Thursday, March 10, 2011

Poetry Friday from Spain: Federico Garcia Lorca


Arbol in Espana - Tree in Spain
Well, it's Friday in Girona, Spain, even if my laptop computer thinks it's still Thursday! I'm traveling through Spain with my husband (Happy Retirement, Nando!) for the whole month of March and reading the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca. Here's a haunting poem for Poetry Friday titled Arbole, Arbole (Tree, Tree) accompanied by a photo I took yesterday of a weeping willow tree near the lovely Monasterio de Sant Pere des Galligants (the monastery of Saint Peter of the Cock's Crow) in Girona . Original Spanish follows the translated version.


Arbole, Arbole


Tree, tree
dry and green.

The girl with the pretty face
is out picking olives.
The wind, playboy of towers,
grabs her around the waist.
Four riders passed by
on Andalusian ponies,
with blue and green jackets
and big, dark capes.
"Come to Cordoba, muchacha."
The girl won't listen to them.
Three young bullfighters passed,
slender in the waist,
with jackets the color of oranges
and swords of ancient silver.
"Come to Sevilla, muchacha."
The girl won't listen to them.
When the afternoon had turned
dark brown, with scattered light,
a young man passed by, wearing
roses and myrtle of the moon.
"Come to Granada, muchacha."
And the girl won't listen to him.
The girl with the pretty face
keeps on picking olives
with the grey arm of the wind
wrapped around her waist.
Tree, tree
dry and green.


(Translated by William Logan)

Original Spanish

Arbolé, arbolé,
seco y verde.

La niña del bello rostro
está cogiendo aceituna.
El viento, galán de torres,
la prende por la cintura.
Pasaron cuatro jinetes
sobre jacas andaluzas,
con trajes de azul y verde,
con largas capas oscuras.
"Vente a Córdoba, muchacha."
La niña no los escucha.
Pasaron tres torerillos
delgaditos de cintura,
con trajes color naranja
y espadas de plata antigua.
"Vente a Córdoba, muchacha."
La niña no los escucha.
Cuando la tarde se puso
morada, con lux difusa,
pasó un joven que llevaba
rosas y mirtos de luna.
"Vente a Granada, muchacha."
Y la niña no lo escucha.
La niña del bello rostro
sigue cogiendo aceituna,
con el brazo gris del viento
ceñido por la cintura.
Arbolé, arbolé.
Seco y verdé.  

--------------
If you read through the Spanish carefully, even if you don't speak the language, you can see how much more musical the original is ( aceituna, cintura, andaluzas, oscuras, muchacha, escucha....) I'd like to say the translation gives us the essence, but is the essence the meaning? Or is the essence the music? Or - hardest of all, and strangest of all, and what I believe - is the essence (that is, the least reducible condition) the combination of sense with sound? To me, the effect of that combination is what poetry is all about, and that's why translations almost always fail if they do not take into account the effect of the words on the body. The translator here, William Logan, captures moments like that when he gives us phrases like "myrtles of the moon." If you're looking for a book about the translation of poetry, one of the best around is Reading Rilke by William Gass.


The Poetry Friday Round-Up is happening today over at Lix Garton Scanlon's blog, Liz in Ink. Head over there to see what other people are posting!  




Alley in Girona, Spain


Garcia Lorca in New York

8 comments:

Tabatha said...

Very nice, Julie! Thank you for posting both versions of it. Love this vision of the wind.

Doraine Bennett said...

Lovely, Julie. I read some Lorca in a playwriting class in college. I loved the way he wove that same music and rhythm into the plays.

Beautiful photos, by the way. Enjoy your trip.

Lindsey Lane said...

You're there. You're there. You're drifting in Spain and writing us poetry as we continue with our linear lives...thank you for sending us a bit of Lorca...

Mary Lee said...

Thank you for taking us along with you to Spain!

B.C. said...

Oh that's brilliant! Enjoy Spain!

Uma Krishnaswami said...

Glorious, Julie. What a beautiful tree, and beautiful words.

There's a story that folklorist and poet A. K. Ramanujan used to apply to translation. It might be of interest to you--it's referenced in this slideshow: http://tinyurl.com/6x7pp76

Feliz viaje.

Shelley said...

I've done poetry in America, but not poetry in Spain! You sound like you're in a Hemingway novel (well...the good parts only!)

Julie Larios said...

Uma- Let's do a translation workshop together!!!!!!