Federico García Lorca

Blood Wedding (Bodas de sangre): Act I

A tragedy in three acts and seven scenes - 1933

The Reconciliation of the Montagues and the Capulets

‘The Reconciliation of the Montagues and the Capulets’
Frederic Leighton, 1830–1896, British
The Yale Centre for British Art

Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2007 All Rights Reserved

This work may be freely reproduced, stored, and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose. Permission to perform this version of the play, on stage or film, by amateur or professional companies, and for commercial purposes, should be requested from the translator.


Contents


Cast List

Bridegroom

Mother of the Bridegroom

Neighbour

Mother-in-law of Leonardo

Wife of Leonardo

Leonardo

Young Girl

Maid to the Bride

Father of the Bride

Bride

Wedding Guests

Woodcutters

Moon

Death, as a Beggar-woman

Girls from the village

Women in mourning


Act I Scene 1

(A room painted yellow)

Bridegroom (entering) Mother.

Mother What?

Bridegroom I’m off.

Mother Where to?

Bridegroom To the vineyard (He makes as if to leave)

Mother Wait.

Bridegroom What is it?

Mother Your lunch, my son.

Bridegroom Never mind. I’ll eat grapes. Give me a knife.

Mother And why?

Bridegroom To cut them

Mother(muttering) Knives, knives…Curse them all, and the wretch who invented them…

Bridegroom Let’s change the subject.

Mother And shotguns, and pistols, and little razors, and even hoes and winnowing hooks.

Bridegroom Fine.

Mother Whatever can cut through a man’s body, a lovely man, in the flower of his life, who is off to the vines or the olives, because they are his, his family’s….

Bridegroom (Lowering his head) You’ve missed the point.

Mother …and he doesn’t return. Or if he does return it’s so we can lay a palm leaf or a big plate of salt on him so the body won’t swell. I don’t know how you can carry a knife about you, or why I have these serpent’s teeth in my kitchen.

Bridegroom Are you done yet?

Mother If I lived a hundred years I could speak of nothing else. First, your father, who brought me the scent of carnations, and enjoyed me three short years, and then, your brother…is it right, is it possible that so small a thing as a pistol or a knife can do for a man, a bull of a man? I’ll never be quiet. The months pass and pain still pricks my eyes, to the very roots of my hair.

Bridegroom Are we finished?

Mother No. We are not finished. Can anyone give me back your father or your brother? And they talk about prison. What is prison? They still eat there, they smoke; they play their instruments! My dead push up the grass, silently turning to dust; two who were like flowers….the killers, in prison, coolly gazing at the mountains…

Bridegroom Do you want me to kill them?

Mother No…if you want to know, it’s this…How can I not speak when you go through that door? It’s this…I don’t like you carrying a knife. It’s this…I wish you wouldn’t go to the fields.

Bridegroom (Laughing) Come now!

Mother I wish you were a woman. You’d not go to the river now, and we would sit and sew.

Bridegroom (Taking his mother’s arm and laughing) Mother, what if I took you with me to the vineyard?

Mother What use is an old woman in a vineyard? Are you going to lay me down under the vines?

Bridegroom (Taking her in his arms) Old, so old, so very old.

Mother Your father would take me along. He was of the true race. Good blood. Your grandfather left offspring everywhere. That’s what I love. Man, man, harvest, harvest.

Bridegroom And I, mother?

Mother You, what?

Bridegroom Must I say it again?

Mother (Seriously) Ah!

Bridegroom You think it’s wrong?

Mother No

Bridegroom Then…?

Mother I just don’t know. Suddenly, like this, it always takes me by surprise. I know she’s a good girl. It’s true isn’t it? Well-behaved. Hard-working. She bakes her own bread, and sews her own skirts, yet I feel, when she’s named, as if I’d been struck on the forehead with a stone.

Bridegroom That’s foolish.

Mother More than foolish. I’ll be left alone. I only have you left, and I’m sad you are leaving.

Bridegroom But you’ll come with us.

Mother No. I can’t leave your father and brother here alone…I must go and see them every morning, and if I went away, likely one of the Felix’s would die, one of that family of killers, and they’d bury him beside them. And it must not be! That! It must not be! Because I’d dig them up with my nails and shatter them against the wall myself.

Bridegroom (Emphatically) Talk about something else.

Mother Forgive me. (Pause) How long have you known her?

Bridegroom Three years. I can buy the vineyard now.

Mother Three years. She had a fiancé, no?

Bridegroom I don’t know. I think not. A girl needs to take a good look at the man she marries.

Mother Yes? I looked at no one. I looked at your father, and when they killed him I looked at the wall in front of me. One woman for one man, and that’s it!

