Lorca's Poet in New York

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Lorca's Poet in New York

Postby vlcoats » Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:45 am

Hello!
On another thread here in the forum (Along the Way, Discovering Leonard's Albums...) some of us were talking about Lorca and had purchased copies of his "Poet in New York". I wanted to post what I thought of it, but wasn't sure if Jarkko might prefer I post it in the poetry section instead of the music section.

I had gotten my copy of Poet in New York a while ago, but with the weather giving me a delayed start earlier this week and now an entire snow day, I finally had the chance to finish reading it!

This is the only book I have ever read by Federico Garcia Lorca, and I have to say that he grabbed me from the very first poem, with its "…butterfly drowned in the inkwell…"(pg 3) to his final essay where he spoke of Góngora’s writing saying, “…while others asked for bread, he demanded a daily jewel of great price” (pg. 172), which reminded me of Leonard. (The page numbers in this post refer to my copy of The Poet in New York pictured at the bottom of this post.)

Lorca's work is everything I love most about poetry! He knows all about that thing that most of us cannot put into words but somehow he does. In the essay on “Duende” he talks about how, unlike "The Muse" and "The Angel" where some artists receive their gift, "The Duende" does not come from without the artist but from within. He says it “must come to life in the nethermost recesses of the blood” and indeed it kindles the blood. I think this "Duende" that Lorca is talking about is what has drawn me to certain writers and musicians my whole life. It has drawn me to Leonard, and I am guessing it is what drew Leonard to Lorca.

I cannot pretend to know what all of the poems in Poet in New York are about, although some I can guess at, but I know that I loved them. There were so many images and phrases that really got me. I could read them over and over just to hear them in my head and to try and imagine what they could be. Some of them reminded me of Leonard, and I am sure he was inspired by them:

“…attic of statues and mosses..” (pg. 5)
”… the spine of a dagger and the breast of a landscape…” (pg. 21)
“…the roses gush forth from our tongues..” (pg. 53)

One of the strongest recurring themes in Poet in New York was blood, so much so that it seemed to nearly drip with it at times. Here are only a few:

“…letting blood on the stucco of blueprints…” (49)
“… blood...melting the moth on the panes…” (23)
“…between columns of number and blood…” (33)
“… the blood that delivers the engines over the waterfalls and our souls to the fang of the cobra…” (99)

There was also a healthy of dose of passion:

“… the tender advances of volcanoes…” (59)
“… a chaos of heartbeat and mandolins…” (83)
“…the moon sunk in the door of its ruins, with a gauntlet of smoke… Ah, the moon!” (95)
“…the enemy worlds and the worm-eaten passions will cave in on you…” (113)
“…when passion is mingled with dust, and I rise upon the air…” (69)

Another favorite theme was the color blue:
“… blue, where the nude of the wind goes…” (17)
“…the beach’s blue tongue…” (119)
“… only the blue of a horse and a dawn…” (87)

One of my favorite poems was simply called "Cow" (pg. 77). It is one of those poems where just one stanza could never show how great it is. For that you will have to read it yourself. But I did especially like the 3rd stanza:

“The cows, the quick and the dead,
the ripening light or the honey of stables,
bawling with half-opened eyes.”


Another favorite of mine was "Landscape with Two Graves and an Assyrian Dog" (pg. 88). I liked how Lorca begins each stanza admonishing his “friend” to rouse up and listen, and I wonder if that friend is in one of the graves. All of the book’s usual themes and imagery are in this one: the ants, the grass, the blood, a horse, a tongue, lilies, sea-water, cancer, and .... did I already say blood? His imagery of the “red mountains of lacquer”, the “moon in its heaven so cold”, and the hills that “do not breathe” made me feel like I was standing there. He repeats at the end:

“Friend,
Rouse yourself, listen;
the Assyrian dog howls.”


And of course, there is the "Little Viennese Waltz" (pg 129) which so inspired Leonard. To me it is the final stanza that shows us Lorca’s “Duende” the most:

“We’ll dance in Vienna
In a river’s mouth
masked.
Only look at my hyacinth beaches!
My mouth I’ll leave with your legs there, between,
and my soul in an album of snapshots and lilies,
and there in the darkening pulse of your motion
I’ll yield up to my darling, my darling, my darling,
a ribband of waltz and the grave and the fiddle.”


But perhaps my favorite line in this entire book comes from a stanza in the poem called Earth and Moon (pg 143) where (I think?) Lorca is talking about whether his allegiance is to the earth or the moon.

“Earth jubilant—imperturbable swimmer—
where we touch in the boy, in the creatures that pass by the arches.
Long live the earth of my pulses, of the dance in the ferns,
Bestowing the contours of Pharaoh, unyielding, on air.


I have one other book by Lorca that I haven't started yet. My husband (Dave) got it for me for Valentine's Day. All I had to do was mention it several times and send him the link from Abe Books to convince him to order it for me, haha! ;-) It is "Selected Poems of Federico Garcia Lorca" translated by Stephen Spender and J.L. Gili. It is a tiny volume from "The New Hogarth Library". I am excited to read it, even though it probably has some of the poems I have already read in Poet in New York, because I read somewhere that it is the volume that Leonard read when he first discovered Lorca.

Here is my copy of Poet in New York:
Poet in NY.jpg
Thank you for listening to what I thought of Poet in New York.

Vickie
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Re: Lorca's Poet in New York

Postby B4real » Sun Mar 03, 2019 2:52 am

https://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewt ... 32#p371132
vlcoats wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:49 am
Have you all had a chance to finish PINY yet?
Vickie
Ah Vickie, Just in case you haven't noticed I have been otherwise occupied ;-)

This is as far as I got -
https://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewt ... 05#p371050
B4real wrote: The book is still sitting on the table for me to read. Yesterday I thought I should start it from the beginning (I still haven't gone back to reading The Flame) and discovered these forewords about Little Viennese Waltz. I knew of Lorca’s love life but I didn’t know this about his poem.
In Little Viennese Waltz, the poet’s darkest, most secret yearning is expressed in the lightest most playful cadences imaginable. It is a love poem, the most explicitly homosexual one Lorca had yet written. The strains of the waltz lead the poet to a declaration of love, the gay flaunting of his own beauty – “see how the hyacinths line my banks!” – and the imagining, in the final five lines, of the consummation of the sexual act. The ribbons of the waltz will be broken and buried in the dark movement of the beloved.

While this was happening -
https://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewt ... 20#p371093
B4real wrote: Suffice to say that I have been trying to read two poetry books I’ve recently spoken about and I have been sucked and pushed into a vortex of all things Elvis!! Actually, I blame Vickie ;-) because she unconsciously stirred a gentle breeze in his direction when she said, “Walk a mile in my moccasins” to which I replied that it reminded me of an Elvis song "Walk a mile in my shoes."
And our recent paths are reciprocal in return because as you have said, it's my doing that you have this book ;-)

I have started again to read The Flame and then I have plans to finally read Lorca's PINY :razz:
And thanks for your thoughts on the book! It appears that I should have read it sooner :)

EDIT:
Vickie, I've just noticed that the English translation in your book of the last verse of Little Viennese Waltz is different to mine on page 169 as follows:

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.


Here's my Spanish verse -
En Viena bailaré contingo
con un disfraz que tenga
cabeza de río.
Mira qué orillas tengo de jacintos!
Dejaré mi boca entre tus piernas,
mi alma en fotografías y azucenas,
y en las ondas oscuras de tu andar
quiero, amor mío, amor mío, dejar,
violín y sepulcro, las cintas del vals.


