ABSTRACT

The Poema del cante jondo [The poem of the deep song] is the third volume in the trilogy Lorca projected in 1926, yet it has never been studied side by side the other two books; more to the point, it has never been studied in conjunction with the suites, despite a growing understanding of the structural affinities of the two projects and the fact that their dates of composition overlapped. 1 In the late autumn and winter of 1921–22 Lorca worked with Manuel de Falla and others to organize the first national flamenco festival (Gibson 1985: 304–05); as he writes to Adolfo Salazar (1 January 1922), he has just completed the suites and proposes now to finish another book, which has kept him busy throughout the fall. He wants the new book to come out when the festival takes place: ‘Terminé de dar el último repaso a las suites y ahora pongo los tejadillos de oro al Poema del cante jondo, que publicaré con el concurso. Es una cosa distinta de las suites y llena de sugestiones andaluzas’ [I just went over the suites for the last time and now I am putting the little golden tiles on the roof of the Poema del cante jondo, which I shall publish to coincide with the festival. It’s different from the suites and full of Andalusian motifs] (E 136). Indeed, Lorca claims to have made the choice not to return to Madrid in the academic year 1921/1922, as he tells his friend Regino Sainz de la Maza, because he needed the inspiration of the south to finish what he had in hand (E 141). In the light of these circumstances, critics have invariably concentrated on the book’s relationship to cante flamenco [flamenco song] and to Lorca’s vindication of the distinctive folksong tradition of his patria chica.