Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Feverish Spice Bushes by the Sea

How's that for a title! These feverish spice bushes of which I speak are how Robert Bly translates "los nardos febriles" in Lorca's poem "Malaguena." In the third stanza we hear that there is "an odor of salt and the blood of women in the feverish spice bushes by the sea." Some say Lorca was actually referring to tuberoses, but I prefer Bly's translation because it reminds me of sea rocket, the spicy succulent that is blooming in the dunes right now all over Block Island. When I pick a leaf and put it on my tongue, it burns. I think of Lorca and suddenly I am not on Block Island about to head out to the oyster farm. I am riding a black horse bareback over the deep roads of the guitar. There is a tavern in the distance. I can see the light spilling through the cracked door. If I enter, I will never be the same. The sea rocket burns my tongue. I enter. 


La muerte 
entra y sale 
de la taberna. 

Pasan caballos negros 
y gente siniestra 
por los hondos caminos 
de la guitarra. 

Y hay un olor a sal 
y a sangre de hembra, 
en los nardos febriles 
de la marina. 

La muerte 
entra y sale, 
y sale y entra 
la muerte 
de la taberna.

--Federico Garcia Lorca

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