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Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this poem to editor@pnreview.co.uk

This poem is taken from PN Review 168, Volume 32 Number 4, March - April 2006.

Four Poems (translated by Michelle Cliff) Federico García Lorca and Alfonsina Storni


In 1933 Federico García Lorca travelled to 'Our America', his term for South America. In Buenos Aires he encountered the Argentinian poet Alfonsina Storni, whose poetic portrait is included here. On his voyage home Lorca wrote the 'Gacela of Dark Death'.


Anguish

This flawless October afternoon
I would like to walk the distant shore.

And the golden sands and green waters
And the undiluted skies would see me pass.

I would like to be tall, magnificent, perfect,
Like a woman of ancient Rome, in harmony

With the huge waves and the dead rocks
And the broad beaches that edge the sea.

With a deliberate gait, dull eyes, silent mouth
I would let myself be carried along:

To see blue waves break
Against tiny grains of sand, and not blink;

To see raptors devour
Little fish, and not sigh;

To think that small, flimsy boats
could disappear in the waters, and not awaken;

To see a beautiful man approach, a giant,
unattached: not to desire... not love...

To lose sight, absentmindedly,
To lose what would never return;

And, a figure upright between sky and sand,
To feel the incessant indifference of the sea.

Alfonsina Storni, 1925


Portrait of García Lorca

Searching for the roots of courage
the countenance
moves itself
right
and left.

And on the whirlwind
of the face
a curtain, beyond,
bulging, and narrow.

A pest
the howl from the nose
that enraged
intends to crush.

A Greek invading
through his eyes
far off.

A Greek: the gossip-mongers smother
the Andalusian hillsides
of his cheekbones
and the trembling valley
of his mouth.

Slashing
from north to south
from east to west.

The head, left to fly,
the lonely mind,
anguish of black ocean waves...

And the conch shells of satire
that fall off him
like bell flowers
in the face
of an ancient mask.

Deafening
the deep voice of wood
huddled in the nasal catacombs.

Not bound by her,
her sweet arms,
her earthen form.

Compelled only,
before flinging him
into space,
the rainbow of the eyebrows,
making a bridge
across Atlantic,
Pacific.

Where the eyes,
deviating vessels,
circle
without harbours,
without shores.

Alfonsina Storni, 1934


Casida of the Dark Doves

On the branches of a laurel tree
I saw two dark doves.
One was the sun.
The other the moon.
'Little neighbours,' I said to them:
'Where is my grave?'
'In my tail,' said the sun.
'In my throat,' said the moon.
And I who was walking
with the earth around my waist
saw two snow-white eagles
and a naked girl.
One was the other
and the girl was neither.
'Little eagles,' I said to them:
'Where is my grave?'
'In my tail,' said the sun.
'In my throat,' said the moon.
On the branches of a laurel tree
I saw two naked doves.
One was the other
and both were neither.

Federico García Lorca


Gacela of Dark Death

I want to sleep the dream of apples,
to remove myself from the tumult of cemeteries.
I want to sleep the dream of that child
who wished to cut his heart on the high seas.

Do not tell me again that the dead do not lose their blood;
that the rotting mouth continues to ask for water.
I do not want to be told what martyrdom grass offers,
nor the moon with the mouth of a snake
which labours before daybreak.

I want to sleep a little while,
a little while, a minute, a century;
but all must know I have not died;
that there is a stable of gold on my lips;
that I am the little friend of the West wind;
that I am the boundless shadow of my tears.

Cover me by dawn with a veil,
because fistfuls of ants will be hurled at me,
and hard water will wet my shoes
so that the pincer of the scorpion may slide.

Because I want to sleep the dream of apples
to learn a lament to cleanse me of earth;
because I want to live with that dark child
who wished to cut his heart on the high seas.

Federico García Lorca

This poem is taken from PN Review 168, Volume 32 Number 4, March - April 2006.



Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this poem to editor@pnreview.co.uk
Further Reading: - Federico García Lorca and Alfonsina Storni More Poems by... (1) Reviews of... (3)
Further Reading: - Federico García Lorca and Alfonsina Storni More Poems by... (1)
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