Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Sat, December 09, 2017 14:57:13
LITTLE VIENNESE WALZ
Leonard Cohen was a poet
and some of his greatest inspiration he says he found in the works of Federico
García Lorca. So great was his admiration, he actually called his daughter
Lorca. But, as he said in his Fundación Principe
de Asturias prize acceptance speech1, he developed his own
voice; he knew he could never copy Lorca: he wouldn’t dare, so he never tried.
On another occasion, he describes how he stumbled on Lorca’s universe of
imagery- dawn throwing fistfuls of ants in his face, or thighs that slipped
away like shoals of silver minnows’. He did not simply copy these images, he
explains2; rather, they made it possible for him to find his own
voice, which he defines as a sort of unique poetic ‘self’.
Cohen visited Lorca's birthplace in 1986
‘Take this Walz’ is,
everybody knows, a homage to Lorca, and if it is a translation of ‘Pequeño vals
vienés, it is quite a free one, where Leonard’s voice deviates significantly
from Federico’s. To compare the works of the two poets, I will turn to a set of
schemata that contrasts a classical
approach to art with a baroque one,
not in any historical sense, but as a general tendency applicable at any point
of time. Here, ‘classical’ is used to talk about a style that is simpler and more
restrained, aspiring to formal harmony and clarity via
the balanced proportions of its parts. A baroque approach, by
way of contrast, is formally less straightforward, with a more elaborate
provision of detail, allowing a greater degree of emotional expression
and conveying a richer sense
of drama and movement. Within the framework of these schemata, which is
explained in the Encyclopaedia Britannica3, I find Lorca’s poetry as
more classically inclined, Cohen’s as more baroque.
To demonstrate my point,
let’s compare the first stanza and refrain from the Spanish poem and the
Canadian song (see below). Revealingly, Lorca uses 46 words to cover this
ground; Cohen 67, half as many again. Cohen’s style is wordier, then: Cohen
spells things out for us, in more detail, whereas Lorca is less condescending
to his reader/listener. There are more discourse devices in Cohen, to help us
follow his argument. ‘There’s’ occurs five times, with obvious, almost laboured
parallel repetitiveness. In this repetitiveness we also hear the insistent
rhythm of the walz in Cohen’s song, unrestrained, almost exuberant. The
Canadian draws us in with ‘Now...’, making it sound more confidential (this is
between you and me). Lorca itches straight in with ‘En Viena ...’ and ‘hay’
occurs just three times, to indicate (with one minor exception) a new simple
sentence, and while his ‘y’ is used to link three noun phrases in one of the
sentences, Cohen uses ‘and’ to link two clauses. So, in the six lines of the
first stanza, Cohen uses as many as nine clauses to Lorca’s four: the three
‘hay’s plus ‘donde solloza la muerte’. Clauses, built round a verb, are
necessarily more dynamic than noun phrases.
In Lorca, there is in
fact only one action verb: ‘solloza’; whereas Cohen gives us six: ‘comes
to cry/ goes to die/ was torn/ hangs’. There
is much more movement, more drama, more telling here; Lorca’s walz is static by
comparison. It is restrained and relies on a simpler, barely embellished
structure. Cohen’s version more deliberately tugs on the emotions.
For Lorca ‘En Viena hay
diez muchachas’ and he doesn’t tell us if they are ‘pretty women’ or not.
Cohen’s song is more poetic in conventional terms. He gives us more detail,
fills things in for us, is more visual. ‘A tree where doves go to die’ is
easier to see than ‘un bosque de palomas disecadas’. Even 900 (windows) comes
across as more precise, concrete than 1000 (ventanas), which appears to be more
of a neat rough estimate than verifiable tangible fact. Finally, in the
refrain, Cohen gives us the unexpected and visually powerful ‘with a clamp on
its jaw’ for Lorca’s simple ‘con la boca cerrada’. Clamp = ‘abrazadera’,
‘grapa’, or ‘cepo’, something restricting by force and not simply closed. This
is bold poetic translator’s license and lays bare a relationship that is not
revealed in Lorca.
The great Leonard with the great Enrique Morente.
In the end, both poem and
song offer us the same five images, rather startling in their juxtaposition;
only in Lorca’s version, stripped down to the essentials, they make more of an
impact: 1) ten girls, 2) a shoulder where Death sobs, 3) a wood of desiccated
doves, 4) a fragment of the morning in the gallery of frost, and 5) a hall with
a thousand windows. What are we to make of this? Fistfuls of ants thrown in our
face! Lorca offers us little help.
