In other words, the ghazal begins paradoxically: If to assume that love here is inspired to the highest degree, to the ds, but at the same time the whole world with all its skies and fields, snow and wind, flames and flowers is dissolved in love, then is not it a miracle of a small ghazal? Casida de las palomas oscuras Por las ramas del laurel van dos palomas oscuras. What was amazing about witnessing her performance, her presentation, was not that sivan was perfect, as if rehearsed and replicated. There are no traditional poles here, no traditionally presented colorful images, and no other attributes of the ghazal technique. Divan del Tamarit re In other words, this ghazal is a perfectly balanced composition.
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However, a great deal of confusion and skepticism exists about duende. But the concept really rests on a few basic principles that Lorca outlined quite clearly, if a bit hyperbolically.
Lorca did not coin the term. The duen is an impish household sprite or daemon who likes to play tricks and turn things upside down. While this definition is not precise, it makes clear that duende has nothing to do with the Judeo-Christian devil, a destructive being that embodies evil.
Dionysus is associated with wine, ecstasy, fertility, theatre and the arts. Thus duende is an ecstatic, creative and artistic force. Its ecstatic element makes it disruptive, like the impish duen.
Personifying or deifying duende as a demon has caused it to be confused with the evil spirits that haunts the superstitious. Duende is not an external thing that possesses the artist, though it may feel that way. It exists as a very natural aspect of the human psyche.
In particular, it represents reaching for the emotional marrow of the psyche that the conscious mind protects. This marrow, not gods or demons, is the source of art. Lorca never used these terms. But these words at least approximate in familiar terms what duende is about and provide a place to start.
They themselves are hard to define, but you know them when you experience them in art. Duende Likes to Fight and Wound Conventional wisdom tells us that the true artist must open up and let go, that artistic truth is a matter of release from the limits and strictures of civilization, particularly bourgeois civilization. Duende sees things a little differently. With duende, struggle rather than release is the operant word. In other words, the artist must breech the very bone that protects the marrow of the psyche.
And it becomes quite a brawl. We only know that [Duende] smashes styles, that he leans on human pain with no consolation and makes Goya… work with his fists and knees in horrible bitumen. After going at it all night, Jacob prevails and demands a blessing. He gets it, but only after getting his hip dislocated by his opponent. Blessing and injury go together. With duende, it is creative in that it births art.
Whether literal or figurative, birth always involves a tearing and wounding. What duende produces is never pretty, but it is always beautiful and real, much like childbirth.
And how she sang! Image public domain. The marrow of forms, not forms, is that deep part of the psyche out of which emotional truth comes. The skillful artist can hide behind technique and avoid the fight with duende. Facil technique fools most people most of the time. Technique also lies at the core of professionalism in that it enables the artist to produce consistently regardless of feeling, or without any feeling at all. Duende, however, demands real feeling.
To deliver, the artist must forget all tricks of the trade. Lorca was not saying that only the unskilled and untutored can achieve great art. Duende is not for beginners. Duende respects only the master who has paid heavy dues through bloody trial and error and spent endless hours studying the work of masters.
Technique can try to fake duende, and with enough alcohol or drugs both artist and audience can be fooled. But the artist who has courage and is willing to fight bare-knuckled — i. Of course, the artist also risks humiliating and devastating defeat. Lorca never mentioned those who failed, though he must have known them. He probably felt too embarrassed for them. Duende, like the bullfight, is not for kids or for the faint hearted. He does not, however, mean that duende is obsessed with death.
Duende is obsessed with truth, and death is the ultimate truth. Duende rejects the fear and denial of death that characterize neurotic modern culture. Lorca made the point by emphasizing that duende manifests best in the body, a perishable thing.
All arts are capable of duende, but where it finds greatest range, naturally, is in music, dance and spoken poetry, for these arts require a living body to interpret them, being forms that are born, die, and open their contours against the exact present. In a sense, duende leads artist and audience to truth by compelling them to face death without turning away. Ultimately, if duende says anything about art, it is that art cannot express truth if it begins by denying death and mortality.
Disney denies death. Goya has duende. Duende associates these poetic facts in compelling and startling ways. It also eschews narrative, rational and metaphorical logic. Instead, emotional truth alone makes the images and words sensible.
Or none, presumably, except some emotional experience in the reader which would allow for a degree of recognition and some kind of response. Lorca, Selected Poems, p. Like flamenco music, it is experienced in the body, particularly the belly and hips. Write a ghazal? He fell in love with Harlem, where he heard jazz for the first time. He befriended the novelist Nella Larsen, who introduced him to the writers, musicians and artists of the Harlem Renaissance.
He was invited to sparkling galas thrown by Park Avenue friends. He saw his first talkies and even tried his hand at movie script writing. According to Stainton, it all came to a head on Black Tuesday, October 29, , the day the stock market crashed and set off the Great Depression loc. Lorca headed downtown to Wall Street with a friend and witnessed horrific despair, including the splattered remains of a window jumper. It leaps out of itself as it goes.
Certainly America in the early twenty-first century is more Lorca than Whitman. The collection consists entirely of gacelas and casidas ghazals and qasidas , forms practiced by poets throughout the Middle East and Indian subcontinent for over a millennium.
As in Poet in New York, duende drove Lorca to juxtapose daring images, the poetic facts of his experience, in stark and often disturbing ways. The results were love poems more primal than sentimental or even romantic. Love poems that reach beyond gender and desire and delve into the their very marrow. But his understanding of duende drew from two specifically Spanish sources. The second source was Al-Andalus, or Muslim Spain.
Over eight centuries of Muslim rule formed much of Spanish culture that Lorca loved and shaped the language in which he wrote. By choosing forms so deeply rooted in Muslim culture, Lorca was reaching back into the most ancient source of Spanish duende. When our songs reach the very heights of pain and love, they become the expressive sisters of the magnificent verse of Arabian and Persian poets.
Lorca understood that duende and modern Spain, his Spain, both began in Al-Andalus. Sources Hirsch, Edward. The Demon and the Angel. Harcourt, In Search of Duende, p. New Directions, In Search of Duende,, p. Poet in New York. Stainton, Leslie. Lorca: A Dream of LIfe. Kindle edition, Bloomsbury Reader, Share this:.
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