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Gacela De La Muerte Oscura+ Analysis Essay

Federico García Lorca

Gacela of the Dark Death

I want to sleep the dream of the apples,
to withdraw from the tumult of cemetries.
I want to sleep the dream of that child
who wanted to cut his heart on the high seas.

I don’t want to hear again that the dead do not lose their blood,
that the putrid mouth goes on asking for water.
I don’t want to learn of the tortures of the grass,
nor of the moon with a serpent’s mouth
that labors before dawn.

I want to sleep awhile, awhile,
a minute, a century;
but all must know that I have not died;
that there is a stable of gold in my lips;
that I am the small friend of the West wind;
that I am the immense shadow of my tears.

Cover me at dawn with a veil,
because dawn will throw fistfuls of ants at me,
and wet with hard water my shoes
so that the pincers of the scorpion slide.

For I want to sleep the dream of the apples,
to learn a lament that will cleanse me of the earth;
for I want to live with that dark child
who wanted to cut his heart on the high seas.

– Translated by Stephen Spender and J. L. Gili

(from The Selected Poems of Federico García Lorca, edited by Francisco García Lorca and Donald M. Allen, New York: New Directions 1955)

There are several translations of this poem, the one found on the Internet most often being that by Robert Bly, which was posted at World So Wide, for example.

They all fall somewhat flat because it takes the sound of Spanish to carry the foreign hermetic world, the pathos of this poem.

Which is why the original follows here:

Gacela de la muerte oscura

Quiero dormir el sueño de las manzanas,
alejarme del tumulto de los cementerios.
Quiero dormir el sueño de aquel niño
que quería cortarse el corazón en alta mar.

No quiero que me repitan que los muertos no pierden la sangre;
que la boca podrida sigue pidiendo agua.
No quiero enterarme de los martirios que da la hierba,
ni de la luna con boca de serpiente
que trabaja antes del amanecer.

Quiero dormir un rato,
un rato, un minuto, un siglo;
pero que todos sepan que no he muerto;
que hay un establo de oro en mis labios;
que soy el pequeño amigo del viento Oeste;
que soy la sombra inmensa de mis lágrimas.

Cúbreme por la aurora con un velo,
porque me arrojará puñados de hormigas,
y moja con agua dura mis zapatos
para que resbale la pinza de su alacrán.

Porque quiero dormir el sueño de las manzanas
para aprender un llanto que me limpie de tierra;
porque quiero vivir con aquel niño oscuro
que quería cortarse el corazón en alta mar.

(From: Diván del Tamarit, 1936)

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Gacela of the Dark Death Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Bibliography on Gacela of the Dark Death by Federico García Lorca.

At the time of his execution in 1936, Federico García Lorca was arranging for the publication of a collection of poetry entitled Diván del Tamarit (The Diván at Tamarit). These poems, published in 1940 by a New York journal, take their titles from two traditional Arabic forms, the gacela (ghazal) and the casida (qasida), which tend to deal respectively with love and death. "Gacela de la muerte oscura" ("Gacela of the Dark Death") is one of the most moving poems in the collection. Its meditation on the intersecting themes of love, life, death, sleep, and sorrow, as well as its subtle resonance with Lorca's own approaching death, make it of unique brilliance and importance in the poet's later work.

"Gacela of the Dark Death" is included in complete collections of Lorca's poetry such as Christopher Maurer's 1991 Collected Poems, and this edition is perhaps most appropriate because it contains the original text opposite an English translation. To fully appreciate Lorca, a poet whose expression of the visual and auditory rhythms of his language is notoriously difficult to translate, a reader will find the Spanish text vital. The language barrier will not prevent readers or students, however, from becoming immediately immersed in Lorca's completely unique universe.

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