENS

Flora Italia

Here are some examples of politically-motivated graffiti. I would like to add that this is the only instance of anti-Semitism I have encountered so far on my entire trip to Europe, and it falls into the especially ludicrous category of lumping Judaism and Zionism into the same category as Nazism.

BORN TO STUDY; STUDY TO WORK; WORK TO DIE; THEY WERE DEAD FROM THE START

Banks not welcome here

Anti-Semitism

YOU ARE IN BASQUE COUNTRY

KILLED BY POLICE

This is my single favorite piece of all the ones I have seen so far, mostly because if I were to create any graffiti of my own the voice is the same:

WOB WOB

And finally, we have the light-hearted drawings and inspirational messages left behind by fellow pilgrims:

Wizard

Angry Pilgrim

Pilgrim doodles

Korean Pilgrim Scribble

Irish Pilgrims

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3 thoughts on “Poets, Revolutionaries, and Pilgrims: Graffiti on the Camino de Santiago

  1. It’s funny the first two quotes are ones I have in a personal favorite quote document 😉 The quote from Yeats’ poem is actually on a plaque on his house in Howth (outside of Dublin, Ireland): “I have spread my dreams under your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams”. Beautiful post!

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