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City That Does Not Sleep

Last year ended with me flying in a plane for the first time in life.
As the plane was seeking higher elevation, on its way to the invisible pathway guided by some Einsteinian equation, I looked out of the window and saw the city I live in. The high roads, brightly lit at geometric intervals by yellow sodium vapour street lights, look like one giant incandescent caterpillar keeping guard of its billion glowing eggs and feeding its tiny crawling larvae.

At four past midnight into the start of this year, I found myself walking all alone on some unknown dimly lit road, with a plastic Bisleri Bottle in hand, somewhere on the outskirts of the city of Panjim in Goa, looking for an open petrol pump.

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City That Does Not Sleep

         By Federico García Lorca

In the sky there is nobody asleep. Nobody, nobody.

Nobody is asleep.

The creatures of the moon sniff and prowl about their cabins.

The living iguanas will come and bite the men who do not dream,

and the man who rushes out with his spirit broken will meet on the

street corner

the unbelievable alligator quiet beneath the tender protest of the

stars.


Nobody is asleep on earth. Nobody, nobody.

Nobody is asleep.

In a graveyard far off there is a corpse

who has moaned for three years

because of a dry countryside on his knee;

and that boy they buried this morning cried so much

it was necessary to call out the dogs to keep him quiet.


Life is not a dream. Careful! Careful! Careful!

We fall down the stairs in order to eat the moist earth

or we climb to the knife edge of the snow with the voices of the dead

dahlias.

But forgetfulness does not exist, dreams do not exist;

flesh exists. Kisses tie our mouths

in a thicket of new veins,

and whoever his pain pains will feel that pain forever

and whoever is afraid of death will carry it on his shoulders.


One day

the horses will live in the saloons

and the enraged ants

will throw themselves on the yellow skies that take refuge in the

eyes of cows.


Another day

we will watch the preserved butterflies rise from the dead

and still walking through a country of gray sponges and silent boats

we will watch our ring flash and roses spring from our tongue.

Careful! Be careful! Be careful!

The men who still have marks of the claw and the thunderstorm,

and that boy who cries because he has never heard of the invention

of the bridge,

or that dead man who possesses now only his head and a shoe,

we must carry them to the wall where the iguanas and the snakes

are waiting,

where the bear's teeth are waiting,

where the mummified hand of the boy is waiting,

and the hair of the camel stands on end with a violent blue shudder.


Nobody is sleeping in the sky. Nobody, nobody.

Nobody is sleeping.

If someone does close his eyes,

a whip, boys, a whip!

Let there be a landscape of open eyes

and bitter wounds on fire.

No one is sleeping in this world. No one, no one.

I have said it before.


No one is sleeping.

But if someone grows too much moss on his temples during the

night,

open the stage trapdoors so he can see in the moonlight

the lying goblets, and the poison, and the skull of the theaters.


By Federico García Lorca, translated and edited by Robert Bly, and published by Beacon Press in Selected Poems: Lorca and Jiménez. © 1973 by Robert Bly.

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