Influence of Federico García Lorca

Debate on Leonard Cohen's poetry (and novels), both published and unpublished. Song lyrics may also be discussed here.
Clyde
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Influence of Federico García Lorca

Post by Clyde »

I've been listening the superb concert of LC in Zurich'93, where he made a "tiny homage" to the great Spanish poet Federico García Lorca with his song "First we take Manhattan".

Could anyone tell me in which way has been LC influenced by this poet?

Thank you very much.
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lizzytysh
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Post by lizzytysh »

Dear Clyde ~

With your question, you'll probably get pointed in numerous directions, all relevant. I'll let someone else do it, however; someone who will do it in more organized fashion, and who has the time, which I certainly don't at the moment.

However, a beginning understatement would be that Leonard has been influenced by Federico in a major way. You will be delighted by the details 8) , and have some very fun reading and listening ahead of you :D . The "tiny homage" is Leonard's way of juxtaposing how minimally capable he feels of doing true justice to someone who has been such a major influence in his life. For a start, his daughter is named Lorca. Next, listen to "Take This Waltz" and "Alexandra Leaving." Then, read the accounting of Leonard's trip, as a very young man, into a used bookstore.

~ Lizzy
Clyde
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Post by Clyde »

Upps, I got wrong, the song was "Take this waltz" and not "Fisrt we take Manhattan".
Tchocolatl
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Post by Tchocolatl »

Is it the day of all the lapsus? FGL lived in Manhattan for a while, and he wrote poems about the place.

(...) La nieve de Manhattan empuja los anuncios
y lleva gracia pura por las falsas ojivas.
Sacerdotes idiotas y querubes de pluma
van detrás de Lutero por las altas esquinas.


Extract of NACIMIENTO DE CRISTO

Alexandra Leaving came from another poet : Constantine P. Cavafy :

http://users.hol.gr/~barbanis/cavafy/antony.html

Yes, pace the web, you'll find what L. said. Ciao! :D
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tomsakic
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Post by tomsakic »

