The Old Lizard

Federico García Lorca - 1898-1936
In the parched path 
I have seen the good lizard 
(one drop of crocodile) 
meditating. 
With his green frock-coat 
of an abbot of the devil, 
his correct bearing 
and his stiff collar, 
he has the sad air 
of an old professor. 
Those faded eyes 
of a broken artist, 
how they watch the afternoon 
in dismay!

Is this, my friend, 
your twilight constitutional? 
Please use your cane, 
you are very old, Mr. Lizard, 
and the children of the village 
may startle you.
What are you seeking in the path, 
my near-sighted philosopher, 
if the wavering phantasm 
of the parched afternoon 
has broken the horizon? 

Are you seeking the blue alms 
of the moribund heaven? 
A penny of a star? 
Or perhaps 
you've been reading a volume 
of Lamartine, and you relish 
the plateresque trills 
of the birds? 

(You watch the setting sun, 
and your eyes shine, 
oh, dragon of the frogs, 
with a human radiance. 
Ideas, gondolas without oars, 
cross the shadowy 
waters of your 
burnt-out eyes.) 

Have you come looking 
for that lovely lady lizard, 
green as the wheatfields 
of May, 
as the long locks
of sleeping pools, 
who scorned you, and then 
left you in your field? 
Oh, sweet idyll, broken 
among the sweet sedges! 
But, live! What the devil! 
I like you. 
The motto "I oppose 
the serpent" triumphs 
in that grand double chin 
of a Christian archbishop. 

Now the sun has dissolved 
in the cup of the mountains, 
and the flocks 
cloud the roadway. 
It is the hour to depart: 
leave the dry path 
and your meditations. 
You will have time 
to look at the stars 
when the worms are eating you 
at their leisure.


Go home to your house 
by the village, of the crickets! 
Good night, my friend 
Mr. Lizard! 

Now the field is empty, 
the mountains dim, 
the roadway deserted. 
Only, now and again, 
a cuckoo sings in the darkness 
of the poplar trees.

More by Federico García Lorca

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.

City That Does Not Sleep

In the sky there is nobody asleep.  Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
The creatures of the moon sniff and prowl about their cabins.
The living iguanas will come and bite the men who do not dream,
and the man who rushes out with his spirit broken will meet on the 
            street corner
the unbelievable alligator quiet beneath the tender protest of the
            stars.

Nobody is asleep on earth.  Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
In a graveyard far off there is a corpse
who has moaned for three years
because of a dry countryside on his knee;
and that boy they buried this morning cried so much
it was necessary to call out the dogs to keep him quiet.

Life is not a dream.  Careful!  Careful!  Careful!
We fall down the stairs in order to eat the moist earth
or we climb to the knife edge of the snow with the voices of the dead
            dahlias.
But forgetfulness does not exist, dreams do not exist;
flesh exists.  Kisses tie our mouths
in a thicket of new veins,
and whoever his pain pains will feel that pain forever
and whoever is afraid of death will carry it on his shoulders.

One day 
the horses will live in the saloons
and the enraged ants
will throw themselves on the yellow skies that take refuge in the
            eyes of cows.

Another day
we will watch the preserved butterflies rise from the dead
and still walking through a country of gray sponges and silent boats
we will watch our ring flash and roses spring from our tongue.
Careful!  Be careful!  Be careful!
The men who still have marks of the claw and the thunderstorm,
and that boy who cries because he has never heard of the invention 
            of the bridge,
or that dead man who possesses now only his head and a shoe,
we must carry them to the wall where the iguanas and the snakes
            are waiting,
where the bear's teeth are waiting,
where the mummified hand of the boy is waiting,
and the hair of the camel stands on end with a violent blue shudder.

Nobody is sleeping in the sky.  Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is sleeping.
If someone does close his eyes,
a whip, boys, a whip!
Let there be a landscape of open eyes
and bitter wounds on fire.
No one is sleeping in this world.  No one, no one.
I have said it before.

No one is sleeping.
But if someone grows too much moss on his temples during the
            night,
open the stage trapdoors so he can see in the moonlight
the lying goblets, and the poison, and the skull of the theaters.

The Guitar

The weeping of the guitar
begins.
The goblets of dawn
are smashed.
The weeping of the guitar
begins.
Useless
to silence it.
Impossible 
to silence it.
It weeps monotonously
as water weeps
as the wind weeps
over snowfields.
Impossible
to silence it.
It weeps for distant 
things.
Hot southern sands
yearning for white camellias.
Weeps arrow without target
evening without morning
and the first dead bird
on the branch.
Oh, guitar!
Heart mortally wounded
by five swords.