Tag: spanish poetry

Federico Garcia Lorca, “Your Childhood in Menton”

(I am so sorry for taking so long to post this translation. The old WordPress was acting up something ridiculous. Had to delete and reinstall the database and well, here it is. Enjoy.)

~ ~ ~

Yes your childhood: now a fable of fountains.
– Jorge Guillén

Yes, your childhood: now a fable of fountains.
The train and the woman who fills the sky.
Your shy loneliness in hotels
and your pure mask of another sign.
The sea’s childhood and your silence
where the crystals of wisdom shattered.
Your rigid ignorance where
my torso was circumscribed with fire.
What I gave you, Apollonian man, was the standard of love,
fits of tears with an estranged nightingale.
But ruin fed upon you, you whittle yourself to nothing
for the sake of fleeting, aimless dreams.
Thoughts before you, yesterday’s light,
traces and signs of what might be…
Your waist of restless sand
follows only trails that do not climb.
But in every corner I must look for your warm soul
that is without you and doesn’t understand you,
with the sorrow of Apollo stopped in his tracks,
the sorrow with which I shattered your mask.
It’s there, lion, there, sky’s fury,
where I’ll let you graze on my cheeks;
there, blue horse of my insanity,
pulse of the nebula and hand that counts the minutes.
There I’ll look for the scorpions’ stones
and the clothes of the girl who was your mother,
midnight tears and torn cloth
that wiped moonlight from the temples of the dead man.
Yes, your childhood: now a fable of fountains.
Strange soul, tiny and adrift, ripped
from the emptied space of my veins – I must look until I find you.
The same love as ever, but never the same!
Yes, I do love! Love! Leave me alone, all of you.
And don’t try to cover my mouth, you who seek
the wheat of Saturn in snowfields,
or castrate animals on behalf of a sky,
anatomy’s clinic and jungle.
Love, love, love. The sea’s childhood.
Your warm soul that is without you and doesn’t understand you.
Love, love, the flight of the doe
through the endless breast of whiteness.
And your childhood, love, your childhood.
The train and the woman who fills the sky.
Not you, not me, not the air, not the leaves.
Yes, your childhood: now a fable of fountains.

~ ~ ~

If that doesn’t hit hard and sink down to your bones, well, then there’s nothing more I can do for you. You are honestly lost. I don’t think you should expect to be able to pierce the web of Lorca’s imagery, because it is strong and fierce and well-protected, a type of surrealism that can only be conjured by a Spaniard, a type of surrealism that is at once imagistic and deeply personal, yet open, expressive, emotive, and free to all. To me the language here is simply astounding. And the poem is not totally impenehjgtrable: it is very clearly about love. Love, love, love, he says. “The sea’s childhood.” Love, and it’s disappearance, and Lorca’s attempt to cope with its fleeting nature. It is about his male lover, the “Apollonian man,” and of course this matters, very much so – his forwardness about his sexuality shows incredible bravery for his time and his place, under the thumb of fascism, but in the end too it is just as much about the idea of Love, and how it may cause pain as well as joy. At least this is what I take from it. Like I said, the imagery is hard to untangle, and yet you understand it, even if you think you don’t. I don’t know if reading the Spanish first without translation did anything for you. This translation is not by me, but by the translators of his Poet in New York, Greg Simon and Steven F. White.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the Lorca portion of our Poetry ABC’s. It’s been a while for me since I have visited his poetry, so it has been a joy to reread it and share it all with you.


Federico García Lorca, “Tu Infancia en Menton”


Sí, tu niñez: ya fábula de fuentes.
– Jorge Guillén

Sí, tu niñez: ya fábula de fuentes.
El tren y la mujer que llena el cielo.
Tu soledad esquiva en los hoteles
y tu máscara pura de otro signo.
Es la niñez del mar y tu silencio
donde los sabios vidrios se quebraban.
Es tu yerta ignorancia donde estuvo
mi torso limitado por el fuego.
Norma de amor te di, hombre de Apolo,
llanto con ruiseñor enajenado,
pero, pasto de ruina, te afilabas
para los breves sueños indecisos.
Pensamiento de enfrente, luz de ayer,
índices y señales del acaso.
Tu cintura de arena sin sosiego
atiende sólo rastros que no escalan.
Pero yo he de buscar por los rincones
tu alma tibia sin ti que no te entiende,
con el dolor de Apolo detenido
con que he roto la máscara que llevas.
Allí, león, allí, furia de cielo,
te dejaré pacer en mis mejillas;
allí, caballo azul de mi locura,
pulso de nebulosa y minutero.
He de buscar las piedras de alacranes
y los vestidos de tu madre niña,
llanto de media noche y paño roto
que quitó luna de la sien del muerto.
Sí, tu niñez: ya fábula de fuentes.
Alma extraña de mi hueco de venas,
te he de buscar pequeña y sin raices.
¡Amor de siempre, amor, amor de nunca!
¡Oh, sí! Yo quiero. ¡Amor, amor! Dejadame.
No me tapen la boca los que buscan
espigas de Saturno por la nieve
o castran animales por un cielo,
clínica y selva de la anatomía.
Amor, amor, amor. Niñez del mar.
Tu alma tibia sin ti que no te entiende.
Amor, amor, un vuelo de la corza
por el pecho sin fin de la blancura.
Y tu niñez, amor, y tu niñez.
El tren y la mujer que llena el cielo.
Ni tú, ni yo, ni el aire, ni las hojas.
Sí, tu niñez: ya fábula de fuentes.

~ ~ ~

This one is from his Poeta en Nueva York. I thought it would be fun to post the poem as a whole, sin traducción, and just sort of let the Spanishness of it wash over us. Whether you understand the words or not there is a certain music to it, and in a way it’s fun to enjoy a poem just for its sounds and music without all that pesky meaning and comprehension get in the way. I’ll post the translation tomorrow and talk some more about the poem.