Gacela of Unforeseen Love (videopoem)

Video link.

I’ll be sharing this at Moving Poems in a couple of weeks, but here’s a sneak peek. For the Spanish text (or my translation), see “Federico Garcí­a Lorca: two translations,” my post from 2005.

“Gacela” means “ghazal,” but I decided to keep the Spanish word this time to avoid confusion, since Lorca’s notion of what constitutes a ghazal differs so much from the practice of contemporary English-language poets (to say nothing of Arabic poets). This was part of Lorca’s 23-poem cycle Divan del Tamarit, an homage to the great Moorish civilization of his native Andalusia.

Lorca’s free adaptations of the ghazal and qasida reflected the influence of the anthology Poemas Arábigoandaluces translated by Emilio García Gómez, which created a minor sensation among Spanish readers and intellectuals when it was published in 1930. Poets of the renowned Generation of 27, which included Lorca, found it especially revelatory. Rafael Albertí later told an interviewer, “That book opened our eyes to all that Andalusian past, and brought it so close to us that it left me with a great preoccupation for those writers, those Andalusian writers, Arabs and Jews, born in Spain… If one studies Arab-Andalusian poetry carefully, so full of metaphors and miniaturism, we will see that there is a continuity with the later poetry, of Góngora, Soto de Rojas, and centuries later, with our own.” (I’m quoting from the introduction to an English translation of the anthology, Poems of Arab Andalusia, by Cola Franzen.)

The music, as noted in the credits, is by Antony Raijekov. It’s from his collection Jazz U, to which he applied a liberal Creative Commons license that allows for remixes.

4 Replies to “Gacela of Unforeseen Love (videopoem)”

  1. I love this, Dave. Beautiful work.

    Not that it matters to the poem, which is perfect: I was thinking about how the incredible sensitivity and beauty of the sensual language in this work came from a gay man. Switch out “womb” for anything else more accurately representing his un-closeted tastes and the shift is both enormous and not enormous at all.

    This is why I love Lorca. For all the complex and consequential cultural and social pains associated with his murder (being liberal was the smaller of his offenses), what is in his work is that deep song much larger than any misrepresentation or ghettoization of his work as simply straight or gay. He was a lover, of people – in a way that is shocking if we really consider the difficulty of keeping ourselves that open, that permeable, particularly in a world where what and who we are is dangerous and despised. Which all sounds very hokey until we actually try to live up to it. Brave, brave man.

    1. Yes indeed. I love Neruda’s description of him in his (ragingly hetero) memoirs, as a kind of wide-eyed, nonjudgemental observer who was always up for anything. Lorca does have one poem denouncing effeminate men which is hard to read, though who can blame him for being conflicted in that time and place.

      The Generation of 36 gave us so many great love poems, from the very earthy (Prados, Alberti) to the cerebral (Aleixandre, Salinas) to the unsettling (Lorca).

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