Federico García Lorca

Twenty-Six Early Poems

Aloes and Prickly Pears, Tarragona, Spain

‘Aloes and Prickly Pears, Tarragona, Spain’
Harry John Johnson, 1826–1884, British
Yale Center 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.


Contents


Weather Vane

(July 1920, Fuente Vaqueros, Granada)

Wind of the South.

Dark-haired, ardent,

you come over my flesh

bringing me seed

of brilliant

gazes, soaked

in orange blossom.

You make the moon red

and make a sobbing

in the captive poplars, but you come

too late!

I’ve rolled up the night of my story

on the shelf!

Without any wind,

Look out!

Spin, heart;

spin, heart.

Breeze of the North,

white bear of the wind!,

you come over my flesh

trembling with auroras

boreales,

with your cloak

of spectral captains

and screaming with laughter

at Dante.

O polisher of stars!

But you come

too late.

My chest is covered with moss

and I’ve lost the key.

Without any wind,

Look out!

Spin, heart;

spin, heart.

Gnomish airs, and winds

from nowhere.

Mosquitoes of the rose

with pyramidal petals,

Trade winds weaned

among the rough trees,

flutes in the tempest,

leave me be!

Strong chains hold

my memory,

and the bird is captive

whose warbling draws

the evening.

The things that are gone never return,

all the world knows that,

and among the clear crowd of the winds

it’s useless to complain.

Isn’t that so, poplar, master of the breeze?

It’s useless to complain!

Without any wind,

Look out!

Spin, heart;

spin, heart.


New Songs

The afternoon speaks: ‘I am thirsty for shadows!’

The moon speaks: ‘I thirst for stars.’

The crystalline fountain asks for lips

and the wind for sighs.

I am thirsty for perfumes and laughter.

I thirst for new songs

without moons or irises,

and without loves that have died.

A song of the morning that might tremble

the quiet still pools

of the future. And fill with hope

their waves and mud.

A song, luminous and restful,

full of pensiveness,

innocent of miseries and anguish,

innocent of dream.

A song without lyric substance that fills

the silence with laughter.

(A flock of blind doves

thrown into mystery.)

A song that might go to the soul of things

and to the soul of the winds

and that might rest at last in the joy

of the eternal heart.


The Footsteps of la Siguiriya

Through black butterflies

goes a girl with dark hair

joined to a white serpent

of mistiness.

Earth of light,

Sky of Earth.

She goes tied to the trembling

of a rhythm that never arrives:

she has a heart of silver

and a dagger in her hand.

‘Where do you go, Siguiriya

with a mindless rhythm?

What moon will gather up your

grief of lime and oleander?

Earth of light,

Sky of Earth.

Note: La Siguiriya, is a gipsy song, a basic form of canto jondo, the ‘deep song’ of Andalusia. Its emotionally intense lyrics do not depend on rationality and are usually in four verse lines with assonant rhyme, and syllables 6-6-11-6.


Cellar Song

From the cellar issue

great sobs.

(The purple

above the red.)

The gypsy evokes

distant countries.

(High towers and men

of mystery.)

On his faltering voice

his eyes travel.

(The black

above the red.)

And the whitewashed cellar

trembles in gold.

(The white

above the red.)


Juan Breva

(From: Flamenco Vignettes, for Manuel Torres)

Juan Breva had

the body of a giant

and the voice of a young girl.

Nothing was like his warbling.

It was itself

pain singing

behind a smile.

He evoked the lemons

of Málaga, the sleepy one,

and had in his weeping tones

the brine of the ocean.

Like Homer, he sang

blind. His voice held

something of sea with no light

and an orange squeezed dry.


Earth

We travel

over a mirror

without silver,

over a crystal

without cloud.

If the lilies were to grow

upside down,

is the roses were to grow

upside down,

if all the roots

were to face the stars

and the dead not shut

their eyes,

we would be like swans.


Berceuse for a Mirror sleeping

Sleep.

Do not fear the gaze

that wanders.

Sleep.

Not the butterfly

or the word

or the furtive ray

from the keyhole

will hurt you.

Sleep.

As my heart

so you,

mirror of mine.

Garden where love

awaits me.

Sleep without a care,

but wake

when the last one dies

the kiss on my lips.

Note: A berceuse is a French cradle-song.


Variation (From Remansos)

The remanso of air

under the branch of echo.

The remanso of water

under a frond of stars.

The remanso of your mouth

under a thicket of kisses.

Note: A remanso is a still pool in a running stream.


Running

That which travels

clouds itself.

The running water

can see no stars.

That which travels

forgets itself.

And that which halts itself

dreams.


Towards

Turn,

Heart!

Turn.

Through the woods of love

you will see no one.

You will pour out bright fountains.

In the green

you will find the immense rose

of Always.

And you will say: ‘Love! Love!

without your wound

being closed.

Turn,

Heart!

Turn.


River Bend

I want to return to childhood

and from childhood to the shadows.

Are you going, nightingale?

Go!

I want to return to the shadows,

and from the shadows to the flower.

Are you going, fragrance?

Go!

I want to return to the flower

and from the flower

to my heart.

Are you going, love?

Farewell!

(To my abandoned heart!)


Flash of Light

She passes by, my girl.

How prettily she goes by!

With her little dress

of muslin.

And a captive

butterfly.

Follow her, my boy, then

up every byway!

And if you see her weeping

or weighing things up, then

paint her heart over

with a bit of purple

and tell her not to weep if

she were left single.


Madrigals

I

Like concentric ripples

over the water,

so in my heart

your words.

Like a bird that strikes

against the wind,

so on my lips

your kisses.