With the Lorca poem, the translation took 150 hours, just to get it into English that resembled - I would never presume to say duplicated - the greatness of Lorca's poem. It was a long, drawn-out affair, and the only reason I would even attempt it is my love for Lorca. I loved him as a kid; I named my daughter Lorca, so you can see this is not a casual figure in my life.
Last year it was the 50th anniversary of the death of Federico Garcia Lorca, a great Spanish writer. He was the first poet that ever touched me. And i remember the first lines of his that i ever read that moved me into this delicious racket called poetry. It was: "I want to pass through the arches of Elvira, to see your thighs and begin weeping". That line burned itself into my heart and i've written it over and over again in a hundred songs. This is a song of his, called "Little Viennese Waltz" that i had the great honor to translate and set to music.
It was about 300 years ago today that I stumbled on a book by a Spanish poet. A book that was to alter my life completely. You see I was destined to be a brain surgeon or a forest ranger or even just to go into the family clothing business. But in this old bookstore I opened a book and I read the lines "I want to pass through the arches of Elvira, to see your thighs and begin weeping." I turned to the cover of the book, it was written by a Spanish poet by the name of Frederico Garcia Lorca, and for the first time I understood that there was another world and I wanted to be in it. So it was a great honour for me when I was asked to translate one of his great poems into English and to set it to music. The poem is Little Viennese Waltz which I called Take This Waltz.
Last year I had the great honour to translate into English a poem by the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca,a man who effectively ruined my life when I was fifteen. I found a book of his in a secondhand bookstore. I read the lines, "I want to pass through the arches of Elvira to see your thighs and begin weeping." And for the next thirty years, I was looking for the arches of Elvira, I was looking for those thighs, I was looking for my tears. I'm glad I've forgotten all that and I could revenge him with this act of homage, by translating one of his great poems into clumsy English. Take this Waltz, take this waltz.
Here of all places I don't have to explain how I fell in love with the poet Federico Garcia Lorca. I was 15 years old and I was wandering through the bookstores of Montreal and I fell upon one of his books,and I opened it,and my eyes saw those lines "I want to pass through the Arches of Elvira,to see her thighs and begin weeping". I thought "This is where I want to be"... I read alone "Green I want you green "I turned another page "The morning through fistfulls of ants in your face" I turned another page "Her thighs slipped away like school of silver minnows". I knew that I have had come home. So it is with a great sense of gratitude that I am able to repay my debt to Federico Garcia, at least a corner, a fragment, a crumb, a hair, an electron of my debt by dedicating this song, this translation of his great poem "Little Viennese Waltz", "Take This Waltz".
Long time ago I was about 15 in my hometown of Montreal, I was rumbling through....or rambling as you say down here. We say "rumbling" .Actually we don't say that at all. I was rumbling through this bookstore in Montreal. And I came upon this old book, a second-hand book of poems by a Spanish poet. I opened it up and I read these lines : "I want to pass through the arches of Elvira, to see your thighs and begin weeping". Well that certainly was a refreshing sentiment. I began my own search for those arches those thighs and those tears....Another line "The morning through fistfuls of ants at my face" It's a terrible idea. But this was a universe I understood thoroughly and I began to pursue it, I began to follow it and I began to live in it. And now these many years later, it is my great privilege to be able to offer my tiny homage to this great Spanish poet, the aniversary of whose assassination was celebrated two years ago. He was killed by the Civil Guards in Spain in 1936. But my real homage to this poet was naming my own daughter Lorca. It was Federico Garcia Lorca. I set one of his poems to music and translated it. He called it "Little Vienese Waltz". My song is called "Take this Waltz".
A long time ago in a second hand bookstore in the city of Montreal, I stumbled on a book that altered the course of my shabby and tiny existence. It was the "Poems of Federico Garcia Lorca". And I accepted his invitation to enter that world of crystals and ants and thighs and arches. And when I got old enough to realize that I owed someone my gratitude, I wrote him this tiny homage based on a great poem he wrote called "Little Viennese Waltz."
Thank you very much friends for this very warm reception this evening, we really appreciate it. You know, I named my daughter Lorca, after the great Spanish poet. I was really pleased when she put a ring in her nose. I was delighted at the age of 18 when she dyed her hair blue. Later on it was.... you can understand a father's pride....when she put a stud through her tongue.....(laughs)...She lives within the true spirit of the poet. and I love her for it. It was with a great sense of anxiety and trepidation that I began to translate one of the great poems of Federico Garcia Lorca and it has been a great source of pleasure to me to receive a letter from his sister congratulating me on my tiny hommage to this great poet's work. Take This Waltz.
My daughter dyed her hair blue and I didn't mind,and she put this ring in her nose : I didn't mind that either.And she put this stud through her tongue.That was a little hard for a father to take but I didn't really feel like doing violence to her relationship just because you put a nail through a tongue. There are things you have to accept.Then she said she want to move to Amsterdam. That's when I put my foot down.( all this is my way of introducing a song ).My daughter was named after a great poet that touched me very much when I was her age.His name is Federico Garcia Lorca.My daughter's name is Lorca.And this is the song for him.
Zurich 93! -
It was a long time ago in a book store in Montreal I stumble on a book by a great Spanish poet. And in this book he invited me to enter a universe of ants and crystals and arches and minnows and thighs that slipped away like herds of tiny fish. I entered that world and I'm so happy to say that I never left it. And here's my tiny homage to the great Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca. Take this Waltz...
You know it was many years ago in the city of Montreal that I stumbled upon this volume. I opened it and I accepted the poet's invitation to enter into this world where fistfuls of ants were thrown at the sun and crystals obscured the pine trees and there were the arches of Elvira to pass through and begin weeping and there were those thighs that slipped away like schools of silver minnows. That was the irresistible seductive invitation I could not resist. I slipped into that fist, I did, I lived among the ants and I learned their ways. I mastered the crystals. I healed many alcoholic gurus with my crystal powers. I passed through the arches of Elvira and I did, I began weeping. That's nothing new. I saw those thighs glistening like hunting horns and I touched them, I did, I pulled my hand away and I slipped away like a school of silver minnows. I've never left that world. I stand here tonight and I invite you all to join me here. There's lots of space, there's no boundaries, there's no politics, no language. All you have to do is celebrate the sunlight coming through the hair of your beloved. It's a simple thing. And it's my great honour and my great privilege and my tiny duty to render this homage to the great Spanish poet who invited me there, Federico Garcia Lorca.Take this waltz, take this waltz.
It was many years ago in my home town of Montreal that I stumbled into this second hand bookstore. I opened up this volume and I accepted the poet's invitation to enter into this world of fistfuls of ants that were thrown at the sun and crystals that could not be climbed and the arches of Elvira through which you must pass through to see her thighs and began weeping. A seductive invitation, far more seductive than sixties. And I did, I squeezed myself into that fistful of ants and I lived among them and I learned their ways. I mastered the crystals and I cured many an alcoholic guru with those crystals. I passed through the arches of Elvira and did, I began weeping. I touched her thighs and I began weeping, and I slipped away like a school of silver minnows and I lived in that universe into which the poet invited me and invite you all to join me. Here there is no space and no time and no conflict, no fight, no language differences, no religious differences, we're just here smitten with the moonlight. And I take this opportunity to render my tiny homage to the great Spanish poet, who invited me into this dismal enlightenment, the great Spanish poet, Federico Garcia Lorca. Take this waltz, take this waltz.
The best way is to borrow Garcia Lorca's Poet in New York, or Selected Poems, in the library. I did so two years ago, and read it carefully. I think there's that mood, the feelings and the intimate landscape that LC wanted to live in, and I found exactly that, what he said, in Lorca's poetry.
Little Viennese Waltz

