The Ballad of the Sleepwalker

Federico Garcia Lorca

(from the Spanish of Federico García Lorca)

Green, how I love you green.
Green wind. Green boughs.
The ship on the sea,
the horse on the mountain.

The shade at her waist,
she dreams on the balcony,
green flesh, green hair,
cold silver eyes.

Green, how I love you green.
Beneath the gypsy moon
things look at her
but she cannot look at them.

Green, how I love you green.
Huge stars of hoarfrost
come with the fish of darkness
which opens the path of dawn.

The fig-tree rubs the wind
with the dogfish skin of its boughs,
and the mountain, a wild cat,
bristles with harsh maguey.

But who will come, and from where …?
She stays on her balcony,
green flesh, green hair,
dreaming in the bitter sea.

Friend, I want to swap
my horse for your house,
my saddle for your mirror,
my knife for your blanket.
Friend, I come bleeding
from the passes of Cabra.

If I could, lad,
I would do a deal.
But I am no longer myself,
my house no longer my house.

Friend, I want to die
decently in bed.
An iron one, if that may be,
made up with linen sheets.
Do you not see this wound
from my breast to my throat?

Three hundred dark roses
soak your white shirt.
Your blood oozes and smells
around your sash.
But I am no longer myself,
nor is my house now my house.

At least let me up to
the high balconies.
Let me go up! Let me
up to the green balconies.
Balconies of the moon
where the water echoes.

So up the two friends go
to the high balconies.
Leaving a trail of blood.
Leaving a trail of tears.

Little tin lanterns
flicker on the roofs.
A thousand glass tambourines
fragment the sunrise.

Green, how I love you green,
green wind, green branches.

Up the two friends climbed.
The sharp wind left a strange
taste in the mouth, of bile
and of mint and of basil.

Friend! Where is she, tell me,
where is your embittered daughter?

How many times she expected you!
How many times she awaited you,
fresh face, black hair,
on this green balcony!

On the surface of the tank
the gypsy girl floated.
Green flesh, green hair,
cold silver eyes.
An icicle of moonlight
kept her above the water.

The night grew as close
as a small town square.
Drunken civil guards
hammered at the door.

Green, how I love you green.
Green wind, green boughs.
The ship on the sea.
The horse on the mountain.

Translation © James Munro

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2 Responses to “The Ballad of the Sleepwalker”

  1. One of my favourite pieces of poetry. Thanks

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