“Ghazal of Unforeseen Love” by Federico García Lorca

“Ghazal of Unforeseen Love” is my translation of “Gacela del Amor Imprevisto,” a poem from Federico García Lorca’s Diván del Tamarit. My ghazal “American Boy” samples two phrases from “Ghazal of Unforeseen Love.”

Agha Shahid Ali, the Kashmiri-American poet who taught English-language poets the traditional ghazal, introduced this sampling technique as a way for the poet to honor and acknowledge literary forebears.

“Ghazal of Unforeseen Love,” an English Translation of “Gacela del Amor Imprevisto”

No one understood your
womb’s dark magnolia scent.
No one knew how you martyred
a humming bird of love between your teeth.

A thousand Persian ponies fell asleep
in the moonlit plaza of your brow,
while I was holding your waist
four nights long, enemy of the snow.

Between plaster and jasmine, your gaze
was a sickly bouquet of seeds.
I excavated my breast to write you
letters of ivory declaring always,

always, always: garden of my agony,
your renegade body forever,
the blood of your veins in my mouth,
your mouth without light for my murder.

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 Amor Imprevisto,” Spanish Original of “Ghazal of Unforeseen Love”

Nadie comprendía el perfume
de la oscura magnolia de tu vientre.
Nadie sabía que martirizabas
un colibrí de amor entre los dientes.

Mil caballitos persas se dormían
en la plaza con luna de tu frente,
mientras que yo enlazaba cuatro noches
tu cintura, enemiga de la nieve.

Entre yeso y jazmines, tu mirada
era un pálido ramo de simientes.
Yo busqué, para darte, por mi pecho
las letras de marfil que dicen siempre,

siempre, siempre: jardín de mi agonía,
tu cuerpo fugitivo para siempre,
la sangre de tus venas en mi boca,
tu boca ya sin luz para mi muerte.

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.