Loca for Lorca

No other poet’s work has moved me as much as Lorca’s. In fact, I am not into poetry at all. I only liked it as part of the curriculum, where you could write a million interpretations and get away with not having to mug anything up. But as to poetry in personal life, Lorca has been my only love.

I think his first work I read was the play La Casa de Bernarda Alba: a whirlwind account of the matriarch Bernarda and all the women in her family. In fact there is only one man in the play, Pepe; and even he doesn’t get to talk. The women talk about him. It’s not a poem but the words used just leave you in tears. For what, I don’t know. This may sound hopelessly romantic, but they stir something in you. In a way only beauty can do. And it’s the beauty of the words he uses. I know I sound so young, naive and romantic. But when it comes to Lorca, I am all that. And the same evocative style, the fury of silent, desperate emotions, like they HAVE to come out but their only outlet is words stays a constant. Be it in Bodas de Sangre, be it in El poeta en Nueva York or any other poem, the main sense you get throughout is of an unbeatable sensibility and sensitivity to the raw, bare emotions, without the fear of exposing them. It’s the ability to make every emotion: love, tenderness, desire, lust, longing, jealousy and misery almost palpable.

I categorically chose to visit Andalusia in southern Spain only because of Lorca. My friend took me to Viznar, the place where Lorca is reported to have been executed. It was Lorca’s death anniversary around the time I visited. And words can’t describe the affection Spanish gypsies have for the voice that always articulated their miseries in a way that justly romanticizes the gypsy way of life, without judgments. Viznar is a very little place, pretty much a pit in the middle of nowhere with pine trees around it. And amidst this nondescript place was hidden a makeshift shrine built to commemorate Lorca. There were letters, candles, little trinkets and I almost couldn’t help visualising the place where he was executed: Did they make him stand hugging a tree and fire from behind, did they not show even that much mercy and started firing as soon as he was taken to the isolated spot? Did Lorca die in pain or was he peaceful? The thought that Lorca could have been there with only fear and desperation as close companions sent chills down my spine. But what did make me feel better was the affection that stayed on.

Every place in Granada is replete with Lorcadom. El Albayzin, the famous historic locale of the gitanos still retains its old time charm and a walk along its winding, narrow, endless paths gives you enough opportunity to muse and imagine gitanos: straight out of Lorca’s writing. The park along the main road in Granada has a statue of Lorca sitting on bench. I HAD to have my picture taken sitting next to him…only possible because he is no more. Had I belonged to Lorca’s times, a nobody like me wouldn’t have dared come close, lest his language be tainted listening to me. Okay no, I exaggerate. I would probably have gone and hugged him.

I don’t know what’s gotten into me, but I have want to go back to the Uni and study Lorca again. May be it’s the nostalgia from my college days, the days when I chose Lorca’s poems for recital, or the days I kept saying how I couldn’t get over the powerful way in which Lorca weaved ordinary, mundance, colloquial words and made it into something out of this world.

Llanto por Ignacio Sanchez Mejias is one of my favourite works. I have attempted to translate it here.

Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejías*

The Absent Soul

The bull doesn’t recognise you any more, nor does the fig tree
neither do the horses, nor the ants in your house.
The child doesn’t recognise you, nor the dusk,
Because you are gone forever.

The edge of that stone doesn’t recognise you,
nor does the black silk in which you now lie destroyed
Even your silent memory doesn’t recognise you
Because you are gone forever.

The autumn will bring snails,
misty grapes and clustered hills,
But nobody would want to look into your eyes
Because you are gone forever.

Because you are gone forever
like the other dead of this earth
like all those dead who are forgotten
into a heal of lifeless dogs

Nobody recognises you. No. But I sing of you.
I sing of your profile and grace.
The remarkable depth of your knowledge.
Your desire for death and her mouth.
The sadness that underlined your brave happiness
It’ll be a long time, if at all, an Andaluz** like you is born,
So real and full of adventure.
I sing of your elegance with words that groan
and I remember a sad breeze flowing over the olive trees.


*A person from Andalusia
*Ignacio Sanchez Mejias was a famous bull fighter and and a friend of Lorca. Read about him here.

Note: This is a liberal translation.I tried doing it word by word but felt that it lost the emotion.

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