In Memoriam

 

Speech given by Federico García Lorca

in the inauguration of his village’s library

 

 

On May 19th , 1929, in a banquet offered by his fellows villagers to celebrate the success of the inauguration in Granada  of “Mariana Pineda”, Federico García Lorca brought out the proposition to create a public library in Fuente Vaqueros.  Rafael Sánchez, baker of the village and organizer of the feast,  supported the initiative offering three hundred volumes of his property.

 

A few later, on May 30th,  the poet’s suggestion was brought to the Mayor to have his official approval. Federico was nominated in charge of the public and official inauguration in September 1931, during Fuente Vaqueros’ festival.

 

At the opening  of the act, Federico read a beautiful and highly favourable speech on his birth village, with pronounced dialectic accent, extolling the value of books, of reading them and the value of culture in general. He also offered the books he had written together with those of his friends and asked for more volumes the “Residencia de Estudiantes” of Madrid, and “Editorial Ulises”.

 

The war cut of the project, which was fulfilled ahead in democratic times. The doors of a new library situated  on the first floor of the  Town hall’s edifice are now open.

 

 

 

“Half a bread and a book

 

When somebody goes to the theatre, a concert, or whatever event; if the feast pleased him he automatically remember his lover ones and feel sad about their absence. “How much my father, my sister, would like to be here and enjoy”, he would think. And for him, the spectacle is shadowed with a tiny melancholy. This is the melancholy I now feel, not for the people of my house, which would be small and mean; but for all the creatures who because of a lack of possibilities and for their unhappiness, are unable to enjoy the supreme goods of life, which are beauty, serenity and passion.

 

Because of that I never have a book, because I give all the ones I buy, which is a huge quantity. This is why I am here, honoured and happy to inaugurate this public library, which would be the first in the whole Province of Granada.

 

Not only from bread lives the man. If I would have to be hungry and helpless in the street, I would not ask for bread, but I would ask half a bread and a book. And I attack from here with violence those who only talk about economic claims without never mentioning the cultural ones, which are the ones people need and ask for, shouting at the top of their voices.

 

All people must eat, it is a need. But all people must also know how to enjoy all the fruits of the human spirit, because the contrary would convert them into machines to the service of the State, which means into slaves of a terrible social organization.

 

A man who wants to learn and cannot makes me feel terribly sorry, much more than a hungry one does. Because he can be easily helped by a piece of bread or some fruits. But the man of no means who long for knowledge suffers a terrible agony, because what he needs are books, books, many books, and where are those books?

 

Books! Books! What a magic word! It is like saying: “love, love”, and the villages must claim for them like they do claim for rain to water their sowing.

 

When the famous Russian writer, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, father of the Russian revolution much more than Lenin, was prisoner  in Siberia, far away of people, closed into four walls amid of desolated prairies covered by never ending snow; and was asking for help writing to his far away family, he only said : “Send me books, books, a lot of books in order my soul would not die!” He was cold and did not ask for fire, he was terribly thirsty and did not ask for water: he only asked for books, which means horizons; which means  ladders  to  climb  to  the  top of their spirit and heart. Because the physical, biological, natural agony of a body due to hunger, thirst or cold, lasts little, during a very short time; instead the agony of the soul lasts the whole life.

 

The great Menéndez Pidal, one of the most credible learned historian writer of Europe, already said that the slogan for the Republic must be “Culture”. Culture because only through culture can be solved, the problems of the people of today, full of faith, but lacking of light. “

 

 

Fiodor Dostoyevski paint in 1872

by Wassilij Grigorjewitsch Perow

 

 

It seems that Federico García Lorca  was shot by night, on August 16 to 17, 1936 ; but some doubts remain over the exact date. He was arrested on August 16, and what is most probable is that he was murdered this same day at dusk. I began to write these pages dedicated to him, the day before yesterday, which was Tuesday.  Today is Thursday, August 18, 2011, at 10,11 a.m. At same time, 75 years ago, Federico, the great poet, must have finished to suffer. He loved life and tried to take all the good juice out of it , to enjoy the most he could the short time given to him. It looks like he instinctively knew about this shortness and hurried to learn, to voyage, to write... leaving to the prosperity a huge baggage of excellent works. By no means he deserved being murdered so cruelly. He now rests in peace; but I imagine that all the coward people involved in this horrible unjustifiable crime would never be able to forget and remorse would haunt them without end during the rest of their lives.

 

 

The olive tree behind which they say Federico was shot

 

 

 

Because we are remembering  Federico’s tragic death, I allow me to include a paper of mine dedicated to Federico and read in the VI International Convention of Writers in European Languages that took place in 1998, under the direction of  former president: Emilio Zamanillo. It is a little late indeed, but as it remained unpublished , I do it now, in this issue of AIR.

 

 

Talking with Federico

 

Hola”, Federico ! I would like to talk  with you. I hope I can. I hope it is possible, because life has no end, because it is only changing, integrating, depending of the new circumstances. I search about you, Federico, because I want you to understand me; I want you feeling my writing to you, but I do not know until what limits is that possible. All people are now loving you; they all remember your words, and some are able to recite your verses by heart. In what huge manner things are changing! How many revolutions they are enduring! Remember how much you dreaded never be understood as you need to be!

