Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Joseph Lisowski writes

Broken Branch of a Family Tree

"I'm going to the beach," he says,
"Put my deformed feet in sand,
Watch both tides, the setting sun."
His children, grandchildren are back
In the cottage, his young wife
Organizing a game, his ex-wife
Whispering in the shadows.

Invisible Afghan with the Apparition on the Beach of the Face of Garcia Lorca in the Form of a Fruit Dish with Three Figs -- Salvador Dali



  1. Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca was born in 1898 in Andalucía in southern Spain, the son of a teacher and a prosperous landowner. He spent most of his early life in Granada. When he was 11, he began six years of piano lessons with Antonio Segura Mesa and did not begin writing seriously until Segura died in 1916; he began a play, "Christ: A Religious Tragedy" in 1917 but never finished it, and his first prose works, such as "Nocturne," "Ballade," and "Sonata," drew on musical forms. His first book, "Impresiones y Paisajes" (Impressions and Landscapes) was printed at his father's expense in 1918. The following year he transferred from the Universidad de Granada, where he studied law, literature, and composition, to the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and moved into the progressive Residencia de Estudiantes, where he quickly became friends with Luis Buñuel Portolés, an agronomy and industrial engineering student from one of the richest families in Zaragoza, Aragón, in northern Spain. In his autobiography Buñuel claimed that he and García Lorca bonded immediately: "Although we seemed to have little in common—I was a redneck from Aragon, and he an elegant Andalusian -- we spent most of our time together.... We used to sit on the grass in the evenings behind the Residencia ... and he would read me his poems. He read slowly and beautifully, and through him I began to discover a wholly new world." Buñuel then switched to studying philosophy with his new friend, while Lorca continued to write. In 1919–20, he wrote and staged a verse play, "El maleficio de la mariposa" (The Butterfly's Evil Spell), which incorporated music and ballet to relate the impossible love between a cockroach and butterfly; it survived only four perfomances. He publlished "Libro de poemas" (Book of Poems), in 1921, which collected verses he had written in 1918, as well as "Poema del cante jondo" (Poem of Deep Song), though it was not published until 1931. Manuel de Falla Concurso de Cante Jondo flamenco "El cante jondo (Primitivo canto andaluz)," an essay on the art of the flamenco. The next year in Granada he also collaborated with Falla and others on the musical production of "La niña que riega la albahaca y el príncipe preguntón," a play for children, adapted by Lorca from an Andalucian story. He and Falla then colloborated on an unfinished opera, "Lola, la Comedianta" (Lola, the Actress). Meanwhile he began work on "Suites" (published in 1983) and "Canciones" (published in 1927) and "Los Títeres de Cachiporra" (The Billy-Club Puppets: Tragi-comedy of Don Cristóbal and Miss Rosita: A Guignolesque farce in six scenes and an announcement), a puppet play which was not performed until 1937, as well as "The Puppet Play of Don Cristóbal, not published until 1935."

  2. Lorca and Buñuel were joined in 1923 by a third member of "La Generación del 27": Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, from Catalunya near the French border, six years younger than Lorca, the son of a lawyer/notary. He was named after an older brother who had died nine months before his own birth and was told that he was the reincarnation of the other Salvador. He began painting at an early age and was introduced to Modern art in 1916 by a neighbor who visited Paris frequently. The next year, Dalí's father organized an exhibition of his charcoal drawings in their family home, and he had his first public exhibition in 1919. He moved into the Resi in 1922 while studying at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. The first time they met, Lorca was amazed by Dalí’s unconventional style of fashion, while Dalí's first impression of Lorca was of a “poetic phenomenon in its entirety and ‘in the raw’ appearing suddenly before me in flesh and blood.” Though Dalí was expelled for participating in a student protest, only to participate in yet another political demonstration at home where he spent a month in prison, he returned to the Resi in 1924 with a new zeal for Cubism and Dada and began honoring his friends in "Still Life (Syphon and Bottle of Rum) for García Lorca" and "Portrait of Luis Buñuel." In 1925, during their first long period of separation, Lorca wrote his "Ode to Dalí," his only poem so explicitly addressed to an actual person. The three spent their time together talking, drinking, smoking, reading to each other, and playing countless practical jokes and games. Lorca and Buñuel dressed up like nuns and harassed people on the trolley, and they all joined Buñuel’s made-up fraternity of Toledo, which involved trips to the city for a night of drunken antics. Lorca and Dalí made plans for a “book of putrefactions.” Before moving permanently to Paris, Buñuel's relationship with Dalí became increasingly strained due to jealousy over the growing intimacy between Dalí and Lorca and resentment over Dalí's early success as an artist.

