‘Nobody is sleeping in the sky’

It is believed that August 19 is the date on which the poet Federico García Lorca (above) was assassinated by Nationalist forces in Spain. The killing was 80 years ago today. The poet was 38.

Lorca was murdered during the Spanish Civil War by soldiers on the Nationalist side, the Francoists. In “Fable and Round of the Three Friends,” he foresaw, in his surrealist fashion, his own end:

When the pure forms sank
under the cri cri of daisies
I understood they had murdered me.
They searched the cafés and the graveyards and churches,
they opened the wine casks and wardrobes,
they destroyed three skeletons to pull out their gold teeth.
Still they couldn’t find me.
They couldn’t?
No. They couldn’t.
But they learned the sixth moon fled against the torrent,
and the sea remembered, suddenly,
the names of all her drowned.

More Lorca on this sad anniversary:

City That Does Not Sleep
In the sky there is nobody asleep. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
The creatures of the moon sniff and prowl about their cabins.
The living iguanas will come and bite the men who do not dream,
and the man who rushes out with his spirit broken will meet on the
street corner
the unbelievable alligator quiet beneath the tender protest of the
stars.

 
Nobody is asleep on earth. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
In a graveyard far off there is a corpse
who has moaned for three years
because of a dry countryside on his knee;
and that boy they buried this morning cried so much
it was necessary to call out the dogs to keep him quiet.

 
Life is not a dream. Careful! Careful! Careful!
We fall down the stairs in order to eat the moist earth
or we climb to the knife edge of the snow with the voices of the dead
dahlias.
But forgetfulness does not exist, dreams do not exist;
flesh exists. Kisses tie our mouths
in a thicket of new veins,
and whoever his pain pains will feel that pain forever
and whoever is afraid of death will carry it on his shoulders.

 
One day
the horses will live in the saloons
and the enraged ants
will throw themselves on the yellow skies that take refuge in the
eyes of cows.

 
Another day
we will watch the preserved butterflies rise from the dead
and still walking through a country of gray sponges and silent boats
we will watch our ring flash and roses spring from our tongue.
Careful! Be careful! Be careful!
The men who still have marks of the claw and the thunderstorm,
and that boy who cries because he has never heard of the invention
of the bridge,
or that dead man who possesses now only his head and a shoe,
we must carry them to the wall where the iguanas and the snakes
are waiting,
where the bear’s teeth are waiting,
where the mummified hand of the boy is waiting,
and the hair of the camel stands on end with a violent blue shudder.

 
Nobody is sleeping in the sky. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is sleeping.
If someone does close his eyes,
a whip, boys, a whip!
Let there be a landscape of open eyes
and bitter wounds on fire.
No one is sleeping in this world. No one, no one.
I have said it before.

 
No one is sleeping.
But if someone grows too much moss on his temples during the
night,
open the stage trapdoors so he can see in the moonlight
the lying goblets, and the poison, and the skull of the theaters.
—translated by Robert Bly

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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One comment

  1. camparigirl · August 19

    God, I hadn’t read Lorca in such a long time. Glad you posted this.

    Like

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