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Romance Sonambulo

Romance Sonambulo

by Federico Garcia Lorca

Analysis: Speaker

Really, we can sum up our speaker in one word: frustrated. He wants something he just can't have. (Again, it's important to note that the poem only ever identifies our speaker as an "I," so we're just using "he" since Lorca, a man, is our poet.) So, what's he after? Well, let's take a look at his list, shall we?

Things I Want

  • Green
  • Gypsy Girl
  • Gypsy Girl's House
  • Gypsy Girl's Mirror
  • Gypsy Girl's Blanket
  • To Die in My Own Bed
  • To Climb to the High Balconies

That's quite a list. And how many things has the speaker crossed off it once we reach the end of the poem? Let's see here… carry the one… take away seven… Oh, right. Zip. Zero. Zilch. The speaker never really gets anything he wants in this poem. Towards the end of the last section, he almost, almost makes it to the girl's balcony. We sense his closeness when he says, "The night became intimate / like a little plaza" (79-80), but then bam! Drunken cops are at the door, and the speaker's back in harsh, cold, lonely reality.

Still, this is a question to consider: is the speaker unhappy? Clearly, his role in this poem is as the Frustrated Desirer. He wants stuff, but he can't get it. Between the wanting and the getting, though, there is the pursuit. You know those cheesy posters with pictures of mountains or waterfalls on them that say, "Life is a journey, not a destination"? Well, maybe this poem is a very sophisticated way of saying something similar.

Consider, for example, the speaker's experience once he starts to climb up toward the high balconies: "The stiff wind left / in their mouths, a strange taste / of bile, of mint, of basil" (64-66). Parts of that taste (bile) are unpleasant, but other parts (the mint, heck, even the basil) are not. Isn't that life, though? As the speaker climbs toward the object of his desire, he experiences a full spectrum of sensation. We might say that, in this moment of pursuit, regardless of whether he achieves his goal, he is most fully alive.

Really, there are two ways to see our speaker, and it all boils down to a glass half-empty/half-full approach. On the one hand, he's a tragic figure whose dreams are tantalizingly close, yet cruelly thwarted at the last minute. Life sucks and then the Guardia Civil shows up drunk at your door. Or, there's the glass half-full view: the speaker is called to his life in the fullest possible sense by pursuing his desire. In that way, he has already gotten everything he will ever need. So, which way do you see it?

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