So even in this little
homage, Cohen takes care to maintain his own distinct voice. He knows that to
copy would be fatal. Lorca’s verse, and his startling imagery, is rather a
catalyst for Cohen. Cohen is giving us his view, while Lorca leaves more
work for his reader/listener to do: his ‘self’ is harder to locate. And this
observation is, I believe, generally valid for the poetic works of the two men.
But I may be wrong.
The official photographer at the casa museo in Fuente Vaqueros told me that Cohen asked him to leave the room where Lorca was born while he meditated in the youga lotus position. This photo is not in the room where Lorca was born and it is not the lotus position, though it is clearly in Fuente Vaqueros.
These are the lyrics I
Now in Vienna there’s ten
There's a shoulder where Death comes to cry
There's a lobby with nine hundred windows
There's a tree where the doves go to die
There's a piece that was torn from the morning
And it hangs in the Gallery of Frost
Ay, ay, ay, ay
Take this waltz, take this walz
Take this waltz with the clamp on its jaws
Viena hay diez muchachas,
un hombro donde solloza la muerte
y un bosque de palomas disecadas.
Hay un fragmento de la mañana
el museo de la escarcha.
Hay un salón con mil ventanas.
¡Ay, ay, ay, ay!
este vals con la boca cerrada.
Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Fri, June 09, 2017 19:10:27
Lorca fought with some determination to
establish himself as a poet and found himself frustrated in his mid-twenties
when his play Mariana Pineda ran into
trouble with Primo de Rivero’s censorship. The end of the summer 1926 finds Lorca
at an impasse. His father is angry with him for what he sees as the lack of
direction in his son’s life, with little apparent promise of any artistic
success. He threatens to put an end to his idle versifying. “Summer is coming
to an end and I’m left stranded without the least sign of any start to my work
as a dramatic poet in which I have so much faith and which would bring me such happiness,”
he writes to the theatre empresario Eduardo Marquina in the hope that this man might
yet rescue Mariana Pineda for him.
Such is his desperation that he begins to toy
with the idea of getting a proper job. At the beginning of September, he writes
to his friend Jorge Guillén that he has decided to do the exams for the Chair
of Literature. He tries hard to convince himself that he has a vocation for the
academic life. "Tell me what I have to do,” he asks Guillén, who has just
been appointed to the Chair of Literature in Murcia. “Remember I'm neither
intelligent nor hard-working. A lazy-bones!"
Guillén’s good humoured and humorous reply
seems to be designed to put the aspiring poet off from embarking on any
academic career. “First, you must read a lot”, he says. “Not only poetry and
prose, but also all the books that have been written about those poetry and
prose works. And you must make notes of what you have read.” “But that’s not half so bad,” he continues,
“for then you need to keep a file so that you can find all the notes that you
have written. As a first step, buy a box to file your notes. That will impress
your father no end and show him you are serious about your new academic bent.”
Salvador Dalí, for his part, is equally
scathing about his friend’s new-found academic ambition. “Dear Federico, you’re
not going to do exams for anything,” (he
wrote laconically). “Persuade your father to leave you in peace to publish your
books, that is what will make you famous ... “
were to be performed, I would win over my father once and for all,” Lorca
predicted. And indeed he was right. The success of Mariana Pineda, when it was performed in Barcelona in June 1927,
combined with the publication of Canciones
also in 1927, and then followed by the extraordinary success of the First Gypsy Ballad Book, published in
1928, marked the literary break-through Lorca was seeking and after that
parental pressure let up. Lorca’s father came to accept his son's literary
vocation, and the poet was spared further traumas of having to look for a
Final note: As with other books published in
his lifetime, Lorca gave all his friends and family copies of The Gypsy Ballad Book with a dedication
inside the front cover. In the copy he gave to his parents, and only in theirs,
he added in brackets after his signature the word “poet”, a telling gesture,
asserting his finally achieved independence as a creative writer.
Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Sun, February 17, 2013 23:58:14
Joe Strummer is not the only lorquista on the progressive music
scene. Patti Smith will take part in this year’s anniversary celebrations of Lorca’s
birth (5 June 1898) once again – but this time in New York.
Patti Smith sang at the centenary
celebrations at the Huerta de San Vicente in 1998 and she performed there again
in 2008. But this time her tribute will be in New York as part of the great
international Lorca event being put on by Columbia University.
When she was in Granada for the 2008 gig,
Patti checked out on the progress of the Lorca Centre in La Romanilla, where in
happier circumstances she might even have been performing and the completion of
which she said then she considered important for contemporary and future
contact between artists and the dead poet’s work.
Mindful, no doubt, of the deadlock that has
prevented the opening of the Lorca Centre for so many years, Laura García-Lorca
set about arranging the singer’s participation in the 5 June memorial in New
York this year. She no longer puts her faith in a programme of activities at
the Centre in La Romanilla after the fracas of 2011, when a great inauguration
programme was planned and then had to be scrapped when the money dried up.