In Vienna there are ten little girls
a shoulder for death to cry on
and a forest of dried pigeons.
There is a fragment of tomorrow
in the museum of winter frost.
There is a thousand-windowed dance hall.

Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Take this close-mouthed waltz.

Little waltz, little waltz, little waltz,
of itself, of death, and of brandy
that dips its tail in the sea.

I love you, I love you, I love you,
with the armchair and the book of death
down the melancholy hallway,
in the iris's dark garret,
in our bed that was once the moon's bed,
and in that dance the turtle dreamed of.

Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Take this broken-waisted waltz
In Vienna there are four mirrors
in which your mouth and the echoes play.
There is a death for piano
that paints the little boys blue.
There are beggars on the roof.
There are fresh garlands of tears.

Aye, ay, ay, ay!
Take this waltz that dies in my arms.
Because I love you, I love you, my love,
in the attic where children play,
dreaming ancient lights of Hungary
through the noise, the balmy afternoon,
seeing sheep and irises of snow
through the dark silence of your forehead.

Ay, ay, ay ay!
Take this "I will always love you" waltz.
In Vienna I will dance with you
in a costume with a river's head.
See how the hyacinths line my banks!
I will leave my mouth between your legs,
my soul in photographs and lilies,
and in the dark wake of your footsteps,
my love, my love, I will have to leave
violin and grave, the waltzing ribbons.
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tomsakic
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Post by tomsakic »

What to say than: read Lorca!
These are probably the two most know poems. I read them already in (very) early class of elementary school...
Song of the Horseman

Córdoba,
distant and alone.

Black pony, big moon,
olives in my saddlebag.
Though I know these roads,
I’ll never reach Córdoba.

Through the plains, through wind,
black pony, red moon,
death watching me
from the high towers of Córdoba.

Ay! What a long road.
Ay! What a brave pony.
Ay! Death, you will take me,
on the road to Córdoba.

Córdoba,
distant and alone.
Fare Well

If I die,
leave the balcony open.

The little boy is eating oranges.
(From my balcony I can see him.)

The reaper is harvesting the wheat.
(From my balcony I can hear him.)

If I die,
leave the balcony open!
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Post by Tony »

I have always felt, perhaps mistakenly, that there are strong similarities between the poems of Federico Garcia Lorca and those of Luis de Gongora y Argote, although the latter was born in Spain some centuries earlier(1561 - 1627).
Tchocolatl
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Post by Tchocolatl »

I would like to comment Tony, but I can't as I do not know the poetry of Luis de Gongora y Argote (yet?). Some day maybe. Maybe.

Poet in New York was written while FGL was in a depressive mood, which brought a particular side to his work. Interesting anectode: he wrote about the Blacks in Harlem in a jazzy manner like the music he heard there.

