The Spanish Civil War by Diana Ferrro

During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) in which one of the varieties of the two Spains alluded in the Machado’s poem “Españolito que vienes al mundo -- opposed, Republicans against Nationalists this time, many poets, like Antonio Machado himself, went to exile and others died, like Federico Garcia Lorca, who was taken prisoner and shot. The tradition of violent civil struggles in Spain, inherited also by Latin America, has had in both places a distinctive trait: the finest artists, writers, and poets have always passionately taken sides and been active actors in every civil war while often, at the same time, befriending their artists colleagues. Garca Lorca, a Republican like Machado, noticed with irony that the intellectual and artists’ brotherhood belonged to a superior and invisible country in which political struggles had not a place. As the very close friend to José Antonio Primo de Rivera --an amateur poet himself --leader and founder of the Spanish Phalanx, the greatest inspiration for Nationalists and later executed by the Republican forces, Garcia Lorca said: “José Antonio, another good guy. Do you know that every Friday I have dinner with him? We go out in a taxi with the blinds up, because it’s not convenient for him to be seen with me or to me to be seen with him!-- But Garcia Lorca, even if not an activist, was seen by the Nationalist right-wing forces as an enemy. When the war began, the author hid from the soldiers but he was soon found, dragged from a friend's house, and shot in Granada on August 19/20 of 1936 without trial. Antonio Machado wrote a poem about this terrible and unfair death, “El crimen fue en Granada," a poem as moving as the poem Garcia Lorca had written about a gipsy killed by the same intolerance that caused his own death, “Muerte de Antoñito El Camborio."

Antonio Machado

Antonio Machado was born in Seville and moved to Madrid at the age of eight. He studied in Paris where he worked as a translator, and met French poets. He became a schoolteacher. He returned to Spain and taught at Soria in Castile, from 1907, where he met his wife Leonor. Tragically she died very young, and in 1912 he left Soria for Baeza in Andalusia. Loyal to the Republic he left Spain for France when Catalonia fell, and died there in February 1939. He is acknowledged as Spain’s finest poet of the early twentieth century.

Federico Garcia Lorca

Spanish poet and dramatist, Lorca was a talented artist and a member of the 'Generation of 1 927',a group of writers who advocated avant-gardism in literature. Garcia Lorca read law at the University of Granada. At the same time he studied music collaborating in the 1920s with Manuel de Falla, becoming an expert pianist and guitar player, which would explain the extradionary musicality of his poems and plays. Later in Madrid, he was the friend of Juan Ramón Jiménez and Pablo Neruda and also worked with Salvador Dali and Louis Bunuel. As a writer Garcia Lorca made his debut with 'Libro De Poemas' (1 921 ), a collection of fablelike poems. In 1927 Garcia Lorca gained fame with his romantic historical play Mariana Pineda where the scenery was constructed by Salavador Dali and the distinguished actress Margarita Xirgu played the heroine. By 1928, with the publication of the first Romancero Gitano he was the best-known of all Spanish poets, and leading member of the 'Generation of 27', which included Luis Cernuda, Jorge Guillen, Pedro Salinas, Rafael Alberti and others. In 1929-30 Garcia Lorca lived in the city of New York and, after a short visit to Cuba, Garcia Lorca was back in Spain by 1931 , where he continued writing poems and plays until his death.

Españolito que vienes al mundo

Ya hay un español
que quiere vivir
y a vivir empieza,
entre una España que muere
y otra España que bosteza.

Españolito que vienes
al mundo te guarde Dios.
una de las dos Españas
ha de helarte el corazón

You, little Spaniard, coming into this world

There is a Spaniard
who wants to live and starts
to live between a Spain that dies
and another Spain who yawns

Little Spaniard who comes
into this world may God bless you.
For one of the two Spains won't fail
to freeze your heart.


From the Romancero Gitano:

Muerte de Antoñito El Camborio (extracto)
A José Antonio Rubio Sacrista¡n

oces de muerte sonaron
cerca del Guadalquivir.
Voces antiguas que cercan
voz de clavel varonil.
Les clavó sobre las botas
mordiscos de jabai.
En la lucha daba saltos
jabonados de delfin.
Bañó con sangre enemiga
su corbata carmesi,
pero eran cuatro puñales
y tuvo que sucumbir.
Cuando las estrellas clavan
rejones al agua gris,
cuando los erales sueñan
verónicas de alheli,
voces de muerte sonaron
cerca del Guadalquivir

Diana Ferraro


From the “Gipsy Ballads"

Death of Antoñito El Camborio
(excerpt) To José Antonio Rubio Sacriste

Voices from death sounded
to the Guadalquivir
Voices from old ages enclosing
The manly carnation voice.
He nailed on their boots
Wild boar bites.
In the fight he leaped,
Soapy jumps of a dolphin.
He soaked his crimson tie
With the enemy’s blood,
But there were four daggers
That he had to succumb.
When the stars stab spears
Into the grey water bulls
When the wheat fields dream
Ofma rescuing cape of wallflowers,
Voices from death sounded
Close to the Guadalquivir.



1 . El crimen
Se le vio, caminando entre fusiles, por una calle larga,
salir al campo frio,
aún con estrellas de la madrugada.

Mataron a Federico cuando la luz asomaba. El pelotón de verdugos no osó mirarle la cara. Todos cerraron los ojos; rezaron: ¡ ni Dios te salva! Muerto cayó Federico
--sangre en la frente y plomo en las entrañas--
... Que fue en Granada el crimen
sabed -- pobre Granada!-- en su Granada.



1 . The Crime
He was seen, walking among guns,
On a long street
Going out into the cold field under the dawn’s stars.
They killed Federico
When daylight broke.
The firing squad,
Did’t dare to stare at his face
They all closed their eyes:
They prayed: Not even God can save you!

Federico fell dead
--blood on his forehead and lead on his heart.
Let be known, the crime was in Grenade--poor Grenade!--
in his native Grenade.

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