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    THE KING OF HARLEM (fragment)

With a spoon
he scooped out the eyes of crocodiles
and spanked the monkeys on their bottoms
With a spoon.

Fire of all times slept in the flints
and the beetles drunk with anis
forgot the moss of the villages

That old man covered with mushrooms
went to the place where the Negroes were weeping
while the spoon of the King crackled
and the tanks of putrid water arrived

Roses escaped along the edge of the final curves of the air,
and in the heaps of saffron
the boys were mauling small squirrels
with a flush of stained frenzy.

It is necessary to cross the bridges
and to reach the black murmur,
so that the perfume of lungs strikes our temples
with its suit of warm pineapple

Necessary to murder the blonde seller of brandy,
and all the friends of the apple and sand,
necessary to bang with closed fists
the small Jewesses that tremble full of bubbles,
so that the King of Harlem sings with his multitude,
so that the crocodiles sleep in long rows
under the asbestos of the moon
so that nobody doubts the infinite beauty of funnels,
graters, feather-dusters, and saucepans in kitchens.

Ah Harlem! Ah Harlem! Ah Harlem!
There is no anxiety comparable to your oppressed scarlets,
to your blood shaken within your dark eclipse,
to your garnet violence deaf and dumb in the penumbra,
to your great King, a prisoner with a commissionaire's uniform.

The night had a fissure and still ivory salamanders.

The American girls
arried babies and coins in their bellies
and the boys fainted stretched on the cross of lassitude.

They are.
They are those who take silver whisky near the volcanoes

and devour bits of heart through the frozen mountains of the bear.

That night the King of Harlem with a very hard spoon
scooped out the eyes of crocodiles
and spanked the monkeys on their bottoms.
With a spoon.
The Negroes cried abased
among umbrellas and golden suns,
the mulattoes were stretching gum, anxious to reach the white torso,
and the wind blurred mirrors
and burst open the veins of the dancers.
Negroes, Negroes, Negroes, Negroes.


Federico García Lorca, 1929-1930
Translators: Stephen Spender & J.L.Gili

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