Federico García Lorca

lorcaBiography:

(from www.poemhunter.com)

Spanish poet and dramatist, Lorca was a talented artist and a member of the ‘Generation of 1927’, a group of writers who advocated avant-gardism in literature.

García Lorca studied law at the University of Granada. At the same time he studied music collaborating in the 1920s with Manuel de Falla, becoming an expert pianist and guitar player. In Madrid he entered the Residence de Estudiantes, a modern college and the intellectual center of the town. During this period his friends included the writers Juan Ramón Jiménez. and Pablo Neruda. He also worked with Salvador Dali and Louis Bunuel in different productions. When the two made their notorious short film Un Chien Andalou (1928), García Lorca was offended, because he thought that the film was about him.

Through recitals of his poetry García Lorca became known even before the publication of his first collection. As a writer García Lorca made his debut with ‘Libro De Poemas’ (1921), a collection of fablelike poems. In 1923 García Lorca earned a degree in law, but the turning point in his literary career was folk music festival Fiesta de Cante Jondo in 1922, where he found inspiration for his work from the traditions of folk and gypsy music.

In 1927 García Lorca gained fame with his romantic historical play arina Pineda where the scenery was constructed by Salavador Dali and the distinguished actress Margarita Xirgu played the heroine. By 1928, with the publication of RIMER ROMANCERO GITANO he was the best-known of all Spanish poets, and leading member of the ‘Generation of 27’, which included Luis Cernuda, Jorge Guillen, Pedro Salinas, Rafael Alberti and others.

In 1929-30 García Lorca lived in the city of New York, on the campus of Columbia University. Unable to speak English he suffered a deep culture shock. His suicidal mood was recorded in posthumously published OETA EN NUEVA YORK(1940, Poet in New York), in which he praised Walt Whitman. The poet condemns the frightening, physically and spiritually corrupted city, and escapes to Havana to experience the harmony of a more primitive life.

After a short visit to Cuba, García Lorca was back in Spain by 1931, and continued with theatre productions. He became the head the traveling theatrical company, La Barraca, which brought classical plays and other dramas to the provinces. After the death of his friend, a bullfighter, García Lorca wrote ament for the Death of a Bullfighter(1935), which has been regarded by most critics as his greatest poem. The work is divided into four sections, whose individual motifs are weaved together. The figure of one man facing death in the bullring, exemplified by his friend Ignacio Sánchez Mejías, expressed the author’s tragic sense of death. Mejías himself had written a play and he was well-known in the literary circles.

García Lorca’s central themes in his works are love, pride, passion and violent death, which also marked his own life. The Spanish Civil War began in 1936 and García Lorca was seen by the right-wing forces as an enemy. The author hid from the soldiers but he was soon found, dragged from a friend’s house, and shot in Granada on August 19/20 of 1936 without trial by the Nationalists. The circumstances of his death are still shrouded in mystery. He was buried in a grave that he had been forced to dig for himself.

Some of his poems:

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.

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.

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