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Venus’s foam

Héroes del Silencio was, if you ask me, not only the best Spanish band of the 90s, but also one of the greatest rock bands ever. Their lyrics are known for being mystical, poetic, ambiguous, but at the same time quite evocative.

A while ago, I was going over the lyrics for La espuma de Venus (“Venus’s foam”), which is sort of an ode to a woman’s body. One of the stanzas reads like this:

La espuma de Venus
La fruta más escasa 
Que quiso ordeñar 
El zahorí buscando agua

Rough translation:

Venus’s foam
The scarcest fruit
That tried to milk
The dowser looking for water

I want to focus on the word zahorí; a person looking for water, especially if helped by one of those forked divining branches. It is a bit of a standout, ortographically. It does look Spanish, but in a uncanny valley kind of way.

It is, as usually happens in these cases, of Arabic origin. We can use the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy to trace its way. The word existed already in classical arabic as zuharī, “geomantic”, a person versed in interpreting Earth lines and celestial bodies. The word came from the name of one of those bright points in the sky, azzuharah. Can you guess which one it refers to?

Why, yes, it is Venus. I’ll leave it for you to decide if this was just a coincidence or utter brilliance by Héroes del Silencio.

Originally published in The blind mouse.

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