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About this poet

Federico García Lorca is one of the most important Spanish poets and dramatists of the twentieth century. García Lorca was born June 5, 1898, in Fuente Vaqueros, a small town a few miles from Granada. His father owned a farm in the fertile vega surrounding Granada and a comfortable mansion in the heart of the city. His mother, whom Lorca idolized, was a gifted pianist. After graduating from secondary school García Lorca attended Sacred Heart University where he took up law along with regular coursework. His first book, Impresiones y Viajes (1919) was inspired by a trip to Castile with his art class in 1917.

In 1919, García Lorca traveled to Madrid, where he remained for the next fifteen years. Giving up university, he devoted himself entirely to his art. He organized theatrical performances, read his poems in public, and collected old folksongs. During this period García Lorca wrote El Maleficio de la mariposa (1920), a play which caused a great scandal when it was produced. He also wrote Libro de poemas (1921), a compilation of poems based on Spanish folklore. Much of García Lorca's work was infused with popular themes such as Flamenco and Gypsy culture. In 1922, García Lorca organized the first "Cante Jondo" festival in which Spain's most famous "deep song" singers and guitarists participated. The deep song form permeated his poems of the early 1920s. During this period, García Lorca became part of a group of artists known as Generación del 27, which included Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel, who exposed the young poet to surrealism. In 1928, his book of verse, Romancero Gitano ("The Gypsy Ballads"), brought García Lorca far-reaching fame; it was reprinted seven times during his lifetime.

In 1929, García Lorca moved to New York City. The poet's favorite neighborhood was Harlem; he loved African-American spirituals, which reminded him of Spain's "deep songs." In 1930, García Lorca returned to Spain after the proclamation of the Spanish republic and participated in the Second Ordinary Congress of the Federal Union of Hispanic Students in November of 1931. The congress decided to build a "Barraca" in central Madrid in which to produce important plays for the public. "La Barraca," the traveling theater company that resulted, toured many Spanish towns, villages, and cities performing Spanish classics on public squares. Some of García Lorca's own plays, including his three great tragedies Bodas de sangre (1933), Yerma (1934), and La Casa de Bernarda Alba (1936), were also produced by the company.

In 1936, García Lorca was staying at Callejones de García, his country home, at the outbreak of the Civil War. He was arrested by Franquist soldiers, and on August 19, after a few days in jail, soldiers took García Lorca to "visit" his brother-in-law, Manuel Fernandez Montesinos, the Socialist ex-mayor of Granada whom the soldiers had murdered and dragged through the streets. When they arrived at the cemetery, the soldiers forced García Lorca from the car. They struck him with the butts of their rifles and riddled his body with bullets. His books were burned in Granada's Plaza del Carmen and were soon banned from Franco's Spain. To this day, no one knows where the body of Federico García Lorca rests.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

In Search of Duende (1998)
Selected Poems (1941)
Canciones (1927)
Poeta en Nueva York ("Poet in New York") (1940)
Lament for the Death of a Bullfighter and Other Poems (1937)
Llanto por Ignacio Sanchez Mejias (1935)
El poema del Cante Jondo (1932)
Romancero Gitano ("The Gypsy Ballads") (1928)
Libro de poemas (1921)
Impresiones y viajes (1918)

Drama

The Comedies (1955)
La casa de Bernarda Alba ("The House of Bernarda Alba") (1936)
Yerma (1934)
Bodas de sangre ("Blood Wedding") (1933)
Amor de Don Perlimplin con Belisa en su jardin (1931)
La zapatera prodigiosa ("The Shoemaker's Marvelous Wife") (1930)
Mariana Pineda (1927)
El malificio de la mariposa (1920)




 

City That Does Not Sleep

Federico García Lorca, 1898 - 1936
In the sky there is nobody asleep.  Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
The creatures of the moon sniff and prowl about their cabins.
The living iguanas will come and bite the men who do not dream,
and the man who rushes out with his spirit broken will meet on the 
            street corner
the unbelievable alligator quiet beneath the tender protest of the
            stars.

Nobody is asleep on earth.  Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
In a graveyard far off there is a corpse
who has moaned for three years
because of a dry countryside on his knee;
and that boy they buried this morning cried so much
it was necessary to call out the dogs to keep him quiet.

Life is not a dream.  Careful!  Careful!  Careful!
We fall down the stairs in order to eat the moist earth
or we climb to the knife edge of the snow with the voices of the dead
            dahlias.
But forgetfulness does not exist, dreams do not exist;
flesh exists.  Kisses tie our mouths
in a thicket of new veins,
and whoever his pain pains will feel that pain forever
and whoever is afraid of death will carry it on his shoulders.

One day 
the horses will live in the saloons
and the enraged ants
will throw themselves on the yellow skies that take refuge in the
            eyes of cows.

Another day
we will watch the preserved butterflies rise from the dead
and still walking through a country of gray sponges and silent boats
we will watch our ring flash and roses spring from our tongue.
Careful!  Be careful!  Be careful!
The men who still have marks of the claw and the thunderstorm,
and that boy who cries because he has never heard of the invention 
            of the bridge,
or that dead man who possesses now only his head and a shoe,
we must carry them to the wall where the iguanas and the snakes
            are waiting,
where the bear's teeth are waiting,
where the mummified hand of the boy is waiting,
and the hair of the camel stands on end with a violent blue shudder.

Nobody is sleeping in the sky.  Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is sleeping.
If someone does close his eyes,
a whip, boys, a whip!
Let there be a landscape of open eyes
and bitter wounds on fire.
No one is sleeping in this world.  No one, no one.
I have said it before.

No one is sleeping.
But if someone grows too much moss on his temples during the
            night,
open the stage trapdoors so he can see in the moonlight
the lying goblets, and the poison, and the skull of the theaters.

By Federico García Lorca, translated and edited by Robert Bly, and published by Beacon Press in Selected Poems: Lorca and Jiménez. © 1973 by Robert Bly. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Federico García Lorca

Federico García Lorca is one of the most important Spanish poets and dramatists of the twentieth century.

by this poet

poem

(Skip to the original poem in Spanish)

Tree, tree
dry and green.

The girl with the pretty face 
is out picking olives. 
The wind, playboy of towers, 
grabs her around the waist. 
Four riders passed by
on Andalusian ponies, 
with blue and green jackets 
and big, dark capes. 
"Come
poem
The weeping of the guitar
begins.
The goblets of dawn
are smashed.
The weeping of the guitar
begins.
Useless
to silence it.
Impossible 
to silence it.
It weeps monotonously
as water weeps
as the wind weeps
over snowfields.
Impossible
to silence it.
It weeps for distant 
things.
Hot southern sands
yearning for
poem
The little boy was looking for his voice.
(The king of the crickets had it.)
In a drop of water
the little boy was looking for his voice.

I do not want it for speaking with;
I will make a ring of it
so that he may wear my silence
on his little finger

In a drop of water
the little boy was looking for his voice