Maybe LC was attracted by the works of FGL because both of them are good reporters of reality around AND in themselves, that they can render enterely - emotional, physical and intellectual sides as well.

Tom has done a nice job, still, pace the web if you have the time and the will there is even more more diamonds in the mine. :wink:
Eaaasyyy, this, I knoOow. 8)
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~greg
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Post by ~greg »

Tony wrote:I have always felt, perhaps mistakenly, that there are strong similarities between the poems of Federico Garcia Lorca and those of Luis de Gongora y Argote, although the latter was born in Spain some centuries earlier(1561 - 1627).

Says on pg lvii in the introduction to "Lorca's Collected Poems, revised bilingual edition, Ed: Christopher Maurer":

In the development of his powers of metaphor, as with all else in his
work, Lorca owes as much, probably more, to the Spanish tradition as to
his contact with the avant-garde. In preparing for the three hundredth
anniversary of the death of Don Luis de Gongora, an event commemorated
in 1927 all over Spain and Latin America, Lorca had returned to the
works of the great Baroque poet and had written an enthusiastic lecture
analyzing his poetics (DS 59-85). Without fully understanding Gongora's
poetry, Lorca found much to admire in him: meticulous workmanship and
a thirst for poetic perfection; pride in his Andalusian origins;
"aristocratic solitude" and scorn for the "vulgar" reader; a love of
classical mythology; and a radically new vision of syntax and of the
Spanish language. But above all Lorca loved the metaphorical splendor
of Don Luis: the unimaginable clarity and complexity of his conceits.
Gongora had "thought, without saying so, that the eternity of a poem
depends on the quality and perfect fit of its images." And Lorca would
do his best to emulate him throughout The Gypsy Ballads. Here, for
example, is an image attributable to his study of Gongora's conceits:

"Dense oxen of water
charge at the boys
bathing in the moons
of their rippling horns."

In these four lines from Ballad of the Marked Man some boys are
swimming at night, struggling against the "charging" current of
an irrigation canal. (A "water-ox," Lorca explains in the lecture
on Gongora, is the popular Andalusian term for a "deep channel
of water that flows slowly across a field: [the metaphorical name
indicates] its combative-ness, its strength and volume.")
The crescent moon's reflection on the moving water has given
the "water-ox" a pair of "rippling horns," and one can say that
the boys are "bathing" in them.

But metaphor was only one pole of Lorca's image making. The other
was symbolism, of two sorts: that which he inherited from modern
poetry (Mallarme, Maeterlinck, etc.); and the symbolism of the
traditional lyric (traditional art seldom uses metaphor).
The difference between metaphor and symbol need not be explained
here. The latter involves an analogy, and has a solution, e.g.,

"The rider was drawing closer
playing the drum of the plain"

where, for a number of reasons --shape, resonance, color, etc.
- "plain" is analogous to "drum." The symbol does not always
involve analogical reasoning and is not apprehended as a riddle
with a specific solution. In the best-known line of Lorca's poetry:

"Green I want you green"

"green" is, simply, a longed-for, indefinable state of mind,
like Mallarme's image of infinity: azur.

-- the latter being the influence of DJ Ruby Rhod
("The Fifth Element") on Lorca.

(..you green? )
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ForYourSmile
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Post by ForYourSmile »

From the moment in which I knew Lorca's influence in Cohen's work, I can't read Lorca without thinking about this relation.

My curiosity has always been to know how it was this meeting between Lorca and Cohen, this transcendental moment. Which was this book Cohen found in the bookshop of Montreal? What poems were in it? How were they translated? How did they sound in English? How were the types of letters?

We find the clues in the prologues of "Take This Waltz" in the 1988's tour. (see Marc Gaffie and the Tom's quotes in this topic. If I could transcribe, I would add the very beautiful one of the Royal Albert Hall, London 30 May.) I'm deeply moved by the great effort that Cohen realised to adapt this wonderful poem as a song, and the admiration and love that he showed.

