Masterpieces of

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Federico García Lorca


 

 

Federico García Lorca

Spanish writer

born June 5, 1898, Fuente Vaqueros, Granada province, Spain
died August 18 or 19, 1936, between Víznar and Alfacar, Granada province

Main
Spanish poet and playwright who, in a career that spanned just 19 years, resurrected and revitalized the most basic strains of Spanish poetry and theatre. He is known primarily for his Andalusian works, including the poetry collections Romancero gitano (1928; Gypsy Ballads) and Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías (1935; “Lament for Ignacio Sánchez Mejías,” Eng. trans. Lament for a Bullfighter), and the tragedies Bodas de sangre (1933; Blood Wedding), Yerma (1934; Eng. trans. Yerma), and La casa de Bernarda Alba (1936; The House of Bernarda Alba). In the early 1930s Lorca helped inaugurate a second Golden Age of the Spanish theatre. He was executed by a Nationalist firing squad in the first months of the Spanish Civil War.

Early years
The eldest of four children born to a wealthy landowner and his schoolteacher wife, Lorca grew up in rural Andalusia, surrounded by images and social conditions that influenced his work lifelong. At age 10 he moved with his family to Granada, where he attended a private, secular institute in addition to a Catholic public school. Lorca enrolled in the University of Granada but was a hapless student best known for his extraordinary talents as a pianist. He took nine years to complete a bachelor’s degree. Despite plans to become a musician and composer, he turned to writing in his late teens. His first experiments in prose, poetry, and drama reveal an intense spiritual and sexual malaise along with an adolescent devotion to such authors as Shakespeare, Goethe, the Spanish poet Antonio Machado, and the Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío, father of Hispanic Modernismo, a late and decadent flowering of Romanticism.

In 1919 Lorca moved to the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid, a prestigious and socially progressive men’s residence hall. It remained his home in the Spanish capital for the next decade. His fellow residents included the filmmaker Luis Buñuel and the artist Salvador Dalí, who later became a close companion. In Madrid, Lorca also befriended the renowned older poet Juan Ramón Jiménez and a circle of poets his own age, among them Rafael Alberti, Jorge Guillén, and Pedro Salinas.


Early poetry and plays
A consummate stylist, Lorca sought throughout his career to juxtapose and meld genres. His poems, plays, and prose often evoke other, chiefly popular, forms of music, art, and literature. His first book, Impresiones y paisajes (1918; Impressions and Landscapes), a prose work in the modernista tradition, chronicled Lorca’s sentimental response to a series of journeys through Spain as a university student. Libro de poemas (“Book of Poems”), an uneven collection of predominantly modernista poems culled from his juvenilia, followed in 1921. Both efforts disappointed Lorca and reinforced his inherent resistance to publication, a fact that led to frequent delays in the publication and production of his work. Lorca preferred to perform his poems and plays, and his histrionic recitations drew innumerable admirers.

The Spanish stage director Gregorio Martínez Sierra premiered Lorca’s first full-length play, El maleficio de la mariposa (The Butterfly’s Evil Spell in Five Plays: Comedies and Tragi-Comedies, 1970), a symbolist work about a lovesick cockroach, in Madrid in 1920. Critics and audiences ridiculed the drama, and it closed after four performances. Lorca’s next full-length play, the historical verse drama Mariana Pineda (written 1923; Eng. trans. Mariana Pineda), opened in 1927 in a production with sets by Dalí and received mixed notices.

In the early 1920s, Lorca began experimenting with short, elliptical verse forms inspired by Spanish folk song, Japanese haiku, and contemporary avant-garde poetics. He wrote a prodigious series of brief poems arranged in thematic “suites,” later collected and published in 1983 under the title Suites. (Virtually all of Lorca’s poetry—that contained in the volume under discussion and in the other Spanish volumes mentioned in this biography—has been translated in Collected Poems, 1991). In 1922 Lorca collaborated with the eminent Andalusian composer Manuel de Falla on a festival of cante jondo (“deep song”) in Granada. The endeavour heightened Lorca’s interest in popular Andalusian song, and in a blaze of inspiration he wrote a series of poems based on songs of the Andalusian Gypsies (Roma). Even more compressed than Suites, Poema del cante jondo (written 1921–25, published 1931; Poem of the Deep Song), offers a radical synthesis of the traditional and the avant-garde. The series signaled Lorca’s emergence as a mature poet. His collaboration with Falla further prompted Lorca to investigate the Spanish puppet theatre tradition, and in 1923 he wrote Los títeres de Cachiporra (“The Billy-Club Puppets”), the first of several versions of a puppet play inspired by the classic Andalusian Grand Guignol.

