Federico García Lorca

Blood Wedding (Bodas de sangre): Act III

A tragedy in three acts and seven scenes - 1933

Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright, All Rights Reserved. Made available as an individual, open-access work in the United Kingdom, 2007, via the Poetry in Translation website. Published as part of the collection ‘Four Final Plays’, ISBN-10: 1986116565, March 2018. Made available as an individual, open-access work in the United Kingdom, 2007, via the Poetry in Translation website. Published as part of the collection ‘Four Final Plays’, ISBN-10: 1986116565, March 2018.

This work may be freely reproduced, stored and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose. Conditions and Exceptions apply. 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.

Please note that Federico García Lorca's original, Spanish works may not be in the public domain in all jurisdictions, notably the United States of America. Where the original works are not in the public domain, permissions should be sought from the representatives of the Lorca estate, Casanovas & Lynch Agencia Literaria.



Act III Scene 1

(Woodland. It is night. Large moist trees. A gloomy atmosphere. Two violins are heard. Three woodcutters appear.)

First woodcutter Have they found them?

Second woodcutter No. But they’re searching everywhere.

Third woodcutter They’ll find them.

Second woodcutter Sssh!

Third woodcutter What?

Second woodcutter They’re closing in from all directions.

First woodcutter When the moon rises they’ll see them.

Second woodcutter They ought to let them go.

First woodcutter The world is large. There’s room for all.

Third woodcutter But they’ll kill them.

Second woodcutter They followed their inclination: they were right to flee.

First woodcutter They tried to deceive themselves, but in the end blood proved stronger.

Third woodcutter Blood!

First woodcutter They followed the urge of their blood.

Second woodcutter But blood that sees the light the earth soon drinks.

First woodcutter So? Better to die of loss of blood than live with poison in your veins.

Third woodcutter Hush!

First woodcutter Why? What do you hear?

Third woodcutter Cicadas, frogs, and the night lying in wait.

First woodcutter There’s still no sound of a horse.

Third woodcutter No.

First woodcutter Then he’s making love to her.

Second woodcutter Her body is his, and his is hers.

Third woodcutter They’ll hunt them down and kill them.

First woodcutter But their blood will have mingled, and they’ll be like two empty vessels, two dry streams.

Second woodcutter There’s heavy cloud, perhaps the moon will be hidden.

Third woodcutter The bridegroom will find them, moon or no moon. I saw him leave. Like a raging meteor. His face ashen. Revealing the family destiny.

First woodcutter A family that dies in the street.

Second woodcutter That’s it!

Third woodcutter Do you think they’ll break through the circle?

Second woodcutter Tricky. There are knives and guns in a three mile circuit.

Third woodcutter He rides a fine horse.

Second woodcutter But with a woman.

First woodcutter Here is the tree.

Second woodcutter Forty foot high. We’ll soon have it down.

Third woodcutter The moon’s coming out. We’ll have to hurry.

(A brilliant light shines out from stage left)

First woodcutter Ay, the moon rises

moon of the sharp knives.

Second woodcutter Full of blood-wet jasmine!

First woodcutter Ay, moon alone!

Moon of the green blades!

Second woodcutter Silvering the bride’s face.

Third woodcutter

Ay, ill moon!

Leave the dark branch to love.

First woodcutter

Ay, sad moon!

Leave the dark branch to love.

(They exit. From the light stage-left the Moon appears. The Moon is a young woodcutter, with a white face. The scene acquires a bright blue glow.)


White swan in the river,

the eye of cathedrals,

false dawn in the leaves,

am I. They cannot hide!

Who can escape? Who sobs

in the valley’s tangle?

The moon leaves a knife

behind in the air,

a lead-coloured trap

that seeks blood’s cry.

Let me in! I come frozen

through walls and windows!

Open roofs and breasts

where I can be warmed!

I’m chilled! My ashes

of somnolent metals

seek the crown of the fire

among streets and mountains.

But I bring the snow

to their shoulders of jasper,

and I flood, cold and harsh,

the depths of the lakes.

But this night my cheeks

will be stained with red blood,

and the reeds clustered

in wide swathes of air.

I have no shadow,

nowhere they can hide!

Let me enter a breast

where I can be warmed!

A heart of my own!

Burning! Spilling itself

on the hills of my breast;

Let me come in! Oh, let me! (To the branches)

No shadow. My rays

must shine everywhere,

and in dark of the trees

spread a rumour of dawn,

so my cheeks this night

will be stained with red blood,

and the reeds clustered

in wide swathes of air.

