“Ghazal 5: of the Dead Boy” by Federico García Lorca

Federico García Lorca


Every afternoon in Granada,
every afternoon, a boy dies.
Every afternoon, the water sits down
to speak with his friends.
The dead wear moss wings.
The clouded wind and the cleaned wind
are two pheasants that fly through towers
and the day is a wounded little boy.
Left in the air not a lark wisp
when I found you by the wine caves.
Not left anywhere on the earth a cloud crumb
when you choked yourself with the river.
A water colossus fell over the mountains
and the valley went turning with stray dogs and lilies.
Your body, in the violet shadow of my hands,
was, cold on the bank, an indifferent archangel.
Translated from the Spanish by Robert Eric Shoemaker

from Rattle #77, Fall 2022
Tribute to Translation


Federico García Lorca (1898–1936) was a Spanish poet and playwright who, in a career that spanned just 19 years, resurrected and revitalized the most basic strains of Spanish poetry and theatre. He was executed by a Nationalist firing squad in the first months of the Spanish Civil War. | Robert Eric Shoemaker: “There’s a very healthy, ongoing lineage of poets channeling, referencing, and bastardizing the work of and personae of other poets, particularly that of queer poets, and perhaps no poet more so than Lorca. So many poets including Jack Spicer, Robert Duncan, Allen Ginsberg, Jerome Rothenberg, Amiri Baraka, and Nathaniel Mackey have talked back to Lorca that it can become hard to track which reference is to Lorca and which is to another Lorca reference. This, I find, is the point of enmeshing oneself with Lorca; you become Lorca’s ghost, too, part of the Lorquian matrix. In being After Lorca, to pay homage to Spicer’s pivotal work, I translate to find myself in Lorca’s midst, among his friends (named above, and those beyond). As a queer poet, in which I mean queerness as a turn away from [insert hegemony here] as well as an identity, I find myself among kindred spirits by channeling, another word for translating, and locating their words in my words and vice versa. Though all of the poets in the Lorca Matrix might not identify as ‘queer,’ I do think they would appreciate the counter-maneuvers of queerness and of queer translation—the rubbing against the grain of languages, which is the work we translators and poets are constantly finding ourselves through.” (web)

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