Just for fun, here's a current Google translation from above Spanish:
In Vienna I'll dance Contingo
With a disguise that has
Head of the river.
Look at the shores of Hyacinths!
I'll leave my mouth between your legs,
My soul in pictures and lilies,
And in the dark waves of your gait
I want, my Love, my love, to leave,
Violin and Sepulchre, the ribbons of the waltz.


Interesting! It seems I'll have to check out your other references as well. Maybe someone can enlighten us!

Also for comparison, here's my book -

Image

Image

This book's English translation was first published in New York in 1988. I see your book's English translation is in 1955. I wonder which is the closest! No wonder Leonard said he had to take his time with the translation!
"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."
L. Cohen, Interview "Your Flesh" Magazine, 1992
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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Re: Lorca's Poet in New York

Postby Jean Fournell » Mon Mar 04, 2019 2:53 am

So far, I had a brief look at the first poem in PNY, and then started reading "Pequeño vals vienés".

In the "Take this Waltz" thread, I just posted a first draft of no more than an amateurish attempt at translating "Little Viennese Waltz" a rather difficult poem, at least for me; and I've only spent some 50-60 hours on it as yet, which is far from sufficient:
https://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewt ... 45#p371145

But since I'm not quite sure which one of the two threads is more "on topic" for the discussion at hand, here my suggestion for the last stanza:

In Vienna I will dance with you
in a disguise with
a river's head.
Just look at my banks made of hyacinths!
I will give up my mouth between your legs,
my soul in photographs and lilies,
and in the dark waves of your gait
I want, O my love, O my love, to yield,
O violin and tomb, the ribbons of the waltz.

Lines 5-6 are the transition from 69 (line 4) to 99 (or "spoons position", vertical, "dancing", in lines 7-9), and the conclusion.
___________________________________________________
Therefore know that you must become one with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the target
to say nothing of the horse.

... for a while
... for a little while...

(Just a filthy beggar guessing / What happens to the heart)
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Re: Lorca's Poet in New York

Postby B4real » Mon Mar 04, 2019 3:12 am

Thank you Jean, for your major effort there and here, much appreciated!

As for me, well, the winds of change are blowing wild and free once again! Due to the variances in the English translation of this book I find myself drawn to it and interrupting my reading The Flame :razz: At the back of my PINY there is a 16 page “notes on the poems.” In it is reference to different translations by different people and some reasons why. Below is a link with similar explanations -

https://ddd.uab.cat/pub/quaderns/113857 ... 0n3p81.pdf
Comprehension and interpretation in the multiple translations of Federico Garcia Lorca’s Poet in New York

Still on different translations, it was difficult to find these lines with no poem titles and different page numbers but I like a challenge so here are mine in a not quite blood colour as compared to Vickie's. The first comparison is the only one I’ve found exactly the same.

“…butterfly drowned in the inkwell…"(pg 3)
“and a butterfly drowned in the inkwell” – After a Walk (7)

“…attic of statues and mosses..” (pg. 5)
“Attic where the ancient dust assembles statues and moss” -1910 (Intermezzo) (9)
”… the spine of a dagger and the breast of a landscape…” (pg. 21)
“alive in the dagger’s spine and the landscapes’ breast” – The King of Harlem (33)
“…the roses gush forth from our tongues..” (pg. 53)
“when all the roses spilled from my tongue” – Double Poem of Lake Eden (81)

“…letting blood on the stucco of blueprints…” (49)
“leaving my blood on the stucco projects” – Christmas on the Hudson (63)
“… blood...melting the moth on the panes…” (23)
“blood… dissolves butterflies in windowpanes”– The King of Harlem (33) (lots of blood in this poem!)
“…between columns of number and blood…” (33)
“among columns of blood and numbers” – Dance of Death (47)
“… the blood that delivers the engines over the waterfalls and our souls to the fang of the cobra…” (99)
“the blood that sweeps machines over waterfalls and the soul toward the cobra’s tongue.”
– New York (Office and Denunciation) to Fernando Vela (131)


“… the tender advances of volcanoes…” (59)
“and to the intimate tenderness of volcanoes” – Blind Panorama of New York (75)
“… a chaos of heartbeat and mandolins…” (83)
“with a clouded heart and mandolin” – Nocturne of Empty Space (107)
“…the moon sunk in the door of its ruins, with a gauntlet of smoke… Ah, the moon!” (95)
“and the moon with a smoking glove in the doorway of its wreckage. The Moon!!
– Moon and Panorama of the Insects (love poem) (127)

“…the enemy worlds and the worm-eaten passions will cave in on you…” (113)
“enemy worlds and loves covered with worms will fall on you.”
– Cry to Rome (From the Tower of the Chrysler Building) 149)

“…when passion is mingled with dust, and I rise upon the air…” (69)
“When I’m flying, jumbled with love and sandstorms.” – Living Sky (85)

“… blue, where the nude of the wind goes…” (17)
blue where the naked body of the wind goes to break up” – Standards and Paradise of the Blacks (25)

“The cows, the quick and the dead,
the ripening light or the honey of stables,
bawling with half-opened eyes.”
“Cows, dead and alive,
blushing light or honey from the stables,
bellowed with half-closed eyes.” (97)


“Friend,
Rouse yourself, listen;
the Assyrian dog howls.”
“Friend,
get up and listen
to the Assyrian dog howl.” (115)


While looking through that most bloody of poems, The King of Harlem, this line caught my eye, “there must be some way out of here” – it’s the same line from a Bob Dylan song, All Along The Watchtower. It begins with, “There must be some way out of here, said the joker to the thief”… :)

This was familiar also, but in reference to Leonard’s first discovery of Lorca be it similar but not the same -
“Let me pass through the arch”…
It’s from Double Poem of Lake Eden, page 81.

And after feeling satisfied that I found all those lines, your last and favourite line from an identified titled poem called Earth and Moon (pg 143) is not in my book at all by that title! The only poem I have with moon (no earth) in the title is Moon and Panorama of the Insects, and those lines are not in it.

EDIT: I forgot to check these below and in doing so can’t find them:
Vickie wrote: his final essay where he spoke of Góngora’s writing saying, “…while others asked for bread, he demanded a daily jewel of great price” (pg. 172)

Vickie wrote: In the essay on “Duende” he talks about how, unlike "The Muse" and "The Angel" where some artists receive their gift, "The Duende" does not come from without the artist but from within. He says it “must come to life in the nethermost recesses of the blood”
I only have reference to duende in "Lecture: A Poet In New York" on page 184. His words are:
"Well then, before reading poems aloud to so many people, the first thing you must do is invoke the duende. This is the only way all of you will succeed at the hard task of understanding metaphors as soon as they arise….
Poems like these are not likely to be understood without the cordial help of the duende".


(There is also reference on that same page to a lecture “Play and Theory of the Duende”)

Ah, more mysteries to be solved :)
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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Re: Lorca's Poet in New York

Postby vlcoats » Mon Mar 04, 2019 8:44 am

Ah... Tower of Babel! To have no need for translation and to all speak the same language! How annoying and interesting that there are so many ways to translate a poem... as if the myriad of individual interpretations within the same language are not enough!

Thank you for your translation of Little Viennese Waltz, Jean. I imagine it was not easy. I like it better than the one in my book actually.

And thank you Bev for looking up the lines I quoted in your copy and sharing them. Your effort is much appreciated! Some of those in your book are better than mine as well, but some aren't.

