Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Confieso que he vivido

[from Pablo Neruda's Confieso que he vivido, 1998]

"Listen," [Lorca] said to me, grabbing my arm, "do you see that window? Don't you find it chorpatélica?"

"What does chorpatélico mean?"

"I don't know either, but it's important to recognize what is & what isn't chorpatélico. Otherwise we are lost. Look at that dog, how chorpatélico it is!"

. . .

Federico had a premonition of his death. One time upon returning from a theatrical tour, he called me to relate a very strange event. With the La Barraca artists he arrived at a distant town in Castilla, & they camped on the outskirts. Tired from traveling, Federico didn't sleep. At dawn he rose & left to wander about alone. It was cold, that knife-like cold that Castille reserves for the traveler, the intruder. Fog spread in white masses & everything assumed its fantasmagorical dimension.

A great fence of rusted iron. Statues & twisted columns, fallen among the leaf spill. He stopped at the door of an old yard. It was the entrance to the extended park of a feudal farm. The abandoned place, the hour & the cold intensified the solitude. Federico suddenly felt overwhelmed by what felt like a threat, something confusing that would happen here. He sat down on a fallen steeple.

A tiny lamb appeared & grazed on grasses between the ruins, & its presence was like a small fog angel that quickly personalized the solitude, fell like a tender petal on the solitude of the place. The poet felt befriended.

Until a herd of pigs also entered the enclosure. Four or five dark beasts, black half-wild pigs with coarse hunger & stone hooves.

Federico then witnessed a fearful scene. The pigs fell upon the lamb & to the poet's horror, tore it to pieces & devoured it.

This scene of blood & solitude made Federico command his traveling circus to set out immediately.

Still racked by horror, three months before the civil war, Federico told me this terrible story.

I saw later, with more & more clarity, that the event was the anticipated view of his death, the premonition of his incredible tragedy.

Federico García Lorca was not shot; he was assassinated. Naturally no one could think that they would ever kill him. Of all the Spanish poets he was the most loved, the most wanted, the most like a child with his marvelous joy. Who could believe that there could be on earth, & in his country, the monstrous capabilities for such an inexplicable crime.

The event of that crime was for me the most grievous of a long struggle. Spain was always a country of gladiators; a much-bloodied land. The bull ring, with its sacrifice & cruel elegance, again, costumed show biz, the ancient mortal combat between shadow & light.

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