Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Old Lizard - Federico García Lorca

In the parched path
I have seen the good lizard
(one drop of crocodile)
meditating.
With his green frock-coat
of an abbot of the devil,
his correct bearing
and his stiff collar,
he has the sad air
of an old professor.
Those faded eyes
of a broken artist,
how they watch the afternoon
in dismay!

Is this, my friend,
your twilight constitutional?
Please use your cane,
you are very old, Mr. Lizard,
and the children of the village
may startle you.
What are you seeking in the path,
my near-sighted philosopher,
if the wavering phantasm
of the parched afternoon
has broken the horizon?

Are you seeking the blue alms
of the moribund heaven?
A penny of a star?
Or perhaps
you've been reading a volume
of Lamartine, and you relish
the plateresque trills
of the birds?

(You watch the setting sun,
and your eyes shine,
oh, dragon of the frogs,
with a human radiance.
Ideas, gondolas without oars,
cross the shadowy
waters of your
burnt-out eyes.)

Have you come looking
for that lovely lady lizard,
green as the wheatfields
of May,
as the long locks
of sleeping pools,
who scorned you, and then
left you in your field?
Oh, sweet idyll, broken
among the sweet sedges!
But, live! What the devil!
I like you.
The motto "I oppose
the serpent" triumphs
in that grand double chin
of a Christian archbishop.

Now the sun has dissolved
in the cup of the mountains,
and the flocks
cloud the roadway.
It is the hour to depart:
leave the dry path
and your meditations.
You will have time
to look at the stars
when the worms are eating you
at their leisure.


Go home to your house
by the village, of the crickets!
Good night, my friend
Mr. Lizard!

Now the field is empty,
the mountains dim,
the roadway deserted.
Only, now and again,
a cuckoo sings in the darkness
of the poplar trees.
Federico Garcia Lorca (1898 - 1936) Spain
Translated by Lysander Kemp

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