And now, if you could come with your man’s body, people would “adore” you, sit you on a throne and parade you on all the streets and spots, not only of Spain, but of the whole world.

 

They laugh at you because your body was not strong , because you had delicate taste, because you cultivated the sensitivity of woman’s genes, this sensitivity that the men of your time struggled to avoid , to not let take roots in them. They were afraid to look less virile. This sensibility even took you away from women, because they were attracted by quite the opposite look in a man. Of all that the “education” was guilty, for being inappropriate, or for a complete lack of it. The power was for the strongest in all matter: physically and mentally speaking ; with a high consideration for themselves and none for other people ; capable of the worst if necessary to wine or maintain a predominant  place  with  the  slogan “might is right” they acted as gods, bad gods. But another power exists, an almighty power. It is the power of the soul, of the human spirit. This power is too often ignored. The memory of the people who reach it never died and get stronger with the passage of  centuries.

 

You who were so afraid of death, you still had luck ; because they did not close you into a coffin ; because they did not cremate your remains ; because in spite of being dead, you escaped your executioners who were not able to find your body. Mother nature took you in her arms and hide you in her bowels. She made herbs, flowers and insects come out of you : the very tiny lives you so much loved.

 

And your mind, Federico, I am sure she is now melted in the Light, in the Divine Essence of Compassion, in the almighty and infinite fluid of the Universe, in God.

 

In the time you had a man’s body, the conscience of the world was not sufficiently evolved to understand you. But now, now you are understood and loved. Your poems are taught in school,

people learn about you as you deserve.

 

You was born in an obscure moment where those who had some education and knowledge had to hide it. Professors were afraid to teach the truth because the majority searched the salvation in the dark, admiring what was physically strong in men. For a timid and noble person like you, it was no place to live in peace.

You had to struggle a lot to make you accepted as the skilled and exceptional artist you were. It was a time you even feel capable to make the very demon kneel before you. And I think you did it, but in this state of life you are now, in this transcendence all of us would like to know before reaching it. Because we are human, Federico, we know nothing of the other side, and we are afraid, we fear it the same you did, and even more.

 

And now,  I  proceed  to transcribe some of your words,  in order people would understand you still better. You allow me to do so, true, Federico. Then, abide my hand and be my guide to search the most representative sentences revealing your soul, what you would like people to know.

 

“I find it cowardliness, the Carthusian behaviour.  They long to live near God, going away from the people ... but I do ask : who is this God that Carthusians are looking for? Of course it cannot be Jesus ... No, no ... If those unlucky men, because of bad experiences in their lives,  would dream about the doctrine of Christ, they would not enter the path of penitence, but the path of charity. ... The only true path is the one of charity: the love people grant to other people. ... The soul has a need of love, of being madly in love; a need of melting together with another soul ... a need to shout, to cry, to call those unhappy people closed into cells to meditate; to call them in order they wake up; to tell them there is a sun, a moon and women, and music; call them, make them think by themselves, awake their soul that stands in oration’s darkness; sing to them something optimist and agreeable ... but the silence involves them into a Gregorian and passionate chant.”

 

“I have composed some poems to the cuckoo ... and the dreams of the river; little poems I feel inside, in the deep of my unhappy heart. You have no idea about how huge is my suffering when I see myself reflected in the poems... I saw an admirable book to do and I would  like  to do it myself :  It is “Meditation and joy of the water” ... I see a great poem, between Oriental and Christian-European, of the water, a poem where broad poems in verse or prose are chanted... The passionate life and the torments of the water...”

 

“Why so much repugnance towards some net and brilliant insects moving so gracefully amid the herbs? And why you, men, full of sins and incurable vices, felt so great a revulsion at the seeing of those good worms walking in peace through the meadow, taking the sun of the tepid morning? What motive do you have to despise the tiniest things of the Nature? So long you do not love profoundly the stone and the worm, you will not enter in the kingdom of God.”

 

I do not allow me to terminate this paper without mentioning the answer given by you to a friend asking you: “What is for you the real significance of the life ? ” :

 

“Life is a joke in front of a string of death. Is looking ahead from the growling man towards the love abiding in the heart of the people. Is to be the wind and ripple the water of the river. Is to come from nowhere and go nowhere, and be everywhere  surrounded by tears.”

 

 

 

Long, long, long ago,

when Earth was not born,

where was my soul dwelling?

Did I already exist

in the stardust of the cosmos?

floating amid millenniums

in a universe that never began,

a universe for ever voyaging:

never starting, never arriving,

with us inside

floating eternally along.

 

Long, long, long ago

when Earth was not born,

where was your soul dwelling?

 

In which star, Federico,

your seeds begot ?

 

Mariette Cirerol

 

 

García Lorca, María Teresa León and Rafael Alberti

 

 

Casida”of the obscure doves

To Claudio Guillén

English version by Mariette

 

Amid laurel branches

I saw obscures doves:

One was the sun,

the other the moon.

“Little neighbours”,  I said

where stands my grave”

“In my tail”, said the sun.

“In my throat”, said the moon.

When I was walking

with earth on my waist

I saw two snow eagles

with a naked girl.

One was the other

and the girl no one.

“Little eagles”, I said,

where stands my grave?”

“In my tail”, said the sun.

“In my throat”, said the moon.

Amid laurel branches

I saw two naked doves.

One was the other

and the two were no one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Federico García Lorca