Monday, April 12, 2010



Candle, lamp,
lantern, and firefly.

The constellation
of the dart.

Little windows of gold
and cross upon cross
rocking in the dawn.

Candle, lamp,
lantern, and firefly.

translated Jaime de Angulo

Every art and in fact every country is capable of duende, angel, and muse. And just as Germany has, with few exceptions, muse, and Italy shall always have angel, so in all ages Spain has moved by the duende, for it is a country of ancient music and dance where the duende squeezes the lemons of death — a country of death, open to death.

Everywhere else, death is an end. Death comes, and they draw the curtains. Not in Spain. In Spain they open them. Many Spaniards live indoors until the day they die and are taken out into the sunlight. A dead man in Spain is more alive as a dead man than any place else in the world. His profile wounds like a barber's razor. The joke about death and its silent contemplation are familiar to every Spaniard. From Quevedo's Dream of the Skulls to Valdes Leal's Putrescent Archbishop, from seventeenth-century Marbella who says, while dying of childhood in the middle of the road,

La sangre de mis entrans
cubriendo el caballo esta.
Las patas de tu caballo
echan fuego de aquiltran...

The blood of my womb
is covering the horse.
Your horse's hoofs
throw off black fire...

to the more recent youth of Salamanca who is killed by a bull and moans:

Amigos, que yo me muero.
Amigos, yo estoy muy malo.
Tres panuelos tengo dentro,
y este que meto son cuatro...

Friends, I'm dying.
Friends, it's pretty bad.
Three handkerchiefs in me,
and this one makes a fourth...

Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936)
In Search of Duende
(New Directions 2010)