Who’s that hiding! Speak out!

No! There’s no escape!

I’ll make the horse gleam

with a fever of diamond.

(The Moon vanishes among the trees and leaves the scene to its gloom. An old woman appears dressed in dark-green rags. She is bare-footed. Her face is hidden in the folds of her cloak. This character does not appear in the cast list.)


The moon is gone, and they are near by.

They’ll not leave here. The sound of the river

will drown in the sound of the trees

the broken flight of their cries.

It must be here, and soon. I am weary.

The chests, and the white sheets ache

await on the empty bedroom floors

the heavy corpses with slashed throats.

Not a bird will stir and the breeze,

will sweep the sound of their cries

away with her through the black trees,

or bury them deep in gleaming mud.

The moon! The moon! (Impatiently)

The moon! The moon!

(The Moon emerges. The intense light returns.)

Moon They’re nearer now.

Some by the hill, the rest by the river.

I’ll light their way. What do you need?

Beggarwoman Nothing.

Moon The air is hardening, and double-edged.

Beggarwoman Light their waistcoats, pluck off the buttons,

so that later the knives will know the road.

Moon But let them die slowly. Let the blood seep

slow through my fingers, a delicate whisper.

Already my ashen valleys are stirring

they yearn for that fount, its quivering flow!

Beggarwoman We won’t let them pass the stream! Now, silence!

Moon They’re here!

(The Moon vanishes. Leaving the scene in darkness.)

Beggarwoman Swiftly! Light! Did you hear me? They must not escape!

(The Bridegroom and a boy appear. The Beggar-woman sits, and covers herself with her cloak.)

Bridegroom Through here.

First boy You’ll never find them.

Bridegroom (Energetically) When I do find them!

First boy I think they’ve gone another way.

Bridegroom No. I heard a horse galloping not long ago.

Boy It may be another horse.

Bridegroom (Dramatically) Listen. There’s only one horse for me in all the world, and it’s that one. Do you understand? If you’re going to follow me, follow in silence.

First boy I only meant…

Bridegroom Hush. I’m sure I’ll find them here. See this arm? Well it’s not mine. It’s the arm of my brother, of my father, of all my family’s dead. And it holds such power I could tear up this tree by its roots, if I wished. Now let’s go on, because I feel their anger here in a manner that makes it impossible for me to breathe easily.

Beggarwoman (Moaning) Ay!

First boy Did you hear that?

Bridegroom Go through there, then work your way back.

First boy It’s like a hunt.

Bridegroom It is a hunt. The greatest you can undertake.

(The boy leaves. The Bridegroom moves swiftly to the left and stumbles over the Beggar-woman.)

Beggarwoman Ay!

Bridegroom What is it?

Beggarwoman I’m cold.

Bridegroom Where are you travelling to?

Beggarwoman (In the quavering voice of a mendicant) Far from here…

Bridegroom Where are you from?

Beggarwoman From there….from afar.

Bridegroom Have you seen a man and woman riding a horse?

Beggarwoman (Rousing herself) Wait… (She gazes at him). A handsome young man. (She rises) Handsomer still if he were sleeping.

Bridegroom Answer me, have you seen them?

Beggarwoman Wait….What broad shoulders! Wouldn’t you prefer to lie flat on them, and not have to stand on your feet which are so small?

Bridegroom (Shaking her) I asked if you’ve seen them? Have they passed this way?

Beggarwoman (Energetically) They have not; but they’re descending the hillside. Can’t you hear them?

Bridegroom No.

Beggarwoman Do you know the way?

Bridegroom I’ll find it; come what may!

Beggarwoman I’ll go with you. I know this country.

Bridegroom (Impatiently) Come then! Which way?

Beggarwoman (Dramatically) Through here!

(They leave swiftly. Two violins are heard far off which express the forest. The Woodcutters return, carrying their axes on their shoulders. They pass slowly through the trees.)

First woodcutter Ay! Death enters!

Death of the sharp knives.

Second woodcutter

Don’t let the blood spurt!

First woodcutter

Ay! Death enters,

Death of the dry leaves.

Third woodcutter

Don’t drown the flowers of the wedding!

Second woodcutter Ay! Sad death!

Leave the green leaves of love.

First woodcutter

Ay! Ill death!

Leave the green leaves of love.

