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With a spoon
he scooped out the eyes of crocodiles
and slapped monkeys’ bottoms.
With a spoon.

Eternal fire slept in the flints
and beetles drunk on aniseed
forgot the villages’ moss.

That old man covered with mushrooms was going
to the place where the negroes wept
meanwhile the king’s spoon crackled
and the tanks of stinking water arrived.

The roses fled along the edge
of the last curves of air,
and on the piles of saffron
children squashed little squirrels
with a blush of evil frenzy.

You have to cross the bridges
to find the negro blush
so that the scent of the lung
may beat against our temples
with its dress of warm pineapples.

You must kill the fair-haired seller of brandy,
and all friends of the apple and the sand,
and you must beat with closed fists
the little French beans which tremble, full of bubbles,
so that the king of Harlem may sing with his multitude,
that crocodiles may sleep in long rows
under the asbestos of the moon,
and that no one may doubt the infinite beauty
of dusters, graters, coppers, kitchen saucepans.

Ah, Harlem, Harlem, Harlem!
There is no anguish to compare with your crushed reds,
your blood shuddering amid a dark eclipse,
your violence – garnet, deaf and dumb in the half-light,
your great king imprisoned in a janitor’s uniform.


The night cracked open and held quiet salamanders of ivory.
American girls
carried children and coins in their stomachs
and boys fainted on the cross where they were stretched.

They exist.
They are those who drink silver whisky by volcanoes
and who swallow little pieces of heart
upon the icy mountains of the bear.

That night the king of Harlem
with a very hard spoon
scooped out the eyes of crocodiles
and slapped monkeys’ bottoms.
With a spoon.
The negroes wept bewildered
between umbrellas and golden suns,
mulattos chewed gum, trying to get a white torso, and th
e wind clouded mirrors
and broke the dancers’ veins.

Negroes, Negroes, Negroes, Negroes.

Blood has no doors in your overturned night.
There is no flush. Furious blood beneath the skin,
living in the thorn of the dagger
and in the heart of landscapes,
under the tweezers and the furze
of the celestial moon of cancer.

Blood that seeks, along a thousand routes,
deaths of flour, and ashes of roses,
rigid, slanting skies, where colonies of planets
can roll about the beaches with the flotsam.

Blood that gazes slowly, with the tail of the eye,
made of dried grasses, underground nectar.
Blood rusting the careless trade-wind in a footprint,
and dissolving butterflies against the window.

It is blood that comes, and will come
through the roofs and terraces, from all sides,
to burn the chlorophyll of fair-haired women,
to groan at the foot of beds before the basins’ insomnia
to smash against a yellow and tobacco-coloured dawn.

One must flee,
flee round corners, lock oneself on top storeys,
because the marrow of the forest will penetrate through cracks
to leave in your flesh a faint print of eclipse
a false sadness of a discoloured glove and of a chemical rose.

It is in the wisest silence
that waiters and cooks and those who scour with their tongues
the wounds of millionaires
seek the king through streets, on saltpetre corners.

A south wind of wood, slanting through the black mud
spits at broken boats, drives nails into shoulders;
a south wind that carries
tusks, sunflowers, alphabets
and a battery full of drowned wasps.

Forgetfulness was expressed
by three drops of ink on a monocle,
and love by a single invisible face
on the surface of the stone.
Marrow and corollas formed on the clouds
a desert of stalks, and not one rose…


To the left, to the right, to south and north,
there rises a wall, impassable
to the mole, the needle of water.
Negroes, do not search for a crevice
to find the infinite mask.
Search for a great central sun
made into a buzzing pineapple.
The sun that slips through the woods
certain not to encounter a nymph,
the sun that destroys numbers and has never crossed a dream,
the tattooed sun that goes down river and bellows
with alligators in pursuit.

Negroes, Negroes, Negroes, Negroes.

Never did snake, zebra or mule
grow pale at death.
The woodcutter does not know
when the noisy trees he cuts, expire.
Wait beneath the vegetable shadow of your king
until hemlocks, thistles and nettles disturb the farthest rooftops.

Then, negroes, then, then,
you can frenziedly kiss bicycle wheels,
put pairs of microscopes in squirrels’ nests
and dance at last, no doubt, while the bristling
our Moses almost in the reeds of heaven.

Ah, Harlem in disguise!
Ah, Harlem, threatened by a crowd of headless costumes!
Your murmur reaches me,
reaches me through trunks and elevators,
through grey metal sheets,
where your cars are floating, covered with teeth,
through dead horses and petty crimes,
through your great and desperate king
whose beard reaches the sea.

Federico García Lorca
Translated by Merryn Williams

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