No Comment — January 23, 2008, 7:59 am

Lorca’s Old Lizard

klee_tunisian-gardens

En la agostada senda
he visto al buen lagarto
(gota de cocodrilo)
meditando.
Con su verde levita
de abate del diablo,
su talante correcto
y su cuello planchado,
tiene un aire muy triste
de viejo catedrático.
¡Esos ojos marchitos
de artista fracasado,
cómo miran la tarde
desmayada!

¿Es éste su paseo
crepuscular, amigo?
Usad bastón, ya estáis
muy viejo. Don Lagarto,
y los niños del pueblo
pueden daros un susto.
¿Qué buscáis en la senda,
filósofo cegato,
si el fantasma indeciso
de la tarde agosteña
ha roto el horizonte?

¿Buscáis el azul limosna
del cielo moribundo?
¿Un céntimo de estrella?
¿O acaso
estudiasteis un libro
de Lamartine, y os gustan
los trinos platerescos
de los pájaros?

(Miras al sol poniente,
y tus ojos relucen,
¡oh dragón de las ranas!
con un fulgor humano.
Las góndolas sin remos
de las ideas, cruzan
el agua tenebrosa
de tus iris quemados.)

¿Venís quizá en la busca
de la bella lagarta,
verde como los trigos
de mayo,
como las cabelleras
de las fuentes dormidas,
que os despreciaba, y luego
se fue de vuestro campo?
¡Oh dulce idilio roto
sobre la fresca juncia!
¡Pero vivir!, ¡qué diantre!
me habéis sido simpático.
El lema de “me opongo
a la serpiente” triunfa
en esa gran papada
de arzobispo cristiano.

Ya se ha disuelto el sol
en la copa del monte,
y enturbian el camino
los rebaños.
Es hora de marcharse,
dejad la angosta senda
y no continuéis
meditando.
Que lugar tendréis luego
de mirar las estrellas
cuando os coman sin prisa
los gusanos.

¡Volved a vuestra casa
bajo el pueblo de grillos!
¡Buenas noches, amigo
Don Lagarto!

Ya está el campo sin gente,
los montes apagados
y el camino desierto;
sólo de cuando en cuando
canta un cuco en la umbría
de los álamos.


On the roasted path
I saw the good lizard
(with a touch of crocodile)
In meditation.
With the green gown
of an abbot of the devil,
his upright bearing
and a starched collar,
he has the sad aspect
of an old tenured professor.
Those pale eyes
of a broken artist,
how they watch the afternoon
dejected!

Is this, my friend,
your constitutional?
Please use your walking stick,
Don Lagarto, for you are very old,
and the children of the village
may surprise you.
What are you seeking along the walk,
my near-sighted philosopher,
if the indecisive phantasm
of the roasted afternoon
has ruptured the horizon?

Are you seeking the azure offerings
of the moribund skies?
A penny’s worth of a star?
Or perhaps
you’ve been reading a volume
of Lamartine, and
the plateresco trills
of the birds appeal to you?

(You watch the setting sun,
and your eyes gleam,
oh, dragon of the frogs,
with a human radiance.
Gondolas without the oars of
Ideas cross the darkened
waters of your
burned irises.)

Have you come looking
for that beautiful lizardess,
green as the wheatfields
of May,
as the long strands
of sleeping fonts,
which scorned you, and then
left you in your field?
Oh, sweet idyll, shattered
among the fresh sedges!
But, keep alive! What the devil!
I like you.
The motto “I oppose
the serpent” triumphs
in that grand double chin
of the Christian archbishop.

Now the sun has dissolved
in the chalice of mountains,
and the flocks
cloak the roadway.
The hour of farewell has come:
leave the dry way
and your meditations.
You will have time
to look at the stars
when the worms are devouring you
in their own good time.

Go home to your house
near the village, of the crickets!
Good night, my friend
Don Lagarto!

Now the people have left the field,
the mountains are muted,
the highway is deserted.
Only now and then,
a cuckoo sings in the shade
of the poplars.

Federico García Lorca, El Lagarto Viejo (Vega de Zujaira, July 26, 1920) first published in Libro de Poemas (1921)(S.H. transl.)

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

May 2016

Fighting Chance

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Front Runner

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Habits of Highly Cynical People

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Unhackable

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

American Imperium

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
Elisabeth Zerofsky on Marine Le Pen, Paul Wachter on the quest for an unhackable email, Rebecca Solnit on cynical people, Andrew J. Bacevich on truth and fiction in the age of war, Samuel James photographs E.P.L. soccer, a story by Vince Passaro, and more

I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Front Runner·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"The F.N. asked to be sent to an institution whose legitimacy it did not accept, and French voters rewarded the party with first place in the election."
Illustration (detail) by Matthew Richardson
Memoir
I Am Your Conscious, I Am Love·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A paean 2 Prince
"And one thinks, Looking into Prince's eyes must be like looking at the world."
Photo ©© PeterTea
Article
Stop Hillary!·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"As wacky as it sometimes appears on the surface, American politics has an amazing stability and continuity about it."
Article
Plexiglass·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

Photograph (detail) by Karine Laval

Amount of cash inmates compete to grab from between a bull’s horns each year at the Oklahoma State Prison Rodeo:

$100

There were new reports of cannibalism in North Korea.

The Finnish postal service announced it will begin mowing lawns on Tuesdays.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Mississippi Drift

By

Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'

Subscribe Today