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Federico García Lorca
Federico García Lorca
Federico García Lorca is possibly the most important Spanish poet and dramatist of...
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The Old Lizard

 
by Federico García Lorca
translated by Lysander Kemp

In the parched path 
I have seen the good lizard 
(one drop of crocodile) 
meditating. 
With his green frock-coat 
of an abbot of the devil, 
his correct bearing 
and his stiff collar, 
he has the sad air 
of an old professor. 
Those faded eyes 
of a broken artist, 
how they watch the afternoon 
in dismay!

Is this, my friend, 
your twilight constitutional? 
Please use your cane, 
you are very old, Mr. Lizard, 
and the children of the village 
may startle you.
What are you seeking in the path, 
my near-sighted philosopher, 
if the wavering phantasm 
of the parched afternoon 
has broken the horizon? 

Are you seeking the blue alms 
of the moribund heaven? 
A penny of a star? 
Or perhaps 
you've been reading a volume 
of Lamartine, and you relish 
the plateresque trills 
of the birds? 

(You watch the setting sun, 
and your eyes shine, 
oh, dragon of the frogs, 
with a human radiance. 
Ideas, gondolas without oars, 
cross the shadowy 
waters of your 
burnt-out eyes.) 

Have you come looking 
for that lovely lady lizard, 
green as the wheatfields 
of May, 
as the long locks
of sleeping pools, 
who scorned you, and then 
left you in your field? 
Oh, sweet idyll, broken 
among the sweet sedges! 
But, live! What the devil! 
I like you. 
The motto "I oppose 
the serpent" triumphs 
in that grand double chin 
of a Christian archbishop. 

Now the sun has dissolved 
in the cup of the mountains, 
and the flocks 
cloud the roadway. 
It is the hour to depart: 
leave the dry path 
and your meditations. 
You will have time 
to look at the stars 
when the worms are eating you 
at their leisure.


Go home to your house 
by the village, of the crickets! 
Good night, my friend 
Mr. Lizard! 

Now the field is empty, 
the mountains dim, 
the roadway deserted. 
Only, now and again, 
a cuckoo sings in the darkness 
of the poplar trees.






Copyright © 2005 by Federico García Lorca and Lysander Kemp. From The Selected Poems. Reprinted with permission of New Directions Press.
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