Poema de la siguiriya gitana. La Guitarra

Federico Garcia Lorca
(1898 - 1936)

Poema de la siguiriya gitana.
La Guitarra

Empieza el llanto
de la guitarra.
Se rompen las copas
de la madrugada.
Empieza el llanto
de la guitarra.
Es inútil callarla.
Es imposible
Llora monótona
como llora el agua,
como llora el viento
sobre la nevada.
Es imposible
Llora por cosas
Arena del Sur caliente
que pide camelias blancas.
Llora flecha sin blanco,
la tarde sin mañana,
y el primer pájaro muerto
sobre la rama.
¡Oh, guitarra!
Corazón malherido
por cinco espadas.

The Guitar

The guitar begins
The cup of dawn
is shattered.
The guitar begins
It is futile
to stop it,
to silence.
It weeps steadily
like flowing water,
like the wind
over the sierras.
It is futile
to stop it.
It bemoans
faraway places.
Hot southern sands suffocating,
Longing for snow-white camellias.
It cries for an aimless arrow,
for a sunset not followed by sunrise,
and the first bird that
on the branch expired.
Oh, guitar!
Your heart torn
By five swift daggers.


Плач гитары.
Чаша утра.
Плач гитары.
О, не жди от нее
Не проси у нее
Гитара плачет,
Как вода по каналам – плачет,
Как ветра над снегами – плачет,
Не моли ее
О молчанье!
Так плачет закат о рассвете,
Так плачет стрела без цели,
Так песок раскаленный плачет
О прохладной красе камелий,
Так прощается с жизнью птица
Под угрозой змеиного жала.
О гитара,
Бедная жертва
Пяти проворных кинжалов!

(Перевод М.Цветаевой)

One of the most memorable radio programs from my childhood was artistic reading of poems by Lorca, in Russian translation, accompanied by the guitar. The most memorable poem was this one in Tsvetaeva’s translation. 20 years later searching through a pile of books on a street table in Seville I bought a collection of poems by Lorca and of course found the original. More than 20 years after that, seeing bad English translations, I decided to translate it myself. Only after a few more years I noticed that Tsvetaeva, for some unknown reason, botched several lines in the middle completely changing the meaning of the original. In the original, the guitar bemoans all the tragedies and inequities of the world, including pairs of things separated from each other. The voice belongs only to the guitar. In her translation, it is members of those pairs who weep. The guitar is set aside. The translation still sounds beautiful, but not true. I don’t know why this happened: whether it was deliberate, due to her flawed Spanish or for some other reason. My attempts to search for answers failed. So, I leave it at that.

A song cycle including this poem (in Russian translation) has been created by composer G.S. Frid


Lorca (and friends) in Buenos Aires
The famous Café Tortoni

Café Tortoni

Lorca’s table

Jorge Luis Borges

Lorca with Borges and Alfonsina Storni