Federico García Lorca, Little Viennese Waltz

Federico García Lorca, date unknown

In Vienna there are ten girls
a shoulder on which death sobs
and a forest of stuffed doves.
There is a fragment of morning
in the museum of ice flowers.
There is a room with a thousand windows.
¡Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Take this waltz with its mouth closed.

This waltz, this waltz, this waltz,
of yes, of death and cognac,
that dips its tail in the sea.

I love you, I love you, I love you,
with the armchair and the dead book,
down the melancholy corridor,
in the dark attic of the lily,
in our bed of the moon
and in the dance in the turtle’s dream.
¡Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Take this broken-waisted waltz.

In Vienna there are four mirrors
where your mouth and the echoes play.
There’s death for piano
that paints the young men blue.
There are beggars on the roofs.
Fresh garlands are there to cry.
¡Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Take this waltz that dies in my arms.

For I love you, I love you, my darling,
in the attic where the children play,
dreaming of old Hungarian lights
in the murmur of the warm evening,
watching sheep and snow roses
through the dark silence of your brow.
¡Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Take this waltz “I love you for ever”.

In Vienna I’ll dance with you
in a costume that has
the head of a river.
See what bank of hyacinths I have!
I’ll leave my mouth between your legs
my soul in photographs and white lilies,
and in the dark waves of your sway
I want to, my beloved, my beloved,
leave violin and tombstone, the ribbons of the waltz.

– Federico García Lorca, Pequeño vals Vienés (from: Poeta en Nueva York, 1929-1930)

Translated from Spanish by Johannes Beilharz (© 2022). This translation is copyrighted. Unauthorized and uncredited reproduction and copying prohibited.

Note

This poem by the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) achieved wide popular exposure due to a sung English Version by Leonard Cohen (1934-2016) – Take This Waltz, released first in 1986 and then on the album I’m Your Man (1988).

About James Steerforth

I am an author of poetry and fiction, translator and painter who loves to have fun with borrowed feathers.
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