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Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Federico García Lorca: De Profundis


Dryland farming, Granada region, Spain: Andalusian fields, seen from La Calahorra Castle
: photo by Jebulon, 11 August 2009

Those hundred lovers
are asleep forever
beneath the dry earth.
Andalusia has
long, red-colored roads.
Córdoba, green olive trees
for placing a hundred crosses
to remember them.
Those hundred lovers
are asleep forever.

Dryland Farming #24, Monegros County, Aragon, Spain: photo by Edward Burtynsky, 2010 (via Edward Burtynsky Photographic Works)

Dryland Farming #31, Monegros County, Aragon, Spain:
photo by Edward Burtynsky, 2010 (via Edward Burtynsky Photographic Works)

Typical landscape of Los Monegros comarca, near Leciñena, Aragon, Spain
: photo by Willtron, 14 April 2008

The poem De Profundis by Federico García Lorca on the eastern wall of the Kamerlingh Onnes Gebouw, at the corner of the Langebrug and the Zonneveldstraat in Leiden, The Netherlands: photo by Tubantia, 11 September 2008

Federico García Lorca: De Profundis, from Poema del Cante Jondo, 1931, trans. by Carlos Bauer, 1987




Thanks for this -- beautiful poem/photos from Spain ("Dryland farming" in Granada, Monegros (Burtynsky!), Lorca's poem in stone. . . .


light coming into fog against invisible
ridge, owl’s hooo hooo hooo from branch
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

so that it appears to be it,
seen from behind idea

of light, reversal of light
translated, out there

grey white of fog reflected in channel,
shadowed green pine on tip of sandspit

Marcia said...


Ah, Lorca and Andalucia - how lovely the translation, how exquisite the rhythm of his Spanish, bringing both music of sorrow, as well as intense love of the landscape. His poetry is so resonant with the times now, and you so perfectly detail that in your remarks following the second post of the day. I find myself echoing your thoughts on Obama/FDR, but alas, I am preaching to the choir. We are close, as Lorca lamented in "Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias" - "a las cinco de la tarde." We are almost there where "death laid eggs in the wound," where"Bones and flutes resound...," where"..the throng burst through the windows." "A las cinco de la tarde." The knell tolls.... And Texas burns. (I could say much more on that subject, but will step down from the soap box now.)

TC said...

No light coming into fog here yet, Steve.

It may not yet be five in the afternoon, but it always feels like five o'clock in the morning these days.

Even at six o'clock in the morning...

so that it appears to be it,

until at least [fill in the century].

Marcia, we've been vicariously experiencing that terrible heat wave through sympathy with you. Last month I posted some pictures of the Los Alamos Fire here.

Here it's been a high of 63 degree degrees for months. That is, when it wasn't a high of 62.

Definitely the idea of Dryland Farming made us think of you.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Very fine Lorca, Tom, and the mural on the building ... this is how poetry should be printed!


TC said...

Don, I couldn't agree more. These days wall-size type would be a welcome gift to old failing eyes.

You've reminded me that the best feeling I ever had about a poem-publication of mine came back in the early Seventies, when my little elegy for the great Roberto Clemente -- who had tragically plunged to his death in the Caribbean while attempting to ferry earthquake-relief supplies into Nicaragua in a small plane -- was posted on the city buses of Pittsburgh. Complete with a neat Spanish translation.

I didn't get to see it on those buses, but I could see it in my heart...

When I ride the city buses here these nights, I don't see poem posters.

(Older black man next to me on bus tonight in a conversation with the driver about some scary "Crazy Eyes"... got home and googled that Newsweek cover. Unsettling times.)

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Was this the one on the buses?

"You had a quiet
pissed off pride ..."

Yes, yes - it is what he had to have to gain respect in those days. The Pittsburgh announcers and journalists calling him "Bobbie" - such a gentle loving, man.

I was out on the East Coast at the time and, after Willie Mays, he was simply the best. Clutch.

He brought Pittsburgh to its knees - no mean feat - and, I have to tell you, that's where we still are.


TC said...

Don, true all that. And respect is what he earned, many times over.

(In my youthful ushering days, I saw him play many times - a marvel.)

Sorry I gave a bad link to that bus poem, a shorter one:

Clemente (1934-1972)

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Ah, there it is ... thanks again, Tom.

Lucy in the Sky said...

I cannot make up my mind and choose between the two versions. The original Spanish verses sound solemn but the English equivalent you have put together is simply bewitching.

TC said...


I like both versions.

Lorca's poetry of "deep song" has such deep roots -- in the natural musicality and lyrical resonance of Spanish poetry, in the blood and heat and soil of Andalusia.

That makes it a great challenge for translators.

But it also has an elemental quality, a quality of distinctive and suggestive simplicity, a contact with basic human experience and certain kinds of implication and feeling that seem universal.

I think this may be one of those rare cases in which a great poem survives a language transplant without undue damage in handling.