As for the mysteries... my copy of Poet in New York has "Appendices" that include the Earth and Moon (Tierra y Luna) poem as well as other poems, essays, and what the translator calls "fugitive prose pieces". The reference to Duende is from his essay "The Duende: Theory and Divertissement" and the other reference came from his essay "The Poetic Image in Don Luis de Gongora", which reminded me so much of Leonard. Both essays were very good. You should read them if you can find them.

Elvis is it, huh? ;-)

Vickie
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Re: Lorca's Poet in New York

Postby B4real » Tue Mar 05, 2019 6:26 am

Thanks Vickie, for solving those mysteries. Before my previous post I did try to find “Earth and Moon” and found no reference to it at all in any shape or form and still can't. Since your helpful post I managed to get “The Duende: Theory & Divertissement” but "The Poetic Image in Don Luis de Gongora" seems only to be in Spanish and the ones I’ve Google translated aren’t the actual essay, just a discussion or book about it. The full lecture is on YouTube but wouldn't you know it, only in Spanish. Ah well, nevermind!

But while I was searching for that last one, I discovered this which I thought you would find interesting - some stuff you already know but amongst other things, there’s talk about your next already-on-order Lorca book :) https://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewt ... =10&t=4010 - Influence of Federico García Lorca

In my book after that “Lecture: A Poet In New York” there are about 60 pages of Lorca’s letters to his parents in Spain entitled “The Poet writes to his family from New York and Havana”. They must be in place of what you’ve last mentioned you have.
Vickie wrote: Some of those in your book are better than mine as well, but some aren't.
That’s exactly what I was thinking!

Besides that, this one made me laugh –
"bawling with half-opened eyes.”
OR
"bellowed with half-closed eyes.”

Crying or shouting - overcome or assertive.
Optimist or pessimist - is the glass half-full or is it half-empty ;-)

And now I’m going to read this book slowly starting from the first poem. No doubt I’ll find some additional favourite lines besides this one which isn't in PINY but should be in the one you have on order - "Green, how I want you green" ;-)

And ....
Vickie wrote: Elvis is it, huh? ;-)
Uh huh, thank you, mam :)
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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Re: Lorca's Poet in New York

Postby Jean Fournell » Wed Mar 06, 2019 1:23 am

For sure, I "don't have the discipline"…
Instead of saying a few words about "Famous Blue Raincoat", here I am into translation problems afraid therefore that I'll have to leave Manhattan to the Americans.

Thanks for your appreciation, both of you; and thanks to Bev for the link to the discussion of Lorca-translations. I only rushed through it, and will have to spend more time on it, but it is very interesting indeed.

Here is what I can add so far to the quotations from Vickie's and Bev's bilingual PNY editions (I have received my own bilingual one too now: same as Bev's):

“…butterfly drowned in the inkwell…"(pg 3)
“and a butterfly drowned in the inkwell” – After a Walk (7)
Con todo lo que tiene cansancio sordomudo
y mariposa ahogada en el tintero.
With all that's got a deaf-and-dumb tiredness
and a drowned butterfly in the inkwell.


“…attic of statues and mosses..” (pg. 5)
“Attic where the ancient dust assembles statues and moss” -1910 (Intermezzo) (9)
(The second solution is fine.)

”… the spine of a dagger and the breast of a landscape…” (pg. 21)
“alive in the dagger’s spine and the landscapes’ breast” – The King of Harlem (33)
(The second solution is fine.)

“…the roses gush forth from our tongues..” (pg. 53)
“when all the roses spilled from my tongue” – Double Poem of Lake Eden (81)
(The second solution is fine.)

“…letting blood on the stucco of blueprints…” (49)
“leaving my blood on the stucco projects” – Christmas on the Hudson (63)
He pasado toda la noche en los andamios de los arrabales
dejándome la sangre por la escayola de los proyectos,
ayudando a los marineros a recoger las velas desgarradas.
I spent the whole night on the scaffoldings of the boroughs,
leaving myself in blood on the stucco of the projects,
helping the sailors lower the torn sails.


“… blood...melting the moth on the panes…” (23)
“blood… dissolves butterflies in windowpanes”– The King of Harlem (33) (lots of blood in this poem!)
Sangre que […] dissuelve a las mariposas en los cristales de la ventana.
Blood that […] dissolves the butterflies on the windowpanes. (litt: on the panes of the window)

“…between columns of number and blood…” (33)
“among columns of blood and numbers” – Dance of Death (47)
El mascarón bailará entre columnas de sangre y de números,
The mask will dance between columns of blood and of numbers,

“… the blood that delivers the engines over the waterfalls and our souls to the fang of the cobra…” (99)
“the blood that sweeps machines over waterfalls and the soul toward the cobra’s tongue.”
– New York (Office and Denunciation) to Fernando Vela (131)

(The second solution is fine.)


The rest will follow one day or the other…

EDIT: Changed "a butterfly drowned" to "a drowned butterfly".
___________________________________________________
Therefore know that you must become one with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the target
to say nothing of the horse.

... for a while
... for a little while...

(Just a filthy beggar guessing / What happens to the heart)
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Re: Lorca's Poet in New York

Postby B4real » Wed Mar 06, 2019 4:35 am

Jean,
Thanks again, I know this is not a straight forward thing to translate Lorca to English. I have heard that it is considered by many an impossible feat to accomplish so your efforts here are to be commended! Also when I posted the multiple translations link I was thinking you might like it, so that’s good!

I have just read “The Duende - Theory and Divertissement 1930” and here are a few different selections that I found interesting besides those words from this lecture that Vickie has already posted. The first one brought a wry smile to my dial :razz:

“Some years ago, in a dancing contest at Jerez de la Frontera, an old lady of eighty, competing against beautiful women and young girls with waists as supple as water, carried off the prize merely by the act of raising her arms, throwing back her head, and stamping the little platform with a blow of her feet; but in the conclave of muses and angels foregathered there – beauties of form and beauties of smile – the dying duende triumphed as it had to, trailing the rusted knife blades of its wings along the ground”....

I couldn't help but think of Leonard when I read this -
“We have said that the Duende loves ledges and wounds, that he enters only those areas where form dissolves in a passion transcending any of its visible expressions”....

And Lorca’s final words in this lecture –
“Ladies and gentlemen: I have raised three arches, and with clumsy hand I have placed in them the Muse, the Angel and the Duende.
The Muse keeps silent; she may wear the tunic of little folds, or great cow-eyes gazing towards Pompeii, or the monstrous, four-featured nose with which her great painter, Picasso, has painted her.
The Angel may be stirring the hair of Antonello da Messina, the tunic of Lippi, and the violin of Masolino or Rousseau.
But the Duende – where is the Duende? Through the empty arch enters a mental air blowing insistently over the heads of the dead, seeking new landscapes and unfamiliar accents; an air bearing the odor of child’s spittle, crushed grass, and the veil of Medusa announcing the unending baptism of all newly-created things.”


Now back to reading the book - but the wind outside seems to be picking up speed ;-)
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Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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Re: Lorca's Poet in New York

Postby vlcoats » Wed Mar 06, 2019 6:06 am

Thank you both Jean and Bev! It is no surprise to me that Leonard liked Lorca so much and likewise no surprise that you both are commenting on this thread.

Jean...I love seeing the different interpretations of his words. I understand that they are supposed to be translations not interpretations, but since languages often don't have the words that mean the exact same thing in another language (I am guessing at this because I really only know English), I feel they are actually interpretations. As a child, I often wondered how a poem could be translated into another language yet still rhyme.

