Frederico García Lorca

Lorca is clearly the most popular poet ever to originate from Spain.  He was born in Fuente Vaqueros in 1898, and was educated at the universities of Granada and Madrid.   Although he is best known for his drama and poetry, this talented individual was also a proficient painter and pianist. Lorca was at the center of Spain's "intellectual circle" and befriended many influential members, including fellow poets Albertí and Jiménez, filmmaker Luis Buñuel, painter Salvador Dalí, and classical composer Manuel de Falla.

Libro de poemas (Book of Poems, 1921) was his first collection of poetry to be published and was strongly influenced by Machado and Jiménez.  However, in 1922 Lorca organized the first festival of cante jondo (deep song), which is the music and folklore of gypsy culture. This folk influence is evident in his subsequent works, including Canciones (Songs, 1927), Primer romancero gitano (First Book of Gypsy Ballads, 1928) and Poema del cante jondo (Poem of Deep Song, 1931).    Each of these works exhibit a combination of musicality (or rhythm), unique metaphors and sense of mystery which had previously been missing from Spanish poetry.

Lorca lived at Columbia University in New York from 1929-30, but did not adapt well to the drastic change of lifestyle and returned to Spain after a brief visit to Cuba.  Poeta en Nueva York (Poet in New York, 1940) was published posthumously and includes the poem "Sunrise", which displays his disdain for this dense and industrial city.   The poems written during his stay in New York, contrast from his earlier works in that they are highly surreal and full of anguish.

Lorca's later poetry dealt increasingly with death and Lorca  lectured on the "Play and Theory of the Duende" in which he suggests that great art can only occur when the writer is intimately aware of death.  His later poems were accordingly more somber and included many elegies, the best of which is Llanto por la muerte de Ignacio Sánchez Mejías (Lament for Ignacio Sánchez Mejías, 1935).  This elegy was dedicated to his bullfighter (torero) friend who was gored to death.    The opening poem employs a striking liturgical device in which each line is followed by the litany "at five in the afternoon" (his time of death),   thus giving the impression that a stunned Lorca is presiding over a sermon, repeating the only fact which penetrates the state of shock resulting from his friend's sudden death.

Lorca was murdered by order of one of Franco's generals at the outset of the Civil War (August, 1936) in what could be interpreted as a harbinger of the evil soon to devastate Spain's resurgent poetry movement.  Both Spain and the world were denied the opportunity to benefit from the future maturity of one of history's greatest poets.

Read "Sunrise"

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