(They leave as they finish speaking. Leonardo and the Bride appear.)

Leonardo Hush!

Bride I’ll go on alone from here.

Go back! I want you to go!

Leonardo Hush, I said!

Bride With your teeth,

with your hands, if you can,

cut from my honest neck

the chain you’ve set there,

leave me forgotten

in my house of earth.

And if you won’t kill me

like a nascent viper,

place in the bride’s hands

the stock of your rifle.

Ay, what grief, what fire

runs through my head!

What glass cuts at my tongue!

Leonardo There’s no going back; hush!

Because they’re encircling us

and I must take you with me.

Bride Then it will be by force.

Leonardo By force? Who was it then

first slipped down the stairs?

Bride I did.

Leonardo Who put a fresh

bridle on the horse?

Bride I did. It’s true.

Leonardo And whose hands

fastened my spurs?

Bride These hands which are yours,

and which if they could

would quell the blue branches

and the stir of your veins.

I love you! I love you! Go!

For if I could only kill you,

I’d wrap you in a shroud

with violet fringes.

Ay, what grief, what fire

runs through my head!

Leonardo What glass cuts at my tongue!

Because I wished to forget

and build a wall out of stone

between your house and mine.

It’s true? Don’t you remember?

And when I saw you afar

I threw sand in my eyes.

But then I climbed on my horse

and the horse came to your door.

With the silver pins of your veil

my blood turned to darkness,

and dreams they filled my flesh

with the rank odour of weeds.

But the guilt of it isn’t mine,

the guilt belongs to the earth

it is the perfume that rises

from your breasts and your hair.

Bride Ay, what madness! I wish

neither bed nor board from you,

yet there’s no hour of the day

that I don’t long to see you,

for you draw me, and I go,

and you tell me to return

and I follow you through the air,

like a straw lost in the wind.

I left a fine man behind

and all his family there

in the midst of the wedding

dressed in my wreath of flowers.

But you’ll suffer for it,

and I don’t want you to.

Leave me! Go far away!

There’s none here to defend you.

Leonardo The birds of the morning

are stirring in the trees.

The night itself is dying

in a hard edge of stone.

Let’s find some dark corner,

where I can always love you,

where people will not matter

nor the venom they engender.

(He embraces her tightly)

Bride And I’ll sleep at your feet

to watch over your dreams.

naked, I’ll lie on the ground,

just like a bitch on heat. (Dramatically)

That’s what I am! I see you

And your beauty makes me burn.

Leonardo One fire lights another.

The one little flame

destroys the whole crop.

Let’s go! (He gathers her up.)

Bride Where will we go?

Leonardo Anywhere where the men

encircling us can’t go.

Where I can gaze at you!

Bride (Sarcastically)

Take me from fair to fair,

all honest women’s shame

so the people can stare,

with my wedding sheet

like a banner in the wind.

Leonardo I too would leave you

if I thought as they do.

But I’ll go where you go.

You too. Take a step. Come.

Splinters of moonlight pierce

my waist and your hips.

(The whole scene is intense, full of deep sensuality.)

Bride Did you hear?

Leonardo Someone comes.

Bride Go!

It’s right I should die here

with my feet in the water,

with thorns now in my hair.

And for the leaves to mourn,

a lost girl and a maiden.

Leonardo Hush. They are here.

Bride Go now.

Leonardo Silence. They won’t hear us.

You go first. Go on, I say!

(The Bride hesitates)

Bride Both together!

Leonardo (Hugging her tightly)

Well, as you wish!

If they part us,

then I’ll be dead.

Bride And I too shall die.

(They embrace and leave. The Moon appears very slowly. The scene acquires a fiery blue light. The two violins are heard. Suddenly two loud screams are heard, and the violins fall silent. With the second scream the Beggar-woman appears, with her back to the audience. She opens her cloak, and occupies centre stage, like a great bird with immense wings. The Moon halts. The curtain falls in the midst of absolute silence.)



Act III Scene 2

(A white room with archways and thick walls. White stairways to the left and right. At the back a wall of the same colour with a large arch. The floor should also be of a brilliant white. This simple room has the monumental feel of a church. There are no half-tones or shadows, not even enough to create a sense of perspective. Two girls dressed in dark blue are winding a skein of red woolAnother young girl is also present)

First girl Skein, skein

what would you be?

Second girl Dress of jasmine,

tie of crystal.

To be born at four,

and to die at ten.

