* thistleburrs & the friday influence

Song of the Barren Orange Tree – Federico Garcia Lorca *

 Woodcutter.

Cut my shadow from me.

Free me from the torment

of seeing myself without fruit.

 

Why was I born among mirrors?

The day walks in circles around me,

and the night copies me

in all its stars.

 

I want to live without seeing myself.

And I will dream that ants

and thistleburrs are my

leaves and my birds.

 

Woodcutter.

Cut my shadow from me.

Free me from the torment

of seeing myself without fruit.

 

***

 

This week’s Friday Influence presents this lovely poem by the great Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca.

One of the great things about lyric poetry  is how the personal nature that moves behind it can be either implicit or explicit.  Here, so much is implied through the character of an orange tree.  Desolation and loss are evoked in the repeated first and last stanza.  There is also desire – the “ants/and thistleburrs” of the third stanza come alive and send shivers through me.

There is something  to a poem like this, the way it works within a context and makes use of the image of a barren orange tree to make you feel something, make you consider things you never could otherwise.  “Why was I born among mirrors?”  I would never have asked myself that before.  It all lies in the use of “I”.

To go back Rimbaud’s idea of “I is an other” – the “I” here is literally “an other”, but it reflects the “I” who I am all the more.

Yes.  I  just wrote that sentence.

 

***

 

In other news, I got my job back at the bookstore here.  I come home smelling of old books.  The smell is like cantnip to my lady.

Happy thistleburring!

J

 

* translated by W.S. Merwin

 

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