samedi 14 avril 2018

Federico Garcia Lorca Little Viennese Waltz (Poet in New York 1929-1930)

The best a casual reader of surrealist-inspired poetry can do is enjoy the surprises and the non sequiturs that give form and substance to the art form. But  if one is even passingly familiar with the artist’s background, it can be helpful to call to mind details of that poet's life while reading the poetry. Federico Garcia Lorca's poem Pequeno Vals Vienes, translated as Little Viennese Waltz and Leonard Cohen’s Lorca-inspired song-poem Take this Waltz are lovely examples of the image-rich, emotive poetry that can result when a bizarre, haunting moment is captured by a talented artist.
Does Little Viennese Waltz have anything to do with Lorca’s depression and subsequent year-long pilgrimage to New york following a break-up with his lover, sculptor Emilio Aladren? When Lorca offers us “...this close-mouthed watz”, “this broken-waisted waltz”, “this waltz that dies in my arms”, “this ‘I will always love you’ waltz” and ends the poem with “my love, my love I will have to leave violin and grave, the waltzing ribbons”, is he bidding goodbye to the unfaithful Aladren? Who knows?
Perhaps Leonard Cohen knew. He named his daughter Lorca. He tells us that he discovered the poetry of Lorca at the age of 15 when, rummaging through a used bookstore in Montreal, he came upon a book of Lorca's poetry and experienced an epiphany which lead him to declare that he would become a poet in the style of Lorca.
But perhaps it’s not necessary to mine the lives of artists to discover the sources or the motivations that lead to their masterpieces. Perhaps it’s enough to be moved by the feelings aroused by beautiful art. Leonard Cohen’s Take this Waltz ends with this offering, “O my love, O my love, Take this waltz, take this waltz, it’s yours now. It’s all that there is.” Just a song, just a series of images, just a feeling. And perhaps that is good enough.

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