Federico Garcia Lorca
Internationally known as Spain’s most well-known
lyric poet and dramatist of the twentieth century Federico GarcÃa Lorca. His poetry and plays have been translated into dozen of languages. Lorca’s been the object of study by critics all over the world. Lorca books continue to sell and his plays are staged and applauded every year since his murder in 1936 at the hands of Spanish fascist. Lorca has become a legendary tragic hero. In this essay I will give you background information on his childhood. Info. on life experience also motivation and influences for writing. One of Federico’s Major work (poem). Also my interpretation on the poem.
Federico GarcÃa Lorca was born in Fuente Vaqueros, a small farming town outside Granada, the urban center of AndalucÃa. The Lorca was fortunate in his parents. Don Federico GarcÃa RodrÃguez, his father, was an energetic and prosperous farmer who gave Federico his passion (Federico 3). The mother DoÃ±a Vicenta Lorca, was a woman of intelligence, education, and imagination, a former school teacher who nurtured his musical and poetic interests (Federico 3). His
correct name was and is GarcÃa Lorca, but from an early age, the poet called himself Lorca, and others followed his example(Federico 3). From his earliest years, his interests were artistic. He learned 5 popular songs. He read romantic and classical
literature. He studied piano and guitar, eventually becoming very skilled at both(Federico 3). When he was eleven, Lorca’s family moved to Granada where he attended a Jesuit school(Federico 1). Federico proved to be an indifferent student. At sixteen, he failed the examination for his baccalaureate at Granada’s General and Technical Institute(Federico 1). Retaking the exam a year later, he passed and went on to the University of Granada to study law. But again he proved a middling student and failed several courses(Federico 1). He had also enrolled in the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, and here he followed his true interests: writing poetry, painting, playing the piano, and reading the nineteenth century Spanish Romantics, the modern writers of Latin America and Spain, the French Symbolist poets, Shakespeare, and classic dramas of Spain and Greece(Federico 1). soon quit the university and moved to Madrid.
In Granada Lorca develop well and in future years Granada’s Arabic culture a rich legacy of poetry, astronomy, and architecture would become the subject of many of his poems. In addition the city’s population of gypsies who since the fourteenth century had been living in caves of sacromonte would be the inspiration for the poets “Gypsy Ballads“. The trip to new York city in 1927
inspired some of his exceptional poetic pieces later collected under the title “Poet in New York“ (Federico 1). So, in the period of his greatest fame, Lorca drifted into a depressive, disillusioned state of mind. He described himself to a friend as suffering “one of the saddest and most unpleasant moments of my life.” He abandoned the gypsy ballad poetry that was making him famous. He even stopped reading his poetry to friends. He was rescued from this sad mood by his mentor, Fernando de los RÃos, who took him from Madrid through France and England to New York City (Federico 1). Following his stay in new York, Lorca began to be more daring in the representation of homosexuality ( Federico 5). Far away from his family and Spanish values he was able to think of and begin writing his most openly homosexual work “Ode to Walt Whitman“ ( Federico 5).
Ode to Walt Whitman
By: Federico GarcÃa Lorca
By the East River and the Bronx
boys were singing, exposing their waists
with the wheel, with oil, leather, and the hammer.
Ninety thousand miners taking silver from the rocks
and children drawing stairs and perspectives.
But none of them could sleep,
none of them wanted to be the river,
none of them loved the huge leaves
or the shoreline’s blue tongue.
By the East River and the Queensboro
boys were battling with industry
and the Jews sold to the river faun
the rose of circumcision,
and over bridges and rooftops, the mouth of the sky emptied
herds of bison driven by the wind.
But none of them paused,
none of them wanted to be a cloud,
none of them looked for ferns
or the yellow wheel of a tambourine.
As soon as the moon rises
the pulleys will spin to alter the sky;
a border of needles will besiege memory
and the coffins will bear away those who don’t work.
New York, mire,
New York, mire and death.
What angel is hidden in your cheek?
Whose perfect voice will sing the truths of wheat?
Who, the terrible dream of your stained anemones?
Not for a moment, Walt Whitman, lovely old man,
have I failed to see your beard full of butterflies,
nor your corduroy shoulders frayed by the moon,
nor your thighs pure as Apollo’s,
nor your voice like a column of ash,
old man, beautiful as the mist,
you moaned like a bird
with its sex pierced by a needle.
Enemy of the satyr,
enemy of the vine,
and lover of bodies beneath rough cloth…
Not for a moment, virile beauty,
who among mountains of coal, billboards, and railroads,
dreamed of becoming a river and sleeping like a river
with that comrade who would place in your breast
the small ache of an ignorant leopard.
Not for a moment, Adam of blood, Macho,
man alone at sea, Walt Whitman, lovely old man,
because on penthouse roofs,
gathered at bars,
emerging in bunches from the sewers,
trembling between the legs of chauffeurs,
or spinning on dance floors wet with absinthe,
the faggots, Walt Whitman, point you out.
He’s one, too! That’s right! And they land
on your luminous chaste beard,
blonds from the north, blacks from the sands,
crowds of howls and gestures,
like cats or like snakes,
the faggots, Walt Whitman, the faggots,
clouded with tears, flesh for the whip,
the boot, or the teeth of the lion tamers.
