Lament for Ignacio Sánchez Mejías

by Federico Garcia Lorca

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Lament for Ignacio Sánchez Mejías by Spanish poet Federico García Lorca is about a the famous Spanish bullfighter of the poem's title. The poet was a personal friend of the late Sánchez, who met the poet through his lover-turned-wife, "La Argentinita" (Encarnación López), a Spanish-Argentine flamenco dancer and widow of a bullfighter who had been killed in the ring. She was a talented dancer who performed in Lorca's plays.

In 1935, Lorca wrote his Lament (Spanish: llanto) to commemorate the death of Sánchez when he died in the ring in the previous year. The poem is divided into four (4) parts: 1.) The Goring and Death (La Cogida y la Muerte), 2.) The Spilled Blood (La Sangre Derramada), 3.) The Laid Out Body (El Cuerpo Presente), and 4.) Absent Soul (Alma Ausente). The four parts of the poem mimic four distinct stages of grief experienced by individuals who have lost someone close to them. These stages include shock, denial, anger, and resignation. In the first part, the poet details the circumstances surrounding the bullfighter's death, using the refrain "at five in the afternoon." In this section, the poet discusses physical and temporal setting ("bones and flutes blow in his ear"). In the second section, the author moves into a stage of denial, asking the moon not appear so that he does not need to see his friend dead. This section's refrain is "I don't want to see it." In the third section, the poet beseech's the help of powerful not to let Sánchez die (I want them to show me the way out for this captain tied to death"). In the fourth section, the poet predicts a dismal world without Sánchez, imagining a time when Sánchez is entirely forgotten "like all the dead who are forgotten").

Sánchez was a quite sensational figure. He traveled the America as a stowaway, received a dangerous wound to his femur in 1914, and was in the ring when his brother-in-law Jóse Gómez was killed in 1920. Sánchez had been married to Gómez' sister, Lola, whom he left to be with La Argentinita. Lorca wrote this poem not only to remember his friend but to immortalize in poetry a man who was a hero of Spain.

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