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:

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

August 2015

In the Shadow of the Storm

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Measure for Measure

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Trouble with Israel

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Camera on Every Cop

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
“The campaign music stopped. Hundreds of people, their faces now warped by the dread of a third bomb, began running for cover.”
Photograph © Guy Martin/Panos.
Article
Part Neither, Part Both·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Eight months pregnant I told an old woman sitting beside me on the bus that the egg that hatched my baby came from my wife’s ovaries. I didn’t know how the old woman would take it; one can never know. She was delighted: That’s like a fairy tale!”
Mother with Children, by Gustav Klimt © akg-images
Article
What Recovery?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Between 2007 and 2010, Albany’s poverty rate jumped 12 points, to a record high of 39.9 percent. More than two thirds of Albany’s 76,000 residents are black, and since 2010, their poverty rate has climbed even higher, to nearly 42 percent.”
Photograph by Will Steacy
Article
Rag Time·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

From a May 23 commencement address delivered at Hofstra University. Doctorow died on Tuesday. He was 84.
“We are a deeply divided nation in danger of undergoing a profound change for the worse.”
Photograph by Giuseppe Giglia
Article
The Trouble with Israel·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“We think we are the only people in the world who live with threat, but we have to work with regional leaders who will work with us. Bibi is taking the country into unprecedented international isolation.”
Photograph by Adam Golfer

Chance that a U.S. criminologist thinks abolishing the death penalty would increase the murder rate:

1 in 10

Villagers in Bangladesh found a missing woman halfway down a python’s throat.

The FAA announced it would investigate an 18-year-old Connecticut man who posted a YouTube video showing a homemade drone firing a handgun.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today