Study Guide

Romance Sonambulo Quotes

  • Lust

    Green, how I want you green.
    Green wind. Green branches. (1-2)

    At the poem's outset, we are introduced to a speaker who desires. Here, he declares his lust in the most general sense, but, as we progress through the poem, it's clear that this kind of desire spreads to include a whole variety of things, from gypsy girls to balconies. In that same way, the color that the speaker desires also spreads, from an abstract idea to the branches and the wind. The speaker's world seems to be colored by his desire.

    Under the gypsy moon,
    all things are watching her
    and she cannot see them. (10-13)

    It's not just the speaker who feels lusty, either. The eventual object of his desire, the green gypsy girl, seems to arouse the same feelings in every other thing in the world. Everything is exhibiting desire. Well, everything except for her, that is. What's her deal? For some answers, check out "Symbols: The Girl."

    my horse for her house,
    my saddle for her mirror,
    my knife for her blanket. (26-28)

    In these lines, the speaker wants more than just the girl. He wants her things, too. Could it be that these items remind him of her? Or is it more likely that these items represent to him what the girl herself represents: stability, comfort, and assurance?

    Let me climb up! Let me,
    up to the green balconies. (49-50)

    We don't usually associate a climbing trip with lust, but here we see the speaker's desire once again. It seems important that his desire is involved with climbing, as if this kind of feeling is a way to ascend. In other words, as a result of this desire, the speaker's reality is increasing. Think about that for a second. How do you feel when you really, really want something? Is it perhaps this kind of positive, intense feeling?

    The night became intimate
    like a little plaza. (79-80)

    Here the speaker has almost, almost climbed up to meet the gypsy girl. He's almost reached her balcony. We can practically see his fingertips brushing against the railings. It seems that the moment of his fulfillment is at hand, and the rest of the world seems to fall away as a result. Sadly, though, his desire is not to be fulfilled. Stupid, drunken police!

  • Disappointment

    all things are watching her
    and she cannot see them. (11-12)

    Sorry there, "all things" in the world. It looks like you might be kind of hung up on that green girl up there on her balcony, but, well, she can't see you. Better luck next time. At least the speaker is not alone in his unrequited affections. Do you think that makes him feel better, though?

    But who will come? And from where?
    She is still on her balcony (21-22)

    You know, we're beginning to wonder about that green gypsy girl. She spends an awful amount of time up there on her balcony, just disappointing folks like our poor speaker who, while he knows she's up there, just can't reach her.

    --If it were possible, my boy,
    I'd help you fix that trade.
    But now I am not I,
    nor is my house now my house. (31-34)

    Well, there's disappointment all around here. First up to be disappointed: our speaker. That trade he was trying to get his friend to help him work? Yeah, that's not gonna happen. Sorry about that. The friend's got a good reason, though. He's not himself. No, really. He is not the person who he thought he was, and his house is not the same house either. To say the least, this is a disappointment, but for the friend, this kind of estrangement is probably far more intense than that.

    in their mouths, a strange taste
    of bile, of mint, and of basil (65-66)

    In these lines, we get a mix of taste imagery, which creates a mix of emotions. With "bile," the climbers seem to be experiencing the bitterness of disappointment which, given their track record thus far, is easy to understand. Interestingly, though, this disappointment is not the only thing they taste. It's mixed with fresh and savory tastes, too. Yum? Maybe the point here is that this climbing, like life, is a collection of mixed experiences, of which disappointment is just one element.

    Drunken "Guardias Civiles"
    were pounding on the door. (81-82)

    This is really… just… the biggest bummer ever. Just as the speaker seems to have neared the balcony, just as the green gypsy girl seems to be in reach—wham! Everything's jerked out from under him again by a bunch of drunken, loutish cops. Way to go fellas. What's that? You've got a package for me? A big box of disappointment, eh? And it's cash-on-delivery? Yeah, that figures…

  • Violence

    and the forest, cunning cat,
    bristles its brittle fibers. (19-20)

    We've never seen a forest compared to a cat before, but to compare it to a cat that "bristles" suggests that the animal's fur is standing up in a sign of fright or aggression (like what our neighbor's cat does when it sees our dog). This establishes an emotional mood in the poem, where violence and its effects are close at hand.

    my horse for her house,
    my saddle for her mirror,
    my knife for her blanket. (26-28)

    To Shmoop, what's interesting about this trade is what the speaker is trying to get rid of: a horse, saddle, and knife. Those things would be pretty handy to a soldier, but it seems that our speaker is rejecting them for a more peaceful way of life.

    My friend, I come bleeding
    from the gates of Cabra. (29-30)

    In these lines, the speaker invokes the violent past of his country, in which wars were fought between Christians and Muslims for control of the Spanish kingdoms. This included fighting at the village of Cabra, in southern Spain. Here, as the speaker bears this old wound, the poem reminds us that violence, even if committed in the distant past, remains painfully with us.

    Don't you see the wound I have
    from my chest up to my throat? (39-40)

    Uh, yeah. We're guessing that wound like this would probably not need much attention called to it, but the speaker seems compelled to bring it up to his friend anyway. In doing so, he also brings it up to us, reminding us that he's been a victim of violence himself.

