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Federico García Lorca – Ditty of First Desire

Ditty of First Desire

In the green morning
I wanted to be a heart.
A heart.

And in the ripe evening
I wanted to be a nightingale.
A nightingale.

(Soul,
turn orange-colored.
Soul,
turn the color of love.)

In the vivid morning
I wanted to be myself.
A heart.

And at the evening’s end
I wanted to be my voice.
A nightingale.

Soul,
turn orange-colored.
Soul,
turn the color of love.

From Selected Verse, Songs, 1921-1924
Translated by Alan S. Trueblood


November 24, 2008 Posted by | Federico García Lorca, _ART, _PHOTOGRAPHY, _POETRY | Leave a comment

Federico García Lorca – The Gypsy and the Wind

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by icbear

The Gypsy and the Wind

Playing her parchment moon
Precosia comes
along a watery path of laurels and crystal lights.
The starless silence, fleeing
from her rhythmic tambourine,
falls where the sea whips and sings,
his night filled with silvery swarms.
High atop the mountain peaks
the sentinels are weeping;
they guard the tall white towers
of the English consulate.
And gypsies of the water
for their pleasure erect
little castles of conch shells
and arbors of greening pine.

Playing her parchment moon
Precosia comes.
The wind sees her and rises,
the wind that never slumbers.
Naked Saint Christopher swells,
watching the girl as he plays
with tongues of celestial bells
on an invisible bagpipe.

Gypsy, let me lift your skirt
and have a look at you.
Open in my ancient fingers
the blue rose of your womb.

Precosia throws the tambourine
and runs away in terror.
But the virile wind pursues her
with his breathing and burning sword.

The sea darkens and roars,
while the olive trees turn pale.
The flutes of darkness sound,
and a muted gong of the snow.

Precosia, run, Precosia!
Or the green wind will catch you!
Precosia, run, Precosia!
And look how fast he comes!
A satyr of low-born stars
with their long and glistening tongues.

Precosia, filled with fear,
now makes her way to that house
beyond the tall green pines
where the English consul lives.

Alarmed by the anguished cries,
three riflemen come running,
their black capes tightly drawn,
and berets down over their brow.

The Englishman gives the gypsy
a glass of tepid milk
and a shot of Holland gin
which Precosia does not drink.

And while she tells them, weeping,
of her strange adventure,
the wind furiously gnashes
against the slate roof tiles.

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November 10, 2008 Posted by | Federico García Lorca, _ART, _PHOTOGRAPHY, _POETRY | Leave a comment

Federico García Lorca – The Faithless Wife

We’re finally getting stuck into that new Lorca collection we bought at the turn of the year! And, of course, it’s chockful of some wonderful poetry – even though we’re relying on the translator!

Beautifully constructed meanderings into the soul, into the realities of place, of life. Freddy sure knew how to sculpt the word!

Born in Fuente Vaqueros, Granada, Spain, June 5,1898; died near Granada, August 19,1936, García Lorca is Spain’s most deeply appreciated and highly revered poet and dramatist. His murder by the Nationalists at the start of the Spanish civil war brought sudden international fame, accompanied by an excess of political rhetoric which led a later generation to question his merits; after the inevitable slump, his reputation has recovered (largely with a shift in interest to the less obvious works). He must now be bracketed with Machado as one of the two greatest poets Spain has produced this century, and he is certainly Spain’s greatest dramatist since the Golden Age.

As a poet, his early reputation rested on the Romancero gitano (Madrid, 1928; tr. R. Humphries, The Gypsy Ballads of García Lorca, Bloomington, 1953), the poems of Poema del Cante Jondo (Madrid, 1931), and Llanto por Ignacio Sanchez Mejias (Madrid, 1935; tr. A. L. Lloyd, in Lament for the Death of a Bullfighter, and Other Poems, London, 1937), all profoundly Andalusian, richly sombre in their mood and imagery, and disquieting in their projection of a part-primitive, part-private world of myth moved by dark and not precisely identifiable forces; but, beneath the flamenco trappings, there is a deeper – perhaps personal – anguish, as well as a superb rhythmical and linguistic sense (the Llanto is one of the four best elegies in the Spanish language). Critical interest has since shifted to the tortured, ambiguous and deliberately dissonant surrealist poems of Poeta en Nueva York (Mexico City, 1940; tr. B. Belitt, Poet in New York, London, 1955), and to the arabesque casidas and gacelas of Divein de Tamarit (NY, 1940). An early major anthology in English is Poems (tr. S. Spender & J. L. Gili, London, 1939).