B4...I love that you seem to have appreciated Lorca's Duende essay as much as I did. I am not a bit surprised that you quoted the passage about the flamenco contest that was won by "an old lady of eighty". It was my favorite, and I even Googled for more info on it. I was also reminded of Leonard during the entire reading of the Duende essay and the final words you quoted struck me as well. As you read the rest of the book, you will find many references to grass and spittle and arches... and of course, blood.

Lorca is a very interesting and dramatic person. I wish someone would make a movie of his life, similar to "Amadeus" (the movie about Mozart) or even better, like "Frida" (the movie about Frida Kahlo). Looking at the photos I have seen of Lorca online, I imagine his character being played by a young Jack Nicholson, similar to his portrayal of Eugene O'Neil in the movie "Reds", but even better.

Thank you again,
Vickie
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Re: Lorca's Poet in New York

Postby B4real » Fri Mar 08, 2019 2:03 am

Vickie wrote: B4...I love that you seem to have appreciated Lorca's Duende essay as much as I did.
I sure did! So glad to eventually find it! And yes, I could see Leonard in much of it too! Nice to see you were also drawn to the mature Flamenco dancer, ha! When you've got it you've got it, no matter what :)

Well, I’ve read this book up to the last section of the letters. The poetic imagery is almost overwhelming. Some of it is the stuff you sometimes find in your dreams which make perfect sense in that moment but you can’t quite grasp in reality when you wake up! A most surreal experience! Move over Salvador Dali! A million mixed metaphors! Coats of many colours – white, green, yellow, orange, purple, gray, black and as already stated, lots of blue and lots of red, mostly in the form of blood. And I must include a multitude of moons too. I can see how Leonard was so impacted by Lorca’s words here but I’m guessing he was more so with Lorca’s gypsy ballads and previous poems.

Some notes on understanding his poems:
• The moon: it's the most common symbol in Lorca's works. It often means death, but it can also signify erotism, fertility, sterility or beauty.
• Water: running water means life, vitality, but still water means death.
• Blood: represents life, but spilled blood means death. It also symbolizes fertility and sex.
• The horse (and its rider): quite frequent in Lorca's texts, it's related to death, life and men's erotism.
• Grasses: signify death.
• Metals: their dominant meaning is death. Metals always appear as weapons, which always bring tragedy.

A few translation comparisons I missed before from Landscape with Two Graves and an Assyrian Dog (115) –
“red mountains of lacquer,” [mountains of red sealing wax]
the “moon in its heaven so cold” [the moon in a sky so cold]
the hills that “do not breathe” [the mountains still aren’t breathing]

I don’t actually have a favourite poem so far, just favourite lines, but judging by how many of them I like from Living Sky perhaps subconsciously... and now I’ve said it consciously – maybe that’s the one, ha! Upon reading the ‘notes on poems’ I now discover this about it; “the poem (or perhaps the title only) was inspired by a night of brilliant aurora borealis activity as the lake reflected the lights against a pitch black Mount Norris.” So, it seems to be influencing my artist’s eye as well with its radiant colours!

I do like the lines Vickie has posted plus some others here that caught my eye and imagination –

Dawn arrives and no one receives it in his mouth ~ Dawn (11)

blue of night without fear of day ~ Standards and Paradise of the Blacks (25)

Trembled with fear like a mollusk without its shell ~ Dance of Death (49)

beneath silence with a thousand ears ~ Landscape of a Pissing Multitude (57)

a pin that dives
until it finds the roots of a scream
~ Murder (61)

and the wind lies in ambush for careless tree trunks ~ Double Poem of Lake Eden (83)

I won’t be able to complain
Though I never found what I was looking for
... (Ha! A good song title and a good song for the violin!)
There, under roots and in the medulla of the air
erroneous things are understood as true...
When I’m flying, jumbled with love and sandstorms...
I stumble sleepily through eternity’s fixed hardness
and love at the end without dawn
~ Living Sky (85)

and the tender stars
sounded like bullfrogs.
...that never reaches the sea.
Water that never reaches the sea!...
breathing with all its unstrung violins
on the musical scale of wounds and deserted buildings.
~ Little Girl Drowned in the Well (99 & 101)

All the world’s light fits inside an eye.
The rooster crows and his song last longer than his wings.
~ Nocturne of Emptied Space (111)

My heart would take the shape of a shoe
if a siren lived in every village.
~ Moon and Panorama of the Insects (121) ;-)

there was no other way to escape except through the needle’s eye. ~ Crucifixion (143)

Tomorrow, loves will become stones, and Time
a breeze that drowses in the branches
~ Ode to Walt Whitman (155)

No one weeps because he understands ~The Poet Prays to the Virgin for Help (193)

In this link is the only reference I can find to Earth and Moon –
http://it.stlawu.edu/~swhite/detailedin ... _lorca.htm
"If you read this rich, powerful and mystery-driven volume of Collected Poems, you will repeatedly encounter Lorca's duende, his daemonic genius." Allen Josephs, New York Newsday
In my no results searching for the above plus “The Poetic Image in Don Luis de Gongora” I did find a bonus of early Lorca poems – https://www.poetryintranslation.com/PIT ... yLorca.php

Ah, but I’m not complaining – a chance encounter in a second hand book store gave me a $5 book and an experience worth much more than those meagre dollars 8)

That is an interesting idea of a film about Lorca!...And it puts into my head a more fascinating thought for a film about Leonard! As he is a one-off, I wonder who could possibly play the lead role :razz:
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Re: Lorca's Poet in New York

Postby Jean Fournell » Sat Mar 09, 2019 6:37 pm

Translation difficulties — more of them

“… the tender advances of volcanoes…” (59)
“and to the intimate tenderness of volcanoes” – Blind Panorama of New York (75)
y para la tierna intimidad de los volcanes.
and to the tender intimacy of the volcanoes.

“… a chaos of heartbeat and mandolins…” (83)
“with a clouded heart and mandolin” – Nocturne of Empty Space (107)
turbio de corazon y mandolina.
a troubled mix of heart and mandolin.

“…the moon sunk in the door of its ruins, with a gauntlet of smoke… Ah, the moon!” (95)
“and the moon with a smoking glove in the doorway of its wreckage. The Moon!!
– Moon and Panorama of the Insects (love poem) (127)

y la luna
con un guante de humo sentada en la puerta de sus derribos.
¡¡La luna!!
and the moon
with a glove of smoke, seated in the door of her demolitions.
The moon!!


“…the enemy worlds and the worm-eaten passions will cave in on you…” (113)
“enemy worlds and loves covered with worms will fall on you.”
– Cry to Rome (From the Tower of the Chrysler Building) 149)

(The second solution is fine.)

“…when passion is mingled with dust, and I rise upon the air…” (69)
“When I’m flying, jumbled with love and sandstorms.” – Living Sky (85)
cuando yo vuele mezclado con el amor y las arenas.
when I'm flying, mingled with love and the sands.

“… blue, where the nude of the wind goes…” (17)
blue where the naked body of the wind goes to break up” – Standards and Paradise of the Blacks (25)
Es por el azul sin historia,
azul de una noche sin temor de día,
azul donde el desnudo del viento va quebrando
los camellos sonámbulos de las nubes vacías.
It's in the blue with no history,
blue of a night with no fear of day,
blue where the wind's nakedness goes a-breaking
the sleep-walking camels of the empty clouds.


