Federico García Lorca and the guitar - Generation of ’27 – Part 3

Federico García Lorca

The poems of Federico Garcia Lorca resemble music. While the sound of his poetic composition alone immediately stimulates and amuses our ears, after spending more time to absorb and digest, they bring us inexplicable emotion and gratification.

It is not surprising to find this rare musicality in his literature because he was a talented and aspired musician before his artistic endeavour turned to poetry. He had already composed music before he wrote his first poem (Lorca started writing poems when he was around nineteen years old). He studied piano for six years with a renowned music teacher and composer of Granada, Antonio Segura Mesa who also taught Ángel Barrios. Antonio Segura Mesa was very excited about Lorca’s talent and encouraged him to pursue a music career. Lorca wished to move to Paris to continue his piano study. However, he gave it up because of the demise of his music teacher Antonio Segura Mesa and the opposition to studying music in a foreign country from his family.

Lorca wrote three poems about the guitar. ‘The guitar’ from the subsection ‘Poem of the gypsy siguriya', ‘The Six strings’ from ‘Graphic of the petenera’, and ‘Riddle of the guitar’ from ‘Six caprices’, all of them are from a large collection Poem of the cante jondo (Poema del cante jondo) [1921]. In this essay, I quote below 'The six strings'.

 

THE SIX STRINGS

The guitar
makes dreams weep.
The sobs of lost
souls,
escapes from its
round mouth.
And like a tarantula
it weaves a large star
to ensnare the sighs,
that floate in its black
wooden cistern.

Federico García Lorca from Graphic of the petenera, Poem of the cante jondo

 

Lorca sees the guitar as a vehicle for expressing suffering and struggles in the life of lost souls. And the guitar is capable of producing a strong emotion (duende) and giving hope to lost souls.

Cistern in Cáceres, Spain
Cistern in Cáceres, Spain

Cover Photo: Courtesy of Federico García Lorca Foundation