Monday, January 30, 2012

From Lorca to Dylan

I read The Gypsy Ballads of Garcia Lorca 47 years ago and I have been carrying them in my head ever since.  Sometimes I wake and they are there.  The myrtle and lime. The three hundred crimson roses. The trail of tears and tinny lights. The moon by sounding water. And then I come to this, and it always stops me:

Green as I would have you be.
Green wind. Green boughs.
The boat on the sea
And the horse on the mountain.

I remember reciting these lines to my professor, Dr. Richard O'Connell, translator with James-Graham Lujan of Five Plays by Lorca, and he smiled. "Whose translation is that?" he asked.

I told him, "Rolfe Humphries."

Doc, as we called him, looked a little uneasy. "Rolfe will forgive me if I say he got it wrong. It needs to be more like, 'Green, green, I want you green.'"

He emphasized it with his hands, clasping the air, grabbing at the invisible but palpable green. "Maybe desire is a better word than want," he said. "Have you heard it better?" he asked.

"Maybe I said, and I recited:

Green green rocky road
promenade in green
Tell me who you love
Tell me who you love

"That isn't Lorca!" Doc said.

"It's Len Chandler, folksinger-poet. I heard him sing his green song at The Gaslight in Greenwich Village in 1962. Len played the 12 string and he could really get you going with that song. Bob Dylan was usually in the audience."

"Who's that?" Doc asked.

Federico Garcia Lorca

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, thank you! I've been searching for the translation that was in my head. This is the one, that I love.