Last Updated September 5, 2023.
The characters of "Lament for Ignacio Sánchez Mejías" include the following.
The narrator: In the poem, the narrator reveals how he progresses through the 4 stages of grief after witnessing Ignacio's death. The final stanzas of the poem highlight the narrator's resigned acceptance of Ignacio's death. Like many Spanish fans of the sport, the narrator does not want the torero to succumb to his injuries, much less to death. To him, the death of a torero (especially a skilled one) is a particular tragedy.
At the end of the poem, the narrator says that he will always sing the praises of Ignacio. He will cheer the former torero's appetite for death and his courage in the ring. In fact, the narrator maintains that it will be a long time before another of Ignacio's caliber graces the earth again.
Ignacio Sanchez Mejias: Ignacio is the torero or bullfighter who dies during a fight with a fierce bull. His death is mourned by the narrator.
In the poem, the narrator maintains that Ignacio is far above any prince of Sevilla. To him, the bullfighter possesses the utmost wit and intelligence. Indeed, Ignacio's sword is unlike that of any other torero's. The narrator also asserts that Ignacio is courageous and his "marvelous" strength can be likened to that of a river of lions.
According to the narrator, Ignacio is skilled at executing banderillas. The banderilla is a move performed by the torero during the second stage of a bullfight.
There are three stages in bullfighting. The second, called the tercio de banderillas, is when the torero sticks a series of long instruments (with spiked ends) into the bull's neck and/or shoulders. The purpose of this second stage is to weaken the bull by tearing his muscles and blood vessels.
The bull: In the poem, the bull is Ignacio's killer. It is a bellowing, fierce creature who remains unfazed by the sorrow it has caused. The narrator calls the bull the "black" bull of "sorrow." He also references the bulls of Guisando in the poem. These bovine sculptures highlight the Spanish reverence for the formidable creatures that preside in the ring.