Bridegroom You know my girl is good.

Mother No doubt. But I don’t think I know who her mother was.

Bridegroom What does that matter?

Mother (Gazing at him) Son.

Bridegroom What do you want?

Mother It’s true! You’re right! When do you want me to ask them for her?

Bridegroom (Happily) Is Sunday fine?

Mother (Gravely) I’ll take her the studded earrings, they’re heirlooms, and you can buy for her…

Bridegroom You know best…

Mother Buy her some embroidered silk stockings, and for yourself two suits…Three! You’re all I have!

Bridegroom I’m off. Tomorrow I’ll go see her.

Mother Yes, yes; and then make me happy with six grandchildren, at the very least, now that your father’s no longer here...

Bridegroom The first one is for you.

Mother Yes, but have girls. So we can embroider and sew and be tranquil.

Bridegroom I’m sure you’ll grow to like my bride.

Mother I’ll like her. (She goes to kiss him and draws back) Go, you’re too big for kisses. Give them to your wife. (Pause.) Once she is yours.

Bridegroom I’m going.

Mother Dig over the field near the mill, you’ve been neglecting.

Bridegroom It’s done!

Mother Go with God. (The Bridegroom leaves. The mother remains seated her back to the door. A Neighbour dressed in dark clothes, wearing a headscarf, appears in the doorway.) Enter.

Neighbour How are you?

Mother As you see.

Neighbour I was down at the shop and came to see you. We live so far apart….!

Mother It’s twenty years since I’ve been to the top of the street.

Neighbour You’re right.

Mother You think so.

Neighbour Things happen. Two days ago they brought my neighbour’s son home with both his arms mangled by the harvester. (She sits.)

Mother Rafael?

Neighbour Yes. And what will he do now? I often think your boy and my boy are better where they are, asleep, and at rest, and not exposed to being made useless.

Mother Hush. All that’s just talk…there’s no consolation.

Neighbour Ay!

Mother Ay! (Pause)

Neighbour (Sadly). And your son?

Mother He just went out.

Neighbour At last he’ll buy the vineyard!

Mother He had luck.

Neighbour Now he’ll marry.

Mother (As though waking up and moving her chair closer to her neighbour’s.) Listen.

Neighbour (Confidingly.) Tell me.

Mother Do you know my son’s fiancée?

Neighbour A good girl!

Mother Yes, but…

Neighbour But you can’t say anyone knows her well. She lives with her father, way off, miles from the nearest house. But she’s a good girl.Accustomed to solitude.

Mother And her mother?

Neighbour Oh I knew her. Beautiful. Her face shone like a saint’s; but she was not to my liking. She didn’t love her husband.

Mother (Loudly) Ah, the things people know!

Neighbour Pardon me. I mean no offence; but it’s true. Now, there was no talk of whether she was a decent woman or not. There was nothing of that. She was proud.

Mother Always the same!

Neighbour Well, you asked me.

Mother I wish no one knew anything about them, the living one or the dead one. That they were like two thistles, no one noticed, that pricked if anything came near.

Neighbour You’re right. Your son is a catch.

Mother He is. Worth taking care of. I heard that the girl had a fiancé a while back.

Neighbour She was about fifteen. He was married two years ago, to a cousin of hers in fact. Nobody remembers the betrothal.

Mother How come you remember, then?

Neighbour You asked me…!

Mother Everyone wants to know about what affects them. Who was the boy?

Neighbour Leonardo.

Mother Which Leonardo?

Neighbour Leonardo…of the Felix family.

Mother (Rising.) A Felix!

Neighbour Woman, what do you hold Leonardo guilty of? He was barely eight at the time of the troubles.

Mother It’s true…But I hear the name Felix (angrily) and that same Felix fills my mouth with mud (she spits), and I have to spit it out, spit it out, or kill them all.

Neighbour Be calm. What good does that do?

Mother Nothing. But…you understand.

Neighbour Don’t stand in the way of your son’s happiness. Say nothing to him. You are old. I, too. You and I must be silent.

Mother I’m to say nothing.

Neighbour (Kissing her) Nothing.

Mother (Calmly) Things…!

Neighbour I’m off: soon my men will be back from the fields.

Mother See what a hot day it is.

Neighbour The lads carrying water to the reapers are burnt black with it. Farewell, my dear.

Farewell. (She walks towards stage left. Halfway across she stops and slowly blesses herself. )

Curtain


Act I Scene 2

(A room painted pink, full of copperware and flowers. In the centre a covered table. It is morning. Leonardo’s mother-in-law is cradling a child. His wife, opposite her, is sewing.)

