Ghazal of the Terrible Presence

By Federico García Lorca (tr. Amy Rodriguez)

I want the river to stand still,
And the wind to stop stirring the air.

I want the night to remain sightless,
And my heart to beat without flowering gold.

I want the oxen to speak with the leaves,
And the earthworm to die of darkness.

The skull’s teeth to shine a bright light,
And yellows to flood the silk.

I can see the pain of the wounded night
As it fights, entangled with day.

I can bear the sunset of poison green
And the warping arc where time begins to sag,

But I can’t look upon you clean and naked,
Like a black cactus broken open in the brush.

Leave me longing for distant planets,
But don’t show me your virgin waist.

—Federico García Lorca, translated by Amy Rodriguez

Yo quiero que el agua se quede sin cauce,
yo quiero que el viento se quede sin valles.

Quiero que la noche se quede sin ojos
y mi corazón sin flor del oro;

que los bueyes hablen con las grandes hojas
y que la lombriz se muera de sombra;

que brillen los dientes de la calavera
y los amarillos inunden la seda.

Puedo ver el duelo de la noche herida
luchando enroscada con el mediodía.

Resiste un ocaso de verde veneno
y los arcos rotos donde sufre el tiempo.

Pero no ilumines tu limpio desnudo
como un negro cactus abierto en los juncos.

Déjame en un ansia de oscuros planetas,
pero no me enseñes tu cintura fresca.

—Federico García Lorca, traducido por Amy Rodriguez

Rodriguez photo_smallAmy Rodriguez teaches English literature and composition at Westchester Community College. She recently curated an interactive gallery event titled “Love: Lost and Found” for Scintilla, a Bushwick-based arts and literature showcase. She holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Yale University and will begin her Ph.D. this fall.

Federico García Lorca was one of the preeminent poets and dramatists of 20th-century Spain. His “Ghazal” series is from the Diván del Tamarit. He was executed by Nationalist forces in 1936.

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