As a dramatist, early romantic pieces with social implications such as Mariana Pineda (Madrid, 1928; tr. J. GrahamLuidn & R. L. O’Connell in Collected Plays, London, 1976) and the comic invention of La zapatera prodigiosa (first performed 1930, amplified 1935, pub. Buenos Aires, 1938; The Shoemaker’s Prodigious Wife in Collected Plays) established him in the public eye, while his fostering of popular theatre gave him a left-wing reputation which contributed to his death (although his homosexuality also made him a target).

His reputation as a playwright rests, however, mainly on the three ‘folk tragedies’, Bodas de sangre (Madrid, 1935; Blood Wedding), Yerma (Buenos Aires, 1937) and La casa de Bernarda Alba (Buenos Aires, 1940; The House of Bernarda Alba: all three tr. J. Graham-Lujan & R. L. O’Connell, in III Tragedies, NY, 1959, incorporated into Collected Plays), whose settings recall the Romancero gitano, as do the unspecified dark forces (associated with earth, blood, sex, water, fertility/infertility, death, and the moon) which appear to manipulate the characters in Bodas de sangre and Yerma. Both these plays are richly poetic, with an almost ritualized primitivism (Lorca was highly superstitious, and his dark forces were not mere dramatic ploys).

La casa de Bernarda Alba is starker: deliberately prosaic, more readily interpretable as social criticism (i.e. of the pressures of convention, the imprisoning effect of mourning customs, the frustration of female sexuality by the need to wait for an acceptable match), but it is so dominated by the title character – who tyrannizes her five daughters – that it emerges as the study of a unique individual rather than a typical woman. Each tragedy has one outstanding female role, those of Yerma and Bernarda having been written for the great tragic actress Margarita Xirgu.

Lorca’s technical experimentation (which has affinities with innovators as dissimilar as PIRANDELLO and BRECHT) was immensely versatile, and he had a superb sense for stage-effects to reinforce the web of his recurrent imagery.

Robert Pring-Mill (Fellow of St. Catherine’s College, Oxford)
from The Fontana Biographical Companion to Modern Thought
Copyright © 1983 by Alan Bullock, R.B.Woodings, and John Cumming

The Faithless Wife

So I took her to the river
believing she was a maiden,
but she already had a husband.
It was on St. James night
and almost as if I was obliged to.
The lanterns went out
and the crickets lighted up.
In the farthest street corners
I touched her sleeping breasts
and they opened to me suddenly
like spikes of hyacinth.
The starch of her petticoat
sounded in my ears
like a piece of silk
rent by ten knives.
Without silver light on their foliage
the trees had grown larger
and a horizon of dogs
barked very far from the river.

Past the blackberries,
the reeds and the hawthorne
underneath her cluster of hair
I made a hollow in the earth
I took off my tie,
she too off her dress.
I, my belt with the revolver,
She, her four bodices.
Nor nard nor mother-o’-pearl
have skin so fine,
nor does glass with silver
shine with such brilliance.
Her thighs slipped away from me
like startled fish,
half full of fire,
half full of cold.
That night I ran
on the best of roads
mounted on a nacre mare
without bridle stirrups.

As a man, I won’t repeat
the things she said to me.
The light of understanding
has made me more discreet.
Smeared with sand and kisses
I took her away from the river.
The swords of the lilies
battled with the air.

I behaved like what I am,
like a proper gypsy.
I gave her a large sewing basket,
of straw-colored satin,
but I did not fall in love
for although she had a husband
she told me she was a maiden
when I took her to the river.

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November 6, 2008 Posted by | Federico García Lorca, _ART, _PHOTOGRAPHY, _POETRY | Leave a comment