In addition to Patti Smiths’s New York
performance, there will be an exhibition with the original manuscript of Poeta
en Nueva York, acquired by the Lorca Foundation by auction at Christie's in
2003, a theatrical work based on the book starring Will King of the Royal
Shakespeare Company, and a bilingual puppet show, all of them originally
supposed to have been put on at the ill-fated inauguration of the Centro Lorca
in 2011. Laura Garcia-Lorca will not be drawn on when she thinks the
inauguration of the centre will finally go ahead.
The saga of the Lorca Centre has been
previously been blogged in #post4, #post16,
Dreams dreamed in Granada, city of dreams par excellence. Realisation in New York,
city of action and enterprise.
G. Cappa granada 13.02.2013
More on the frustrating delays to the opening of the
Lorca Centre in Spanish by Jose A. Cano
Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Wed, February 13, 2013 09:55:21
TEN MUST-SEE LORCA SITES IN AND AROUND GRANADA
Lorca’s birthplace in Fuente Vaqueros on the Vega.
On 5 June 1898. Links to the casa museo in Spanish:
and in English:
The future poet, one year old:
The Huerta de San Vicente - summer
residence of the family from 1926 – 1936. Lorca returned here from Madrid in
Link in English:
A visit to the Huerta de San Vicente was ranked by Lonely
Planet travellers as #145 of 146 things to do in Granada. Poor sods.
The nearby Huerta del Tamarit, which
belonged to the poet’s uncle Francisco García Rodríguez from 1923. I took this photo some ywars ago.
Acera del Darro, 46. The family lived there
while Lorca was still a teenager. Incorporated into today’s Hotel Monte Carlo.
The Acera del Darro at the turn of the twentieth century. Number 46 is at the level of the bridge. By Lorca's day the river was covered over as far as the bridge.
The family home in Valderrubio (then
Asquerosa). Where they lived until they moved to Granada in 1909 and spent the
summers until his father bought the Huerta de San Vicente.
The Cortijo de Daimuz Alto on the
Vega. Another family property.
that belonged to Frasquita Alba La casa de Bernarda Alba – round the
corner from the Lorca family home in Valderrubio. I took this photo some years ago.
Fuente de la Teja, the source
on the banks of the River Cubillas, across the fields from Valderrubio/Asquerosa,
where Lorca went to escape the heat of summer afternoons
The Camino de Fuente Grande, that
road that runs between Víznar and Alfacar, from the Palacio de Cuzco to the
Fuente Grande itself, running alongside the Moorish channel (acequia), past Las
Colonias, the Barranco de Viznar, and the Parque García Lorca. Where Lorca
spent his last hours after his disappearance from the Gobierno Civil on 17 August
1936.Lorca memorial monolith in the Lorca Park at Alfacar.
Last but not least, but a further
off, el Cortijo del Fraile in Níjar (Almería), scene of the crime that inspired
Bodas de sangre. Picture from Granada Hoy 12.1.13
The idea is for the Dirección General de Bienes Culturales (General Management
of Cultural Assets) to declare these sites officially Lugares Lorquianos and so
offer them better protection against further deterioration and in the end
disappearance, which would be an incalculable cultural loss. For example, the Huerta
del Tamarit was threatened by road construction not so long ago (see blog
post19), as indeed was the Huerta de San Vicente in the 1970s. In Almería, the Cortijo del Fraile is in a
very poor way after years of neglect and abandonment.
If you're not convinced the Dirección
General de Bienes Culturales has the power to protect them, come and see them now, before
Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Sun, June 12, 2011 00:17:44
the 1970s, almost before Franco’s corpse had grown cold, the good people of Granada
woke up to the fact that the Huerta de
San Vicente, that had been the Lorca family summer residence from the
mid-1920s until the start of the Spanish Civil War, was under threat from an
Urban Development Plan which drew a city access road right through the middle
of the property. Practically at the last minute, this plan was redrawn or
withdrawn and the Huerta was saved,
so that it could become the cultural tourist attraction it is today.
years later, the Huerta del Tamarit
faces a similar threat from a city access road that is supposed to link the
centre of Granada with the Outer Ring Road, which in turn will link the Motril
motorway with the Seville-Murcia A92. This access road is planned to pass through
the grounds and within 30 metres of the finca,
the country house, before linking up with the Neptuno exit to the circunvalacion (ring road).
