ABSTRACT

The readers of Lorca’s Canciones in 1927 would not have had the experience that is now available to readers, who can approach the book after reading his suites. Only a few persons at most — intimate friends of the poet — would have known what the other work was. And even they would only have seen glimpses. They certainly would not have had the impression one has today of entering a different world when we open the book of ‘songs’. We might agree with C. Brian Morris who observes that Canciones is ‘marked by composure, by a sense of release’. He sees the book as ‘a most limpid and confident work, one in which the poet appears not to be hiding or confessing anything’ (1997: 309). Understandably so. It is as if one emerged into bright sunlight after having been guided through a night of initiation, or as if one had returned to safe land after embarking with the poet on a fantastic expedition, one which took place beyond this world, in an aerial garden or, perhaps, as the poet briefly fantasized, an underwater meadow. It was a site of arcane knowledge, as has been seen from the start (Newton [Gala] 1995: 88–89) but also one of make-believe: a counterworld holding the poet’s secret fears and desires. Although it could be conceived as liquid, as a river or a pool, it hardened into a mirror, a place of congealed secrets where one could not dwell but from which one could report. Both of these sites disappear in Canciones, as does the poet’s choice to cast himself as an explorer or protagonist of a journey. Most telling, perhaps, is the fact that there is no mention any longer of the ‘acre jardín / de las interrogaciones’ [bitter garden / of questions], which crops up again and again in the suites (in this case in ‘Ruleta’ [Roulette]; OPS 297). 1 From the outside, as one contemporary critic commented, 88looking by comparison at the early Libro de poemas, the poet had purged his work of the ‘melancolía del viejo mundo’ [the melancholy of the old world] and was offering instead the ‘flores asépticas’ [aseptic flowers] favoured by the newer, dehumanized aesthetic (Valbuena Prat 1930: 91, 92).