“The cows, the quick and the dead,
the ripening light or the honey of stables,
bawling with half-opened eyes.”
“Cows, dead and alive,
blushing light or honey from the stables,
bellowed with half-closed eyes.” (97)

Las vacas muertas y las vivas,
rubor de luz o miel de establo,
balaban con los ojos entornados.
The dead cows and the living,
redness of light or honey of the stable,
bleated with their eyes ajar.


“Friend,
Rouse yourself, listen;
the Assyrian dog howls.”
“Friend,
get up and listen
to the Assyrian dog howl.” (115)

Amigo,
levántate para que oigas aullar
al perro asirio.
Friend,
get up so you can hear him howl,
the Assyrian dog.


Not mentioned as a translation problem, but nevertheless:
“Let me pass through the arch”… It’s from Double Poem of Lake Eden, page 81.
Dejarme pasar la puerta
donde Eva come hormigas
y Adán fecunda peces deslumbrados.
Let me pass through the door

I can't see any good reason why the "puerta" (door) should become an arch.
The third line should be "and Adam impregnates dazzled fish" (not "dazzling", as Simon & White translate it).
As for the second line, "comer" is "to eat". Of course there is Spanish "come-cura" (priest-devourer), but Eve is probably eating her ants like a well-behaved girl. At least I can't see anything in the original to indicate otherwise. But then I agree that
where Eve eats ants
would sound pretty nasty if pronounced in three words
Eve / eats / ants
with its three initial vowels, two of them identical. And pronouncing it in one word
E-vea-tsants
wouldn't really make it any better, would it. Here, as so often, there seems to be no good solution…



Eavitsants32%.jpg




"Pequeño vals vienés", as I said before, was rather difficult for me.
But it is not impossible to translate it into English, even if in S3L1 I might change "mirrors" to "looking glasses", if I can make up my mind.
(In "espejos", the spej is the same as the spec in English spectacles; and Lewis Carroll's title "Through the Looking Glass" might help to understand (without making it too explicit) that there are still the two lovers behind the four mirrors of their souls.)

In S4L5, the "sheep" are less explicit than the "ovejas" of the original.
Just imagine a very sexual English love poem mentioning egg-plants and irises in a purple environment. In other languages, these egg-plants would then become aubergines, entailing some loss of explicitness. The egg-shape would be replaced by an unintentional and misleading association of colours.
(Aubergine and purple, like sheep and white in Lorca's "Pequeño vals vienés" which by the way is a winter poem, written in February 1930, some three and a half months after the Wall Street crash.)
My hope is that this loss of explicitness is compensated by the vocative O, which I use three times in "O my love" in order to justify one "O violin and tomb". From the translations I read so far, this sequence seems to be rather hard to understand with the clear-cut exception of Leonard Cohen's version, which is not a translation but a de-sexualised masterpiece in its own right.

Leonard Cohen, knowing that a "tomb" cannot be "yield[ed] to the flood of your beauty", quite logically makes it a de-sexualised "cross".
(From all the dictionaries I consulted, paper and online, it appears that a grave can only be dug down into the ground, whereas a tomb can also be carved horizontally into a hillside or into a rock. So it cannot be "violin and grave"; it has to be "violin and tomb".)

As for the "broken" ribbons of the waltz, in the text I can find no expression, no hint, no double-entendre, nor any hidden idea that might be going into such a direction. The whole poem is a jubilant love song of fully assumed homosexuality beyond which is has a far more universal dimension too, if from the "Take this Waltz" thread I may repeat this link to the performance by Silvia Pérez Cruz:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ft4qigSb-gA

(The term "death" might possibly require a few words of explanation:
Many men experience a kind of post-coital torpor, especially when sex was completed with love. It is this kind of "death", when "the holy dove, it was moving too", that the poem is referring to.
The "death for piano", for example, is a piece of sexual music where the two lovers are not "painted blue" (Leonard Cohen correctly calls it "the blues") by "sex without God" it is not "pornographic", it is not disappointing in its voidness.
Nor are "the armchair and the dead book" any negative notions at all; they hint at acrobatics bringing to life the Kama Sutra.
And now I'll leave it to your imagination to figure out the dreaming turtle that ends up breaking the belt…)



More difficult is the opening poem of PNY.

Vuelta de paseo

Asesinado por el cielo.
Entre las formas que van hacia la sierpe
y las formas que buscan el cristal
dejaré crecer mis cabellos.

Con el árbol de muñones que no canta
y el niño con el blanco rostro de huevo.

Con los animalitos de cabeza rota
y el agua harapienta de los pies secos.

Con todo lo que tiene cansancio sordomudo
y mariposa ahogada en el tintero.

Tropezando con mi rostro distinto de cada día.
¡Asesinado por el cielo!


"Vuelta de paseo" is a summer poem, written in early September 1929. That means, some two and a half months after Lorca's arrival in New York, where he has now spent the best part of the summer, and some one and a half months before the Wall Street crash. We are in the "roaring twenties".

The translation problems begin with the title:
A "vuelta" (from volver to revolve) is a tour, a round-trip as it were. Media vuelta (half a "vuelta") means about-face. And "paseo" is a leisurely walk, a stroll. Now it should be possible to say "a giant of a man" but "a tour of a stroll"? And the poem is not really about the stroll itself, but rather about the havoc it causes in the narrator's mind.

"asesinado":
"Assassinated" and "murdered" would imply an intention, which precisely is absent from hi-tech New York as Lorca perceives it. "Killed" would be perfect, but so perfect that many have thought of it before: It kills me just to think of bla-bla-bla… A cliché. So Simon & White's "cut down" might be the least unacceptable of all the bad solutions.

"el árbol de muñones":
Literally, it would be "the tree of stubs". But we will have to avoid the impression that the tree consists of assembled stubs, even in hi-tech New York. The tree is not made of concrete or steel or stubs; this is a real tree that has been reduced to stubs. Simon & White's "amputated" would imply that some well-intentioned hand has cut away some dangerous rot in order to save the tree, and this is not the case either. The narrator is struck by the fact that the tree has been direly mutilated.

"el blanco rostro de huevo":
Literally, "the white face of egg". This is not an attempt at describing the exact colour of the boy's face, which would be banal. As it would be banal to specify that his face is egg-shaped. And we should avoid producing any impression like "a little boy with a pale Humpty-Dumpty face".
In soulless New York, even this child has become soulless his face is as blank, as expressionless, as an egg.

"los animalitos de cabeza rota":
Literally, "the little animals of broken head". We could make it "the broken-headed little animals", but that would suggest something similar to "broken-hearted". We should not imply that the breaking of heads is over it is one of the ongoing features the narrator (and through him the author) is denouncing.

"mariposa" (butterfly), in the following couplet, is evoked without article, as opposed to the two previous couplets with their respective definite articles ("todo" (all) is without article by necessity).
The verb in this couplet is "tener" (in "todo lo que tiene"), and this verb is used in expressions like "tener sed" (to be thirsty, litt: to have thirst), or "tener mala cara" (to look unwell, litt: to have poor looks). Leonard Cohen has "and it's here they got the spiritual thirst".

The translation problem is: What are we to make of "tener mariposa ahogada en el tintero"?
What's happening is, that a butterfly drowning in the calligrapher's ink will fight for its life, and in the process it will shed its dust; and eventually both the dead butterfly and the dust will float at the surface, spoiling the ink.