Probably he gave the key of this in an interview to the Catalan television, (TV3, Barcelona, May 1988 "Leonard Cohen lluny dels seixanta" - "LC Far From The Sixties"). The interviewer asks what was Lorca's first book he had read; Cohen answers that it was "Selected Poems" translated by Stephen Spender, he doubts and adds that probably it was working together with "Liechman". He tells that when he was fourteen or fifteen years old, reading poetry was a duty, until he found in a bookshop this book that was articulating a world that was his own world. In that moment it was as if he had passed under Elvira's arch and he could begin weeping. (I keep this interview in VHS, soon in DVD; unfortunately the voice of the translator is dubbed to Catalan, so it is over what Cohen is telling and it is almost impossible to hear and to transcribe his exact words.)

Last week I was looking for this book and I found it in an old bookshop in Barcelona.

Image

Selected Poems of Federico Garcia Lorca. Translated by Stephen Spender and J.L. Gili, The Hogarth Library Vol. XI, London, first published in 1943, English, 12.5x18.5, 56p, with dust-jacket, 23 poems.

Stephen Spender, Sir Stephen Harold Spender, poet and essayist: born in London on the 28th February 1909; died on the 16th July 1995. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Spender

J.L. Gili, Joan Lluis Gili i Serra (John Louis Gili), bookseller, publisher, Spanish scholar and translator: born in Barcelona on the 10th February 1907; married in 1938 to Elizabeth Mac Pherson (two sons, one daughter); died in Oxford on 6th May 1998. http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/ ... _n14155323

Lorca died in August 1936. ("The Civil War broke out, and it was shortly followed by the brutal news of his assassination" - J. L. Gili & Stephen Spender in the foreword of Selected Poems.) The first published was Poems (1938), this one of 1943 had the same selection with more elaborated versions, a finished Ode to Walt Whitman and a foreword of the translators. It was simultaneously published in New York and Toronto by Oxford University Press. We can read in the book: "distributed in Canada by our exclusive agent, the Macmillan Company of Canada limited, 70 Bond Street, Toronto". The book had an important diffusion and introduced Lorca's writing to an English speaking audience. Also there is important the presence of a committed Stephen Spender as translator.

Then it is possible that Leonard, 15 years old, found it in the bookstores of Montreal in 1949.

(Don't confuse with "The Selected Poems", a bilingual collection of various translators: Stephen Spender, Langston Hughes, Ben Belitt, William jay Smith, and W.S. Merwin.)

Again in this interview (TV3 1988), talking about the Holocaust, Cohen tells that a certain melancholy inheritance should be compared to the Catalan people that have lost so often fighting for their national rights. Cohen mentions George Orwell and "Homage To Catalonia". (He really has a very deep cultural background, beyond the Bible.) He adds than the Spanish Civil War was a romantic myth in his generation.

But Cohen's fascination for Lorca is deeper than the circumstances of a time and the political and/or sentimental attitude of intellectuality. The influence doesn't limit just to the poetry; Leonard takes interest in Lorca's cultural environment, for example, his rip of guitar, a skill that his colleagues seem to envy, has something of flamenco. In Barcelona (12 Oct 1974) he said "My guitar has come home", and he dedicated his first concert in Spain to Lorca. In an interview (Costantino Romero - Vibraciones - 1974) he showed his admiration to the sing deeply "cante jondo" of a people that it has to see more with the feelings than with the show. Before the "Seems So Long Ago, Nancy" play a few notes of "Los cuatro muleros". Lorca also was musician and had a great success gathering this popular song with others as "Anda jaleo".

(In this concert of Barcelona, also he talks about the political changes in Spain in that time - 1974. Thanks to JA and GB for this concert, my best diamond.)

Cohen said that Lorca showed him that the poetry can be pure and deep and at the same time popular. (Ira Nadel: Leonard Cohen. A Life in Art.)

The poets were very popular in those times. My grandmother could recite a good number of beautiful poems of Maragall, Verdager or Guimerà (poets of the Catalan Renaixença). The people of working class met, read poetry, discussed and sang popular songs. Everything succumbed after the war. Lorca was extraordinarily popular.

I belong to a culture much closer to Lorca that Cohen. Franco, and other circumstances, didn't achieve that I hated the brothers nations of my Iberian Peninsula; this way I have always enjoyed and loved all this cultural richness taking advantage of my knowledge of the Castilian language. At the same time I can understand that Lorca's work is universal.