From 1925 to 1928, Lorca was passionately involved with Salvador Dalí. The intensity of their relationship led Lorca to acknowledge, if not entirely accept, his own homosexuality. At Dalí’s urging, the poet began to experiment more boldly with avant-garde currents in the art world, notably surrealism, although he refused to align himself with any movement. In poems such as “Oda a Salvador Dalí” (1925–26; “Ode to Salvador Dalí”), Canciones (written 1924, published 1926; Songs), and a series of abstruse prose poems, Lorca sought to create a more objective poetry, devoid of private sentiment and the “planes of reality.” He joined his contemporaries in exalting Don Luis de Góngora, a 16th-century Spanish poet known for his dispassionate, densely metaphorical verse. Lorca and his fellow poets commemorated the tricentennial of Góngora’s death in 1927 and became known thereafter as the “Generation of 1927.” Lorca also sought to articulate in public lectures his own evolving aesthetic.

Meanwhile, Lorca continued to mine the popular Spanish tradition in his plays La zapatera prodigiosa (written 1924, premiered 1930; The Shoemaker’s Prodigious Wife), a classic farce, and El amor de don Perlimplín con Belisa en su jardín (written 1925, premiered 1933; The Love of Don Perlimplín with Belisa in Their Garden in Five Plays: Comedies and Tragi-Comedies, 1970), a “grotesque tragedy” partially drawn from an 18th-century Spanish comic strip. Both plays reveal themes common to Lorca’s work: the capriciousness of time, the destructive powers of love and death, the phantoms of identity, art, childhood, and sex.

In 1928, with Dalí’s encouragement, Lorca publicly exhibited his drawings. A gifted draughtsman blessed with a startling visual imagination, Lorca produced hundreds of sketches in his lifetime.


Romancero gitano
The publication in 1928 of Romancero gitano (written 1921–27; Gypsy Ballads), a poetry sequence inspired by the traditional Spanish romance, or ballad, catapulted Lorca into the national spotlight. A lyrical evocation of the sensual world of the Andalusian Gypsy, the collection enthralled Spanish readers, many of whom mistook Lorca for a Gypsy. The book’s first edition sold out within a year. Throughout the work’s 18 ballads, Lorca combines lyrical and narrative modes in fresh ways to form what he described as a tragic “poem of Andalusia.” Formally, the poems embrace the conventions of medieval Spanish balladry: a nonstanzaic construction, in medias res openings, and abrupt endings. But in their wit, objectivity, and metaphorical novelty, they are brazenly contemporary. One of the collection’s most famous poems, “Ballad of the Spanish Civil Guard,” reads, in part:

Los caballos negros son.
Las herraduras son negras.
Sobre las capas relucen
manchas de tinta y de cera.
Tienen, por eso no lloran,
de plomo las calaveras.
Con el alma de charol
vienen por la carretera.

Black are the horses,
the horseshoes are black.
Glistening on their capes
are stains of ink and of wax.
Their skulls—and this is why
they do not cry—are cast in lead.
They ride the roads
with souls of patent leather.

Lorca’s sudden fame destroyed his privacy. This, coupled with the demise of his friendship with Dalí, the collapse of another love affair, and a profound spiritual crisis, plunged Lorca into severe depression. He sought both release and newfound inspiration by visiting New York and Cuba in 1929–30.


Later poetry and plays
Lorca’s stay in the United States and Cuba yielded Poeta en Nueva York (published 1940; Poet in New York), a series of poems whose dense, at times hallucinatory images, free-verse lines, and thematic preoccupation with urban decay and social injustice mark an audacious departure from Lorca’s previous work. The collection is redolent of Charles Baudelaire, Edgar Allan Poe, T.S. Eliot, and Stephen Crane and pays homage to Walt Whitman:

… hermosura viril
que en montes de carbón, anuncios y ferrocarriles,
soñabas ser un río y dormir como un río
con aquel camarada que pondría en tu pecho
un pequeño dolor de ignorante leopardo.

