Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Si Mis Manos Pudieran Deshojar

Si Mis Manos Pudieran Deshojar by Federico García Lorca
-- With English Translation

tumblr_lhlh2fp1Ua1qe5yzqo1_1280Yo pronuncio tu nombre
En las noches oscuras
Cuando vienen los astros
A beber en la luna
Y duermen los ramajes
De las frondas ocultas.
Y yo me siento hueco
De pasión y de música.
Loco reloj que canta
Muertas horas antiguas.

Yo pronuncio tu nombre,
En esta noche oscura,
Y tu nombre me suena
Más lejano que nunca.
Más lejano que todas las estrellas
Y más doliente que la mansa lluvia.

tumblr_lj1ejbORua1qdcsbjo1_400¿Te querré como entonces
Alguna vez? ¿Qué culpa
Tiene mi corazón?
Si la niebla se esfuma
¿Qué otra pasión me espera?
¿Será tranquila y pura?
¡¡Si mis dedos pudieran
Deshojar a la luna!!


If My Hands Could Defoliate

I pronounce your name
on dark nights,
when the stars come
to drink on the moon
and sleep in tufts
of hidden fronds.
And I feel myself hollow
of passion and music.
Crazy clock that sings
dead ancient hours.

I pronounce your name,
in this dark night,
and your name sounds
more distant than ever.
More distant that all stars
and more doleful than a calm rain.

Will I love you like then
ever again? What blame
has my heart?
When the mist dissipates,
what other passion may I expect?
Will it be calm and pure?
If only my fingers could
defoliate the moon!

Federico García Lorca

Many recognized his homosexuality from the start, but for decades Spain's literary establishment, and even his own family, refused to acknowledge that the country's best loved poet, Federico Garcia Lorca, was gay. His biographer, Ian Gibson, has conclusive evidence that Lorca's poetic achievements sprang from his lifelong frustration at concealing his homosexuality.

lorcaIn Lorca y el mundo gay (Lorca and the Gay World), published in Spanish on Monday, Gibson describes how the poet's works were censored to conceal his sexuality. It was not until the late 1980s that Lorca's sexual identity became grudgingly acknowledged, in the face of denials and evasions. Gibson blames the decades of silence on a deep-seated Spanish homophobia. "Spain couldn't accept that the greatest Spanish poet of all time was homosexual. Homophobia existed on both sides in the civil war and afterwards; it was a national problem. Now Spain permits same-sex marriage that taboo must be broken."

Some academics who recognized the truth "suggested the poet's homosexuality was alien to his poetic creativity", Gibson writes of the man he's studied for 40 years. Scholars colluded in the cover-up for fear of losing access to the poet's archives, or antagonizing the family, he says. "All his poetry turns around frustrated love. His tormented characters who can't live the life they want are precisely the metaphor for his sorrow. He was a genius who turned his suffering into art."

After Lorca was assassinated by death squads in August 1936, at the start of Spain's civil war, his brother Francisco and sister Isabel made every effort to expunge any trace of homosexuality from his life and work, Gibson claims.

A family spokeswoman, Laura Garcia Lorca, says they never talked of her uncle's homosexuality when her father was alive. "We didn't want his murder to be considered a sexual crime but to stress it was a political crime. It was difficult for my father to accept the homosexuality of his brother. However my Aunt Isabel [who died in 2002] spoke openly in her later years about homosexuality, and came to accept it as something natural. I imagine my father spoke of it among friends, but never publicly," she said recently.

As late as 1987, a long introduction to a standard textbook of Lorca poems, The Poet in New York, contained not a word about his sexuality. But that US trip in 1929, which produced an explosion of anguished creativity, was the result of a failed love affair with the sculptor Emilio Aladrén, Gibson reveals. The beautiful sculptor abandoned the poet to marry an English woman, Elizabeth Dove, which plunged Lorca into a deep depression.

Poems written shortly before his death were finally published in the mid-1980s. But the title, Sonnets of a Dark Love (to read this sonnet, click "Read more" below), was softened to Love Sonnets, even though the verses clearly referred to a man: "You will never understand that I love you/ because you sleep in me and are asleep./I hide you, weeping, persecuted/ by a voice of penetrating steel." The masculinity is clear in Spanish, in which nouns have gender.

Gibson says he went back to the beginning and re-read all of Lorca's earliest poems for this latest book. "I discovered an anguished, tortured – gay – love ... Those who deny his homosexuality must now shut up, or at least question their prejudices. It's a relief after so many decades of obfuscation and silence, to reveal the truth."


