“Ode to the Most Holy Eucharist: Exposition and World,” a relatively short poem in classic hexameters, is divided into three overall sections of four-line stanzas (“Exposition,” “World,” and “The Devil”), which are thirty-six, forty, and sixteen lines long. The title indicates the serious nature of the poem, but also suggests the possibility of an ironic reading by emphasizing the superlative degree in “Most Holy.” This blending of high seriousness and ironic detachment is one of the hallmarks of the poem. When its first two sections were published in 1928, the poem carried the subtitle “Fragment” above the dedication, indicating that Federico García Lorca intended to add to the poem. The poem was completed during García Lorca’s visit to the United States in 1929.
The poem’s original dedication to the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla (1876-1946), a devout Catholic and friend of García Lorca, irritated de Falla; the composer agreed to accept García Lorca’s friendly homage only because he hoped that the unfinished sections of the poem would reverse the evidently sacrilegious direction of the first two. De Falla’s reaction has been typical of many readers of the poem in predominantly Catholic Spain; the poem is infrequently translated into English and is rarely included in anthologies of García Lorca’s work.
The poem is written in the first person, and the speaker might easily be seen as García Lorca himself. In 1928, following the critical success of his “Gypsy Ballads,” García Lorca experienced extreme emotional difficulty in adapting to sudden fame and the possibility that his homosexuality might become widely known. In a letter to Jorge Zalamea in the autumn of 1928, García Lorca...
(The entire section is 716 words.)