  3. Dalí was expelled from the Academy in 1926, shortly before his final exams when he was accused of starting an unrest, and he made his first visit to Paris, where he met Pablo Picasso, a fellow San Fernando alumnus whom he revered; Picasso also had heard favorable reports about Dalí from Joan Miró, a fellow Catalan who introduced him to many Surrealist friends, and he painted his first important Surrealist work "La miel es más dulce que la sangre" (Honey is Sweeter than Blood) as well as works like "Composition with Three Figures "(La academia neocubista/Neo-Cubist Academy)" and "Little Ashes" which incorporated Lorca's face, and he began to paint dual portraits in which their faces overlapped. Dalí and Lorca also collaborated on "Mariana Pineda," a historical drama; Dalí constructed the scenery, Lorca wrote the script. The painter helped arrange an exhibition of the poet's own drawungs at a Barcelona gallery. In 1927, Lorca became more demanding of an erotic relationship with Dalí, who arranged instead for Lorca to have sex with a woman acquaintance while he watched. However, Dalí Dalí Dalídecades later Dalí admitted that he was flattered by Lorca's attention, saying, "Deep down I felt that he was a great poet and that I owe him a tiny bit of the Divine Dali's asshole."

  4. Lorca finally achieved literary success in 1928 with his "Romancero Gitano" (Gypsy Ballads), which he called a "carved altar piece" of Andalucía with "gypsies, horses, archangels, planets, its Jewish and Roman breezes, rivers, crimes, the everyday touch of the smuggler and the celestial note of the naked children of Córdoba. A book that hardly expresses visible Andalusia at all, but where the hidden Andalusia trembles." Dalí sent him a 7-page critique in which he called the book "sterotypical and conformist" and "fully within the traditional." However, in the same letter he told Lorca, "You are a Christian storm and you are in need of some of my paganism.... I will go get you and give you some seaside medicine. It will be winter and we will light a fire. The poor beasts will be trembling with the cold. You will recall that you are an inventor of marvelous things and we will live together with a portrait machine." In 1929 Dalí and Buñuel released a 17-minute Surralist film, "Un Chien Andalou" (An Andalusian Dog), which Lorca interpreted as a personal attack. Though they continued to correspond, the personal friendship was permanently damaged. The next year Dalí and Buñuel produced a second film, "L'Age d'Or," but it was subsequently banned after fascist groups staged a stink bomb and ink-throwing riot in the Paris theater where it was shown. The two men also subsequently drifted apart. Meanwhile, Spain collapsed into political chaos after the Guardias de Asalto assasinated monarchist José Calvo Sotelo. In Barcelona, when Lorca's brother-in-law agreed to accept the city's mayoralty he was assassinated within a week, on the same day (19 August 1936) that 38-yeear-old Lorca was assassinated by fascist militia. One of the men on the death squad reportedly said that he had “fired two bullets into his ass for being a queer.” His body was never found. Dalí spent the rest of his life feeling guilty that he had not tried harder to persuade Lorca to join him in Italy. Francisco Franco placed his work under a general ban until 1953, when a censored edition of his so-called "Obras completas" (Complete Works). In November 1988 Dalí entered the hospital, where he rapidly deteriorated, became disoriented and uncommunicative. One of his nurses claimed that his only intelligible communication was a reference to "My friend Lorca." He died on 23 January 1989.


    A rose in the high garden that you desire.
    A wheel in the pure syntax of steel.
    The mountain stripped of impressionist mist.
    Greys looking out from the last balustrades.

    Modern painters in their blank studios,
    Sever the square root’s sterilized flower.
    In the Seine’s flood an iceberg of marble
    freezes the windows and scatters the ivy.

    Man treads the paved streets firmly.
    Crystals hide from reflections’ magic.
    Government has closed the perfume shops.
    The machine beats out its binary rhythm.

