granada la bella
where anything is possible
Verde que te quiero verde.
Verde viento. Verdes ramas.
El barco sobre la mar
y el caballo en la montaña.
Con la sombra en la cintura
ella sueña en su baranda,
verde carne, pelo verde,
con ojos de frío plata.
Verde que te quiero verde.
Bajo la luna gitana,
las cosas la están mirando
y ella no puede mirarlas.
These are the opening twelve lines of Lorca's Romance Sonámbulo, surely some of the most memorable in Twentieth Century Spanish Literature. They were written on 2 August 1924, presumably at his father's house in Valderrubio (then Asquerosa). The poem belongs of course to the Gypsy Ballad Book (Romancero Gitano). The drawing, by Lorca, is entitled Verde que te quiero verde.
LIBRO DE POEMAS
1918 - 1920
POEMA DEL CANTE JONDO
1921 - 1925
1920 - 1923
1921 - 1924
PRIMERO ROMANCERO GITANO
1923 - 1927
POETA EN NUEVA YORK
1929 - 1930
DIVÁN DEL TAMARIT
1931 - 1934
LLANTO POR IGNACIO SÁNCHEZ MEJÍAS
1934 - 1935
SEIS POEMAS GALEGOS
1932 - 1935
SONETOS DEL AMOR OSCURO
935 - 1936
LIBRO DE POEMAS / BOOK OF POEMS
On May 26, 1916, Antonio Segura, Lorca's music teacher, died. Lorca wanted to continue his music studies in Paris, but his father would not let him. Lorca's creative instinct turned to poetry. On June 29, 1917, he wrote his first poem Canción. ensueño y confusión. In the following couple of years, Lorca wrote hundreds of poems. With the help of his brother, Francisco, 67 poems were selected for this first book, published in May 1921. They were, the poet admitted in the preface to the book, far from perfect; but they were the product of "juvenile ardour" and "limitless ambition" and were the "true reflection of his adolescent heart and youthful spirit".
POEMA DEL CANTE JONDO / POEM OF THE DEEP SONG
In June 1922, a competition was held in Granada to find the best performers of the flamenco genre, Cante Jondo. The initiative was taken by a group of artists and intellectuals, inspired by the Spanish composer, Manuel de Falla, who had settled in Granada two years previously. Falla's intention was to save this great popular gypsy art form from degeneration.
Lorca, as part of this group, was moved to write the first version of his talk on the Cante Jondo (El cante jondo. Primitivo cante andaluz) which he read in February 1922 at the Centro Artístico in Granada, as well as this collection of poems, the majority of them written in November 1921. A selection of them were read at the opening ceremony of the Competition at the Alhambra Palace Hotel.
"Dates written" is a bit problematic: Lorca often dated his work as finished, though he had been working on it for some time before and he might continue to make minor "corrections" up to the date of its publication.
PRIMERAS CANCIONES; CANCIONES / FIRST SONGS; SONGS
His passion for music and for the popular tradition were also sources of inspiration for the poems (written between 1921 and 1924) included in these two books (published in 1936 and in 1927 respectively).
The publication of Canciones in 1927 did much to establish Lorca's reputation as one of the new generation of Spanish poets whose work came to be recognised as a new Golden Age in the history of Spanish Literature.
Lorca chose another musical title for this collection of poems, written between 1920 and 1923. Although the poet declared his intention of publishing them on various occasions, he never did. The book was finally "reconstructed" by the Lorca scholar, André Belamich, in 1983.
The above is Lorca's drawing of Soledad Montoya, a figure who appears in the ballad Romance de la pena negra.
There is more about the genesis of Lorca's First Gypsy Ballad Book to be found in an article I wrote for the 80th anniversary of its publication in July 1928 in the June/July 2008 issue of The LONDON MAGAZINE: A Review of Literature and the Arts. ISSN 0024-6085. www.thelondonmagazine.net
If you are interested and cannot trace it, contact me for a copy
PRIMER ROMANCERO GITANO / FIRST GYPSY BALLAD BOOK
Following on from the Poema del Cante Jondo, Lorca started writing the first poems that would make up this new collection of gypsy culture-inspired poetry in the summer of 1923. It is Lorca's first major masterpiece, a fine blend of the popular tradition with artistic innovation. Between June 1925 and January 1928 ten of the eighteen poems that make up the collection had already been published in literary magazines* and Lorca had given several public and private readings, so by the time the work was published in 1928 great expectations had been aroused.
Even so, the acclaim it received from both critics and public was extraordinary. A quite formidable print run of 3500 copies was soon sold out and a second edition appeared in 1929. In the eight years up to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, there were in all six reprints.
Interestingly, the word "first" was dropped from the title for the third edition, published in 1933. It was clear that Lorca had exhausted the Deep Song/Ballad Book vein and have moved on to other issues and themes. There was to be no Second Gypsy Ballad Book.
These are the ten of the eighteen Gypsy Ballads that were published as single poems
Date of publication
1. Romance de la luna, luna
June 1925; April 1926: July 1927
2. Preciosa y el aire
October 1926; June 1927
6.La casada infiel
8. San Miguel (Granada)
11. Prendimiento de Antoñito el Camborio
13. Muerto de amor
14. El emplazado
16. Martirio de Sanata Olalla
17. Burla de Don Pedro a caballo
ODA A SALVADOR DALÍ / ODE TO SALVADOR DALI
Lorca and Dalí met in Madrid in February 1923 and were immediately attracted to each other. The friendship deepened and at Easter 1925 the poet visited the painter's family in Cadaqués, Catalonia. Shortly after, he began writing this ode which elogises Dalí's personality as well as his artistic style and convictions. It was published in Revista de Occidente, April 1926
¡Oh Salvador Dalí de voz aceitunada!