They say that Granada, as Lorca, has "duende" or "embrujo", something like magic, bewitch, charm or attraction. I have felt it. Granada has captivated many others: Manuel de Falla, Agustín Lara, Bill Clinton and Washington Irving. Of course Cohen also visited Granada. A good place to celebrate a big Leonard Cohen Event. 8)

The widest reference that we know about the meeting between Federico García Lorca and Leonard Cohen was in Reijkavik 24 Jun 1988:
"Here of all places I don't have to explain how I fell in love with the poet Federico Garcia Lorca. I was 15 years old and I was wandering through the bookstores of Montreal and I fell upon one of his books, and I opened it, and my eyes saw those lines "I want to pass through the Arches of Elvira, to see her thighs and begin weeping". I thought "This is where I want to be"... I read alone "Green green I want you green" I turned another page "The morning threw fistfulls of ants in your face" I turned another page "Her thighs slipped away like school of silver minnows". I knew that I have had come home. So it is with a great sense of gratitude that I am able to repay my debt to Federico Garcia, at least a corner, a fragment, a crumb, a hair, an electron of my debt by dedicating this song, this translation of his great poem "Little Viennese Waltz", "Take This Waltz".
Cohen mentioned five poems:

1) "... Arches of Elvira ..."
from the poem Gacela del mercado matutino of the book "Diván del Tamarit" (1936)

2) "Green green I want you green".
Romance sonámbulo the book "Romancero Gitano" (1924-1927)
Verde que te quiero verde.
Verde viento. Verdes ramas.

...
Somnambule Ballad
Green, how much I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.

(translated by Spender & Gili)

3) "The morning threw fistfulls of ants in your face"
A surrealist image, maybe from Gacela de la muerte oscura "Diván del Tamarit" (1936)
Cúbreme por la aurora con un velo,
porque me arrojará puñados de hormigas,


4) "Her thighs slipped away like school of silver minnows"
La casada infiel "Romancero Gitano" (1924-1927)
...
Sus muslos se me escapaban
como peces sorprendidos
la mitad llenos de lumbre,
la mitad llenos de frío

The Faithless Wife
...
Her thighs slipped away from me
like startled fish,
half full of fire,
half full of cold.

(translated by Spender & Gili)

5) "Little Viennese Waltz" "Pequeño vals vienés" from "Poeta en Nueva York" (1929 -1930)

We can find in "Selected Poems" only two of these poems. The Cohen's memory of that essential moment is extraordinarily emotive and I believe it's a mixture of later readings. Of course he was developing his interest for Lorca with other works.

I have to say that the book seems to me brief. I don't want to do any criticism on the translation. This book has something of holy for me.

A poem is what every reader understands. In the case that it is translated, there is a previous interpretation, then the reader has to trust the translator, especially if he doesn't have any idea of the prior language. It is something similar to a cover of a song or an adaptation of a play.

Lets to see the translations of the last verse of "Gacela del mercado matutino"
...
Por el arco de Elvira
voy a verte pasar,
para sentir tus muslos
y ponerme a llorar.


According to Michael's Smith translation:
Under the Elvira arch
let me see you pass
that I may suffer your thighs
and cry.


By Carlos Amantea
Under the Elvira arch
I want to see you go by
to suffer from your thighs
and begin to cry.


In my translation, very literal and without any poetic claims:
Under the Elvira arch
I am going to see you pass,
to feel your thighs
and begin to cry.


La Puerta de Elvira (Elvira's door) was the main access to Granada walled enclosure in the XIth century. Now it remains the called Arco de Elvira (Elvira arch). It is a popular and very crowded place.

In my opinion the entire poem evokes a deep desire towards someone that we don't know; we don't know his (or her) name, we are waiting to see him (or her) to pass again and we'll suffer our passion from the distance.

"Voy a verte pasar": it says for sure that I expect to see you pass soon. "Para sentir tus muslos y ponerme a llorar" I will feel the image of your thighs and then I will begin to cry. The verb “to suffer" isn't in Lorca's poem, "to cry" already expresses that suffering. I don't understand either "Let ..." and the "want" doesn't exist and it is too evident.

We can't affirm that the thighs belong to a woman, and if her name is Elvira. Everyone is free to admire what he/she wishes.

