The Ballad of the Moon, Moon

   The moon came to the forge
with her bustle of tuberose.
The boy looks and looks.
The boy is looking at her.
In the stirred night air
the moon sways her arms
and bears, lubricious and pure,
her breasts of hard tin.
‘Run, moon, moon.
If the gypsies come
they will turn your heart
into necklaces and white rings.’
‘Boy, let me dance.
When the gypsies come
they will find you on the anvil
with your little eyes shut.’
‘Run, moon, moon, moon
for I already hear their horses.’
‘Boy, let me be, do not step
on my starchy whiteness.’

    The rider came closer,
drumming on the plain.
Inside the forge
the boy’s eyes are shut.
Bronze and dream, the gypsies
came through the olive grove.
Their hands held high,
their eyes half closed.

    How the owl sings,
ay, how it sings in the tree!
The moon crosses the sky
with a child by the hand.

    Inside the forge the gypsies
scream and weep.
The air is keeping watch.
The air watching over her.

by Federico García Lorca

This translation of ‘The Ballad of the Moon, Moon’ is copyright © Jane Durán and Gloria García Lorca, 2011. It is reprinted from Gypsy Ballads by permission of Enitharmon Press.

Fascinated by the folk music of his native Spain, Federico García Lorca wrote two books inspired by gypsy rhythms: Poem of the Deep Song (on the world of flamenco and cante jondo) and the best-selling Gypsy Ballads, from which ‘The Ballad of the Moon, Moon’ is taken. In Poet in New York (written 1929-1930) he turns the American city into an image of universal loneliness, and in tragedies like YermaBlood Wedding, and The House of Bernarda Alba he takes the measure of human longing and of the social repression that would contribute to his early death (he was shot by right-wing forces at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War).

In Romancero gitano/Gypsy Ballads, carefully translated by Jane Durán and Gloria García Lorca (Lorca’s niece), the poet transforms into metaphor and myth the fantasy and reality of a marginalized people. Lorca described Romancero gitano as ‘the poem of Andalusia … A book that hardly expresses visible Andalusia at all, but where hidden Andalusia trembles.’ Seeking to relate the nature of his proud and troubled region of Spain, he drew on a traditional gypsy form; yet the homely, unpretentious style of these poems barely disguises the undercurrents of conflicted identity never far from Lorca’s work. You can find out more about this bilingual, illustrated edition here, more about Jane Duran here, and more about Lorca himself at the Fundación Federico García Lorca website here.

Enitharmon Press takes its name from a William Blake character who represents spiritual beauty and poetic inspiration. Founded in 1967 with an emphasis on independence and quality, Enitharmon has been associated with such figures as Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Kathleen Raine. Enitharmon also commissions internationally renowned collaborations between artists, including Gilbert & George, and poets, including Seamus Heaney, under the Enitharmon Editions imprint. You can sign up to the publisher’s mailing list here to receive a newsletter with special offers, details of readings & events and new titles and Enitharmon’s Poem of the Month.

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