The grammatical problem in this couplet is that the past participle "ahogada" (drowned) follows the noun "mariposa" (butterfly). This "ahogada", placed between the butterfly and the inkwell, points in both directions. We have a "drowned butterfly", and we have something that is "drowned in the inkwell". Like this:
mariposa ← ahogada → en el tintero
In English, the adjective is most generally placed before the noun, not after it; and so we cannot say "butterfly drowned". (Unless we add a comma between "butterfly" and "drowned", and thus obtain two sequences.)
As an illustration, a possible construction similar to our problem would be "defence legitimate in this case", where "legitimate" points in both directions, too, leaving us to wonder about the overall meaning of the sequence:
defence ← legitimate → in this case

If this grammatical problem was of consequence for the meaning, we would have to choose one of the two directions of "ahogada". We would have to concentrate either on the drowned butterfly, or on the butterfly-spoilt ink.
But actually, the absence of article in "tener mariposa …" makes us understand that the whole expression means something like "to have got thirst", or "to have got poor looks" and in the occurrence it means "to have got writer's block".
It's not that the narrator has a tame butterfly, and one day it dies by accident it's that the narrator is overwhelmed to such an extent that he must urgently write down that he is unable to write, and he does write this in superb poetry…
The solution is spoilt ink.

(Let me underline in passing the glorious manner in which Lorca reduces the narrator's mental scope:
from feeling at one with everything
through feeling at one with everything that's dead-tired
through feeling at one with everything that's both dead-tired and a dead butterfly
to a highly personal fashion of writer's block.
In just a few words we are taken from Universal Compassion to pure ego-stuff.)

"Tropezando con":
The verb "tropezar" means "to stumble". With "con" (basically "with"), it means "to stumble over, to stumble on", or "to bump into". Here we will have to decide whether the poet has the narrator stumble over his own face (or bump into it), or whether he disassembles the idiomatic expression and re-uses its component parts in their respective independent meanings.

The Spanish exclamation marks (and question marks, too):
They appear upside down before the sequence they are marking, and upright after it. So they behave like a kind of specific quotation marks, only bigger, allowing the reader to see at first glance which part of the text is concerned. No need to search for the beginning, the author shows it, and so there can be no mistake. But in a translation, this cannot be done, obviously. We are bound by the rules of the target language.

My oh my oh my!
How on earth are we supposed to translate such a poem!


hogarth.jpg
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Distrest_Poet



Back from a stroll

Done in by the sky.
Between the forms heading towards the serpent
and the forms searching for the crystal,
I will leave my hair to grow.

With the tree but stubs that does not sing
and the child with his egg-blank mien.

With the little animals whose heads are broken
and the ragged water of the dry feet.

With all that's got a deaf-and-dumb fatigue
and a drowned butterfly in the inkwell.

Stumbling along with my very own every-day face.
Done in by the sky!
___________________________________________________
Therefore know that you must become one with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the target
to say nothing of the horse.

... for a while
... for a little while...

(Just a filthy beggar guessing / What happens to the heart)
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Re: Lorca's Poet in New York

Postby B4real » Sun Mar 10, 2019 3:51 am

Jean, that is a massive effort! Many thanks for your time and thoughts!
A few of those Spanish words are recognizable in English but most are double-Dutch to me ;-) Knowing what a word means literally translated is one thing, but knowing what Lorca meant when using it in context is another thing entirely which I know you are very aware of! Interesting to do and also some hair tearing involved for sure!

Actually, you may remember last year I said I wanted to learn another language and I had decided on French because I got an “A” in high school French, ha! I also want to learn German, which if I remember rightly, you said you taught. I know some words of it from years ago plus I used to make clothes with German language only patterns and adapt some of them to my own designs. I am interested in all languages and it would be so good to be multilingual. I think it’s time for me to stop talking about it and actually make a start beginning with my old French and German language books and go from there :)

And your post has made me realise that I have twice posted a line that Vickie already had.
Seems Living Sky has subliminally illuminated me again :razz:

EDIT:
Vickie wrote: Lorca is a very interesting and dramatic person. I wish someone would make a movie of his life, similar to "Amadeus" (the movie about Mozart) or even better, like "Frida" (the movie about Frida Kahlo). Looking at the photos I have seen of Lorca online, I imagine his character being played by a young Jack Nicholson, similar to his portrayal of Eugene O'Neil in the movie "Reds", but even better.
Well, your wish is sorta granted ;-) I've just remembered this - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Ashes
Little Ashes is a 2008 Spanish-British drama film set against the backdrop of Spain during the 1920s and 1930s, as three of the era's most creative young talents meet at university and set off on a course to change their world. Luis Buñuel (Matthew McNulty) watches helplessly as the friendship between surrealist painter Salvador Dalí (Robert Pattinson) and the poet Federico García Lorca (Javier Beltrán) develops into a love affair.
If you want to watch the movie, here it is - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SSQSlBNxK4

There's this too - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Disap ... rcia_Lorca
The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca is a 1997 Spanish-American drama-biographical film directed by Marcos Zurinaga. It is based on a book by Ian Gibson about the life and murder of Spanish poet Federico García Lorca. It stars Andy García as Lorca and Esai Morales as Ricardo, a journalist who investigates Lorca's disappearance during the early years of the Spanish Civil War. The film earned ALMA Award nominations for both Garcia and Morales, best feature film, and best Latino director for Zurinaga. It received an Imagen Award for Best Motion Picture.
...and the movie or part of it, if you can handle the sound :razz: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=of3qyWbgsS0
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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Re: Lorca's Poet in New York

Postby vlcoats » Mon Mar 18, 2019 5:31 am

B4 and Jean,

I can't tell you both how much I loved reading your translations. I don't know if saying that I like them better than the translations in my book would be fair to that translator, but I can say that they added so much to my appreciation of Lorca's poetry

I also appreciated your explanation of the symbolism behind some of the images. It is coincidental and very interesting that a couple weeks ago, prior to your posts, the subject of the meaning behind the symbolism of 'eggplants' came up. Apparently, one of the children in the school where I work had written inppropriate remarks referring to eggplants and peaches. It was confirmed, after asking students, that in social media nowadays, peaches refer to women's genitalia (obviously) and eggplants refer to men's. I found it very interesting that this eggplant association has continued through all these years without my being aware :o . Ha-ha. I asked my son Nick and his wife about it and they confirmed that yes even the emoji for eggplant is code for male anatomy. You learn something every day. Or in my case when it comes to my life after discovering Leonard, I learned several things every day!

As for languages, I too am trying to learn a little French! I wanted to learn some before our trip. Dave is trying to learn a little Italian. Neither one of us feels capable of Greek but I have a Greek app that I am hoping will help just to familiarize me with the sounds of the words. As for French, it is definitely the pronunciation that is kicking me in the butt.

Vickie
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Re: Lorca's Poet in New York

Postby B4real » Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:31 am

Vickie, always my pleasure to help! And I enjoy comparing those translations as well.

Now that’s an interesting timing coincidence about us learning another language! I decided to start with German because I know it the least. Right or wrong, I've begun with pronunciation first and surprisingly I haven’t got as tongue-tied as I thought I would but there are some things that I definitely have to practice more than others for sure. I’m truly interested in learning other languages and so far I’m having fun and that’s all that really matters!

