At the time of his execution in 1936, Federico García Lorca was arranging for the publication of a collection of poetry entitled Diván del Tamarit (The Diván at Tamarit). These poems, published in 1940 by a New York journal, take their titles from two traditional Arabic forms, the gacela (ghazal) and the casida (qasida), which tend to deal respectively with love and death. “Gacela de la muerte oscura” (“Gacela of the Dark Death”) is one of the most moving poems in the collection. Its meditation on the intersecting themes of love, life, death, sleep, and sorrow, as well as its subtle resonance with Lorca’s own approaching death, make it of unique brilliance and importance in the poet’s later work.
“Gacela of the Dark Death” is included in complete collections of Lorca’s poetry such as Christopher Maurer’s 1991 Collected Poems, and this edition is perhaps most appropriate because it contains the original text opposite an English translation. To fully appreciate Lorca, a poet whose expression of the visual and auditory rhythms of his language is notoriously difficult to translate, a reader will find the Spanish text vital. The language barrier will not prevent readers or students, however, from becoming immediately immersed in Lorca’s completely unique universe.