Lament for Ignacio Sánchez Mejías Summary
The poem "Lament for Ignacio Sánchez Mejías" is divided into four sections. Many literary experts maintain that the sections represent the stages of grief. The first section centers on the emotion of grief; here, the narrator is in total shock. Meanwhile, the second highlights denial. The last two sections highlight depression/anger and acceptance.
In the first section, the phrase "five in the afternoon" is repeated throughout. The narrator is fixated on the time of Ignacio's death because he is in total shock. This first section begins with a boy bringing in a white sheet to cover up Ignacio's lifeless body. In the next stanzas, we get a hodge-podge of surrealistic events that supposedly occur at five o'clock in the afternoon. The dissonant images highlight the narrator's shock at Ignacio's untimely death.
We read of a leopard wrestling with a dove. Iodine, lime, and arsenic (all solutions connected with death) are scattered throughout this first section. Lime is said to preserve the corpse from decomposition, while arsenic and iodine are often traditionally used in embalming fluids.
In this first section, an orchestra begins performing ("the bass-string struck up"), but there are still groups of silence in the "corners." We hear the bull bellowing amidst the scene of death. Meanwhile, death "lays" eggs in Ignacio's wounds.
In the second section, the narrator is in denial. His repeated "I will not see it" tells us that he doesn't want to accept the truth about Ignacio's death. He references the "bulls of Guisando." Today, these bull-like animal sculptures still exist in Spain. The bulls represent Spain's tradition of bull-fighting, a tradition that has endured through time. The bulls are both "stone" and "death," as if the Spanish tradition of challenging death is a national heritage and prerogative.
In this second section, the narrator also sings Ignacio's praise. To the narrator, Ignacio is a celebrated and courageous bull-fighter. He seems larger than life, a sportsman who always faced his bovine enemies without fear. The narrator proclaims that Ignacio is like a lion, a great "torero in the ring." He remembers Ignacio's "confident profile" and "beautiful body" and he doesn't want to...
(The entire section is 554 words.)