Mother-in-law A singing, child, a singing

about the great stallion,

who wouldn’t drink the water,

the water in its blackness,

in among the branches.

Where it finds the bridge,

it hangs there, singing.

Who knows what water is,

my child,

its tail waving,

through the dark green chambers?

Wife(Softly) Sleep, my flower,

the stallion won’t drink.

Mother-in-law Sleep, my rose,

the stallion is crying.

His legs are wounded,

his mane is frozen,

in his eyes,

there’s a blade of silver.

They went to the river.

Ay, how they went!

Blood running,

quicker than water.

Wife Sleep, my flower,

the stallion won’t drink.

Mother-in-law Sleep, my rose,

the stallion is crying.

Wife It would not touch

the wet shore,

his burning muzzle,

silvered with flies.

He would only neigh,

to the harsh mountains,

a weight of river, dead,

against his throat.

Ay, proud stallion

that would not drink the water!

Ay, pain of snowfall,

stallion of daybreak!

Mother-in-law Do not come here! Wait,

close the window,

with branches of dream,

and dreams of branches.

Wife My child is sleeping.

Mother-in-law My child is silent.

Wife Stallion, my child

has a soft pillow.

Mother-in-law Steel for his cradle.

Wife Lace for his covers.

Mother-in-law A singing, child, a singing.

Wife Ay, proud stallion

that wouldn’t drink the water!

Mother-in-law Don’t come here! Don’t enter!

Go up to the mountain

through the sombre valley,

to where the wild mare is.

Wife(Gazing) My child is sleeping.

Mother-in-law My child is resting.

Wife(Softly) Sleep, my flower,

the stallion won’t drink.

Mother-in-law (Rising, and very softly)

Sleep, my rose,

the stallion is crying.

(They take the child into another room. Leonardo enters.)

Leonardo And the child?

Wife Asleep.

Leonardo He has not been well. He cried all night.

Wife(Cheerfully) He’s as fresh as a rose today. And you? Did you go to the blacksmith’s?

Leonardo I’ve just come from there. I’ve been re-shoeing that horse for more than two months, and he’s always casting one. They must catch on the stones.

Wife Could it be you ride him too hard?

Leonardo No. I barely ride him.

Wife Yesterday the neighbours said you were seen at the edge of the plain.

Leonardo Who said that?

Wife The women picking capers. It really surprised me. Was it you?

Leonardo No. What would I be doing in that wasteland?

Wife That’s what I said. But the horse was soaked in sweat.

Leonardo You saw him?

Wife No. My mother did.

Leonardo Is she with the child?

Wife Yes. Would you like a drink of lemonade?

Leonardo With ice-cold water.

Wife You weren’t home for lunch...!

Leonardo I was at the corn-factor’s, weighing the wheat. There’s always a delay.

Wife (Preparing the drink, attentively) And the price was good?

Leonardo It was fair.

Wife I could do with a new dress; and the baby a cap with ribbons.

Leonardo (Rising) I’ll go and look at him.

WifeBe careful, he’s asleep.

Mother-in-law (Entering) So who’s been racing that horse? It’s down there, lathered, its eyes rolling in its head, as if it’s come from the ends of the earth.

Leonardo (Sourly) Me.

Mother-in-law He’s yours; forgive me.

Wife(Timidly) He was having the wheat weighed.

Mother-in-law He can go back there, as far as I’m concerned. (She sits.)

(Pause)

Wife Your drink. Is it cold enough?

Leonardo Yes.

Wife Have you heard my cousin’s getting engaged?

Leonardo When?

Wife Tomorrow. The marriage will be in a month. I hope they’ll invite us.

Leonardo (Gravely) I’m not sure.

Mother-in-law I don’t think the mother’s too satisfied with the marriage.

Leonardo And perhaps she’s right. The girl’s a worry.

Wife I don’t like you both thinking ill of a good girl.

Mother-in-law But when he says so it’s because he knows her. Wasn’t she your girlfriend for three years or so? (Pointedly)

Leonardo But I finished with her. (To his wife.) Are you going to cry now? Stop that! (He pulls her hands from her face brusquely.) Let’s go and see the child. (They go out arm in arm.)

(A happy young girl appears. She enters running.)

Girl Señora.

Mother-in-law What is it?

Girl The bridegroom’s down at the shops, and he’s buying the best of all they have.

Mother-in-law He’s alone?

Girl No, with his mother. Very grave, very tall. (She imitates her.) But, what luxury!

Girl They’ve plenty of money.

Girl And they bought silk stockings! ...Ay, what stockings! Stockings girls dream about! You can see: a swallow here (Showing her ankle), a boat here (Pointing to her calf) and here, a rose. (Pointing to her thigh).