… virile beauty,
who among mountains of coal, billboards, and railroads,
dreamed of becoming a river and sleeping like a river
with that comrade who would place in your breast
the small ache of an ignorant leopard.


In Cuba, Lorca wrote El público (“The Audience”), a complex, multifaceted play, expressionist in technique, that brashly explores the nature of homosexual passion. Lorca deemed the work, which remained unproduced until 1978, “a poem to be hissed.” On his return to Spain, he completed a second play aimed at rupturing the bounds of conventional dramaturgy, Así que pasen cinco años (1931; Once Five Years Pass), and he assumed the directorship of a traveling student theatre group, La Barraca (the name of makeshift wooden stalls housing puppet shows and popular fairs in Spain), sponsored by the country’s progressive new Republican government.

With the 1933 premiere of his first Andalusian tragedy, Blood Wedding, an expressionist work that recalls ancient Greek, Renaissance, and Baroque sources, Lorca achieved his first major theatrical success and helped inaugurate the most brilliant era of Spanish theatre since the Golden Age. In 1933–34 he went to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to oversee several productions of his plays and to give a lecture series. While there he befriended the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, with whom he collaborated on a tribute to Rubén Darío. Despite his new focus on theatre, Lorca continued to write poetry. With others in the Generation of 1927, he embraced a “rehumanization” of poetry, as opposed to the “dehumanization” José Ortega y Gasset had described in his 1925 essay “The Dehumanization of Art.” Eloquent evidence of Lorca’s return to the personal are Divan del Tamarit (written 1931–1934, published 1940; “The Divan at Tamarit”), a set of love poems inspired by Arabic verse forms; Seis poemas galegos (written 1932–1934, published 1935; “Six Galician Poems”); and Sonetos del amor oscuro (written 1935, published 1984; “Sonnets of Dark Love”), an 11-sonnet sequence recalling a failed love affair. The three collections underscore Lorca’s abiding insistence on the interdependence of love and death:

No hay nadie que, al dar un beso,
no sienta la sonrisa de la gente sin rostro,
ni hay nadie que, al tocar un recién nacido,
olvide las inmóviles calaveras de caballo.

There is no one who can kiss
without feeling the smile of those without faces;
there is no one who can touch
an infant and forget the immobile skulls of horses.


Divan del Tamarit also expresses Lorca’s lifelong interest in Arab-Andalusian (frequently referred to as “Moorish”) culture, which he viewed as central to his identity as an Andalusian poet. He regarded the Catholic reconquest of Granada in 1492 as a tragic loss. Divan del Tamarit responds to a widespread revival of interest in Arab-Andalusian culture, especially literature, in the 1930s.

In 1934 Lorca responded to the goring and death of a bullfighter friend with the majestic Lament for a Bullfighter, a work famous for its incantatory opening refrain, “A las cinco de la tarde” (“At five in the afternoon”). The four-part poem, his longest, confirms Lorca as the greatest of Spain’s elegiac poets.

A las cinco de la tarde.
Eran las cinco en punto de la tarde.
Un niño trajo la blanca sábana
a las cinco de la tarde.
Una espuerta de cal ya prevenida
a las cinco de la tarde.
Lo demás era muerte y sólo muerte
a las cinco de la tarde.

At five in the afternoon.
It was exactly five in the afternoon.
A boy brought the white sheet
at five in the afternoon.
A frail of lime ready preserved
at five in the afternoon.
The rest was death, and death alone
at five in the afternoon.

During the last two years of his life, Lorca premiered Yerma (1934), the second of his Andalusian tragedies, and completed a first draft of The House of Bernarda Alba, his third tragedy. Childhood events and personalities inform both Bernarda Alba and Doña Rosita la soltera (written 1934, premiered 1935; Doña Rosita the Spinster), the most Chekhovian of Lorca’s plays, as well as Don̄a Rosita’s intended sequel, the unfinished Los sueños de mi prima Aurelia (1936; “The Dreams of My Cousin Aurelia”). In 1935 Lorca undertook his most overtly political play, El sueño de la vida (“The Dream of Life”), a technically innovative work based on recent events in Spain.