Well I want to go on thinking that I bought the book that made our poet be born. But my fine copy has an inscription of the former owner with a Holland address, I think my copy wasn't Leonard's one. :D
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tomsakic
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Post by tomsakic »

It seems that, ocassioned by Lorca's tribute album in 1986, Leonard was in his Lorca period. There are two poems connected with Lorca in Book of Longing. One is "Lorca Lives", signed 1985. The other shows that Leonard was trying to translate The Unfaithfull Wife, not only Little Viennese Waltz... Page 147-148. The book is now out, and I can paste the poem here, only for your eyes.

The Faithless Wife (after the poem by Lorca)

The Night of Santiago
And I was passing through
So I took her to the river
As any man would do

She said she was a virgin
That wasn't what I'd heard
But I'm not the Inquisition
I took her at her word

And yes she lied about it all
Her children and her husband
You were meant to judge the world
Forgive me but I wasn't

The lights went out behind us
The fireflies undressed
The broken sidewalk ended
I touched her sleeping breasts

They opened to me urgently
Like lilies from the dead
Behind a fine embroidery
Her nipples rose like bread

Her petticoat was starched and loud
And crushed between our legs
It thundered like a living cloud
Beset by rator blades

No silver light to plate their leaves
The trees grew wild and high
A file of dogs patrolled the beach
To keep the night alive

We passed the thorns and berry bush
The reeds and prickly pear
I made a hollow in the earth
To nest her dampened hair

Then I took off my necktie
And she took of her dress
My belt and pistol set aside
We tore away the rest

Her skin was oil and ointments
And brighter than a shell
Your gold and glass appointments
Will never shine so well

Her thights they slipped away from me
Like schools of startled fish
Though i've forgotten half my life
I still remember this

That night I ran the best of roads
Upon a mighty charger
But very soon I'm overthrown
And she's become the rider

Now as a man I won't repeat
The things she said aloud
Except for this my lips are sealed
Forever and for now

And soon there's sand in every kiss
And soon the dawn is ready
And soon the night surrenders
To a daffodil machete

I gave her something pretty
And I waited 'til she laughed
I wasn't born a gipsy
To make a woman sad

I didn't fall in love. Of course
It's never up to you
But she was walking back and forth
And I was passing through

When I took her to the river
In her virginal apparel
When I took her to the river
On the Night of Santiago

And yes she lied about her life
Her children and her husband
you were born to judge the world
Forgive me but I wasn't

The Night of Santiago
And I was passing through
And I took her to the river
As any man would do


Sounds like a song to me. I could swear that maybe Leonard was considering to set this to music, but he did Take This Waltz instead?

Lorca Lives, page 90

Lorca lives in New York City
He never went back to Spain
He went to Cuba for a while
But he’s back in town again

He’s tired of the gypsies
And he’s tired of the sea
He hates to play his old guitar
It only has one key

He heard that he was shot and killed
He never was, you know
He lives in New York City
He doesn’t like it though
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ForYourSmile
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Location: So on battlefields from here to Barcelona
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Post by ForYourSmile »

Thank you for this advance!

Cohen adapted the poem, he didn't try a translation. In fact it's radically different from the work of Stephen Spender and J.L. Gili. The result is so excellent as the original poem. As Take This Waltz, very musical, maybe it was an alternative as you say. Really very beautiful, and I like it a lot. There are moments with the authentic humour Cohen:

She said she was a virgin
That wasn't what I'd heard
But I'm not the Inquisition
I took her at her word


From Spender and Gili La Casada Infiel is The Faithless Wife. But I wonder if The Faithless Married is better, the problem is that married lost the implicit woman's condition. I understand the difficulties of the translation, I'm not a purist at all.

you were born to judge the world
Forgive me but I wasn't


Commander Cohen could disappear in Cuba but he's back again.

Federico García Lorca lives in New York City, he travels with Margarita Xirgu in her American tour, he stays in Madrid and he never returned with his family to Granada. Lorca lives.

Well, of these poems I might write all the night. :oops:
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linda_lakeside
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Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2004 3:08 pm
Location: By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea..