A strand of wool,

a chain at your feet,

and a knot to bind

the bitter laurel.

Young girl Did you go to the wedding?

First girl No.

Young girl Neither did I!

What happened there

among the dark vines?

What happened there

in the olive branches?

What happened there

that no one’s returned?

Did you go to the wedding?

Second girl We both said no.

Young girl (Leaving

Neither did I!

Second girl Skein, skein

what would you sing?

First girl Waxen wounds

sorrow of myrtle.

Sleep in the morning,

waking at nightfall.

Young girl (From the doorway)

The thread runs

over the stones.

The blue hills

it leaves behind.

Runs, runs, runs

and serves at last

to handle a knife

to sever a life.

(She exits)

Second girl Wool, wool

what would you tell of?

First girl A voiceless lover.

A crimson husband.

By the silent river

I saw them lying.

(She stops and gazes at the wool)

Young girl Run, run run,

the thread winds here.

Shrouds of earth

I hear them coming.

Bodies laid out,

sheaths of ivory!

(She exits. Leonardo’s wife and Mother-in-law appear filled with anguish.)

First girl Are they coming soon?

Mother-in-law (Bitterly) We don’t know.

Second girl What about the wedding?

First girl Tell me.

Mother-in-law (Sharply) There’s nothing to tell.

Wife I want to turn back, I want to know.

Mother-in-law (Forcefully)

You, take to your house.

Bravely, alone in your house.

To grow old and to weep.

Through the locked door.

Never. Not dead or alive.

We’ll nail shut the windows.

Let rain and the night

fall over the bitter grass.

Wife What can have happened?

Mother-in-law No matter.

Hide your face in a veil.

Your children are yours

alone. On the bed

make a cross of ash

where his pillow lay.

(They exit.)

Beggarwoman (From the doorway)

A crust of bread, pretty girls?

Young girl Go away!

(The girls huddle together)

Beggarwoman And why?

Young girl Because of your whining. Be gone.

First girl Child!

Beggarwoman I could ask for your eyes! A cloud

of birds follows me: do you want one?

Young girl I want to be gone from you!

Second girl (To the Beggar woman) Ignore her.

First girl Did you come by the river path?

Beggarwoman That’s the way I came.

First girl (Timidly) May I ask?

Beggarwoman I saw them: they come: two torrents

quiet at last between the great stones,

two men between the horse’s hooves.

Dead in the beauty of night. (With delectation.)

Dead, yes, dead.

First girl Silence, old woman, silence!

Beggarwoman Crushed flowers their eyes, their teeth

like two fists of hardened snow.

Both of them fell, the bride returned

her hair, her dress dyed with blood.

Covered with blankets they come

on the shoulders of handsome lads.

It is so; that’s all. It was just.

On the golden flower, black sand.

First girl Black sand.

Second girl On the golden flower.

Young girl Beneath the flower of gold

They carry them from the river.

Dark-haired the one,

dark-haired the other.

Let the nightingale of shadow

fly, and call to the flower of gold!

(She leaves. The stage is empty. The Mother enters with a neighbour. The neighbour has been weeping.)

Mother Hush.

Neighbour I can’t.

Mother Hush, I said. (In the doorway.) Is there no one here? (She raises her hands to her face.) My son should have been here. But now my son is an armful of withered flowers. Now my son is a dark voice behind the mountains. (Angrily, to the neighbour) Will you be quiet? I’ll have no tears in this house. Your tears are tears from your eyes, nothing more, but mine will flow when I’m alone, from the soles of my feet, from the root, and they’ll flow hot as blood.

Neighbour Come home with me; you can’t want to stay here.

Mother Here. Here, where I am. And in peace. They’re all dead now. I’ll be able to sleep at night, sleep free of the fear of guns and knives. Other women will lean sleepless from their windows, drenched by the rain, to catch sight of their sons’ faces. Not I. My dreams will be of a cold dove of marble carrying flowers of frost to a graveyard. But no; not a graveyard, no grave; it’s a couch of earth, a bed to cradle them, and rock them under the sky. (A woman dressed in black enters, and kneels down at stage left.) (To the neighbour) Take your hands from your face. The days to come will be terrible days. We wish for no one. The earth and I. My grief and I. And these four walls. Ay! Ay! (She sits down, grief-stricken)

Neighbour Have pity on yourself.

