The guitar, by Federico García Lorca

I have written about the difficulty of translating poetry elsewhere; I have been struggling with this well known poem of García Lorca seemingly forever. Last night, just as I was drifting off to sleep (of course!), it all came together. It is not a faithful, verbatim translation, but it is what I think works.  Here it is, first in the original Spanish, then my translation.  See what you think:

La guitarra

Empieza el llanto
de la guitarra.
Se rompen las copas
de la madrugada.
Empieza el llanto
de la guitarra.
Es inútil
callarla.
Es imposible
callarla.
Llora monótona
como llora el agua,
como llora el viento
sobre la nevada.
Es imposible
callarla.
Llora por cosas
lejanas.
Arena del Sur caliente
que pide camelias blancas.
Llora flecha sin blanco,
la tarde sin mañana,
y el primer pájaro muerto
sobre la rama.
¡Oh guitarra!
Corazón malherido
por cinco espadas.

The guitar

Suddenly, the guitar
And the cups of dawn lie shattered.
Suddenly, the guitar,
Useless to silence,
Impossible to silence,
Weeping relentlessly,
Like water,
Like snow-bound wind,
Impossible to silence.
It weeps for distant things,
Sands of the searing south
Begging for white camellias.
It weeps for the arrow with no target,
The evening with no tomorrow,
And the first dead bird of winter.
Oh, guitar!
These five swords
Are piercing your heart!

Caro Federico: An homage

Inspired by the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca.

This flaming music
Cannot stop itself
Useless anyway!
The guitar sings of things
It dares not understand
The surly birds of a dead spring
Of bloody spades
And sinking sands
And cameliatic brands
This life without death
These pointless arrows
These wineless cups
This meeting without understanding
This whimless moon
These bullrings
Ringing endlessly
Why?