Speaking of having trouble with pronunciation, in one of my books there is something that could also be helpful to you and Dave and have you both “singing from the same song (sound)” so to speak ;-) Next to the native letters and sounds explanations, my book's list incorporates the International Pronunciation Alphabetic symbols created by the International Phonetic Association so that the pronunciation of all languages can be clearly explained. They say if you learn the sound values of these symbols you can understand the phonetic description of any other language.
I googled the IPA and here’s a general explanation - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internati ... c_Alphabet
Another more personalised one here - https://www.fluentin3months.com/ipa-alphabet/
Hehe! After reading that a thought just struck me - seems the same goes for a lot of things in life; it’s the shape of your mouth and how you hold your tongue that makes all the difference :razz:

Now having said all of that, of course we have our own resident polyglot expert here who could maybe give us a few tips. I would totally welcome any helpful guidance but no pressure here by me for that to happen 8)
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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Re: Lorca's Poet in New York

Postby Jean Fournell » Wed Mar 20, 2019 6:52 pm

Thank you for your kind appreciation, both of you!

Bev, your link to "Little Ashes" helped me very much to better connect to Federico García Lorca. Here a link to the same film, but with Spanish subtitles instead of Turkish:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBBpbHXnEvw
And yes, those 5 $ were a good investment indeed!

Vickie, as long as they toy with eggplant images but leave the irises alone, I'd say it's still rather innocent…

Both of you: Bev's second link to the International Phonetic Alphabet looks good.
And of course I'm willing to help with your language learning efforts if I can. But methinks it would be much easier if you come up with your specific difficulties rather than me explaining chance things which then turn out not to have been difficult at all…

Now tough luck for you who encouraged me to translate! Here you get more of them:

Translation difficulties, continued

A few translation comparisons I missed before from Landscape with Two Graves and an Assyrian Dog (115) –
“red mountains of lacquer,”
mountains of red sealing wax
(The second solution is fine.)

the “moon in its heaven so cold”
the moon in a sky so cold
y la luna estaba en un cielo tant frío
and the moon was in a sky so cold

("Cielo" means both sky and heaven. Here it has to be "sky", because there is no idea of divinity involved.)

the hills that “do not breathe”
the mountains still aren’t breathing
Amigo,
despierta, que los montes todavía no respiran
y las hierbas de mi corazón están otro sitio.

Because of the two tombs in the title, my reading tends to be:
Friend,
wake up, for the mounds won't breathe anyway
and the grass of my heart is elsewhere.


But it needn't refer to the title, in which case it could be:
…, for the mounts are not breathing yet



The following sequences seem Ok to me:

Dawn arrives and no one receives it in his mouth ~ Dawn (11)

blue of night without fear of day ~ Standards and Paradise of the Blacks (25)

Trembled with fear like a mollusk without its shell ~ Dance of Death (49)

beneath silence with a thousand ears ~ Landscape of a Pissing Multitude (57)

a pin that dives
until it finds the roots of a scream ~ Murder (61)

and the wind lies in ambush for careless tree trunks ~ Double Poem of Lake Eden (83)



I'm skipping "Cielo vivo" for the time being, because I have not really gone into the poem yet.

Instead, here's a real challenge for my admittedly big-mouthed attempts at translating between two foreign languages, what's more with just a few notions of one of them:


Niña ahogada en el pozo

(Granada y Newburgh)

Las estatuas sufren con los ojos por la oscuridad de los ataúdes,
pero sufren mucho más por el agua que no desemboca...,
que no desemboca.

El pueblo corría por las almenas rompiendo las cañas de los pescadores.
¡Pronto! ¡Los bordes! ¡Deprisa! Y croaban las estrellas tiernas.
... que no desemboca.

Tranquila en mi recuerdo, astro, círculo, meta,
lloras por las orillas de un ojo de caballo.
... que no desemboca.

Pero nadie en lo oscuro podrá darte distancias,
sino afilado límite: porvenir de diamante.
... que no desemboca.

Mientras la gente busca silencios de almohada,
tú lates para siempre definida en tu anillo.
... que no desemboca.

Eterna en los finales de unas ondas que aceptan
combate de raíces y soledad prevista.
... que no desemboca.

¡Ya vienen por las rampas! ¡Levántate del agua!
¡Cada punto de luz te dará una cadena!
... que no desemboca.

Pero el pozo te alarga manecitas de musgo,
insospechada ondina de su casta ignorancia.
... que no desemboca.

No, que no desemboca. Agua fija en un punto,
respirando con todos sus violines sin cuerdas
en la escala de las heridas y los edificios deshabitados.
¡Agua que no desemboca!


Let me say first of all that this poem pushes me to the limits of my translating skills.

And before having a closer look at it, it might be a good idea to refresh vague memories of "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" by Bob Dylan.
Here the lyrics:
https://www.bobdylan.com/songs/you-aint-goin-nowhere/
And here Joan Baez singing "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere", with minor changes to the lyrics:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipGgaH2EJNU

In the following, I'll add a few quotes from this song, in italics.

In the title of the poem, we again meet with the difficulty of "ahogada" operating in both directions. But this time we can't escape into some figurative meaning. This time we must solve the problem. And the only solution I can see is to hide behind the concept of "poetic licence" and Bob Dylan's "little boy lost" (in "Visions of Johanna").
So "Little girl drowned" it will have to be.

Also, we should right from the start keep in mind that it is "en el pozo" (in the well), and not "in [a] well" leading to the question: Which well?

In the first stanza, we are introduced into the world of empathy. Darkness makes inanimate statues suffer with their eyes, and they suffer "mucho más" (much more) from water. This is not a translation difficulty, but we need to understand correctly in order to be able to translate the refrain "que no desemboca".
We are not told what the statues suffer with (in addition to their eyes) in the case of water. So the "much more" applies to "much more" than the eyes (that is, their whole body, including the perception apparatus), and it applies to "much more" suffering than caused by the darkness. It is their whole body-mind continuum that is concerned.

The problem is "que no desemboca". Literally, it means "that does not debouch", and this rather awkward solution would have to be used if we cannot find any expression that is both more colloquial and true enough to the meaning.
Spanish "boca" is mouth, as is French "bouche". "Embocar" is to put to the mouth (a trumpet or similar). "Desembocar" literally is to undo this putting to the mouth; and in French, the "em" is removed, making it the shorter "déboucher", whence the English "to debouch".
We should express the idea that the water is not going away from the mouth.

In Bev's and my bilingual edition, the translators Greg Simon and Stephen F. White (hereafter shortened to S&W) say "that never reaches the sea". This is far too specific! Who on earth (except maybe a happening artist) would go to that well somewhere near Granada, draw a bucketful of water, carry it some 30 kilometres to the Mediterranean and pour it into the sea!
Of course the water of the well doesn't reach the sea by flowing out of a river's mouth, but that is banal.
The water does not flow out of the well either, because obviously a well is not a fountain; and that is banal, too.

The very first mouth we should think of, and out of which the water does not flow any longer, is the little girl's mouth. In the drowning process, she will have expelled water quite a number of times, using up the last reserves of air in her breathing system, but now she is dead and her struggle is over. She is lying face upwards, and the water does not flow out of her mouth.
Only now can we look at further possibilities of flowing-out, and at the other meanings of "to debouch".
But whichever way we translate, we will have to repeat the refrain identically at each occurrence.

Buy me a flute
And a gun that shoots
Tailgates and substitutes

("Tailgates" as the gates at the lower end of a canal-lock, where the water flows out.)