Digo lo que me dicen tu persona y tus cuadros.
No alabo tu imperfecto pincel adolescente,
pero canto la firme dirección de tus flechas.
Oh Salvador Dali of the olive voice!
I say what your person and your paintings tell me.
I do not praise your imperfect, adolescent brush
but sing of the sure direction of your arrows.
[The translation is mine.]
< The drawing is titled Slavdor Adil (peintre). It is dedicated to the painter's sister, Ana María, and dated in Granada, 1925.
Further left: from a study for Dalí's Honey is Sweeter than Blood, dated 1926, in which we see Lorca's severed head.
One of the few voices that did not join in the acclaim for Lorca's Gypsy Ballads was indeed that of Salvador Dalí who said the book was too conventional and didn't break with tradition, a major impediment in the way of creating a truly modern art. Dalí was beginning to turn towards the French Surrealist Movement which demanded this complete break with convention and tradition.
Lorca was deeply affected by the rupture with Dalí and he entered into a period of depression that set in in 1928, prompted by the failure of his relationship with the artist Emilo Aladrén, and lasted, I think we may say, until his stay on Cuba in 1930.
POETA EN NUEVA YORK / POET IN NEW YORK
Lorca's father was convinced that his son needed "a change of air" and the trip to New York, accompanied by friend of the family, Fernando de los Ríos, later Socialist Minister in the Republican Government, was arranged. The poet's confrontation with the great metropolis, combined with his heightened sensibility, gave rise to this exceptional collection of poems, in which surrealist elements are used to give expression to a harsh reality, passionately experienced. The book is often cited as one of the major poetic achievements of the Twentieth Century.
Of the 34 poems finally published in the collection Poeta en Nueva York, a number - I have counted 18 in all - were published in the course of the 1930s, including these
title of poem
Danza de la muerte; Son de los negros en Cuba
Revista de Occidente
Vaca; Muerte; Ruina; New York (oficina y denuncia)
Los cuatro vientos
da al rey de Harlem
Oda a Walt Whitman
Pequeño vals vienés; Paisaje con dos tumbas y un perro asirio
DIVÁN DEL TAMARIT / THE DIVAN POEMS
Lorca returned to his Andalusian roots after his useful New York experience, writing his rural dramatic trilogy (Blood Wedding, Yerma, the House of Bernarda Alba) between 1932 and 1936. He also returned to the interest he had had as a young man in the Arabic poets of Granada's Moslem-Moorish past. A divan is an Arabic literary genre composed of two poetic forms, the Gacela and the Kasida. Lorca adapted the Arabic forms freely to his own purposes. Tamarit is the name of a country property on the edge of Granada which the poet visited frequently. It belonged to an uncle of his.
IGNACIO SÁNCHEZ MEJÍAS
On 13 August 1934, the bullfighter Ignacio Sánchex Mejías (pictured right), who had recently returned to the bullring from a lengthy retirement at the age of 43, died from the injuries he received from a goring two days earlier. Sánchez Mejías was not merely a bullfighter, he was an extraordinary man for whom Lorca wrote this extraordinary poem: one of the finest in contemporary Spanish literature.
«Tardará mucho tiempo en nacer, si es que nace,un andaluz tan claro, tan rico de aventura»
SEIS POEMAS GALEGOS
In 1932, on his travels through Spain giving lectures for the Republican Committees for Intellectual Cooperation and with his student travelling theatre group, La Barraca, Lorca visited Galicia, the region in the northwest corner of the peninsula. Later in the year, he started writing poems in the regional language.
With the help of the Galician poet Eduardo Blanco-Amor, who he met the following year, Lorca's six Galician poems were prepared for publication, in December 1935.
SONETOS DEL AMOR OSCURO / LOVE SONNETS
In 1933, reconciled by now to his homosexual condition, Lorca met and fell in love with Rafael Rodríguez Rapún, who worked as a secretary to the Barraca student travelling theatre group that he directed. For a long time it was the general wisdom that it was this relationship that gave rise to these 11 love sonnets in 1935 and 1936. They are undoubtedly (in the words of fellow Andalusian poet, Vicente Aleixandre,) "a prodigy of passion, of enthusiasm, of happiness, of torment", a pure and ardent testimony to his love and to his suffering.
However, Lorca was notoriously promiscuous and parallel to his intimate friendship with Rapún, Lorca also maintained an emotional relationship with Eduardo Rodríguez Valdivieso, fifteen years his junior, through much of the 1930s, and on the poet's Saint’s Day, 18 July 1936, the same day as Franco’s nationalist uprising, Valdivieso was in fact guest at the Huerta de San Vicente, now the family’s preferred summer residence on the edge of Granada.
On the very day he was playing host to Valdivieso at the family summer home, Lorca posted a letter to another young admirer and lover, teenager Juan Ramírez de Lucas, who today is considered more llkey to have been the object of the poet's desire, which inspired these sonnets.
Ay voz secreta del amor oscuro
¡ay balido sin lanas! ¡ay herida!
¡ay aguja de hiel, camelia hundida!
¡ay corriente sin mar, ciudad sin muro!