Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
Green, how I want you green,
green wind, green branches.
- Here's that refrain again.
- How does the climb that's being undertaken by the speaker and his friend change it this time? It seems like the speaker is repeating his goal, even as he moves toward the object of his desire as he climbs.
The two friends climbed up.
The stiff wind left
in their mouths, a strange taste
of bile, of mint, and of basil
- Hmm. Well, it's not all high-fives around here.
- As they climb, the speaker and his friend encounter a strange taste. It kind of reminds us of that time in gym class, when we had to climb the rope, but only got halfway up before we got scared and swallowed our gum. But we digress…
- This is a very specific taste: bile (you know, that bitter taste that you get if you're sick or nauseous), mint (which seems refreshing), and basil (which is just… odd, but not unyummy).
- On the one hand, these tastes seem a mixed bag for our climbers, in the way that the pursuit of one's desire is almost always a mixed bag: exhilarating (mint-tasting), frustrating (bile-tasting), and sometimes neither of those things (basil?). The basil taste strikes us as an odd choice, but, like mint, it is a green leaf that's got a very specific flavor to it. Why do you think the speaker mentions it here?
My friend, where is she--tell me--
where is your bitter girl?
- It seems to us here that the speaker's friend is now talking to him, perhaps as they climb.
- There's still no sight of the "bitter girl."
- Will they ever reach her? And since she's bitter, should they even want to?
How many times she waited for you!
How many times would she wait for you,
cool face, black hair,
on this green balcony!
- Well, the friend is confident. This green girl has waited for our speaker many times before, and it seems like she'll keep on waiting for him.
- That's nice… or is it? Think about it: if this girl is so unattainable, yet so constant, in the speaker's life, is she not just kind of torturing him? Or do you think the speaker sees her as a comfort?
- On another note, her hair has gone from green to black. The balcony is still green, though, so even though she's now more recognizably human, she's still very much associated with green.
- But why the hair dye?
Over the mouth of the cistern
the gypsy girl was swinging,
green flesh, her hair green,
with eyes of cold silver.
- Wheee! That old swing-over-the-cistern game again. We played it all the time back on the farm. A cistern is basically a really (really)big receptacle for water. It seems like it would be dangerous to swing over it, but then again, this is a gypsy girl—she's game. Remember from line 10 that Lorca saw the gypsies as a free-spirited, passionate people. It seems like swinging over a cistern is a pretty gypsy thing to do.
- Also, though now her hair has gone back to green from black, her eyes are still silver. This is for sure the same girl that that speaker has been longing for throughout the poem.
An icicle of moon
holds her up above the water.
- Okay, that sounds even less safe. We're not sure that anyone should be swinging from an icicle, let alone a moon icicle.
- Though the gypsy girl is in a precarious way, though, she seems also otherworldly in this visual image. As she swings from the moon, she's both impossibly high, and delicately balanced. One false move, we feel, might send her into the water below.
he night became intimate
like a little plaza.
- Hmm. So now that speaker seems to be nearing this gypsy girl, the night seems to shrink around him, like a "little plaza."
- This simile suggests that the speaker is paying attention only to her, and the rest of reality is blocked out. It's just her and him together in the night. Perhaps his long-frustrated pursuit is finally at an end.
Drunken "Guardias Civiles"
were pounding on the door.
- Nope. We spoke too soon. Sorry, speaker. We interrupt this magical, intimate moment to bring you some drunken guards pounding on your door.
- History note: The Guardias Civiles, or Civil Guards, were a part of the Spanish Army, basically like the Spanish military police.
- It seems like the speaker just won't ever reach his goal, as here he's interrupted by brutish, drunken louts, pulling him rudely out of his dream. The intimacy is cut short by this ominous arrival.
Green, how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship out on the sea.
And the horse on the mountain.
- And now, a final refrain. Here, at the poem's end, the speaker's parting apostrophe reminds us of the thing he most desired, but was never able to attain. As well, we get the lonely ship and the isolated horse. After seeing the speaker nearly climb up to the balcony of his beloved, we're left with these two sad images, and it seems that we're invited to see the speaker in that same way: a tiny speck of consciousness, surrounded by an unfeeling vastness.
- Sigh. Major bummer.