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To Juan Guerrero,

Cónsul general de la Poesía

The horses are black.
The horseshoes are black.
Stains of ink and wax
shine on their capes.
They have leaden skulls
so they do not cry.
With souls of leather
they ride down the road.
Hunchbacked and nocturnal
wherever they move, they command
silences of dark rubber
and fears of fine sand.
They pass, if they wish to pass,
and hidden in their heads
is a vague astronomy
of indefinite pistols.


Oh city of the gypsies!
Banners on street-corners.
The moon and the pumpkin
with preserved cherries.
Oh city of the gypsies!
Who could see you and not remember?
City of sorrow and musk,
with towers of cinnamon.


When night came near,
night that night deepened,
the gypsies at their forges
beat out suns and arrows.
A badly wounded stallion
knocked against all the doors.
Roosters of glass were crowing
through Jerez de la Frontera.
Naked the wind turns
the corner of surprise,
in the night silver-night
night the night deepened.


The Virgin and Saint Joseph
have lost their castanets,
and search for the gypsies
to see if they can find them.
The Virgin comes draped
in the mayoress’s dress,
of chocolate papers
with necklaces of almonds.
Saint Joseph swings his arms
under a cloak of silk.
Behind comes Pedro Domecq
with three sultans of Persia.
The half moon dreamed
an ecstasy of storks.
Banners and lanterns
invaded the flat roofs.
Through the mirrors wept
ballerinas without hips.
Water and shadow, shadow and water
through Jerez de la Frontera.


Oh city of the gypsies!
Banners on street-corners.
Quench your green lamps
the worthies are coming.
Oh city of the gypsies!
Who could see you and not remember?
Leave her far from the sea
without combs in her hair.


They ride two abreast
towards the festive city.
A murmur of immortelles
invades the cartridge-belts.
They ride two abreast.
A doubled nocturne of cloth.
They fancy the sky to be
a showcase for spurs.


The city, free from fear,
multiplied its doors.
Forty civil guards
enter them to plunder.
The clocks came to a halt,
and the cognac in the bottles
disguised itself as November
so as not to raise suspicion.

A flight of intense shrieks
rose from the weathercocks.
The sabres chopped at the breezes
that the hooves trampled.
Along the streets of shadow
old gypsy women ran,
with the drowsy horses,
and the jars of coins.
Through the steep streets
sinister cloaks climb,
leaving behind them
whirlwinds of scissors.

At a gate to Bethlehem
the gypsies congregate.
Saint Joseph, wounded everywhere,
shrouds a young girl.
Stubborn rifles crack
sounding in the night.
The Virgin heals children
with spittle from a star.
But the Civil Guard
advance, sowing flames,
where young and naked
imagination is burnt out.
Rosa of the Camborios
moans in her doorway,
with her two severed breasts
lying on a tray.
And other girls ran
chased by their tresses
through air where roses
of black gunpowder burst.
When all the roofs
were furrows in the earth
the dawn heaved its shoulders
in a vast silhouette of stone.


O city of the gypsies!
The Civil Guard depart
through a tunnel of silence
while flames surround you.

O city of the gypsies!
Who could see you and not remember?
Let them find you on my forehead:
a play of moon and sand.


Federico García Lorca, 1928
Translation by A. S. Kline

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manuscrito Manuscript
Voz: Margarita Xirgú Voice: Margarita Xirgú
español Original version