“Ghazal of the Dead Boy” by Federico García Lorca

“Ghazal of the Dead Boy” is my translation of “Gacela del Niño Muerto,” a gacela from Federico García Lorca’s Diván del Tamarit.

My ghazal “American Boy” samples lines from “Ghazal of the Dead Boy.” Agha Shahid Ali, the Kashmiri-American poet who taught English-language poets the traditional ghazal form, introduced this technique. In one of his ghazals, he used it to sample lines from Emily Dickinson. Sampling honors a poet who influenced and inspired the ghazal poet. Though I only knew him through his writing, Federico García Lorca was for me what Dickinson called a “friend of the bookshelf.”

“Ghazal of the Dead Boy,” an English Translation of “Gacela del Niño Muerto”

Every evening in Granada,
every evening there is a boy dying.
Every evening he sits under water
talking with his friends.

The dead have wings of moss.
The cloudy wind and the clear wind
are two pheasants flying by the towers
and the day is a wounded boy.

There was not a trace of skylark in the air
when I found you by the wine caves.
There was not a wisp of cloud
when you were drowning in the river.

A water giant fell upon the mountains
and the valley roiled with dogs and lilies.
Your body, by my hands’ violet shadows,
was, dead on the shore, a frozen archangel.

by Federico García Lorca,
From Diván del Tamarit (1934)
Translated by E.A. Melino

Back to “American Boy”

Selections from Lorca’s Diván del Tamarit

“Gacela del Niño Muerto,” Spanish Original of “Ghazal of the Dead Boy”

Todas las tardes en Granada,
todas las tardes se muere un niño.
Todas las tardes en agua se sienta
a conversar con sus amigos.

Los muertos llevan alas de musgo.
El viento nublado y el viento limpio
son dos faisanes que vuelan por las torres
y el día es un muchacho herido.

No quedaba en el aire ni una brizna de alondra
cuando yo te encontré por la grutas del vino.
No quedaba en al tierra ni una miga de nube
cuando te ahogabas por el río.

Un gigante de agua cayó sobre los montes
y el valle fué rodando con perros y con lirios.
Tu cuerpo, con la sombra violeta de mis manos,
era, muerto en la orilla, un arcángel de frío.

by Federico García Lorca,
From Diván del Tamarit (1934)

Back to “American Boy”

Selections from Lorca’s Diván del Tamarit

Image: “Federico García Lorca: From a mural on a barn in his birthplace, Fuente Vaqueros, Andalucía, Spain.” Photos by Spencer Means. Used under CC BY-SA 2.0 License.

To see the mural and its detail images as well as more photos from Andalucía, Provence and other places in Europe and the U.S., visit Spencer’s Flickr Page.