POTD: “Gacela of the Dark Death” by Frederico García Lorca

bw_lorcaFamiliar with Lorca?  If not … as Rilke says, “you must change your life!”  I mean, this poem … OMG.  That is all you really can say.  Except I’ve never been one to be accused of being laconic, so I’ll say a bit more.  “Fistfuls of ants,” everybody, “fistfuls of ants” … deal with it.    Leonard Cohen says it was this poem that ruined his life, for in reading it he discovered he too was a poet.  You have been warned; be careful with this one.  It’s essentially LSD in verse form … what he does with language, what he does with thoughts … it can destroy the foundations of all certainty.  Even in translation, the power is there.  Enjoy:

Gacela of the Dark Death

I want to sleep the sleep of the apples,
I want to get far away from the busyness of the cemeteries.
I want to sleep the sleep of that child
who longed to cut his heart open far out at sea.

I don’t want them to tell me again how the corpse keeps all its blood,
how the decaying mouth goes on begging for water.
I’d rather not hear about the torture sessions the grass arranges for
nor about how the moon does all its work before dawn
with its snakelike nose.

I want to sleep for half a second,
a second, a minute, a century,
but I want everyone to know that I am still alive,
that I have a golden manger inside my lips,
that I am the little friend of the west wind,
that I am the elephantine shadow of my own tears.

When it’s dawn just throw some sort of cloth over me
because I know dawn will toss fistfuls of ants at me,
and pour a little hard water over my shoes
so that the scorpion claws of the dawn will slip off.

Because I want to sleep the sleep of the apples,
and learn a mournful song that will clean all earth away from me,
because I want to live with that shadowy child
who longed to cut his heart open far out at sea.


by Frederico García Lorca

Special thanks to poets.org for having this one online.


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