The daybreak of New York contains
four columns made of blood
and a hurricane of black doves
that wade in stinking waters.
The daybreak of New York moans
along enormous stairways
and seeks between the ledges
tuberoses, drawn in anguish.
Day breaks, and no one takes it in his mouth,
for there no morning is possible, nor hope.
From time to time, a furious shower of coins
perforates and devours abandoned children.
The first to go out understand in their bones
that there will be no heaven or natural love;
they know they are going to a mire of figures,
laws, games without skill, sweat that leads to nothing.
The light is buried by chains and by noises,
challenged shamelessly by rootless science.
Along the suburbs, sleepless crowds are staggering,
as though fresh from a shipwreck of blood.
THE MOON COMES OUT
When the moon comes out
the bells fade into silence
and impenetrable paths
come to light.
When the moon comes out
the sea floods earth's surface,
the heart feels like an island
in the infinite.
Nobody eats oranges
under the full moon.
You eat only green
and icy fruit.
When the moon comes out,
one hundred identical faces,
the silver coins in your pocket
THE POET QUESTIONS HIS LOVER ON THE 'ENCHANTED CITY' OF CUENCA
Did you like the city that water built
drop by drop in the heart of the pine woods?
Did you see visions, faces, roads
and walls of pain for air to beat?
Did you see the blue chink of the broken moon
that Jucar wets with crystal and sweet sounds?
And did the hawthorns kiss your hands
that crown with love the distant stone?
Do you recall me when you mount
the silence which the snake endures,
a prisoner of crickets and of shades?
Didn't you see through the transparent air
a dahlia of gladness and despair
sent to you from my burning heart?
Federico Garcia Lorca was murdered by Fascist partisans in August 1936. It is almost as though he foresaw his fate, for he had written earlier:
I realised I had been murdered.
They searched cafes, cemeteries, churches,
They opened barrels and cupboards,
And plundered three skeletons
for their gold teeth.
But they never found me?
No. They never found me.
'But', as he wrote in a different poem, 'all should know that I have not died'.
My English translations of Lorca's Selected Poems have been published by Bloodaxe Books in a bilingual edition. They include the eleven 'Sonnets of Dark Love' which were thought to have been lost in the Civil War and did not resurface for several years.