Mother-in-law Child!

Girl A rose with its pollen and stem! Ay! All in silk!

Mother-in-law They’ll unite two fine fortunes.

(Leonardo and his wife return.)

Girl I came to tell you what they’ve been buying.

Leonardo (Sharply) It doesn’t matter to us.

Wife Leave her alone.

Mother-in-law Leonardo, she didn’t deserve that.

Girl I’m sorry. (She exits, crying.)

Mother-in-law Why do you have to be so unpleasant to people?

Leonardo I didn’t ask for your opinion. (He sits down.)

Mother-in-law That’s fine.

(Pause)

Wife(To Leonardo) What’s wrong? What ideas are milling around inside that head of yours? Don’t push me off, so, knowing nothing…

Leonardo Leave me alone.

Wife No. I want you to look at me and tell me.

Leonardo I’m off. (He rises.)

Wife Where are you going?

Leonardo (Bitterly) Can’t you be quiet?

Mother-in-law (Energetically, to her daughter) Hush! (Leonardo exits) The child! (She goes out and returns with him in her arms. The wife remains standing…motionless.)

Mother-in-law His legs are wounded,

his mane is frozen,

in his eyes,

there’s a blade of silver.

They went to the river.

Ay, how they went!

Blood running,

quicker than water.

Wife (Turning about slowly as if dreaming.)

Sleep, my flower,

the stallion’s not drinking.

Mother-in-law Sleep, my rose,

the stallion is crying.

Wife A singing, child, a singing.

Mother-in-law Ay! The great stallion,

who wouldn’t drink the water!

Wife (Dramatically)

Don’t come here! Don’t enter!

Go up to the mountain!

Ay, pain of snowfall

stallion of daybreak!

Mother-in-law (Weeping)

My child is sleeping…

Wife (Weeping, and slowly drawing closer.)

My child is resting…

Mother-in-law Sleep, my flower,

the stallion won’t drink.

Wife(Weeping and leaning over the table.)

Sleep, my rose,

the stallion is crying.

Curtain


Act I Scene 3

(Interior of the cave-house where the Bride lives. At the back, a cross of large pink flowers. The doors, curved archways, with lace hangings with pink ties. For the walls, a hard white material, curved fans, blue vases and small mirrors.)

Maid Enter… (Very affable, full of hypocritical humility. The Bridegroom and his Mother enter. The Mother is wearing plain black, with a lace mantilla. The Bridegroom wears black corduroy with a large gold chain.)

Would you like to sit? They’ll be here in a moment. (She goes out. The mother and son remain seated, motionless as statues. A long pause.)

Mother Did you bring your watch?

Bridegroom Yes. (He takes it out and gazes at it.)

Mother We must leave in good time. What a distance these people live!

Bridegroom But their land is good.

Mother Good; but too remote. A four hour journey, and not a house or a tree.

Bridegroom These are the dry plains.

Mother Your father would have covered it with trees.

Bridegroom Without water?

Mother He’d have found some. The three years he was married to me, he planted ten cherry-trees. (Recalling.) The three walnut-trees by the mill, a whole vineyard, and an orpine, the one they call the Jupiter plant that has purple leaves, which dried up. (Pause)

Bridegroom (Referring to the Bride.) She must be getting ready.

(The Bride’s father enters. He is an old man, with gleaming white hair. His head is slightly bowed. The Mother and the Bridegroom stand and shake hands with him silently.)

Father A long journey?

Mother Four hours. (They all sit.)

Father You must have come the long way round.

Mother I’m too old now to come through the fields by the river.

Bridegroom It makes her ill. (Pause)

Father A fine crop of grass this year.

Bridegroom Fine indeed.

Father In my day, this land wouldn’t yield grass. We had to labour over it and shed tears to get anything from it.

Mother It does now. But don’t worry. I’ve not come to ask for anything.

Father (Smiling.) You’re richer than I. Vineyards are worth a fortune. Each plant is like a silver coin. What I feel is that our fields….you understand….are too far apart. I like everything joined together. There’s a thorn in my heart, a little plot that’s a reproach in the middle of my fields, one that they won’t sell me for all the gold in the world.

Bridegroom That’s always the way.

Father If we could harness twenty pair of oxen to drag your vineyards over here and lay them on a slope. What happiness…!

Mother Why is that?

Father What’s mine is hers, and what’s yours is his. That’s why. To see it all joined together! Because to join things is beautiful!

Bridegroom It would be less work.

Mother When I’m dead, you can sell, and buy over here.

