Wordless legacy

If anyone had the crazy idea of picking the best Spanish artist of all time, they would be stepping into a fascinating maze, but one with no way out. If they went in through the door marked painting they would get lost choosing between Murillo, Velázquez, Goya, Dalí, Picasso, Miró... If they went down the literature route the dilemma would be even greater. For many, Cervantes would be the obvious way, but what about Quevedo, Calderón, Lope de Vega, Pérez Galdós, Blasco Ibáñez, Unamuno, Valle Inclán, Pío Baroja, Góngora, Machado, Lorca...? In any other country any one of these could be considered the best in history, the writer who alone could define the cultural legacy of an entire nation. Round other corners of our maze we might come across Buñuel, Gaudí, Camarón, Plácido Domingo...

History has been generous with Spain, giving it one major landmark achievement. Some might call it discovery and others call it invasion; some call it colonisation and some claim it to be a cilivising gesture. Depending on which side of the Atlantic you're on, Spain's history in America means either the systematic looting of wealth, or a great cultural legacy that lives on today. On neither side, however, is there any doubt that this was the event than allowed humanity to become fully aware of itself and its surroundings. Putting a man on the moon was nothing in comparison.

There have also been terrible episodes, but history has not been mean with this country.

Part of its legacy is a national anthem with no words. Some think this is a disadvantage, because our sports teams don't have the motivation their rivals get from shouting their way through war songs -which is what most anthems are. Recent sports results, however, prove this theory wrong. On the other hand it is a significant advantage that our children are not forced to learn verses that speak of recruiting batallions, dying in glory or putting one's country before and above everything. Especially bearing in mind that this is a country where symbols get caught up in internal battles aimed more at separating those who think differently than uniting.

Spain's national anthem has no words and that's that. It's not a good idea to try to correct history. It would be impossible and fruitless. And the risk of looking ridiculous is enormous.