Lorca was at work on Aurelia and Bernarda Alba in the summer of 1936 when the Spanish Civil War broke out. On August 16, he was arrested in Granada by Nationalist forces, who abhorred his homosexuality and his liberal views, and imprisoned without a trial. On the night of August 18 or 19 (the precise date has never been verified), he was driven to a remote hillside outside town and shot. In 1986 the Spanish government marked the 50th anniversary of Lorca’s death by erecting a monument on the site of his murder. The gesture bears witness to Lorca’s stature as the most important Spanish poet and playwright of the 20th century, a man whose work continues to influence writers and artists throughout the world and to speak to readers everywhere of all that is most central to the human condition.

Leslie Anne Stainton


Lorca and Dali

 

 

 




Poems



Translated by William Logan, Will Kirkland



 

 

 

Romance Sonámbulo

Green, how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship out on the sea
and the horse on the mountain.
With the shade around her waist
she dreams on her balcony,
green flesh, her hair green,
with eyes of cold silver.
Green, how I want you green.
Under the gypsy moon,
all things are watching her
and she cannot see them.
Green, how I want you green.
Big hoarfrost stars
come with the fish of shadow
that opens the road of dawn.
The fig tree rubs its wind
with the sandpaper of its branches,
and the forest, cunning cat,
bristles its brittle fibers.
But who will come? And from where?
She is still on her balcony
green flesh, her hair green,
dreaming in the bitter sea.
--My friend, I want to trade
my horse for her house,
my saddle for her mirror,
my knife for her blanket.
My friend, I come bleeding
from the gates of Cabra.
--If it were possible, my boy,
I'd help you fix that trade.
But now I am not I,
nor is my house now my house.
--My friend, I want to die
decently in my bed.
Of iron, if that's possible,
with blankets of fine chambray.
Don't you see the wound I have
from my chest up to my throat?
--Your white shirt has grown
thirsy dark brown roses.
Your blood oozes and flees a
round the corners of your sash.
But now I am not I,
nor is my house now my house.
--Let me climb up, at least,
up to the high balconies;
Let me climb up! Let me,
up to the green balconies.
Railings of the moon
through which the water rumbles.
Now the two friends climb up,
up to the high balconies.
Leaving a trail of blood.
Leaving a trail of teardrops.
Tin bell vines
were trembling on the roofs.
A thousand crystal tambourines
struck at the dawn light.
Green, how I want you green,
green wind, green branches.
The two friends climbed up.
The stiff wind left
in their mouths, a strange taste
of bile, of mint, and of basil
My friend, where is she--tell me--
where is your bitter girl?
How many times she waited for you!
How many times would she wait for you,
cool face, black hair,
on this green balcony!
Over the mouth of the cistern
the gypsy girl was swinging,
green flesh, her hair green,
with eyes of cold silver.
An icicle of moon
holds her up above the water.
The night became intimate
like a little plaza.
Drunken "Guardias Civiles"
were pounding on the door.
Green, how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship out on the sea.
And the horse on the mountain.


 

 

 

 

 

Landscape of a Vomiting Multitude


The fat lady came out first,
tearing out roots and moistening drumskins.
The fat lady
who turns dying octopuses inside out.
The fat lady, the moon's antagonist,
was running through the streets and deserted buildings
and leaving tiny skulls of pigeons in the corners
and stirring up the furies of the last centuries' feasts
and summoning the demon of bread through the sky's clean-swept hills
and filtering a longing for light into subterranean tunnels.
The graveyards, yes the graveyards
and the sorrow of the kitchens buried in sand,
the dead, pheasants and apples of another era,
pushing it into our throat.

There were murmuring from the jungle of vomit
with the empty women, with hot wax children,
with fermented trees and tireless waiters
who serve platters of salt beneath harps of saliva.
There's no other way, my son, vomit! There's no other way.
It's not the vomit of hussars on the breasts of their whores,
nor the vomit of cats that inadvertently swallowed frogs,
but the dead who scratch with clay hands
on flint gates where clouds and desserts decay.

The fat lady came first
with the crowds from the ships, taverns, and parks.
Vomit was delicately shaking its drums
among a few little girls of blood
who were begging the moon for protection.
Who could imagine my sadness?
The look on my face was mine, but now isn't me,
the naked look on my face, trembling for alcohol
and launching incredible ships
through the anemones of the piers.
I protect myself with this look
that flows from waves where no dawn would go,
I, poet without arms, lost
in the vomiting multitude,
with no effusive horse to shear
the thick moss from my temples.