Sonnet of Dark Love
tumblr_lj6slwV4sg1qgucp7o1_400Oh secret voice and song of a dark love!
Oh lowing without lambs! Oh hidden wound!
Oh needle of bile, cankered camellia!
Oh storm without a sea, town without walls!
Oh nights of iron darkness that descend
on mountains of mourning, proud peaks of grief!
Oh hound in the heart, the heart's forbidden cry,
song ripening in silence without end!
Fly from my throat, you voice of burning ice,
yet don't abandon me here in the wild
where flesh and sky mate without bearing fruit.
Don't haunt the heavy ivory of my skull--
take pity and strip off this strangling shroud,
I who am love, I who am nature's child!


Mike said...

Leía sus poemas en la universidad cuando estaba estudiando Espanol. I read his poems in the university when I was studying Spanish. Que divertido a leer y see that I understood the poem without any problems!

Ms. Faustus said...

I always wonder about these... My own training in the study of literature was pretty rigidly anti-biographism and text-centered, except when the author's biography could be shown to illuminate their work. This is definitely one of those cases, because when read in this key, Lorca's poems indeed represent a shift in literary history and criticism, not to mention the political significance of literary studies becoming even more inclusive of homosexuality as a research topic.

When authors pass away, they become property of the world, down to every last scribble. Their surviving family members sometimes wish history would remember them in a different light (I'm thinking poor Sylvia Plath and what Ted Hughes did to her diaries and writing). But if I forget my professional training and look at authors as just individuals with their own privacy, I wonder how much of themselves they would have liked to share with us if they had the choice?

As a historian, do you ever have issues with being intrusive?

Anonymous said...

Wow. These are incredible. And the second guy is a true hunk, I want him!
Peace <3

Joe said...

Mike, I am glad you enjoyed this post. I think that one of the great things about poetry is that it is how we interpret it. Poetry is such a beautiful art form. The poet may have had one interpretation, but we can always have another.

Joe said...

Chris, I agree with you, but I believe, as stated in my previous comment, that we can interpret poems in our own way. Literature is on of my minor fields, and I tend to use history as a valid form of literary interpretation. Not all English professors agree with me on this, but I think the history of the times, greatly influences the writer.

As for whether or not I feel like I am intruding into someone's private life as a historian, I do not. To be truthful, it is one of the great joys of being a historian to look into the lives of those who have passed away. I remember working with a particular diary of a teenage girl from the 1800s and sharing her joys of discovery and marveling at her intellect for someone so young. When I did more research about her life after the events that she wrote about, I cried when I found out that she had died shortly after the diary was written. I went back and reread it and realized that all the signs were there that she was dying. The illnesses she described. She didn't realize it at the time, just as I hadn't when I first read it. I felt like it gave me a personal perspective, like I knew her and her thoughts. It deeply affected my view of her life and the time period she was writing about. I think it makes historians better at their job when they are able to, at least partially, understand the lives of those we write about and study.

I try very hard to be objective in my professional writing, so I attempt never to look at history through modern day views. I think when we look at something through a modern day lens, we often are being intrusive and twist their words. However, I endeavor to bring my mind in line with their point of view and time.

I hope this makes sense.

Joe said...

Me too, Jay.

Ms. Faustus said...

Thanks for sharing your point of view, Joe, I was really interested in what I could learn from a historian.

There are various schools of thought in literary studies vis-a-vis biographism, of course, but research-wise I'd say everything is up for grabs. And while I agree with you that we might want to change/alter our viewing lenses when we look at the past, we are also creatures of our times and cannot escape our contemporary values in doing so... I'm scratching my head thinking of LaCapra as a possible answer to this, with his dialogical method of the past and present potentially illuminating each other.

The most beautiful part though, as you said, is that we as readers can interpret poetry our way. Thanks again.

Joe said...

You are most welcome, Chris. I am going to have to look into LaCapra more, when I looked him up he sounds very interesting and right up my alley. I also thought about Paul Fussell's "The Great War and Modern Memory" and how that gave us a whole new perspective on the WWI, because he examined the thoughts of the soldiers more so than the big picture of the war.

When I was taking classes on conducting and interpreting Oral Histories, I became very aware of putting yourself in the persons mindset. If the interviewer is not objective, then we end up steering the interviewee into a direction to make our preconceptions for us. I also found the fascinating difference between a transcript and the recording. The tone, speech patterns, and inflections of a persons voice can tell us so much. More often than not though, we only have someones written words or actions to help us interpret the past. I'm getting a little too philosophical on this one (I think, LOL).

If you would ever like to discuss it more, feel free to email me at jec1918@gmail.com. As someone who works with both history, art, and literature, it would be interesting to get a new perspective. If I get a chance to do so in the next few days (school/teaching is very busy right now), I'll send you an email.