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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.

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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.

The Poem

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Lament for the Death of a Bullfighter is a long elegy divided into four parts corresponding to four dramatic movements. It was written to commemorate and celebrate the death of a man who many considered the bravest and most gallant matador of Spain. Ignacio Sánchez Mejías was also Federico García Lorca’s great friend. In this poem, there is complete identification between poet and speaker.

The first part of the poem, “The Goring and the Death,” starts at the very hour of the tragedy—“at five in the afternoon”—and proceeds to dwell on all the horrific details of the bull ring. A child brings a white sheet; lime is spread to soak up the blood; we can see and smell the chemicals of death, the chloride and the iodine. Surprisingly, what is missing is the fallen hero himself. It is as if the speaker cannot bring himself to look at his friend, lying bleeding in the sand, and instead must concentrate on what surrounds his body. The cadence is like that of a muted, tolling bell as after every stark image, the litany-like response “at five in the afternoon” is repeated.

The scene then shifts to Ignacio’s deathbed, where the killer bull, “El Granadino,” has become a bellowing nightmare that roars in triumph in the bullfighter’s ears in his delirium. The clinical facts of a terrible death by gangrene poisoning are expressed poetically, but the agony cannot be hidden by beautiful words. Sensing that, again, after every image, the speaker drums into the listener the hour of the incident, until, finally, the poetic voice rises in protest at the significance of these “terrible fives.”

The same fever pitch continues into the second section, “The Spilt Blood.” The...

(The entire section contains 1756 words.)

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