Dare to Read

August 19, 2011

Requiem for Federico

by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

to Federico Garcia Lorca

In August 18, 1936, Federico Garcia Lorca was taken prisoner by Nationalist militia in Granada, during the chaos that followed the failed military coup that ignited the Spanish Civil War. He was never seen again, and his tomb was never found.

He had been born in Granada in 1898 and, by the time of his death he was an internationally renowned poet and playwright.

Interested in the Spanish folklore in his youth he published Libro de poemas (1921) and Romancero Gitano (“The Gypsy Ballads”) (1928). Some of these early poems (La Tarara, Verde que te quiero verde, Anda jaleo, Romance de la luna) have become deeply engraved in the Spanish subconscious and are still widely sang today.

Romance de la Luna.

Verde que te quiero verde.

De los cuatro muleros.

Lorca was also an accomplished pianist and (as reflected in his poems) a lover of the Cante Jondo or “deep song” performed by singer and guitarists in his native Andalucia. A passion he shared with the renowned Spanish composer Manuel de Falla.

Falla’s ballet El Amor Brujo was brought to the screen by Carlos Saura in the 1980s with Antonio Gadés and Cristina Hoyos.

As was Lorca’s play, Bodas de Sangre.

Lorca’s other two plays in the Rural Spain trilogy, Yerma (about the impossible yearning of a barren woman for a child) and La Casa de Bernarda Alba (a tragedy that explores the repression suffered by women in traditionalist Spain) have also been filmed. La casa de Bernarda Alba by Mario Camus in 1982 and Yerma by Pilar Távora in 1998.

The three plays are still performed today both at University Drama representations and at mainstream theaters.

To escape a deep depression brought about by an unrequited love and his conflicted feelings about his homosexuality, Lorca traveled to New York where he lived in 1929-1930. NYC made a profound impression in him. During his visits to Harlem and later in his trip to Cuba, he discovered and fell in love with African-American spirituals which reminded him of Spain’s “deep songs.”. All these experiences, coagulated in his book Poet in New York.

Years later, the Canadian bard, Leonard Cohen discovered Lorca’s book in a Montreal bookstore. Lorca became Cohen’s idol so much so he named his daughter after him (Lorca).

Cohen’s translated and set to music one of Lorca’s poems Pequeño Vals Vienés. You may recognize this hauntingly beautiful song as Take This Waltz.

Apart from the films based on his plays, several movies have been made with Lorca himself as protagonist. (Go here http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0305030/ for a complete list). Among them, La Desaparición De García Lorca (1996) with Andy García, terribly miscast as Lorca, and the deeply moving Little Ashes (2009),

In Little Ashes, Robert Pattison, of Harry Potter and Twilight fame, does a moving portrait of the Surrealistic painter Salvador Dali and the Spanish actor, Javier Beltrán, plays Lorca as a young man in the fictionalized account of the time they spent together, and with the well-known director Luis Buñuel, in the Residencia de Estudiantes de Madrid. You can read my review at http://www.notreadyforgrannypanties.com/2011/06/little-ashes.html

Later Dali and Buñuel moved to Paris where they collaborated in the surrealist film A chien Andalous,

<a href="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=3830396680029577028&hl=en&fs=true“><embed id=VideoPlayback src=http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=3830396680029577028&hl=en&fs=true style=width:400px;height:326px allowFullScreen=true allowScriptAccess=always type=application/x-shockwave-flash> </embed>

as shocking and provoking today, as it was in 1929 when it was conceived.

Lorca believed the title of the film (totally unrelated to its content) was meant as an insult to him. For as he says in Little Ashes, “I’m the only andaluz they know.”

His death at 38 put an early end to this talented poet, playwright, theater director (he travelled with a tent, La Barraca, through Spain in the 1930s, bringing the classical theater for free to towns and villages), and painter. You can see a gallery of Lorca’s pictures here: http://www.slide.com/r/3s4clS893z9ZetLN0MEKGwknzkdVTTEU?fbr=1

As my personal requiem for Lorca, I made him one of the immortals in my novel Garlic for Breakfast (https://carmenferreiroesteban.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/garlic-for-breakfast-8-by-carmen-ferreiro-esteban/).

This episodic review does no justice to the multiple artistic facets of this immensely talented poet, but I hope it has awaken your interest to learn more.

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3 Comments »

  1. Thanks for a great post. I’ve only recently discovered Lorca, I came across a translation of Blood Wedding, done by Ted Hughes. I found it overpowering, and I’m now working through his collected poems. These videos you’ve posted are a great resource 🙂

    Comment by Jerry — September 28, 2011 @ 7:09 pm | Reply

  2. You’re very welcome.

    If you speak Spanish, you may want to check these too.

    https://carmenferreiroesteban.wordpress.com/2011/07/06/federico-garcia-lorca-in-memoriam/

    Comment by carmenferreiroesteban — September 28, 2011 @ 10:12 pm | Reply

  3. […] If you are interested in learning about the real Lorca check this short introduction in my blog: CLICK HERE […]

    Pingback by Romantic Poetry Alive! « ljsimcox — October 3, 2012 @ 5:18 am | Reply


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