Thursday 3 April 2008

Word, Movement, Sound, Music (Oda a Walt Whitman-Federico García Lorca)


High-pitched voices mix with husky tones. Singing intonations blend with posher lingoes. Bookish talk renders vulgar language silent. The cacophony of various discourses converges in a unique incantation, representative of the confusion this generation is undergoing in this time and place. You are part of this dialect; however one aspect sets you apart.


The shuffling of feet indicates the arrival of the man responsible for the queue. In this place, the Mecca of ice-cream, people quilt the city with their sweat and flesh, hoping to at least be able to gulp down a couple of scoops of the cold product at some point during the long hot day. For the few it will be an after-dinner option, for the many, it will be their breakfast, lunch and dinner. Necks turn to one side, scrutinising the man with the tickets in his hand, the man who holds their future (at least today) in his hand. You also shift forwards. And so does your girlfriend. And so does your friend. And so does his boyfriend.

Yes, his boyfriend. You and your girlfriend lean against the rails now that the man responsible for the food of so many has gone back inside. Your girlfriend rests against your thighs, caressing your face as she looks away from you, absent-mindedly, in utter motionlessness. Only her hand glides around your face as your friend, your best friend looks on. He wants to do the same to his partner, his other half, his love, but he’s afraid that the same incantation will point him out and chastise him. He smiles. Not at you, though. At his boyfriend. That’s all he can do.


The crowd shuffles forward again. Not because of some physical law, but because of hunger. During this split second your best friend’s hand brushes against his boyfriend’s and a moment of instant elation is shared by both. Their eyes connect for one second too long, for an infinite instant too short. The ice-cream is secondary now. Their breaths quicken and their grip grows stronger. They hold and let go of their hands as swift as it takes the mêlée around them to dehumanise themselves in this very common scene of mid 90s Havana. Rows erupt, fists are raised, necks crane, suddenly it is the choreography of the oppressed against the oppressed. Up above someone is laughing. Your best friend is laughing, too. But his is a different laughter. He has stolen a moment and only he knows precious stolen moments like this are.


Ice-cream eaten. Plates emptied. Bellies full (of ice-cream). Stairs trodden. Hands held (you and your girlfriend’s). Eyes staring at other eyes (your best friend and his boyfriend’s). Silence amongst your four as the outside din turns a couple of notches up. You four venture into the night as its mantle descends on the city. On the corner of L and 21st Street you go your separate ways. Rightwards a bed awaits you and your girlfriend to be unmade under the approving eyes of society. Leftwards your best friend and his boyfriend will disappear into the urban jungle as what they are to polity’s watchful gaze: ‘los pájaros de la Habana’.


  1. Creo que Lorca es a la poesía lo que Mozart a la música, la genialidad sin dudas. Es extraña su sintonía con WW, parecen muy diferentes. Lorca es tan oscuro como brillante, mientras que el otro parece tan sereno, sencillo y limpio...

  2. Hola, escarola, estoy de acuerdo, y digo mas, hay tantos Mozarts en la poesia! El compositor austriaco fue unico. Lo que me dices de Whitman lo acepto hasta el "limpio". La poesia de Whitman para mi tiene un subtexto sucio, pero no en un sentido negativo. Disculpa que no haya podido encontrar una traduccion para este poema, pero si tenemos en cuenta que lo escribio en plena mitad del siglo XIX entonces podras comprender que quiero decir con "sucio".

    A Woman Waits For Me

    A WOMAN waits for me--she contains all, nothing is lacking,
    Yet all were lacking, if sex were lacking, or if the moisture of the
    right man were lacking.

    Sex contains all,
    Bodies, Souls, meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies, results,
    Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal mystery, the seminal
    All hopes, benefactions, bestowals,
    All the passions, loves, beauties, delights of the earth,
    All the governments, judges, gods, follow'd persons of the earth,
    These are contain'd in sex, as parts of itself, and justifications of

    Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness of his
    Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.

    Now I will dismiss myself from impassive women,
    I will go stay with her who waits for me, and with those women that
    are warm-blooded and sufficient for me;
    I see that they understand me, and do not deny me;
    I see that they are worthy of me--I will be the robust husband of
    those women.

    They are not one jot less than I am,
    They are tann'd in the face by shining suns and blowing winds,
    Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength,
    They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run, strike,
    retreat, advance, resist, defend themselves,
    They are ultimate in their own right--they are calm, clear, well-
    possess'd of themselves.

    I draw you close to me, you women!
    I cannot let you go, I would do you good,
    I am for you, and you are for me, not only for our own sake, but for
    others' sakes;
    Envelop'd in you sleep greater heroes and bards,
    They refuse to awake at the touch of any man but me.

    It is I, you women--I make my way,
    I am stern, acrid, large, undissuadable--but I love you,
    I do not hurt you any more than is necessary for you,
    I pour the stuff to start sons and daughters fit for These States--I
    press with slow rude muscle,
    I brace myself effectually--I listen to no entreaties,
    I dare not withdraw till I deposit what has so long accumulated
    within me.

    Through you I drain the pent-up rivers of myself,
    In you I wrap a thousand onward years,
    On you I graft the grafts of the best-beloved of me and America,
    The drops I distil upon you shall grow fierce and athletic girls, new
    artists, musicians, and singers,
    The babes I beget upon you are to beget babes in their turn,
    I shall demand perfect men and women out of my love-spendings,
    I shall expect them to interpenetrate with others, as I and you
    interpenetrate now,
    I shall count on the fruits of the gushing showers of them, as I
    count on the fruits of the gushing showers I give now,
    I shall look for loving crops from the birth, life, death,
    immortality, I plant so lovingly now.

    Siempre me parecio este poema como material de DH Lawrence, mas bien.

    Saludos desde Londres.

  3. Pues para mí esa idea de la sexualidad como algo natural, me parece de lo más limpita y llana. Lorca era mucho más complicado.
    Parece que te vas unos días (si no traduzco mal). Saludos y hasta la vuelta.

  4. Gracias por el comentario. Si,Lorca era mas complicado a pesar de ser espan-ol y Whitman estadounidense. O sea, deberian haber sido diferentes, no crees?

    Saludos desde Malasia.



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