Like exposed fountains

opposing the evening,

so my dark eyes

over your flesh.

II

I am caught

in your circles,

concentric.

Like Saturn

I wear

the rings

of my dream.

I am not ruined by setting

nor do I rise myself.


The Garden

Never born, never!

But could come into bud.

Every second it

is deepened and renewed.

Every second opens

new distinct pathways.

This way! That way!

Go my multiplying bodies.

Traversing the villages

or sleeping in the sea.

Everything is open! There are

locks for the keys.

But the sun and moon

lose us and mislead us.

And beneath our feet

the roadways are confused.

Here I’ll contemplate

all I could have been.

God or beggar,

water or ancient pearl.

My many pathways

lightly tinted

make a vast rose

round my body.

Like a map, but impossible,

the garden of the possible.

Every second it

is deepened and renewed.

Never born, never!

But could come into bud.


Print of the Garden II

The Moon widow

who could forget her?

Dreaming that Earth

might be crystal.

Furious and pallid

wishing the sea to sleep

combing her long hair

with cries of coral.

Her tresses of glass

who could forget them?

In her breast the hundred

lips of a fountain.

Spears of giant

surges guard her

by the still waves

of sea-flats.

But the Moon Moon

when will she return?

The curtain of wind

trembles without ceasing.

The Moon widow

who could forget her?

Dreaming that Earth

might be crystal.


Song of the Boy with Seven Hearts

Seven hearts

I hold.

But mine does not encounter them.

In the high mountains, mother,

the wind and I ran into each other.

Seven young girls with long fingers

carried me on their mirrors.

I have sung through the world

with my mouth of seven petals.

My galleys of amaranth

have gone without ropes or oars.

I have lived in the lands

of others, My secrets

round my throat,

without my realising it, were open!

In the high mountains, mother,

(my heart above the echoes

in the album of a star)

the wind and I ran into each other.

Seven hearts

I hold.

But mine does not encounter them.


The Dune

On the wide sand-dune

of ancient light

I found myself confused

without a sky or road.

The moribund North

had quenched its stars.

The shipwrecked skies

rippled slowly.

Through the sea of light

where do I go? Whom do I seek?

Here the reflection wails

of veiled moons.

Ay! Let my cool sliver

of solid timber

return me to my balcony

and my living birds!

The garden will follow

shifting its borders

on the rough back

of a grounded silence.


Schematic Nocturne

The fennel, a serpent, and rushes.

Aroma, a sign, and penumbra.

Air, earth, and solitariness.

(The ladder lifts up to the moon.)


Little Song of Seville

At the dawn of day

in the orange grove.

Little bees of gold

searching for honey.

Where is the honey

then?

It’s in the flower of blue,

Isabel.

In the flower

there, of rosemary.

(A little gold chair

for the Moor.

A tinsel chair

for his spouse.)

At the dawn of day

in the orange grove.


Adelina Walking By

The sea has no oranges,

Sevilla has no love.

Dark-haired girl, what fiery light.

Lend me your parasol.

It will give me green cheeks

- juice of lime and lemon -

Your words – little fishes –

will swim all around us.

The sea has no oranges.

Ay, love.

Sevilla has no love!


Lover

Lover,

little lover.

In your house they’re burning thyme.

Whether you’re going, whether you’re coming,

I will lock the door with a key.

With a key of pure silver.

Tied up with a ribbon.

On the ribbon there’s a message:

My heart is far away.

Don’t pace up and down my street.

All that’s allowed there is the wind!

Lover,

little lover.

In your house they’re burning thyme.


Venus

(So I saw you)

The young girl dead

in the seashell of the bed,

naked of flowers and breezes

rose in the light unending.

The world was left behind,

lily of cotton and shadows,

revealing in crystal panes

the infinite transit’s coming.

The young girl dead,

ploughed love inside.

Among the foaming sheets

her hair was wasted.


Two Moons of Evening

I

(For Laurita, friend of my sister)

The Moon is dying, dying:

but will be born again in the spring.

When on the brow of the poplars

is curled the wind from the south.

When our hearts have given

their harvest of sighing.

When the rooftops are wearing

their little sombreros of weeds.

The moon is dying, dying:

but will be reborn in the spring.

II

((For Isabelita, my sister)

The evening is chanting

a berceuse to the oranges.

My little sister’s chanting:

the Earth is an orange.

The moon weeping cries:

I want to be an orange.

You cannot be, my child,

even if you were reddened.

Not even if you turned lemon.

What a shame that is!

Note: A berceuse is a French cradle-song.


Lucía Martínez

Lucía Martínez.

Shadowy in red silk.

Your thighs, like the evening,

go from light to shadow.

The hidden veins of jet

darken your magnolias.

Here I am, Lucía Martínez.

I come to devour your mouth

and drag you off by the hair

into the dawn of conches.

Because I want to, because I can.

Shadowy in red silk.


Little Song of First Desire

In the green morning

I wanted to be a heart.

Heart.

And in the ripe evening

I wanted to be a nightingale.

Nightingale.

(Soul,

go the colour of oranges.

Soul

go the colour of love.)

In the living morning

I wanted to be me.

Heart.

And at evening’s fall

I wanted to be my voice.

Nightingale.

Soul

go the colour of oranges.

Soul,

go the colour of love!


Prelude

(From Amor: with wings and arrows)

The poplar groves are going,

but leave us their reflection.

The poplar groves are going,

but leave us the breeze.

The breeze is shrouded

full length below the heavens.

But it has left there, floating,

its echoes on the rivers.

The world of the glow-worms

has pierced my memories.

And the tiniest of hearts

buds from my fingertips.


Index of First Lines