federico garcia lorca – the passing stage of the siguiriya

Among black butterflies
goes a dark-haired girl
next to a white serpent
of mist.

Earth of light,
sky of earth.

She is chained to the tremor
of a never arriving rhythm;
she has a heart of silver
and a dagger in her right hand.

Where are you going, siguiriya,
with such a headless rhythm?
What moon’ll gather up your pain
of whitewash and oleander?

Earth of light,
sky of earth.

(translated by Ralph Angel)

La Seguiriya – A flamenco form with a mixed compás – combining 3/4 and 6/8 time (a feature that drives music experts to despair). The seguiriya takes its name from the Castilian ‘seguidilla’, a musical style to which it is related, literarily at least. It is considered the quintessential style of ‘cante jondo’, for its solemnity, the minimalism of the lyric, and the wailing ‘quejío’ associated with vocal performances.

“The Gypsy siguiriya had always evoked for me (an incurable lyricist) the endless road, one without crossroads, which ends at the pulsating fountain of the girl-child, poetry, the road where the first bird died and the first arrow rusted.

The Gypsy siguiriya begins with a dreadful cry, a cry that divides the landscape into two perfect hemispheres. It is the cry of dead generations, a poignant elegy for vanished centuries, the evocation of love filled with pathos beneath other winds and other moons.”

Read the text of a fascinating lecture by Lorca on the historical and artistic significance of Canto Jondo (“deep song”) HERE.

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