Post by linda_lakeside »

A fascinating thread, Tom, Antonio, and all. Keep talking, and posting. I'll keep a C&P for my files. Good insight into some poems I've yet to read. I'll put the grab on the Book of Longing, as soon as it's available at a bookstore near me. :cry: I'm sure that will be a while from now. A long while.

Best Regards,
Linda.
Antonio
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Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 12:54 am

Post by Antonio »

ForYourSmile:

what an astonishing work of research you've done, and you arrive to such great conclusions and open so many doors.
The problem in understanding Lorca is a serious one; I am andalusian and I have lived in Granada, and yet there's some essence in Lorca's words that I don't really understand. The time has changed, minds have changed and Andalucía have suffered such a great mutation. Sometimes even Lorca remains a great unknown there,

Greetings,

Antonio
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ForYourSmile
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Post by ForYourSmile »

Antonio ~ I feel Lorca in my way, I don't belong to that time nor Andalusian of Granada, but there is something brilliant and deep in him, of course I cannot understand him absolutely, who can?

-----------------

La Casada Infiel from Romancero Gitano (1924 - 1927), Federico García Lorca

The Faithless Wife from Selected Poems of Federico García Lorca (1943) translated by Stephen Spender and J.L. Gili

Y que yo me la llevé al río
creyendo que era mozuela,
pero tenía marido.

So I took her to the river
believing she was a maiden,
but she already had a husband.


Fue la noche de Santiago
y casi por compromiso.
Se apagaron los faroles
y se encendieron los grillos.
En las últimas esquinas
toqué sus pechos dormidos,
y se me abrieron de pronto
como ramos de jacintos.
El almidón de su enagua
me sonaba en el oído,
como una pieza de seda
rasgada por diez cuchillos.
Sin luz de plata en sus copas
los árboles han crecido
y un horizonte de perros
ladra muy lejos del río.

It was on St. James night
and almost as if I was obliged to.
The lanterns went out
and the crickets lighted up.
In the farthest street corners
I touched her sleeping breasts
and they opened to me suddenly
like spikes of hyacinth.
The starch of her petticoat
sounded in my ears
like a piece of silk
rent by ten knives.
Without silver light on their foliage
the trees had grown larger
and a horizon of dogs
barked very far from the river.


Pasadas las zarzamoras,
los juncos y los espinos,
bajo su mata de pelo
hice un hoyo sobre el limo.
Yo me quité la corbata.
Ella se quitó el vestido.
Yo el cinturón con revólver.
Ella sus cuatro corpiños.
Ni nardos ni caracolas
tienen el cutis tan fino,
ni los cristales con luna
relumbran con ese brillo.
Sus muslos se me escapaban
como peces sorprendidos,
la mitad llenos de lumbre,
la mitad llenos de frío.
Aquella noche corrí
el mejor de los caminos,
montado en potra de nácar
sin bridas y sin estribos.

Past the blackberries,
the reeds and the hawthorn
underneath her cluster of hair
I made a hollow in the earth
I took off my tie,
she too off her dress.
I, my belt with the revolver,
She, her four bodices.
Nor nard nor mother-o'-pearl
have skin so fine,
nor did crystals lit by moon
shine with such brilliance.
Her thighs slipped away from me
like startled fish,
half full of fire,
half full of cold.
That night I ran
on the best of roads
mounted on a nacre mare
without bridle stirrups.


No quiero decir, por hombre,
las cosas que ella me dijo.
La luz del entendimiento
me hace ser muy comedido.
Sucia de besos y arena
yo me la llevé del río.
Con el aire se batían
las espadas de los lirios.

As a man, I won't repeat
the things she said to me.
The light of understanding
has made me more discreet.
Smeared with sand and kisses
I took her away from the river.
The swords of the lilies
battled with the air.


Me porté como quién soy.
Como un gitano legítimo.
La regalé un costurero
grande, de raso pajizo,
y no quise enamorarme
porque teniendo marido
me dijo que era mozuela
cuando la llevaba al río.

I behaved just like myself.
like a proper gypsy.
I gave her a large sewing basket,
of straw-coloured satin,
but I did not fall in love
for although she had a husband
she told me she was a maiden
when I took her to the river.


----------------------------
A married is more unfaithful than a wife, isn't it?
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