The Pride of Granada – Federico García Lorca

Despite being forced into comparative obscurity by the great literary artists of the Spanish Golden Age, of Góngora, Lope de Vega, Quevedo, and, of course, Cervantes, Federico García Lorca is undoubtedly one of Spain’s greatest dramatists and poets.

Born in Fuente Vaqueros on the 5th of June 1898, to a farmer and former school-teacher, Federico García Lorca’s childhood was shaped by the influences of his mother and the family’s servants which sparked an interest in the culture of rural Andalucía that would last into his adulthood and feature prominently in his later works.


Lorca moved to Granada with his family at the age of 11, and the vibrant, multi-cultural city would later bring Lorca into contact with the great writers and artists of the age; H.G. Wells, Rudyard Kipling, the guitarist Angel Barrios and the critic Jose Fernandez Montesinos. At 16, Lorca began his studies at the University of Granada, published his first book four years later, and the following year, in 1919, left Granada for a ten year stay in Madrid, followed by two years of travel in the United States and Cuba, before he finally returned to Spain in the autumn of 1930. Darro River Granada

Each of the successive stages of Lorca’s travels reflect a different aspect of his work; whilst in Madrid, his work displays frustration over his homosexuality, particularly in the 1921 Book of Poems, and a combination of the traditional dramatic subjects presented through farce and tragedy. Whilst Lorca was in New York, however, there is a clear change; his plays When Five Years Pass and The Public are surrealist, although they were not published until after his return to Spain, and the poem Poet in New York is dark, clearly showing Lorca’s feelings of isolation and loneliness and the social injustice inherent in New York.


On his return to Spain, Lorca’s writing changed yet again, this time the result of the creation of a republican government in 1931, under which artistic freedom abounded. Federico García Lorca’s life was tragically short; at just 38 years old, he was shot near the villages of Alfacar and Viznar in August 1936 by the Assault Guard and paramilitary ‘Black Squad’, yet his contribution to Spanish literature was incredible.

Comparatively little is known about Lorca’s personal life, though there is much speculation, particularly over whether or not Lorca was homosexual. The general consensus is that Lorca was indeed homosexual, although the book Federico and his World, by Francisco García Lorca, Federico’s brother, does not mention Lorca’s homosexuality, whilst some of Lorca’s friends, such as Pepín Bello, have denied claims that Lorca was homosexual.


Lorca’s most famous play, Bodas de Sangre or Blood Wedding, as it is translated in English, is based on a true Andalucian story from the village of Nijar. In 1928 the sister and brother-in-law of Francisca Cañadas Morales attempted to murder her, and succeeded in murdering Francisco Montes Cañadas, with whom she had eloped, having fled an arranged marriage to a farmhand, Casimiro Pérez Morales. Like the Bride and Leonardo in Blood Wedding, they are ambushed on the road, although in the play it is more the result of slighted honour on the part of the Bridegroom.

Blood Wedding was first performed in March 1933, just three years before Lorca’s death, but was read to his friends in September of the previous year. Though it was translated into English and French and performed in both North and South America, thus founding Lorca’s international reputation, it was not again performed in Spain for almost thirty years.


Despite the darker elements of human nature that the play portrays, Blood Wedding is perhaps Lorca’s most poetic play, lyrical and full of symbolism, on a level comparable with the Greek tragedies , the Spanish classic authors, like Lope de Vega, and, of course, Shakespeare.

Palacio Mariana Pineda

Palacio Mariana Pineda

Unsurprisingly, Lorca’s legacy has been long-lasting, not least in his visible presence around the city of Granada; the Granada-Jaen airport is the Federico Garcia Lorca airport, one of the largest city parks is named after him, in which there is a museum dedicated to him, and various lecture halls in the University of Granada are also named for him. Outside of Granada, he has a statue in Madrid, and the Lorca Foundation sponsors the production of his works, as well as the construction of the Lorca Centre in Madrid.


Lorca’s works have been translated into numerous languages, and continued to be performed world-wide. Furthermore, artists from Russia to North America and from Vietnam to Mexico have taken Lorca as inspiration for their own creations; the Spanish poet Antonio Machado wrote El Crimen Fue en Granada about Lorca’s death, Leonard Cohen’s song Take this Waltz, a translation of Lorca’s poem Pequeño vals vienés, reached number one in Spain in 1986, whilst films and plays have also been based on Lorca’s life and death.

After Lorca’s murder his body was never recovered, and his final resting place remains unknown to this day. However, in recent years excavations have begun to exhume the bodies of the men executed with Lorca, at the request of their families. Despite the Lorca family’s long-standing opposition to the poet’s exhumation, as recently as two years ago they gave their consent and last year gave their permission for family DNA to be used in identifying Lorca’s remains.



Next year will see the seventy-fifth anniversary of Lorca’s death, but regardless of whether or not his remains are ever found – conspiracy theorists have postulated that the family made a deal with the Francoists to secretly recover and inter his body privately, Federico García Lorca’s legacy will doubtless continue for years to come.

In 1986 Lorca’s natal home in Fuente Vaqueros (just15km from Granada) was restored and opened to the public. It is still run as a museum by the Patronato Garcia Lorca with a permanent collection as well as many activities organised throughout the year. For more information check out




Cisne redondo en el río

ojo de las catedrales,

alba fingida en las hojas

soy; ¡no podrán escaparse!

¿Quién se oculta? ¿Quién solloza

por la maleza del valle?

La luna deja un cuchillo en el aire,

que siendo acecho de plomo

quiere ser dolor de sangre.


(from Bodas de Sangre)


Round swan on the river,

Eye of the cathedrals,

False dawn amongst the leaves

Am I; they shall not escape!

Who is hiding? Who is sobbing

In the thick brush of the valley?

The moon places a knife

Abandoned in the sky,

That is a leaden ambush

And longs to be the pain of blood.


(Tr. Gwynne Edwards)




Las patas heridas,

las crines heladas,

dentro de los ojos

un puñal de plata.

Bajaban al río.

¡Ay, cómo bajaban!

La sangre corría

más fuerte que el agua.


(from Bodas de Sangre)


Horsey’s hooves are red with blood.

Horsey’s mane is frozen.

Deep inside his staring eyes

A silver dagger broken.

Down they went to the river bank,

Down to the stream they rode.

There his blood ran strong and fast,

Faster than the water could.genil river Granada


                (Tr. Gwynne Edwards)

Verde que te quiero verde.
Verde viento. Verdes ramas.
El barco sobre la mar
y el caballo en la montaña.
Con la sombra en la cintura
ella sueña en su baranda,
verde carne, pelo verde,
con ojos de fría plata.
Verde que te quiero verde

Bajo la luna gitana,

las cosas la están mirando

y ella no puede mirarlas.


(from Romance Sonámbulo)

Green, how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship out on the sea
and the horse on the mountain.
With the shade around her waist
she dreams on her balcony,
green flesh, her hair green,
with eyes of cold silver.
Green, how I want you green…

Under the gypsy moon,

all things are watching her

and she cannot see them.

(Tr. William Logan)


Article written by Hayley Cottington

Author: Mark

Mark spent a number of years living in Spain and more recently in London he is now back in his home town of Dublin, where he is a website designer and blogger amongst a number of other professional and social interests. He runs his own website design agency and digital consultancy - Digial Chief, drop him a line or check out the site: Digital Chief

Share This Post On


  1. Celebrity Culture in Spain - Granada Insider - […] Not sure who Lorca is, make sure you read all about him here: Life and Times of Gabriel Garcia…

Submit a Comment