Father Sell! Sell! Bah! Buy, buy everything. If I’d had sons, I’d have bought everything from the mountains to the river. Because it’s not such good land, but strong arms could make it good, and nobody comes by to steal your crops, and you can sleep peacefully. (Pause.)

Mother You know why I’ve come.

Father Yes.

Mother Well?

Father It seems fine to me. They’ve talked it over.

Mother My son is fit and able.

Father My daughter the same.

Mother My son is handsome. He has never known a woman. His honour is brighter than a white sheet in the sun.

Father What can I say of my girl? She’s up at three with the morning star to make breakfast. Never speaks out; is as soft and gentle as wool; she embroiders all sorts of embroidery, and can cut a rope with her teeth.

Mother God bless their house.

Father May God bless it.

(The Maid appears with two trays. One carrying glasses, the other sweetmeats.)

Mother (To the son) When do you want the wedding to be?

Bridegroom Next Thursday.

Father The day when she’ll be just twenty-two.

Mother Twenty-two! That would have been my eldest son’s age if he’d lived. He’d be alive, warm and vibrant as he was, if men had not invented knives.

Father You shouldn’t dwell on it.

Mother Every minute. Hand on heart.

Father Thursday then. Is that right?

Bridegroom That’s right.

Father We and the children will go to the church by car, as it’s a fair distance, and the rest by carts and on horseback.

Mother Agreed.

(The Maid crosses the room.)

Father Tell her she can come in now. (To the Mother) I’m sure you’ll like her.

(The Bride appears. Her hands are folded modestly and her head is bowed.)

Mother Come to me. Are you happy?

Bride Yes, señora.

Father You shouldn’t look so serious. After all in the end she will be a mother to you.

Bride I am happy. Why I said so, is because I want to be married.

MotherNaturally. (Taking her by the chin.) Look at me.

Father She’s the image of my wife.

Mother Yes? What lovely eyes! Do you know what marriage is, little one?

Bride (Serious) I know.

Mother It’s a man, and children, and a two foot thick wall against all the rest.

Bridegroom Is anything more required?

Mother No. How happy you’ll be! How happy!

Bride I know my duty.

Mother Here are some presents.

Bride Thank you.

Father You’ll take something?

Mother Not for me. (To the son.) And you?

Bridegroom I will. (He eats a sweetmeat. The Bride also eats.)

Father (To the Bridegroom.) A glass of wine?

Mother He never touches it.

Father All the better!

(Pause. They are all standing.)

Bridegroom (To the Bride) I’ll come tomorrow.

Bride At what time?

Bridegroom At five.

Bride I’ll be waiting for you.

Bridegroom When I have to leave you I feel a great chill and a sort of knot in my throat.

Bride When you’re my husband you won’t feel so.

Bridegroom That’s so.

Mother We must go. The sun won’t wait. (To the Father) All agreed?

Father Agreed.

Mother(To the Maid) Farewell.

Maid God go with you.

(The Mother kisses the Bride, and they prepare to leave in silence.)

Mother(In the doorway) Goodbye, daughter. (The Bride answers with a wave of her hand.)

Father I’ll see you out. (They leave.)

Maid I’m longing to see the presents.

Bride (Sharply) Leave them be.

Maid Ay, child, show me!

Bride I don’t wish to.

Maid The stockings, at least. They say they’re embroidered silk, woman!

Bride I said no!

Maid For heaven’s sake. Oh, well. It seems you don’t want marriage gifts.

Bride (Biting her hand, in pain.) Ay!

Maid Child, what’s wrong? Do you think your reign is over? Don’t think sour thoughts. Where’s the need? None at all. Let’s see the presents. (She shakes the box.)

Bride (Catching at her wrists.) Leave them alone.

Maid Ay, woman!

Bride Leave them, I said.

Maid You’re stronger than a man.

Bride Haven’t I done a man’s work? If only I were one!

Maid Don’t talk like this.

Bride Hush. We’ll speak of something else.

(The light fades from the scene. A long pause.)

Maid Did you hear a horse in the night?

Bride What time?

Maid At three.

Bride It must have been a horse that strayed from the herd.

Maid No. It carried a rider.

Bride How do you know?

Maid Because I saw him. He stopped by your window. I was startled.

Bride Was it my fiancé? He passes by at that hour sometimes.

Maid No.

Bride You saw him?

Maid Yes.

Bride Who was it?

Maid It was Leonardo.

Bride (Sharply) Liar! Liar! Liar! What would he come here for?

Maid Wine.

Bride Silence! Damn your tongue! (The sound of a horse is heard.)

Maid (At the window.) Look, Lean out. Was that him?

Bride It was!

The Curtain falls quickly.