In S2L1, "pueblo" means both people and village. S&W translate "townspeople". But "the well", the only well, would be insufficient for one or several thousand inhabitants. We are in a small village, not in a town (which means that everybody knows the little girl).
The "almenas" are merlons of a castle, rather than entire "battlements" as S&W have it.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merlon
We are not talking about a platform, but about the protruding irregularities of the circular stone wall of the well. Seen from below, they look like merlons to the dead little girl (who, like the statues, has all the perceptual faculties she used to have when she was alive). The village-folk now appear like assailants, up there.

And these assailants are "rompiendo las cañas de los pescadores", they are doing something to the fishermen's rods.
Of course they are not "breaking" the "poles", as S&W translate. They are not making firewood or kindling. They are stripping the rods of their lines and reels, and they are tying them together, in order to obtain one long assembly of rods reaching down into the well, probably with a sturdy hook at the lower end. Their idea will be to give the girl something to hold on to, in case she is still alive and able; and in any case to hold her above the water until they will have found a rope, so somebody can climb down and fetch her.

The refrain, as croaked by "the tender stars" moving across the opening of the well, now must mean something like "to no avail".

Clouds so swift

Morning came and morning went

S3L2: The pupil in a horse's eye is not round, as in a human eye, but a horizontal slit, allowing the horse a vision of 270° where we only have 180°. The dead girl is lying across the round water surface like such a horse pupil. She is not weeping "on the shores" (S&W) of the horse's eye, but by its rims. The water surface in the well has no shores, otherwise she might possibly have survived.

The refrain now should mean that both her tears and the horse's tears cannot escape from the well.

S4L1: "darte distancias". Methinks we should try better than "give you distances" (S&W). Federico García Lorca is coining an expression here, but that does not mean that it can be transposed word for word. In the following line (S4L2), we have the contrary, "afilado límite", (a sharpened limit), a second newly coined expression which we will needs have to transpose as it is because of the diamond. So at least for the first one we should try not to "google translate". Something like space, or range…

The refrain now should say that neither the future nor the diamond will lead anywhere.

S5L2: "para siempre" (forever) works in two directions, like "ahogada" in the title. But this time, "you're pulsating forever" and "forever defined" are consistent with English syntax. No problem therefore (and we won't use S&W's comma after "forever").

The refrain now should suggest that nobody will ever wear that ring.

Genghis Khan
He could not keep
All his kings
Supplied with sleep


S6L1: "Eterna" is a follow-up of "definida" in S5L2. It is the girl who is "eternal", just as it is she who is "defined". The understanding should be: "you [are] defined [and] eternal".
In the Spanish original, the connection is visible from the fact that both words have the feminine ending "a". But this feminine ending does not exist in English, and so the connection has to be established otherwise.

Another translation difficulty then arises from this replacing "eternal" with something else. The original text has two aspects:
1) The dead little girl has lost her dimensions of passing-time and of potentiality, with only eternity left.
2) Contrariwise, her dead body lies still much longer (in passing-time!) than any odd wave will last, caused by a stone falling out of the wall or by some bird droppings.
My level of competence does not enable me to reproduce both aspects in English. I'll not be able to "save" more than the "passing-time" aspect of her dead body. Tough luck, I'm sorry.

EDIT 2: Here a solution so obvious it took me a long time to see it: "Eternal, outlasting..."
Somewhat verbose, but rather close to the original, hopefully.

The refrain now should mean that neither the occasional ripples, nor the roots, nor the solitude will result in anything.

Strap yourself
To the tree with roots


S7L1: "rampas": The only sense I can make of those "ramps" is by interpreting them as siege-ramps, over which the assailants climb to the heights of the well-tower.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_ ... oman_siege
S7L2: When the dead little girls rises up in the well, water will be dripping from her, like "dots of light", which give her "strings" of droplet-beads.

The refrain now should say that those strings of water-beads will drip back down into the well.

We’ll climb that hill no matter how steep

Whoo-ee! Ride me high


S8L1: Spanish "pozo" (well) is masculine.
S&W say "the well pulls you back". No, it (he) does not! In the Spanish original, there is no indication whatever that the well might be going against the girl's will in any way. He stretches out tiny hands, for her to take them or not.
S8L2: She will stay out of her own volition, bound by her platonic relationship with him (a female having penetrated a male).

Oh, oh, are we gonna fly
Down in the easy chair!


Today, a well will be made by laying a ring of concrete, one metre in diameter and half a metre high, on the spot, and then digging. Gradually, as the earth is excavated, the ring will sink in, and each next ring will be put on top of the previous one when it is flush with the ground level.
In Federico García Lorca's day, and even today when people can't afford such concrete rings, a well is dug into the ground and the sides are secured by vertical planks and horizontal props. Only when the digging is finished will a circular stone wall be erected inside, from the bottom upwards.

The refrain now should suggest that this chaste male tower, erected from inside the earth, is sexually abstinent, continent, that he does not flow over.

Tomorrow’s the day
My bride’s gonna come


S9L2: "violines sin cuerdas". Spanish "violín" is masculine; and as we already understood in "O violin and tomb", it is basically meant to be played. The well is chaste, however. His violins are not "unstrung" (S&W), which could mean that the strings have not yet been added, or that they have been removed his violins are not made to receive any strings at all.

S9L3: "escala" means ladder. But unlike guitars, violins don't have frets. And this ladder has no rungs. All of a sudden, we are not merely down in a village-well near Granada anymore, but we are having a side-glance at the New York slums, too from the hollow tower of the well, through the ladder with no rungs, to the soulless skyscrapers with no "real" floors inside for people to live on. A place the poor cannot escape from, nor climb up the social ladder.
There is no way out, not for them and not for the water in the last refrain.

(Joan Baez speaks Spanish.
I shouldn't be surprised if I'm to learn one day that she explained this poem to Bob Dylan…)

The refrain is written in trochees
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trochee
with the main stress of the entire clause on the "o" of "desemboca":
"que no desemboca"
(stressed syllables in italics).
It would be nice if the translation could be read reproducing this pattern, in spite of Bob Dylan's refrain but then I'm not a native speaker, as you know.


Little Girl Drowned in the Well
(Granada and Newburgh)

Statues suffer with their eyes from the darkness in the coffins,
but they suffer much more from the water that is getting nowhere...,
that is getting nowhere.

The village-folks ran along the merlons, using up the fishermen's rods.
Quick! The edges! Hurry up! And the tender stars croaked.
... that is getting nowhere.

At peace in my memory, celestial body, circle, goal,
you weep by the rims of a horse's eye.
... that is getting nowhere.

But no one in the dark will be able to give you any range,
only a sharpened limit: the future of a diamond.
... that is getting nowhere.

While people look for pillowed silences,
you're pulsating forever defined in your ring.
... that is getting nowhere.

Eternal, outlasting the ebbing-away of chance ripples that take up
the challenge of roots and foreseen solitude.
... that is getting nowhere.

They're coming up the ramps now! Arise from the water!
Each dot of light will give you a string.
... that is getting nowhere.

But the well stretches out tiny hands of moss to you,
unsuspected undine of its chaste ignorance.
... that is getting nowhere.

No, that is getting nowhere. Water fixed in one point,
breathing with all its stringless violins
on the ladder of the injuries and the uninhabited buildings.
Water that is getting nowhere!



EDIT 1: Changed "cushioned" to "pillowed".
EDIT 2: Changed "Outlasting" to "Eternal, outlasting".
___________________________________________________
Therefore know that you must become one with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the target
to say nothing of the horse.

... for a while
... for a little while...

(Just a filthy beggar guessing / What happens to the heart)

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