Federico Garcia Lorca

Ode to Walt Whitman

By the East River and the Bronx boys sang, stripped to the waist, along with the wheels, oil, leather and hammers. Ninety thousand miners working silver from rock and the children drawing stairways and perspectives. But none of them slumbered, none of them wished to be river, none loved the vast leaves, none the blue tongue of the shore. By East River and the Queensboro boys battled with Industry, and Jews sold the river faun the rose of circumcision and the sky poured, through bridges and rooftops, herds of bison driven by the wind. But none would stop, none of them longed to be cloud, none searched for ferns or the tambourine’s yellow circuit. When the moon sails out pulleys will turn to trouble the sky; a boundary of needles will fence in memory and coffins will carry off those who don’t work. New York of mud, New York of wire and death. What angel lies hidden in your cheek? What perfect voice will speak the truth of wheat? Who the terrible dream of your stained anemones? Not for a single moment, Walt Whitman, lovely old man, have I ceased to see your beard filled with butterflies, nor your corduroy shoulders frayed by the moon, nor your thighs of virgin Apollo, nor your voice like a column of ash; ancient beautiful as the mist, who moaned as a bird does its sex pierced by a needle. Enemy of the satyr, enemy of the vine and lover of the body under rough cloth. Not for a single moment, virile beauty who in mountains of coal, billboards, railroads, dreamed of being a river and slumbering like a river with that comrade who would set in your breast the small grief of an ignorant leopard. Not for a single moment, Adam of blood, Male, man alone on the sea, Walt Whitman, lovely old man, because on penthouse roofs, and gathered together in bars, emerging in squads from the sewers, trembling between the legs of chauffeurs or spinning on dance-floors of absinthe, the maricas, Walt Whitman, point to you. Him too! He’s one! And they hurl themselves at your beard luminous and chaste, blonds from the north, blacks from the sands, multitudes with howls and gestures, like cats and like snakes, the maricas, Walt Whitman, maricas, disordered with tears, flesh for the whip, for the boot, or the tamer’s bite. Him too! He’s one! Stained fingers point to the shore of your dream, when a friend eats your apple, with its slight tang of petrol, and the sun sings in the navels of the boys at play beneath bridges. But you never sought scratched eyes, nor the darkest swamp where they drown the children, nor the frozen saliva, nor the curved wounds like a toad’s belly that maricas bear, in cars and on terraces, while the moon whips them on terror’s street-corners. You sought a nakedness like a river. Bull and dream that would join the wheel to the seaweed, father of your agony, camellia of your death, and moan in the flames of your hidden equator. For it’s right that a man not seek his delight in the bloody jungle of approaching morning. The sky has shores where life is avoided and bodies that should not be echoed by dawn. Agony, agony, dream, ferment and dream. This is the world, my friend, agony, agony. Bodies dissolve beneath city clocks, war passes weeping with a million grey rats, the rich give their darlings little bright dying things, and life is not noble, or sacred, or good. Man can, if he wishes, lead his desire through a vein of coral or a heavenly nude. Tomorrow loves will be stones and Time a breeze that comes slumbering through the branches. That’s why I don’t raise my voice, old Walt Whitman, against the boy who inscribes the name of a girl on his pillow, nor the lad who dresses as a bride in the shadow of the wardrobe, nor the solitary men in clubs who drink with disgust prostitution’s waters, nor against the men with the green glance who love men and burn their lips in silence. But yes, against you, city maricas, of tumescent flesh and unclean thought. Mothers of mud. Harpies. Unsleeping enemies of Love that bestows garlands of joy. Against you forever, you who give boys drops of foul death with bitter poison. Against you forever, Fairies of North America, Pájaros of Havana, Jotos of Mexico, Sarasas of Cádiz, Apios of Seville, Cancos of Madrid, Floras of Alicante, Adelaidas of Portugal. Maricas of all the world, murderers of doves! Slaves to women. Their boudoir bitches. Spread in public squares like fevered fans or ambushed in stiff landscapes of hemlock. No quarter! Death flows from your eyes and heaps grey flowers at the swamp’s edge. No quarter! Look out!! Let the perplexed, the pure, the classical, noted, the supplicants close the gates of the bacchanal to you. And you, lovely Walt Whitman, sleep on the banks of the Hudson with your beard towards the pole and your hands open. Bland clay or snow, your tongue is calling for comrades to guard your disembodied gazelle. Sleep: nothing remains. A dance of walls stirs the prairies and America drown itself in machines and lament. I long for a fierce wind that from deepest night shall blow the flowers and letters from the vault where you sleep and a negro boy to tell the whites and their gold that the kingdom of wheat has arrived.

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