The fat lady went first
and the crowds kept looking for pharmacies
where the bitter tropics could be found.
Only when a flag went up and the first dogs arrived
did the entire city rush to the railings of the boardwalk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gacela of the Dark Death


I want to sleep the dream of the apples,
to withdraw from the tumult of cemetries.
I want to sleep the dream of that child
who wanted to cut his heart on the high seas.

I don't want to hear again that the dead do not lose their blood,
that the putrid mouth goes on asking for water.
I don't want to learn of the tortures of the grass,
nor of the moon with a serpent's mouth
that labors before dawn.

I want to sleep awhile,
awhile, a minute, a century;
but all must know that I have not died;
that there is a stable of gold in my lips;
that I am the small friend of the West wing;
that I am the intense shadows of my tears.

Cover me at dawn with a veil,
because dawn will throw fistfuls of ants at me,
and wet with hard water my shoes
so that the pincers of the scorpion slide.

For I want to sleep the dream of the apples,
to learn a lament that will cleanse me to earth;
for I want to live with that dark child
who wanted to cut his heart on the high seas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gacela of the Dead Child


Each afternoon in Granada,
each afternoon, a child dies.
Each afternoon the water sits down
and chats with its companions.

The dead wear mossy wings.
The cloudy wind and the clear wind
are two pheasants in flight through the towers,
and the day is a wounded boy.

Not a flicker of lark was left in the air
when I met you in the caverns of wine.
Not the crumb of a cloud was left in the ground
when you were drowned in the river.

A giant of water fell down over the hills,
and the valley was tumbling with lilies and dogs.
In my hands' violet shadow, your body,
dead on the bank, was an angel of coldness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gacela of Unforseen Love


No one understood the perfume
of the dark magnolia of your womb.
Nobody knew that you tormented
a hummingbird of love between your teeth.

A thousand Persian little horses fell asleep
in the plaza with moon of your forehead,
while through four nights I embraced
your waist, enemy of the snow.

Between plaster and jasmins, your glance
was a pale branch of seeds.
I sought in my heart to give you
the ivory letters that say "siempre",

"siempre", "siempre" : garden of my agony,
your body elusive always,
that blood of your veins in my mouth,
your mouth already lightless for my death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serenata


The night soaks itself
along the shore of the river
and in Lolita's breasts
the branches die of love.

The branches die of love.

Naked the night sings
above the bridges of March.
Lolita bathes her body
with salt water and roses.

The branches die of love.

The night of anise and silver
shines over the rooftops.
Silver of streams and mirrors
Anise of your white thighs.

The branches die of love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.


 

 

 

 

 

Arbolé, Arbolé . . .

 

Tree, tree
dry and green.

The girl with the pretty face
is out picking olives.
The wind, playboy of towers,
grabs her around the waist.
Four riders passed by
on Andalusian ponies,
with blue and green jackets
and big, dark capes.
"Come to Cordoba, muchacha."
The girl won't listen to them.
Three young bullfighters passed,
slender in the waist,
with jackets the color of oranges
and swords of ancient silver.
"Come to Sevilla, muchacha."
The girl won't listen to them.
When the afternoon had turned
dark brown, with scattered light,
a young man passed by, wearing
roses and myrtle of the moon.
"Come to Granada, inuchacha."
And the girl won't listen to him.
The girl with the pretty face
keeps on picking olives
with the grey arm of the wind
wrapped around her waist.
Tree, tree
dry and green.


 

 

 

 

 

Little Viennese Waltz


In Vienna there are ten little girls,
a shoulder for death to cry on,
and a forest of dried pigeons.
There is a fragment of tomorrow
in the museum of winter frost.
There is a thousand-windowed dance hall.

Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Take this close-mouthed waltz.

Little waltz, little waltz, little waltz,
of itself of death, and of brandy
that dips its tail in the sea.

I love you, I love you, I love you,
with the armchair and the book of death,
down the melancholy hallway,
in the iris's darkened garret,

Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Take this broken-waisted waltz.

In Vienna there are four mirrors
in which your mouth and the ehcoes play.
There is a death for piano
that paints little boys blue.
There are beggars on the roof.
There are fresh garlands of tears.

Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Take this waltz that dies in my arms.