    An absence of forests, screens and brows
    Wanders the roof-tiles of ancient houses.
    The air polishes its prism on the sea
    and the horizon looms like a vast aqueduct.

    Marines ignorant of wine and half-light,
    decapitate sirens on seas of lead.
    Night, black statue of prudence, holds
    the moon’s round mirror in her hand.

    A desire for form and limit conquers us.
    Here comes the man who sees with a yellow ruler.
    Venus is a white still life
    and the butterfly collectors flee.

  6. Cadaqués, the fulcrum of water and hill,
    lifts flights of steps and hides seashells.
    Wooden flutes pacify the air.
    An old god of the woods gives children fruit.

    Her fishermen slumber, dreamless, on sand.
    On the deep, a rose serves as their compass.
    The virgin horizon of wounded handkerchiefs,
    unites the vast crystals of fish and moon.

    A hard diadem of white brigantines
    wreathes bitter brows and hair of sand.
    The sirens convince, but fail to beguile,
    and appear if we show a glass of fresh water.

    Oh Salvador Dalí, of the olive voice!
    I don’t praise your imperfect adolescent brush
    or your pigments that circle those of your age,
    I salute your yearning for bounded eternity.

    Healthy soul, you live on fresh marble.
    You flee the dark wood of improbable forms.
    Your fantasy reaches as far as your hands,
    and you savor the sea’s sonnet at your window.

    The world holds dull half-light and disorder,
    in the foreground humanity frequents.
    But now the stars, concealing landscapes,
    mark out the perfect scheme of their courses.

    The flow of time forms pools, gains order,
    in the measured forms of age upon age.
    And conquered Death, trembling, takes refuge
    in the straightened circle of the present moment.

    Taking your palette, its wing holds a bullet-hole,
    you summon the light that revives the olive-tree.
    Broad light of Minerva, builder of scaffolding,
    with no room for dream and its inexact flower.

    You summon the light that rests on the brow,
    not reaching the mouth or the heart of man.
    Light feared by the trailing vines of Bacchus,
    and the blind force driving the falling water.

    You do well to place warning flags
    on the dark frontier that shines with night.
    As a painter you don’t wish your forms softened
    by the shifting cotton of unforeseen clouds.

    The fish in its bowl and the bird in its cage.
    You refuse to invent them in sea or in air.
    You stylize or copy once you have seen,
    with your honest eyes, their small agile bodies.

    You love a matter defined and exact,
    where the lichen cannot set up its camp.
    You love architecture built on the absent,
    admitting the banner merely in jest.

    The steel compass speaks its short flexible verse.
    Now unknown islands deny the sphere.
    The straight line speaks of its upward fight
    and learned crystals sing their geometry.

    Yet the rose too in the garden where you live.
    Ever the rose, ever, our north and south!
    Calm, intense like an eyeless statue,
    blind to the underground struggle it causes.

    Pure rose that frees from artifice, sketches,
    and opens for us the slight wings of a smile.
    (Pinned butterfly that muses in flight.)
    Rose of pure balance not seeking pain.
    Ever the rose!

    Oh Salvador Dalí of the olive voice!
    I speak of what you and your paintings tell me.
    I don’t praise your imperfect adolescent brush,
    but I sing the firm aim of your arrows.

    I sing your sweet battle of Catalan lights,
    your love of what might be explained.
    I sing your heart astronomical, tender,
    a deck of French cards, and never wounded.

    I sing longing for statues, sought without rest,
    your fear of emotions that wait in the street.
    I sing the tiny sea-siren who sings to you
    riding a bicycle of corals and conches.

    But above all I sing a shared thought
    that joins us in the dark and the golden hours.
    It is not Art, this light that blinds our eyes.
    Rather it is love, friendship, the clashing of swords.

    Rather than the picture you patiently trace,
    it’s the breast of Theresa, she of insomniac skin,
    the tight curls of Mathilde the ungrateful,
    our friendship a board-game brightly painted.

    May the tracks of fingers in blood on gold
    stripe the heart of eternal Catalonia.
    May stars like fists without falcons shine on you,
    while your art and your life burst into flower.

    Don’t watch the water-clock with membranous wings,
    nor the harsh scythe of the allegories.
    Forever clothe and bare your brush in the air
    before the sea peopled with boats and sailors.

    -- Federico García Lorca, tr. A. S. Kline


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