Sunday, January 31, 2010


Federico Garcia Lorca stands at the top of Spanish literature. And for very good reason. He mastered two distinct and at times diametrically opposed styles of poetry. The first is the dreamy, almost sea inspired (it seems) style that he perfected in poems such as 'Nocturnal Air' written in 1919. In these poems his constant reference to the moon, hearts, shadows, fountains and the like, gives each poetic expression a sense of the oneiric. It is my belief that all great poets imbue this sensibility into their work at some time.

The other style is more intellectual, jarring, and uncomfortable. The poems which spring from this muse can be found in his Poet in New York. It is my guess that such poems were inspired and influenced by his relationship to Dali and the Surrealism that shaped Dali's own oeuvre. Associations in these poems are odd and out of place. The moon and shadows still find their way into these creations, but more common are the 'tapeworms', 'wounded cow's horns', and 'horse's eyes' that jolt you rather than send you into a comfortable calm. Lorca is perhaps more technically accomplished in these later poems, but it will be the 'dream-style' poetry (as we'll call it) that will cement his place in the cannon of world literature.


Stu said...

I enjoy both styles/periods of his work, as you've outlined them.

My favourite Lorca poem is 'New York: Office and Denunciation' (I've also seen the title translated as 'New York: Office and Attack'). For me it stands alone as a surrealist act of criticism and protest, and is one of the great city (or anti-city) poems.

Paul said...

Dali was hugely influential for Lorca. I think it would be interesting to read some of his later plays, and map whether the same juxtaposition in styles is evident in his drama.