"The crime was done in Granada"

Lorca in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1934

To  Federico García Lorca


He was seen walking among rifles,
down the long street,
leaving for the cold of the countryside
with the morning stars still bright overhead.

They killed Federico
at the break of day.
The assassins never dared
to look him in the face:
each of them had his eyes shut tight.
“God won’t save you!” they shouted,
and Federico fell dead—
blood on his clothes, lead in his back . . .
Let it be known that the crime was done in Granada
--poor Granada--in his Granada.

II. The poet and death

He was seen walking alone with her,
unafraid of her sickle.
The sun was already lighting the towers;
hammers were sounding--striking and clanging in the forges.
Federico spoke to her,
playing up to death. She was listening.
“You’ve made my verses ring, my dear,
with the clapping of your dry hands.
You’ve put ice into my song and honed
my tragedies on your scythe of silver,
so I will sing to you of the flesh you don’t have,
the eyes you have lost,
the hair that the wind took away,
the red lips where you used to kiss.
Today, as always, oh Gypsy, my death,
how good to be alone with you
in these breezes of Granada, of my Granada!"


He was seen walking . . .
friends, let us make
a monument for the poet in the Alhambra
out of stone and dreams
above a fountain where the water grieves
and says to anyone who hears it:
the crime was done in Granada, in his Granada!

Antonio Machado, 1936
Translated by Frank Beck

As a teenager, Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) thought of himself primarily as a pianist. In 1916 his piano teacher, Martin Domíngeuz Berreuta, introduced him to Antonio Machado. At 41, Machado was known across Spain for a 1912 book of poems called The Castilian Country. Lorca became enthralled with Machado's work, and it helped to inspire his own first book of poems, which appeared in 1921.

Lorca was murdered by supporters of Franco on August 19, 1936. They were outraged by his homosexuality and by his political views as well, for Lorca had once said, "I will always be on the side of those who have nothing and who are not even allowed to enjoy the nothing they have in peace."

Machado wrote his impassioned response to his friend's murder shortly after hearing of it. He soon fled the fascists himself, and died three years later, just across the border, in Collioure, France.

Drawing of Antonio Machado by Leandro Oroz (1925)