Critical Reading and Writing Exercise – Lorca

Task

To respond to a piece of writing I like.  200 words email by 1 Dec.

My Approach

I was drawn to this image, currently showing at the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester,  29th October 2014 – 15th February 2015.

Sir Terry Frost ‘The Moon Rising’, 1989 © The estate of Sir Terry Frost

Federico García Lorca’s poem appears in Canciones, 1921-1924 (Songs, 1921-1924).

I was aware that the series of works were based on Lorca’s poems, which I understand are held in high esteem, particularly by the poet and performer Leonard Cohen, but I was unfamiliar with the work.  I assumed that the writing would be good, and therefore suitable for this task, but if I am honest, I was more interested in understanding what Frost was seeing in the work and how he was choosing to interpret it, with a view to perhaps gleaning an insight for my own practice.

La Luna Asoma             The Moon Rising

Cuando sale la luna       When the moon rises
se pierden las campanas   The bells hang silent,
y aparecen las sendas     And impenetrable footpath impenetrables.            Appear.
Cuando sale la luna,      When the moon rises,
el mar cubre la tierra    The sea covers the land,
y el corazón se siente    And the heart feels
isla en el infinito.      Like an island in infinity.

Nadie come naranjas       Nobody eats oranges
bajo la luna llena.       Under the full moon.
Es preciso comer          One must eat fruit
fruta verde y helada.     that is green and cold.

Cuando sale la luna       When the moon rises
de cien rostros iguales,  Moon of a hundred equal                              
                          faces,
la moneda de plata        The silver coinage
solloza en el bolsillo.   Sobs in his pocket.

The Tate, owners of the 4th artist’s proof,  http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/frost-the-moon-rising-l02492/text-summary    summarises Terry Frost’s interpretation as:

‘The Moon Rising is one of the simplest and starkest images in the Lorca portfolio. In the top left corner of the print is a smudged black shape, roughly circular in form. Below it and to the right is a downward facing red crescent with curved ends. A black crescent whose pointed ends face upwards lies nestled between the red crescent and a larger smudged red form at the bottom of the print. The bold blocks of colour and simplified curvilinear forms recall the abstract paintingsand prints of Joan Miró (1893-1983; see Untitled, 1964, Tate P05474) and the late cut-outs of Henri Matisse (1869-1954; see The Dancer, 1949, Tate P01713).

The poem on which this print is based is an impressionistic description of the silence and mystery of a moonlit night. Frost discussed the use of black and red in relation to the Lorca portfolio, saying, ‘Black and Red become a symbol for death and life, lust, passion, tenderness, fear, love’ (quoted in Terry Frost, p.216). ‘

Pallant House makes no particular reference to the work at all, other than to say ‘ exploring their shared fascination with nature, death and the ‘Duende’, a concept in Spanish culture that refers to the heightened state of emotion required for artistic invention.’

Both esteemed organisations avoid my key question, why does Frost interpret the poem in this way?  What is Frost seeing that I am not?  Merely describing splodges and shapes, does nothing to enhance the viewer’s understanding.

So to the point of the exercise, 200 words on the poem La Luna Asoma by Federico García Lorca, written between 1921-1924.

Raised on a diet of ‘sticks and stones..’, I came to the power of words late in life, during an NLP intervention, where the identification and release of a word, allowed a new world order for the recipient.

And so it is with poetry.

The sparing use of words to evoke human emotion.

Cuando sale la luna,      When the moon rises,

el mar cubre la tierra    The sea covers the land,

y el corazón se siente    And the heart feels

isla en el infinito.           Like an island in infinity.

 English language dominance is both saviour and curse. 

So much more sensual in the Spanish, softer, lilting, evocative.

 That said, I find this poem awkward.

 Nadie come naranjas       Nobody eats oranges

bajo la luna llena.             Under the full moon.

Es preciso comer              One must eat fruit

fruta verde y helada.       that is green and cold. 

Feels like an intrusion, an eruption in the moon’s calming ocean. 

The expected connection in Frost’s interpretation is also missing.  Frost defines his work,  ‘Black and Red become a symbol for death and life, lust, passion, tenderness, fear, love’1.  In ‘Lament’, yes, where passion and death are palpable, but in this poem, no.

 Terry Frost, p.216

Sir Terry Frost ‘Lament for Ignacio Sanches Mejias’, 1989 © The estate of Sir Terry Frost

Lament for Ignacio Sanches Mejias, 1989

 

 

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