Thursday, April 9, 2009

1931: La guitarra by Federico Garcia Lorca

La guitarra

Empieza el llanto
de la guitarra.
Se rompen las copas
de la madrugada.
Empieza el llanto
de la guitarra.
Es inútil
Es imposible
Llora monótona
como llora el agua,
como llora el viento
sobre la nevada.
Es imposible
Llora por cosas
Arena del Sur caliente
que pide camelias blancas.
Llora flecha sin blanco,
la tarde sin mañana
y el primer pájaro muerto
sobre la rama.
¡Oh guitarra!
Corazón malherido
por cinco espadas.

The image at right, "Caricatura del concurso de cante jondo," was drawn by Antonio López Sánchez in 1922; Lorca is in the third row with his hand on his head.

The Guitar
English translation by Cola Franzen

The weeping of the guitar
The goblets of dawn
are smashed.
The weeping of the guitar
to silence it.
to silence it.
It weeps monotonously
as water weeps
as the wind weeps
over snowfields.
to silence it.
It weeps for distant
Hot southern sands
yearning for white camellias.
Weeps arrow without target
evening without morning
and the first dead bird
on the branch.
Oh, guitar!
Heart mortally wounded
by five swords.
The Author:
Federico García Lorca

Born in 1898 in an Andalusian village just west of Granada, Federico García Lorca is Spain’s greatest modern poet. Few poets take us so directly to what he described as “the dark root of the scream.” For Lorca, great art—art with duende—occurs only when the creator is acutely aware of death.

Over his twenty-year career, Lorca gave a new direction to Spanish theater and produced music, several volumes of lectures and letters, innumerable drawings (including the 1934 drawing at left: "Death"), and nine books of poetry, including Cante del Poema Jondo, which includes the selection above, written in 1921.

The theme of Lorca’s entire oeuvre, according to Christopher Maurer, is “the impossible: the melancholy conviction that all of us have certain indefinable longings which cannot be satisfied by anything around us” (xviii). As American poet Robert Bly puts it, Lorca is “a poet of ‘desire,’ [. . .] always saying what he wants, what he desires, what barren women desire, what water desires, what gypsies desire, what a bull desires just before it dies, what brothers and sisters desire” (qtd. in Maurer xviii). In Lorca’s poems, all of life is constrained by some sort of longing and want. Yet that desire is never fully defined, only gestured at, and therefore unable ever to be satisfied. Before it is defined, it is cancelled: “by madness, despair or melancholy, by societal indifference, by language, or, more neatly, by death” (xix).

Lorca once remarked to a friend, apropos of the death of the toreador, Sánchez Mejías, that it had been “an apprenticeship” for his own. Death came to him violently, in August of 1936, in the early days of the Spanish Civil War, during the Fascist uprising in Granada. Aware that war was imminent and that his liberal views made him suspect to the right-wing movement that was rising in arms against the Republic, Lorca had fled from Madrid to the apparent safety of his family home. After a period in hiding at the house of a friend, he was arrested and, by order of one of Franco’s generals, driven into the countryside and executed. His body was buried in an unmarked grave near the hamlet of Víznar (xvii).
SUBMITTED BY: Wendy Leraas
Maurer, Christopher, ed. Selected Verse: Federico García Lorca. A Bilingual Edition. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1994.

1 comment:

  1. a tribute to Lorca:


    Your words drop
    Like an old wooden bucket
    On a long rope
    Down a deep, dark well
    Lined with scarred stone pillars
    scraped by the fingers
    Of centuries

    At the bottom
    In the centre of the earth
    The bucket settles gently
    In silver water
    Before it is drawn back
    Into moonlight

    Rae Desmond Jones

    Thank you.