Death of Lorca (Act 2)

Benjamín Jarnés, Huberto Pérez de la Ossa, Luis Buñuel. Rafael Barradas and Federico García Lorca in Madrid, 1923. (Credit:  Wikimedia Commons)

Benjamín Jarnés, Huberto Pérez de la Ossa, Luis Buñuel. Rafael Barradas and Federico García Lorca in Madrid, 1923. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Then at night, after midnight, he was pushed into a car. They drove him north about 9 kilometers from Granada, to the little square of the village of Viznar. The Falange had set up headquarters at the Archbishop’s palace. He waited in the car seated between armed guards.

They drove him north again to an old building hidden between trees on the left side of the road, a former summer residence for schoolchildren, now a makeshift prison. He was taken to a room where three other prisoners were being held: a one-legged schoolmaster, and fittingly, two banderilleros, bullfighters from Granada. He talked and smoked incessantly through the night, keeping his companions alert. At dawn he called for a priest, but the priest had left. The authorities had said there would be no executions that night.

He was driven north with his three companions and taken to a spot near a horse-shoe shaped pool: Fuente Grande, or as Arabian poets had called it, Ainadamar, the Fountain of Tears. The gravedigger buried them next to an olive tree. He remembered that Federico wore, “you know, one of those artist’s ties.”[1]

And Death must have come, to the poet in his Splendor, to the favorite of the Faeries, not like a Beggar but like an old stony guest from a Golden Age play. She must have reached out her hand invitingly. He had felt Death before, had feared her, had seen her in New York, had feasted her. Now Death returned his feast (“Give me your hand, don’t be afraid, your hand!”) and threatened to sink him into the grave with rumbling thunder. He must have taken her hand, and felt the burn and the flames of Splendor. He must have knelt, and must have raised his other hand to heaven. And when the sculptures and shadows and skeletons threatened to overcome him, she must have appeared. Like Doña Inés rising from the grave in Zorrilla’s Don Juan Tenorio, she must have appeared. The Virgin, the blessed Virgin full of swords like a bull, who signals the scream.

Primitive images of the Virgin of Sorrows and the recumbent Christ of Rota. (Credit:  Wikimedia Commons)

Primitive images of the Virgin of Sorrows and the recumbent Christ of Rota. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

On the same morning that Federico García Lorca was shot, one of his assassins—a member of Acción Popular, a political party that “represented the reaction of the Church and especially of the Jesuits to the Republic”—walked into a bar in Granada and proclaimed for all to hear:

We’ve just killed Federico García Lorca. We left him in a ditch and I fired two bullets into his arse for being a queer.

The killer walked into a café later that same day and accosted a friend of Federico: “We bumped off your friend the poet with the big fat head this morning.”[2]

During the weeks that followed that day of August 19, 1936, notices of Lorca’s assassination appeared in Republican and Nationalist papers in Spain and in the European press. H.G. Wells, who had once met Lorca, sent the following telegram to Granada:

H.G. Wells, president of the PEN club in London, anxiously desires news of his distinguished colleague Federico García Lorca and will greatly appreciate courtesy of a reply.

The Nationalist government of Granada answered Well’s pathetic telegram in the following manner: “I do not know whereabouts of Don Federico García Lorca. Signed, Colonel Espinosa.”[3]

OG

The olive tree beside which Frederico Garcia Lorca was said to have been shot. This is now disputed, although it remains a site of homage. The photograph was taken in 1999. The tree is near the village of Alfacar, Spain. (Credit:  Dr. Graham Beards / Wikimedia Commons)

The olive tree beside which Frederico Garcia Lorca was said to have been shot. This is now disputed, although it remains a site of homage. The photograph was taken in 1999. The tree is near the village of Alfacar, Spain. (Credit: Dr. Graham Beards / Wikimedia Commons)

[1] Ian Gibson, The Death of Lorca (London: W.H. Allen, 1973), chapters 7 and 8.

[2] Gerald Brenan, quoted in Ian Gibson, The Assassination of Federico García Lorca (New York: Penguin Books, 1983), 30 and 179.

[3] Ibid., 189.

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