Deià has something of a cosmic amphitheatre about it. The town is embraced by the slopes of the Teix mountain. Sometimes, the clouds become entangled in them like cotton wool. In winter, greyish-white smoke streams out of the chimney pots and disappears into the verticality of the sky. In this natural semicircle, one instantly becomes aware of the different shades of green. A variety of hues ranging from light and shiny to dark and matt. In the distance you can hear the trickling of the stream.
But it is at night when a special kind of magic falls on the place. The full moon profiles the buildings and trees with a silvery halo, as if it were a painting. And it reverberates among the stones in the mountain. And perhaps there is a man standing at one of the windows about to flip a silver coin under the moon. An ancient spell said to bring good fortune.
Robert Graves, who lived and died in Deià, was one of Deià’s biggest theorists. He speculated on the mountain’s “magnetic influence” on the creativity of its people. And he wrote stories about an ancient prehistoric temple of the moon, located where the church and cemetery stand today. Full Moon in Deià.
Myths are a dimension apart from other things. From an everyday viewpoint, we are incapable of sensing it. We see our reality, thinking that it’s the most normal thing in the world. But then along comes history and it changes everything. We realise that what we had sensed was a unique milestone. An episode for posterity. And we were not able to appreciate it!
Just how many people wouldn’t have felt this way?
I visited Deià regularly during the 1980s. Almost every week I spent a few hours in the town. I ate at Can Jaume. I had a coffee in las Palmeras. I swam at La Cala or Llucalcari. It seemed like the most normal thing in the world.
Naturally, the greatest guru of that bygone Deià eas Robert Graves, who held court in Can Alluny. Graves had a tutorial presence
Today, when I visit Deià cemetery, I realise just how extraordinary those moments were. Because the characters that crossed my path, who were sitting at the next table, today form a part of the legend. Like a strange spiritual community, they live on in Deià’s cemetery under the full moon.
Naturally, the greatest guru of that bygone Deià was Robert Graves, who held court in Can Alluny. Graves had a tutorial presence. It wasn’t easy to find him because he was already old then but further back in the 1970s I remember seeing him walk past dressed in the “Deià uniform” of a wide-brimmed hat and loose-fitting shirt with a senalla (typical Mallorcan wicker basket) hanging from his shoulder.
His son William recalls that when he had money problems, he went to the window when there was a full moon and he flipped over a silver coin. That was how “I Claudius” worked for him.
Today, the simple grave of the author of “The white goddess” and “Goodbye to all that” is a little reminiscent of of an islamic saint’s tomb; plain and modest, but always adorned with flowers and offerings
I can remember when Graves died in 1985. I was allocated the job of covering the funeral for the newspaper. I will never forget the image of his family carrying the coffin. It was a cold December night. The moon was masked by the trees and dogs were howling in the distance.
Today, the simple grave of the author of “The White Goddess” and “Goodbye To All That” is a little reminiscent of an Islamic saint’s tomb; plain and modest, but always adorned with flowers and offerings.
I walk through Deià cemetery and it seems impossible that these names I am reading are on such a small plaque. A token. Because they all were people I knew in Deià at that time. Such as the painter Joan Miralles, who lived in a magnificent mansion in Can Fusimany, or Ulrich Leman, the creator of a strange and radiant expressionism. He died at 102. You saw him back then in his hat, quiet and sphynx-like, recently arrived from his house in the mountain, accompanied by his faithful Pepe, who always watched over him.
At the next table, you could be sitting alongside Norman Jewison, who used to do drawings with his leftover coffee grounds. Kevin Ayers was always there with his rock star attitude, flirting with all the women at the other tables. Or the great guitarist that accompanied him, Ollie Halsall, sporting his ‘Lennon glasses’ and long hair, he was a regular on the terraces. He died very young of an overdose, in Calle de la Amargura No. 13, in Madrid.
Claribel Alegríga, the widow of Cortázar Aurora Bernández, musicans such as Mike Oldfield, Eric Burdon and Joan Graves, they all filled the deià nights with light and creativity. It was a very different world from now. That was another Deià
It was hard not to run into William Waldren, always full of energy and enthusiasm. He was a promoter of digs and of Deià Museum. Or Frederic Grunfeld with his family, his biography of French sculptor Rodin was a masterpiece. But in a certain way it cost him his life because he died on his return trip to New York just after having presented it.
Another noteworthy character was Mati Klarwein, who would be taking a walk with his children before returning to his refuge at Son Rullan. He was tall and cut a formidable figure with his hat and wicker basket. You couldn’t believe you were standing next to the creator of iconic albums covers for the likes of Santana and Miles Davis.
Claribel Alegría, the widow of Cortázar Aurora Bernández, musicians such as Mike Oldfield, Eric Burdon and Joan Graves… they all filled the Deià nights with light and creativity. It was a very different world from now. That was another Deià. When the full moon profiled the Teix mountain. And at a window, someone was flipping over a silver coin.
Carlos Garrido / Archivo DM – Shutterstock