Expansive Poetics – (Lorca – 2)

AG: Well, the “Ode to Walt Whitman” was my favorite of all the (Federico Garcia) Lorca poems. But the international classic that everybody cites as Lorca’s great poem is his “Lament for a Bullfighter” (“Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias)  because the subject-matter is so central (to the) Spanish – a bullfighter – upon the death of a bullfighter – and it’s also one of his most elevated poems, and the homoerotic element in the “Ode to Walt Whitman is at least suppressed sufficiently, or generalized sufficiently into a cultural stereotype that Lorca can get away with all the lamenting and weeping over the corpse and body of his bullfighter subject that he wants to without having to tip his mitt or come out of the closet. And also the particular subject, which is the lament on the death of the heroic athlete, is a classic subject all the way from Greek times, from Pindar’s Odes.

The translation is by (Stephen) Spender and J.L.Gili. These translations have been around since the late (19)40’s, and they’re quite good actually. I get it out of this New Directions volume. I think that’s the citation in the bibliography [of the Expansive Poetics anthology] – cheap, actually, a dollar ninety-five..

Student: That’s old (prices)!

AG: Selected Poems of Federico Garcia Lorca – I think I got this second-hand the other day. It’s an old New Directions book. Is it still in print?  – Amazing – Well, if you can get hold of it, this is the one, edited by Don Allen, it’s got all the good translations in it.


[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately thirty seconds in and concluding approximately two-and-a-half minutes in]

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