The Huerta del Tamarit belonged to an uncle
of the poet’s, Francisco García Rodríguez, and is situated nearby on the Vega,
closer to the River Genil, just behind the Inmaculada
Clinic, which is opposite the Science Museum. [I took the photo above myself a few years ago.] Francisco bought his huerta just a couple of years before his
brother, Federico, Lorca’s father, bought his. It was a favourite haunt of
Lorca’s and lent its name to the remarkable poetry collection Diván del
Tamarit, a worthy successor to the
more accessible ‘Gypsy Ballad Book’. His cousin, Clotilde García
Picossi, lived there. Among other things she inspired the green dress episode
in La Casa de Bernarda Alba. She was
also a model for Doña
Rosita la soltera. Her fiancé was Máximo Delgado
García, another (second?) cousin, who emigrated to Argentina and let the
relationship slide into oblivion, at least from his point of view.
The Huerta is also one of the few remaining
examples of the classical huerta
granadina, whose roots go back to Moorish times: a more or less
self-sufficient living unit comprising a family house, with a garden or patio
to enjoy leisure and pleasure time, at the centre, surrounded by orchards and
vegetable gardens, and beyond that more extensive areas of land for the
cultivation of cereals and other staples.
be a crime to let it disappear.
won’t, of that I am confident. Partly because initiatives such as the Platform
in Defence of the Vega de Granada are
mobilising against such a calamity. Secondly, because even right-wing
politicians are aware of the value of the Lorca Legacy – even if he was a homo,
a leftie, and a lover of Moors and gypsies: all things despised by the right,
in Granada as elsewhere. And thirdly, for ‘economic reasons’. The nineteenth century local writer, Angel
Ganivet, whose legacy Lorca and his like-minded contemporaries inherited, had
observed long ago that many potential aberrations in the history of the city’s
development were avoided thanks to the unhappy refrain ‘ay, que no hay dinero’
(there’s no money for it). Worse, commented Ganivet, was when there was money!
today’s economic climate, work on the Outer Ring is already at a standstill and
I trust that this project is already dead in the water.
Europa Press and Radio Granada, June 2011.
Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Sun, December 19, 2010 00:55:30
When Orson Welles and Charlton Heston met in Granada to make a film about the death of Lorca...
It’s true. Orson Welles was in Granada in September 1960 researching a film he was working on about the death of Federico García Lorca. With a 16 mm camera he filmed in the Huerta de San Vicente, in Víznar, and in the caves in Guadix. You can see the footage he shot in Guadix for his unfinished film Don Quixote on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJEOO_xyPgc).
On 17 September that year Charlton Heston arrived in Granada to pursue the project with the acclaimed avant-garde filmmaker. The two of them discussed Lorca with Lord Mayor of Granada, Manuel Sola Rodríguez-Bolívar.
One thing they needed was a good script. Rodríguez-Bolívar apparently put them in touch with an Austrian who at that time was supposed to be writing Lorca’s biography. (I don’t know who’s being referred to here. Ian Gibson of course didn’t come on the scene till a few years later.)
Then Heston left for Madrid to start filming El Cid. Welles stayed in Granada to work on his Lorca project. What happened to the project is not known. Welles unorthodox way of working involved a number of such unfinished projects. And I guess the Austrian did not deliver a decent script.
The Granada visit of the two Hollywood heavyweights was of course recorded in the papers. There was an article in Ideal with photos, and Patria published an interview in which Heston spoke of his admiration for Lorca’s theatre, which was at the time highly regarded in the USA.
All the information for this blog is taken from Gabriel Pozo Felguera in Granada Hoy, 17 August 2010.
Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Sun, August 15, 2010 18:23:33
This year’s annual Memorial Concert, held at the Garcia Lorca Park between Viznar and Alfacar to commemorate the poet’s disappearance at the hands of right wing thugs, will feature a reading of Poet in New York by the local poet Luis García Montero and the popular actress Blanca Portillo (Volver and Abrazos Rotos). The concert will take place on Friday 17 August, starting at 9.30.
Appropriate to Lorca’s New York opus, which, following The Gypsy Ballad Book, represents a departure from his typical Andalusian themes, a jazz quintet will provide the musical accompaniment to this year’s recital.
Earlier this year, an unsuccessful search for Lorca’s remains was carried out, revealing only that the poet was not and never had been buried in the spot indicated. Manolo el Comunista’s very credible testimony had misled us all.
In the Fable of the Three Friends in the Poet in New York collection Lorca wrote:
I realised they had murdered me.
They searched through the cafés, the cemeteries, and the churches,
they opened barrels and cupboards,
they destroyed three skeletons to tear out their gold teeth.
But they didn't find me.
They didn't find me?
No. They didn't find me.
That Lorca spent his last hours in Viznar is surely beyond dispute. The search will go on.