* mirroring & anthilling with garcía lorca

This week’s poem is a translation of a short lyric from Federico García Lorca’s Suite de los Espejos (Suite of the Mirrors). Reading through the suites, I was impressed again and again by García Lorca’s facility to estrange us from the everyday world, only to bring us back. His lyrics are infused with a purposeful sense of shock.

This particular poem hooked me in my first reading with its closing lines:

Me veo por los ocasos,
y un hormiguero de gente
anda por mi corazón.

(I see myself through the sunsets,
and an anthill of people
marches through my heart.)

Even in the brief space of three lines, this travel between something outside of human experience and something within it (in our very chests, to be exact) is enacted through the blended images of sunsets/anthill/people/heart. It’s something that moves beyond metaphor into an almost physical reaction while reading.

What fascinated my as I translated was the way the “mirror” theme of this specific suite leads up nicely to this ending. Through a series of questions with no answers, García Lorca develops a lyric uncertainty, only to push it further as the poem develops: …are you you / or am I me? the speaker asks, only to follow it up with a question regarding hands. It is to this physical point that the poem has led us: questions about the heart and thoughts and even stars have spiraled down to more intimate, physical terrain. With this set up, the poem tips into its final imagery as if tipped over by hand.

Stumpwork_mirror_frame_c._1630s

Confusion (from Suite of the Mirrors) – Federico García Lorca
translated by José Angel Araguz

My heart –
is it your heart?
And who reflects my thoughts?
Who lends me
this passion
without roots?
Why does my suit of colors
keep changing?
Everything is at a crossroads!
Why do you see in the sky
so many stars?
Brother, are you you
or am I me?
And these cold hands,
are they from that one?
I see myself through the sunsets,
and an anthill of people
marches through my heart.

*

Confusión (from Suite de los Espejos) – Federico García Lorca

Mi corazón
¿es tu corazón?
¿Quién me refleja pensamientos?
¿Quién me presta
esta pasión
sin raíces?
¿Por qué cambia mi traje
de colores?
¡Todo es encrucijada!
¿Por qué ves en el cielo
tanta estrella?
¿Hermano, eres tú
o soy yo?
¿Y estas manos tan frías
son de aquél?
Me veo por los ocasos,
y un hormiguero de gente
anda por mi corazón.

*

Happy espejando!

José

 

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3 thoughts on “* mirroring & anthilling with garcía lorca

  1. an accomplished translation Jose: reads as effortless & fluid in English as in Spanish; it truly ‘reflects’ the poets work.
    when he says “Brother, are you you / or am I me?” do you think he is talking about a twin & the implication of identity because of it?

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Daniel! Actually, the brother part of the poem led to some interesting inner discussion. Where I went with it, within the mirror theme of the suite, is that Lorca was essentially addressing his reflection, doubting his physical presence through the existence of another presence of sorts. This is also the same poet who felt books were graves where poems went to die, that poems were only truly alive when he recited/performed them. Presence, then, is a key not just to this poem but in my understanding of his poetry in general. Thank you for your question – I hadn’t thought all this out, only am now connecting it together from this dialogue. I hope you are well, brother!

      1. of course, his reflection is a sensible way to go, i abstracted the whole mirror trope too much. i need to give Lorca some attention. i remember when i hitchhiked through France with my pal, he had Lorca’s The Blood Wedding with him & would tell me about it.
        i am doing fine, hope your well too.

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