Picture it: August, 1936. We're in the southern Spanish city of Granada, home to flamenco-dancing gypsies, dramatic stone arches of ancient Islamic architecture, and Federico García Lorca. Lorca's a passionate poet and playwright who believes in the transforming power of art. He stands up for his work, refuses to hide his political views, and is even openly gay.
Here's the problem: All around him, Lorca's country of Spain is torn by a horrible civil war. On one side, the Catholic Church, much of the Spanish army, and business interests have joined forces. They've decided to take down the socialist, republican government, which has rallied union workers, intellectuals, artists, other liberals and even some foreign volunteers to fight. In the ensuing violence, families are torn apart, brothers fight brothers, and innocent civilians lose their lives. It ain't pretty.
Still, Lorca writes on, championing his republican beliefs in his writing. But his team is not winning. At all. Then, one day, soldiers from the conservative, Nationalist side show up at his door. Lorca is arrested, executed, and, to this day, is never seen again.
What sort of a poem can get you murdered? This one. "Romance Sonambulo" is one of Lorca's most popular poems, and it magnificently represents his passion for this country, its people, and for the supreme power of the imagination. It's designed to shake things up, and go against the grain of traditional poetry.
Published in 1928, just eight years before his death, this poem appeared as part of a collection of work that celebrated the passion and intensity of the gypsy people who, even today, dance in the hillside caves around Lorca's hometown of Granada.
There's passion, there's love, disappointment, frustration, the threat of violence, and the promise of salvation. Really, this poem has it all, and it's told through the wild imagination of an artistic visionary of such power and talent, that his enemies decided to kill him rather than allow his voice to continue. Still, they couldn't kill his spirit, which lives on in his writings today, especially in "Romance Sonambulo."
Why Should I Care?
Ever had a crush? Ever wanted something that was out of your reach? Whether it was cookie, a car, or the captain of the debate team, we're guessing that wanting something that you can't have is not a new experience for you.
Doesn't it stink, though? When you want something badly, but just can't get it, what can you do? If you're like us, you lock yourself in your room and write in your diary-blog. (Sorry, it's password protected.) Or you complain to your friends. Or you eat, like, waaaaaay too much Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Or all three. Yeah, we've hit that tragic trifecta before.
What if, though, you could turn those feelings into something beautiful? What if you could take all of that pent-up, frustrated energy, mix in a healthy heaping of imagination, and just go wild with creativity? Well, that's just what Federico García Lorca did with his poem "Romance Sonambulo." At its heart is the tale of frustrated desire, and that's something we can all relate to. Still, this poem takes a pretty common sensation and turns it into a wild, trippy journey through a beautiful, delicate dreamscape.
When life gave Lorca lemons, he didn't just make lemonade. This poem is like a lemon granita, served in a delicate, crystal glass at a roadside café in the romantic heart of southern Spain. In short, it's a one-of-a-kind experience that elevates our everyday emotions to the level of myth. So read it. Not only will you feel better, knowing that everyone has felt this way at some point or another, but you might just be inspired to do something about it.