He’s one, too! That’s right! Stained fingers
point to the shore of your dream
when a friend eats your apple
with a slight taste of gasoline
and the sun sings in the navels
of boys who play under bridges.
But you didn’t look for scratched eyes,
nor the darkest swamp where someone submerges children,
nor frozen saliva,
nor the curves slit open like a toad’s belly
that the faggots wear in cars and on terraces
while the moon lashes them on the street corners of terror.
You looked for a naked body like a river.
Bull and dream who would join wheel with seaweed,
father of your agony, camellia of your death,
who would groan in the blaze of your hidden equator.
Because it’s all right if a man doesn’t look for his delight
in tomorrow morning’s jungle of blood.
The sky has shores where life is avoided
and there are bodies that shouldn’t repeat themselves in the dawn.
Agony, agony, dream, ferment, and dream.
This is the world, my friend, agony, agony.
Bodies decompose beneath the city clocks,
war passes by in tears, followed by a million gray rats,
the rich give their mistresses
small illuminated dying things,
and life is neither noble, nor good, nor sacred.
Man is able, if he wishes, to guide his desire
through a vein of coral or a heavenly naked body.
Tomorrow, loves will become stones, and Time
a breeze that drowses in the branches.
That’s why I don’t raise my voice, old Walt Whitman,
against the little boy who writes
the name of a girl on his pillow,
nor against the boy who dresses as a bride
in the darkness of the wardrobe,
nor against the solitary men in casinos
who drink prostitution’s water with revulsion,
nor against the men with that green look in their eyes
who love other men and burn their lips in silence.
But yes against you, urban faggots,
tumescent flesh and unclean thoughts.
Mothers of mud. Harpies. Sleepless enemies
of the love that bestows crowns of joy.
Always against you, who give boys
drops of foul death with bitter poison.
Always against you,
Fairies of North America,
PÃ¡jaros of Havana,
Jotos of Mexico,
Sarasas of CÃ¡diz,
Apios of Seville,
Cancos of Madrid,
Floras of Alicante,
Adelaidas of Portugal.
Faggots of the world, murderers of doves!
Slaves of women. Their bedroom bitches.
Opening in public squares like feverish fans
or ambushed in rigid hemlock landscapes.
No quarter given! Death
spills from your eyes
and gathers gray flowers at the mire’s edge.
No quarter given! Attention!
Let the confused, the pure,
the classical, the celebrated, the supplicants
close the doors of the bacchanal to you.
And you, lovely Walt Whitman, stay asleep on the Hudson’s banks
with your beard toward the pole, openhanded.
Soft clay or snow, your tongue calls for
comrades to keep watch over your unbodied gazelle.
Sleep on, nothing remains.
Dancing walls stir the prairies
and America drowns itself in machinery and lament.
I want the powerful air from the deepest night
to blow away flowers and inscriptions from the arch where you sleep,
and a black child to inform the gold-craving whites
that the kingdom of grain has arrived (Federico 4).
In my interpretation of “ode to Walt Whitman” Federico shows the full extent of his homosexuality. Like it shows here “ Not for a moment, Walt Whitman, lovely old man, have I failed to see your beard full of butterflies,
nor your corduroy shoulders frayed by the moon, nor your thighs pure as Apollo’s,
nor your voice like a column of ash, old man, beautiful as the mist, you moaned like a bird with its sex pierced by a needle.” The mood Federico shows in the poem is that he enjoys everything about Walt Whitman. Like what Federico wrote here “Not for a moment, virile beauty, who among mountains of coal, billboards, and
railroads, dreamed of becoming a river and sleeping like a river with that comrade who would place in your breast the small ache of an ignorant leopard. Not for a moment, Adam of blood, Macho, man alone at sea, Walt Whitman, lovely old man.” The 3 Literary critics I found are Stark Young, William Carlos Williams, and Angel del Rio. Stark Young wrote this in 1935 “Lorca is a genuine poet and the pieces itself is said to have made some dramatic history in Spain.” (Federico 2) William Carlos Williams wrote this in 1939 he states “ There are two great traditional schools of Spanish poetry, one leaning heavily upon world literature and another stemming exclusively from Iberian sources. Lorca was child of latter, so much so that he is often as if slightly to disparage him. He belonged to the people and when they were attacked he was attacked by the same forces. But he was also champion of a school. Lorca aided by the light of twentieth-century thought, discovered in the old forms the very essence of today. Lorca found ready to his hand. He took up the old tradition, and in a more congenial age worked with it as the others had not been able to do.”(Federico 2) Angel del Rio wrote this in 1941 he states “ As is so often the case in Spanish literature, Lorca’s dramatic work is inseparable from his poetry and is a natural emanation from it.” (Federico 2) In conclusion even after Federico GarcÃa Lorca’s death, his homosexuality remained closeted in Spain. Although this silence may have been understandable during Franco’s regime, even after Franco’s death in 1975 many critics were still not eager to mention Lorca’s homosexuality
and its connection to his works.
Federico: 1) -Federico GarcÃa Lorca, Poetry for Student, Volume 20,
Pages 72-73, 2004
2) -Lorca GarcÃa Federico, Twentieth Century Literary Criticism, Volume 7, Pages 290-291
5) -http://gayfortoday.blogspot.com/2007/06/federico- garca-lorca.html