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Home > Blog > January 2007 > Poet of the Week--Federico García Lorca

Federico García Lorca was one of Spain's most prolific and important writers. The poet and playwright was born June 5, 1899, and published his first book, Impresiones y Viajes, at the age of 20. In the early 1920s, García Lorca aligned himself with a group of artists working in Madrid known as "Generación del 27" (Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel were also members), which was dedicated to the practice of surrealism. In 1929, García Lorca moved to to New York and developed a love for Harlem. He wrote Poeta en Nueva York while there. He moved back to Spain a year later after the proclamation of the Spanish republic. García Lorca's tragedies, Bodas de sangre (1933), Yerma (1934), and La Casa de Bernarda Alba (1936) were performed in central Madrid. When the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, García Lorca was arrested by Franquist soldiers and assassinated. His books were burned and banned, and even today, no one knows where he is buried.

Gacela of the Dark Death (translated by Robert Bly)

I want to sleep the sleep of the apples,

I want to get far away from the busyness of the cemeteries.

I want to sleep the sleep of that child

who longed to cut his heart open far out at sea.

I don't want them to tell me again how the corpse keeps all its blood,

how the decaying mouth goes on begging for water.

I'd rather not hear about the torture sessions the grass arranges for

nor about how the moon does all its work before dawn

with its snakelike nose.

I want to sleep for half a second,

a second, a minute, a century,

but I want everyone to know that I am still alive,

that I have a golden manger inside my lips,

that I am the little friend of the west wind,

that I am the elephantine shadow of my own tears.

When it's dawn just throw some sort of cloth over me

because I know dawn will toss fistfuls of ants at me,

and pour a little hard water over my shoes

so that the scorpion claws of the dawn will slip off.

Because I want to sleep the sleep of the apples,

and learn a mournful song that will clean all earth away from me,

because I want to live with that shadowy child

who longed to cut his heart open far out at sea.

Tags: Poetry

Federico García Lorca
Federico García Lorca
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