Casida of One Wounded by the Water

Federico García Lorca
Translated from the Spanish by Merryn Williams

I want to go down to the well, I wantto climb the walls of Granada,to see the heart that has been piercedby the dark needle of water.The wounded boy was groaninghis head crowned with white frost.Ponds, cisterns and fountainsraised to the air their swords.Ah, what fury of love, what a cutting edge,dark murmurs, a death so white!Sunk in the sands of daybreak,what deserts of light!The boy was alone, the cityin his throat, asleep.A spout of dreams protects him fromthe hunger of seaweed.The boy and his agony, face to face,were two green rains entwined.The boy stretched out upon the earth,his agony curved round.I want to go down to the well, I wantto die my death by mouthfuls,to fill my heart with moss, to seeone wounded by the water.

Casida del herido por el agua

Quiero bajar al pozo,quiero subir los muros de Granada,para mirar el corazón pasadopor el punzón oscuro de las aguas.       El niño herido gemíacon una corona de escarcha.Estanques, aljibes y fuenteslevantaban al aire sus espadas.¡Ay qué furia de amor, qué hiriente filo,qué nocturno rumor, qué muerte blanca!¡Qué desiertos de luz iban hundiendolos arenales de la madrugada!El niño estaba solocon la ciudad dormida en la garganta.Un surtidor que viene de los sueñoslo defiende del hambre de las algas.El niño y su agonía frente a frente,eran dos verdes lluvias enlazadas.El niño se tendía por la tierray su agonía se curvaba.       Quiero bajar al pozo,quiero morir mi muerte a bocanadas,quiero llenar mi corazón de musgo,para ver al herido por el agua.

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image of Federico García Lorca

Federico García Lorca, Spain’s greatest modern poet and dramatist, was murdered by Fascist partisans in 1936, shortly after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. He was by then an immensely popular figure, celebrated throughout the Spanish-speaking world, and at the height of his creative powers. After his death, with his work suppressed, he became a potent symbol of the martyrdom of Spain. The manuscript of Lorca’s last poems, his tormented Sonnets of Dark Love, disappeared during the Civil War. For fifty years the poems lived only in the words of the poets who had heard Lorca read them, like Neruda and Aleixandre, who remembered them as ‘a pure and ardent monument to love in which the prime material is now the poet’s flesh, his heart, his soul wide open to his own destruction’. Lorca’s lost sonnets were re-discovered in Spain during the 1980s, and the Bloodaxe edition of his Selected Poems (1992/2021), translated by Merryn Williams, was the first to include English translations of these brooding poems.

image of Merryn Williams

Merryn Williams has published five volumes of poetry; the latest is The Fragile Bridge: New and Selected Poems (Shoestring Press) and edited Poems for the Year 2020: Eighty Poems on the Pandemic (also Shoestring). Her translation of Lorca’s Selected Poems is published by Bloodaxe Books.

image of Federico García Lorca

Hexham, Northumberland
England

This new edition of iconic translation draws on the full range of Lorca’s poetry, from the early poems and the ballads to the agitated Poet in New York sequence and the Arab-influenced gacelas and casidas which followed his American exile. It includes the Lament for Ignacio Sánchez Mejías, Lorca’s great elegy for his bullfighter friend, as well as the full text of his famous lecture on the duende, the daemon of Spanish music, song, dance, poetry and art. In these remarkable translations, Lorca’s elemental poems are reborn in English, with their stark images of blood and moon, of water and earth; of bulls, horses and fish; olives, sun and oranges; knives and snow; darkness and death:

‘I realised I had been murdered.
They searched cafés, 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.’

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