Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
Green, how I want you green.
- The speaker begins by addressing Mean Joe Green, famous defensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Clearly this guy is a big fan of his—What's that? You don't think this poem's about football? Let's check our notes… Aha!
- Good catch Shmoopers. This line is really addressing the color, the idea of green. More than that, it's declaring the speaker's love for that color. Addressing an abstract idea as if it were an actual person is called an apostrophe. Translation note: The original Spanish line is "te quiero," which literally means "I want you," but is also used to mean "I love you." In English, "I want you" has a lustier, more sexual connotation than "I love you," but in this case it means both.
Green wind. Green branches.
- Here we see how green relates to the natural world: it colors it for the speaker. We can guess what green branches might be, but what might a green wind look like?
- We imagine that, if the wind were colored green, it would color the entire world before us with a green tint, like looking out one side of those cheap 3-D glasses we got from our cereal box.
- This appeal to our senses (sight, taste, touch, smell, hearing) by the speaker is known as imagery. The image of a green world shows just how in love with this color he is.
The ship out on the sea
and the horse on the mountain.
- Okay… So, what of it? These simple images make us wonder what they're doing in the poem. Put close together, we can see that a single ship on a huge ocean might look a lot like a horse on a huge mountain—small and lonely by contrast.
- Also, the idea of green seems to carry over into these lines somehow. The sea and the mountain, as giant backdrops to these smaller figures, might be green in color. In that way, the speaker is describing two isolated figures that are surrounded by fields of green color. We wonder if that idea will be picked up later in the poem…
With the shade around her waist
she dreams on her balcony,
- A-ha. So, from these lonely, isolated images, we now learn of a "she."
- Unfortunately, she's on a balcony, which, like the sea or a mountain, is a remote place that's hard to get to (unless you're this guy). Once again, then, we are given the idea of a hard-to-reach figure.
- Around her waist is shade, which, while affordable, would probably not make a good belt. This image seems to show that that this "she" character is clothed, at least partially, in darkness.
- So, she's unreachable and semi-covered in darkness. The speaker is thinking of this person, who is definitely not available. She's also dreaming. We know that things aren't what they seem in dreams, so this might be a clue as to what's to come in the poem.
green flesh, her hair green,
with eyes of cold silver.
- So, it turns out that this figure is She-Hulk. Awesome. We didn't know that Lorca was into comic books, especially those superheroes who weren't invented until long after he died…Okay, so maybe it makes more sense to see this girl as an embodiment of the desirable green that begins the poem. Here the speaker seems to be describing an actual person, one whose very body ("flesh" and "hair") is made from the same color. Her eyes are silver, though, which in our mind makes for an image of contrast between the two colors.
- Is this girl literally that color, or is this a kind of dream-like thinking that's going on in the poem? Maybe the girl is representing the idea of green that we read about in line 1. Maybe the green of line 1 is just a stand-in for this girl. Maybe she's something else altogether. What do you think?
Green, how I want you green.
- This line looks familiar, like something we read just… seven lines ago. Hey, this is a refrain. A refrain is a line or set of lines in a poem that is repeated for emphasis. Here, the speaker is reminding us of his love for green, which is obviously something he really wants us to remember.
- Even though this line is repeated, though, it's changed somewhat in terms of where it appears in the poem. Instead of line 1, we know get this line right after the description of the green girl. It's easier, now, to read this line as directed toward the girl on the balcony, rather than as a guy confessing his love to his favorite crayon.
Under the gypsy moon,
- Reference alert. The description of gypsy seems important here. Given that this poem appeared in a book by García Lorca called Romancero Gitano (Gypsy Ballads), we should think about this adjective for a minute.
- "Gypsy" in this case refers to the group of people who lived in the same area in southern Spain where Lorca lived. In his poetry, he celebrated their freedom and emotional embrace of life. (For more on the importance of the gypsy to this poem, see "Symbols: Gypsy," then come on back.) This moon, then, seems wild and free to the speaker. To give an inanimate object, like the moon, human qualities is called personification.
all things are watching her
and she cannot see them.
- This beautiful, green girl is the object of not just the speaker's interest, but of everything else, too. Even snails? Well, it would seem so. In this way, she seems to be the very embodiment of desire. (For more on this idea, check out "Symbols: The Girl, then click back here.)
- She's special, and not just because all eyes are on her. Unlike everything else, she can't see the things that watch her. Is it because she's not interested? In one sense, this makes her seem more like a color, like green, something everything might see but which itself lack eyes to look back.
- Or maybe she's just stuck up. Either way, what seems important here is that the attention being paid to her is not returned in kind. Bummer.