Because I love you, I love you, my love,
in the attic where the children play,
dreaming ancient lights of Hungary
through the noise, the balmy afternoon,
seeing sheep and irises of snow
through the dark silence of your forehead

Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Take this " I will always love you" waltz

In Vienna I will dance with you
in a costume with
a river's head.
See how the hyacinths line my banks!
I will leave my mouth between your legs,
my soul in a photographs and lilies,
and in the dark wake of your footsteps,
my love, my love, I will have to leave
violin and grave, the waltzing ribbons

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weeping


Weeping,
I go down the street
Grotesque, without solution
With the sadness of Cyrano
And Quixote.

Redeeming
Infinite impossiblities
With the rhythm of the clock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sonnet of the Sweet Complaint


Never let me lose the marvel
of your statue-like eyes, or the accent
the solitary rose of your breath
places on my cheek at night.

I am afraid of being, on this shore,
a branchless trunk, and what I most regret
is having no flower, pulp, or clay
for the worm of my despair.

If you are my hidden treasure,
if you are my cross, my dampened pain,
if I am a dog, and you alone my master,

never let me lose what I have gained,
and adorn the branches of your river
with leaves of my estranged Autumn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

City That Does Not Sleep


In the sky there is nobody asleep. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
The creatures of the moon sniff and prowl about their cabins.
The living iguanas will come and bite the men who do not dream,
and the man who rushes out with his spirit broken will meet on the
street corner
the unbelievable alligator quiet beneath the tender protest of the
stars.

Nobody is asleep on earth. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
In a graveyard far off there is a corpse
who has moaned for three years
because of a dry countryside on his knee;
and that boy they buried this morning cried so much
it was necessary to call out the dogs to keep him quiet.

Life is not a dream. Careful! Careful! Careful!
We fall down the stairs in order to eat the moist earth
or we climb to the knife edge of the snow with the voices of the dead
dahlias.
But forgetfulness does not exist, dreams do not exist;
flesh exists. Kisses tie our mouths
in a thicket of new veins,
and whoever his pain pains will feel that pain forever
and whoever is afraid of death will carry it on his shoulders.

One day
the horses will live in the saloons
and the enraged ants
will throw themselves on the yellow skies that take refuge in the
eyes of cows.

Another day
we will watch the preserved butterflies rise from the dead
and still walking through a country of gray sponges and silent boats
we will watch our ring flash and roses spring from our tongue.
Careful! Be careful! Be careful!
The men who still have marks of the claw and the thunderstorm,
and that boy who cries because he has never heard of the invention
of the bridge,
or that dead man who possesses now only his head and a shoe,
we must carry them to the wall where the iguanas and the snakes
are waiting,
where the bear's teeth are waiting,
where the mummified hand of the boy is waiting,
and the hair of the camel stands on end with a violent blue shudder.

Nobody is sleeping in the sky. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is sleeping.
If someone does close his eyes,
a whip, boys, a whip!
Let there be a landscape of open eyes
and bitter wounds on fire.
No one is sleeping in this world. No one, no one.
I have said it before.

No one is sleeping.
But if someone grows too much moss on his temples during the
night,
open the stage trapdoors so he can see in the moonlight
the lying goblets, and the poison, and the skull of the theaters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before the Dawn


But like love
the archers
are blind

Upon the green night,
the piercing saetas
leave traces of warm
lily.

The keel of the moon
breaks through purple clouds
and their quivers
fill with dew.

Ay, but like love
the archers
are blind!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ballad of the Moon

 

The moon came into the forge
in her bustle of flowering nard.
The little boy stares at her, stares.
The boy is staring hard.
In the shaken air
the moon moves her amrs,
and shows lubricious and pure,
her breasts of hard tin.
"Moon, moon, moon, run!
If the gypsies come,
they will use your heart
to make white necklaces and rings."
"Let me dance, my little one.
When the gypsies come,
they'll find you on the anvil
with your lively eyes closed tight.
"Moon, moon, moon, run!
I can feelheir horses come."
"Let me be, my little one,
don't step on me, all starched and white!"

Closer comes the the horseman,
drumming on the plain.
The boy is in the forge;
his eyes are closed.
Through the olive grove
come the gypsies, dream and bronze,
their heads held high,
their hooded eyes.

Oh, how the night owl calls,
calling, calling from its tree!
The moon is climbing through the sky
with the child by the hand.

They are crying in the forge,
all the gypsies, shouting, crying.
The air is veiwing all, views all.
The air is at the viewing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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