Mother (Smoothing her hair back with her hands) I must be calm. (She remains seated) Because the neighbours will come, and I don’t wish them to see me so wretched. So poverty-stricken! A woman without a single son to clasp to her breast.

(The Bride appears. her orange blossom has vanished and she is wearing a black shawl.)

Neighbour (Approaching her angrily) Where are you going?

Bride I’ve come.

Mother (To the neighbour) Who is it?

Neighbour Don’t you see?

Mother That’s why I ask who she is? To pretend I don’t know, to avoid sinking my teeth in her throat. Viper! (She rushes at the Bride as if to strike her, but stops short. To the neighbour) Do you see her? Here she is, and she weeps, and I halt here, and I fail to tear out her eyes. I don’t understand it myself. Did I not love my son enough? Well; and her honour? Where is her precious honour now? (She strikes the Bride, who falls to the ground.)

Neighbour For God’s sake! (She tries to separate them)

Bride (To the neighbour) Let her go; I came here so that she could kill me,so that they could take me with them. (To the Mother) But not with your bare hands; with shears, with a sickle, with whatever force might break my bones. Let her be! I want her to know, in her anger, I am pure, and that they’ll bury me without any man having gazed on the whiteness of my breasts.

Mother Be silent; what does that matter to me?

Bride Because I ran with another, I ran! (Anguished) You too, you would have gone. I was a woman on fire, wounded inside and out, and your son was a stream of water that could give me sons, land, health; but the other was a dark river, filled with branches, that brought me the murmur of its reeds, and its song between clenched teeth. And I went with your son who was like a child born of water, cold, while the other sent flocks of birds that prevented me walking, and sent frost into the wounds of a poor withered woman, a girl scorched by the flames. I did not want it. Listen to me! I did not want it. Do you hear? I did not want it. Your son was my goal, and I did not betray him, but the other seized me in his arms like a wave of the sea, struck me like the kick of a mule, and I must be dragged along forever, forever, forever, forever, even if I had been old and all your son’s sons had held me back by the hair!

(Another neighbour enters)

Mother She’s not to blame. Nor I! (Sarcastically) Who is then? A fine whore, a light sleeper it is, who throws away her orange blossom to seek a corner of the bed warmed by another woman!

Bride No more. No more! Take your revenge; here I am! Look how tender my throat is; it would cost you less effort to cut it than to cull a dahlia in your garden. But, what you say is not so! I’m as chaste and pure as a new-born babe. And with the power to prove it. Light a fire. Let’s put our hands into its flames; you for your son, I, for my body. You’ll be the first to withdraw.

(Another neighbour enters)

Mother What does your purity matter to me? What does your death matter? What does nullity after nullity matter to me? Blessed are the crops, because my sons lie beneath them; blessed is the rain, because it moistens their faces. Blessed is God, who unites us in rest.

(Another neighbour enters)

Bride Let me weep with you.

Mother Weep, but over there, stand in the doorway.

(The young girl enters. The Bride stands in the doorway, the Mother centre-stage.)

Wife (Entering and moving to the left)

He was the finest of horsemen

who now is a mound of snow.

Through the fairs and mountains,

and women’s arms he rode.

Now the mosses of midnight

offer a crown for his brow.

Mother Sunflower of your mother,

mirror of all the earth.

Set a cross on his breast

of bitter oleander;

a sheet now to cover him

a sheet of gleaming silk,

and water there to weep

between his quiet hands.

Wife Ay! Let four boys lift him

on their weary shoulders!

Bride Ay! Let four young men

carry death through the air!

Mother Neighbours.

Young girl (In the doorway) They’re bringing them now.

Mother It’s no matter.

The Cross. The Cross.

Women Sweet are the nails,

Sweet is the Cross,

Sweet is the name

of Jesus.

Bride May the Cross shelter the dead and the living.

Mother Neighbours: with a knife,

with a little knife,

on a fatal day between two and three,

two men killed for love.

With a knife.

With a little knife

that barely sits in the hand,

but penetrates deep

through the startled flesh

to reach the point

where trembles enmeshed

the dark root of a cry.

Bride And this is a knife,

a little knife

that barely sits in the hand;

a fish without scales, or the river,

so that one fine day, between two and three,

with this knife

were quenched two strong men

whose lips turn yellow.

Mother It scarcely sits in the hand.

But penetrates, chill,

through the startled flesh

to reach the point

where trembles enmeshed

the dark root of a cry.

(The neighbours, kneeling on the floor, weep)