Thursday, June 05, 2008

Federico García Lorca

Federico García Lorca was born on 5 June 1898. In his honor, listen to Estrella Morente sing "Los Cuatro Muleros."

Lorca cherished the profound influence of Arab, Persian, and Islamic cultures on the culture of Spain, and he highlighted it in his poetry and lectures:
  • "Just as in the siguiriya [the prototypical song form of the cante jondo. . .] and in its daughter genres are to be found the most ancient oriental elements, so in many poems of cante jondo there is an affinity to the oldest oriental verse. When our songs reach the extremes of pain and love they come very close in expression to the magnificent verses of Arab and Persian poets. The truth is that the lines and features of far Arabia still remain in the air of Cordoba and Granada." -- Federico García Lorca, "Historical and Artistic Importance of the Primitive Andalusian Song Called Cante Jondo"

  • "In all Arabian music, in the dances, songs, elegies of Arabia, the coming of the Duende is greeted by fervent outcries of Allah! Allah! God! God!, so close to the Olé! Olé! of our bull ring that who is to say they are not actually the same, and in all the songs of southern Spain the appearance of the Duende is followed by heartfelt exclamations of God alive! -- profound, human, tender, the cry of communication with God through the medium of the five senses and the grace of the Duende. . . ." -- Federico García Lorca, "The Duende: Theory and Divertissement"
According to Yair Huri, Lorca, in turn, has had a far-reaching influence on Arab poets, especially those of the 1950s and 1960s: "'In Your Name this Death is Holy': Federico García Lorca in the Works of Modern Arab Poets" (Ciberletras 13, July 2005). He has found his way into the hearts of Iranians, too, through the translations of such writers as Ahmad Shamlou.

Ironically, the European Union chose to issue tough new rules to expel undocumented immigrants (many of whom are from Europe's former colonies in North Africa and West Asia) on the birthday of the poet who lamented the "Reconquista" of 1492 -- "An admirable brand of civilization, of poetry, of architecture, and delicacy unique in the world -- all were lost, to be replaced by a poor, craven town, a 'wasteland' now dominated by the worst bourgeoisie in Spain," said Lorca -- which compelled Jews and Muslims to convert to Christianity and expelled those who refused to submit to forced conversion: "Les Etats membres de l'UE s'accordent sur les conditions d'expulsions des sans-papiers" (Le Monde, 5 June 2008).

1 comment:

Selma said...

" He has found his way into the hearts of Iranians, too, through the translations of such writers as Ahmad Shamlou."

That's so true. A poet himself, Shamlou did a wonderful job translating Lorca's works. Iranians love both of them!