Themes and Meanings

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“Ode to the Most Holy Eucharist” is a poem about the nature of divine-human transformation. In it, García Lorca wonders whether humankind can be redeemed from essentially squalorous surroundings by faith in a deity that has entered into the form of man. García Lorca is challenging the notion that gods need to be resplendent in their divine powers—superhuman, larger than life, elevated in a monstrance for all to see. He wonders if the reverse is not more true: Instead of emphasizing the grandiose nature of the divine transformation, he instead emphasizes the “love and discipline” required for salvation. That is, “Ode to the Most Holy Eucharist” commemorates a ritual that is the enactment of a discipline; García Lorca’s choice of regular hexameters echoes that discipline.

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At the heart of that discipline lies simple love, a love that defies understanding, in the way that García Lorca’s images of tawdry street scenes defy rational understanding but readily enable and reward contemplation. The last line of the “World” section captures this paradox beautifully: “Immutable Sacrament of love and discipline!” In “Ode to the Most Holy Eucharist,” García Lorca strove to discover a way out of his own increasing agitation with the world around him, feeling the condemnation of his society and his childhood religion for his homosexuality, but yearning for the peace of that “God in infant’s dress, diminutive, eternal Christ.” “Ode to the Most Holy Eucharist” is a demonstration of García Lorca’s own dedication to love and discipline.

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