    --Your white shirt has grown
    thirsty dark brown roses.
    Your blood oozes and flees a
    round the corners of your sash. (41-44)

    In a word, ew. The speaker's wound seems pretty bad, no matter how pretty the description is. That the speaker is wearing a sash would indicate that (a) he's a prom king, or (b) he's done military service at some point. We're going to guess (b) here (though we'd love to read a poem like this about a prom king). The speaker's suffered horrible violence in some conflict, like the kind that used to rage in Spain and, a few short years after this poem was published, raged once again.

    Drunken "Guardias Civiles"
    were pounding on the door. (81-82)

    These lines aren't particularly violent in and of themselves, but they are heavy with the weight of violent possibility. What else might you expect if a bunch of drunken cops started banging on your door in the middle of the night? Perhaps the biggest violence of these lines is the sudden break that pulls the speaker back from his near-connection with the elusive, green gypsy girl on the balcony.

  • Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

    --My friend, I want to trade
    my horse for her house,
    my saddle for her mirror,
    my knife for her blanket. (25-28)

    Here we get the speaker's plan for… well, for doing some trading. In a way, though, this looks like a plan to change his life. He seems to be trading in this soldiering equipment in favor of things that might bring him more peace, as well as closer to the green gypsy girl. Sounds like a good plan to Shmoop.

    --If it were possible, my boy,
    I'd help you fix that trade.
    But now I am not I,
    nor is my house now my house. (31-34)

    Well, it sounded like a good plan to us, but, sadly, it all comes to nothing. The speaker's bid to trade for a more peaceable life, much like his other hopes and dreams in this poem, are all for naught. Bummer.

    --My friend, I want to die
    decently in my bed.
    Of iron, if that's possible,
    with blankets of fine chambray. (35-38)

    Our speaker has back-up plans, too. If he can't trade for the gypsy girl's belongings, how about letting him die in his own nice, comfortable bed. No? Not possible either? Strike two, speaker. What's next?

    --Let me climb up, at least,
    up to the high balconies;
    Let me climb up! Let me,
    up to the green balconies. (47-50)

    Okay, so here is dream/hope/plan number three. If he can't trade for peace, and he can't die in his own bed, how's about a climbing expedition up to some spiffy balconies? What do you say friend? Since, in a couple of lines, "the two friends climb up," it would seem that the third time is a charm. We wonder if this business of climbing is, in some way, meant to highlight what the speaker is achieving through his persistent, unflagging desire throughout the poem. Powered by hope, he's on a life-long journey to reach his dream.

    Now the two friends climb up,
    up to the high balconies.
    Leaving a trail of blood.
    Leaving a trail of teardrops. (53-56)

    At long last, the speaker's on his way toward attaining his dream. It looks, though, like that process is a costly one. We're guessing that the trail of blood and tears is not left there so that he can find his way back. Instead, it seems to show just how much sacrifice is necessary if one is to chase one's dreams. Do you think, in the speaker's case, this is worth it?

  • Versions of Reality

    With the shade around her waist
    she dreams on her balcony (5-6)

    This description of shadow as a belt strikes us as a bit strange. Shade is not really good for holding up one's pants, or so we've been told… Maybe this description suggests that there is a dark element to the gypsy girl. Perhaps there's a part of her that will always remain hidden.

    Under the gypsy moon,
    all things are watching her
    and she cannot see them. (10-12)

    What would it be like to have "all things" on Earth watching you? Let's ask Ryan Gosling. We bet it'd be disconcerting. Still, it doesn't seem to be a problem for our gypsy girl, since she can't see them anyway. In these twists of logic, the lines seem designed to highlight both the girl's desirability and her remoteness.

    Big hoarfrost stars
    come with the fish of shadow
    that opens the road of dawn. (14-16)

    This fish of shadow sounds ominous, but it seems to have an important job: it brings on the dawn. If you've ever seen a pre-dawn sky, you'll know that, as the sun ascends, the sky changes from solid black to lighter and darker shades. Perhaps some deeper patch of darkness seems to suggest a fish of shadow, moving in the sky just before the sun emerges.

    and the forest, cunning cat,
    bristles its brittle fibers. (19-20)

    We don't know about you, but when we see a forest, we don't think of a cat, and vice versa. This metaphorical, alternative version of the forest's reality suggests a kind of disturbance, the kind that might set a cat's hair on end. Again, the poem uses its strange, dream-like elements to communicate an emotional tone, rather than a firm reality.

    But now I am not I,
    nor is my house now my house. (33-34)

    Come again? How can an "I" not be an "I"? Or a house not a house? This kind of statement seems designed to give us a major headache. What's clear, at the very least, is that the friend speaking here is experiencing his own alternative reality, in which things that you might always trust in (your self, your intimate surroundings) have now changed. Frankly, that doesn't sound like much fun. It might also explain why the friend is unable to help the speaker when he's asked for a favor.

    Tin bell vines
    were trembling on the roofs.
    A thousand crystal tambourines
    struck at the dawn light. (57-60)

    This is a really striking auditory image, but, well, we're at a loss as to what it really means for the poem. Know what else? So was Lorca. Of these lines, he wrote, "I cannot explain their meaning, and that is how it should be" (source). It seems that the poet was content to let the poem's version of reality supersede his own, so we are, too. For the most part.

    An icicle of moon
    holds her up above the water. (77-78)

    We mean, really. Is that safe? In this world of dreamy imagery and wild abandon, we guess it must be. In this case, the gypsy girl is enjoying some logically impossible exercise, high above our poor speaker. Most important about these lines, then, is the way that they communicate the girl's distance from our speaker. She's simply unreachable and, in this moment of alternate reality, that makes her ice cold.