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Federico García Lorca

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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. He published his first book, Impresiones y Viajes, in 1919.

Also 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, a play that caused a great scandal when it was produced in 1920. The next year he published Libro de poemas, 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 poetry collection Romancero Gitano 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 from the 1930s, Bodas de sangreYerma, and La Casa de Bernarda Alba, 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
Lament for the Death of a Bullfighter and Other Poems (Oxford University Press, 1937)
The Poet in New York (W. W. Norton, 1940)
The Gypsy Ballads (Indiana University Press, 1953)
Selected Poems (New Directions, 1955)
Tree of Song (Unicorn Press, 1971)
Divan and Other Writings (Bonewhistle Press, 1974)
The Ballad of the Spanish Civil Guard (Janus Press, 1974)
Songs (Duquesne University Press, 1976)
Poem of the Deep Song (City Light Books, 1987)
Impressions and Landscapes (University Press of America, 1987)
The Poetical Works of Federico García Lorca (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1988)
In Search of Duende (New Directions, 1998)

Drama
From Lorca’s Theatre: Five Plays of Federico García Lorca (C. Scribner’s Sons, 1941)
Ill Tragedies: Blood Wedding, Yerma, Bernarda Alba (New Directions, 1947)

 

by this poet

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
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
poem
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