How Words Play, Images, Maps, Translation

‘Your childhood fable of fountains now’ by FG Lorca.

I thought to do a note on some poems by Federico Garcia Lorca, though the images he conjures seemed to have thwarted that and instead I found myself ensconced in a book I found years ago in Charlie Byrnes bookshop up in Galway City.

The poetry of Lorca has run like a thread through my visual and intellectual life since I was nineteen, though it seems an age ago when I discovered his writing- it really is not that long. Thus I was unsure whether a poem or  two would suffice to capture this greatness; and indeed had prevented me thus far from publishing anything by the man.

The line at the top of this post is by Jorge Guillén , Lorca uses it to begin his Poem Your Childhood in Menton ,  after he had found himself transplanted into the Americas as a student; and away from the very soil that made his songs, be it bleached by the sun or drenched in blood. Thus, I am going to publish here an excerpt from the  poem along with an exhortation to read Lorca, to listen (if at all possible) to the music of the Deep Song; and to recommend from amongst the Biographies of FGL that of Ian Gibson.

Your Childhood in Menton.

love, love, love. The childhood of the ocean.
Your lukewarm soul which is without you and does
not understand you.
Love, love the roe’s flight
over the endless breast of white.
And your childhood, love, and your childhood.
The train and the woman who fills the sky.
Nor air nor leaves nor you nor I.
Yes your childhood fable of fountains now.

The above excerpt is taken from a series of published lectures by Federico Garcia Lorca, entitled: Deep Song and Other Prose, Ed and Trans Christopher Maurer. Publ. Marion Boyars 1954.

I believe my bilingual edition is also translated by Christopher Maurer but have not it to hand at the moment. I heartily recommend chapters , which are essentially speeches from these lecture series on The Duende and  Lullabies for the new reader to familiarise him/herself with Lorca’s intimate tone , and Poet in New York for  a good introduction to some of his later poetry.

Fountain in the generalife Palace, Alhambra.

Fountain in the generalife Palace, Alhambra.