Analysis of Romance of the Moon – Federico García Lorca

What is the poem about? Explanation and Meaning

Romance de la luna tells the tragic story of the death of a gypsy boy. García Lorca, relies on the narrative lyrical romance, characterized by octosyllables rhymed in assonance, to show us one of his most heartfelt compositions with which he opens his poetry book Romancero Gitano (1924 – 1927). 

The poem deals with the presence of the moon in a forge (blacksmith’s workshop), immense and white, such that the gypsies would make “white necklaces and rings” with it. In that forge, a boy looks at her and talks to her, asking her to escape before the gypsies arrive; however, the moon answers him to leave her, that they will find him with his eyes closed.  

Finally, they arrive and find the boy, dead, in the forge. A zumaya sings her departure. The personification of the moon takes him by the hand and the gypsies cry and shout for him.  

Throughout its 9 stanzas, the poet manages to integrate myth and reality with a natural feeling that puts us in front of the fear of the death of a child. A child looking at the moon … Image that Lorca often uses as a symbol of death. As has been shown in other verses such as “Canción de rider” or “Muerto de amor”. 

Thus, in a dramatic but highly stylized way by poetic images, the author shows the deep pain caused by the death of an infant. A child who had a whole life ahead of him, but who was taken from him by the “moon”.

Poem

The moon came to the forge
with her bustle of tuberose.
The child looks at her.
The boy is looking at her.

In the moved air
the moon moves her arms
and shows, lewd and pure,
her hard tin breasts.

Run away moon, moon, moon.
If the gypsies came, they
would make white necklaces and rings with your heart.

Child let me dance.
When the gypsies come, they
will find you on the anvil
with your little eyes closed.

Flee moon, moon, moon,
I already feel their horses.
Child leave me, do not tread,
my starched whiteness.

The rider approached
beating the drum of the plain.
Inside the forge the child
has his eyes closed.

Gypsies came through the olive grove, bronze and sleepy.
Heads raised
and eyes narrowed.

How the zumaya sings,
oh how it sings in the tree!
Through the sky the moon goes
with the child by the hand.

Inside the forge
the gypsies cry, crying out.
The air watches her, she watches.
the air is veiling her.

Romance of the Moon Analysis

Federico García Lorca’s «Romance de la luna, luna» is the poem with which he opens his most famous work: the Gypsy Ballads . A poem with such rhyme and theme that it deserves special attention.   

Context

Lorca’s entire book was published in 1928 and portrays a sector of the population that was not historically the most favored in the life of Spain and even less so in the immediate period before the fascism in Europe, the gypsies 

Lorca had already created works with the peculiarity of investigating the marginal, such as the Poema del cante jondo , but here he consolidates himself as the great poet we know today. 

Stanza by stanza interpretation

1st and 2nd Verse

The poet introduces us to a child looking at the moon; he discovers it as a crucible in a frame of tuberose flowers (to denote the intense whiteness that it reflects) (It also subtly presents us with the idea of ​​a child and a furnace that is the forge. But the situation is not yet clear). Where the child in his gaze is nailed several times on a hypnotic moon. Such is the feminine force of this moon, moon, that it moves the air, and then shows it “she lubricates and sheals her hard tin breasts.”  

3rd Verse

A dialogue begins between the boy and the moon. The boy asks Luna to flee from his people, the gypsies, because he fears that his heart will be hurt to make “white necklaces and rings.” (The furnace, forge, where metals are heated and melted begins to make sense).  

4th Verse

The moon responds, claims and asks to be allowed to dance. “When the gypsies come.” It is the prayer that warns us and explains to the child that he is dead, placed “on the anvil and his eyes closed.” Here without a doubt we understand that the child died in the forge, in the hot oven.    

5th and 6th Verse

The boy insists, he does not believe what is happening to him, he asks Luna to flee, because the gypsies are already coming on horses. Playing with the hooves the drum of the earth, the drum of the plain. The moon reproaches the child who is stepping on its starched whiteness, with which the poet tells us that the child in spirit is on the moon, hearing a rider playing a drum, and the child inside the forge with his eyes closed. It is a ghostly but beautiful image where myth and reality are shown in an exceptional way.

7th Verse

From this moment on, new characters enter the moon, the olive grove, the gypsies with their heads raised, their eyes narrowed. Bronze and dreams that refer us to the tan color of gypsies and dreams to refer to their magical attributes that characterize them.

8th Verse

He tells us about the zumayas, which is a nocturnal bird, with wading legs similar to the heron, reminding us of a bird of ill omen, to link it to a Ay! as it sings in the tree. The image is the zumaya on the tree singing and in the sky that surrounds it goes the moon with the child by the hand. Here we see a mother moon, which also represents death, assisting by the hand of a child, a son.

9th Verse

From the ground, the poet takes us to see the forge up close, where the gypsies cry “shouting.” . Here he shows us the pain of the gypsies, the pain of his family. 

Now the wind appears again, but to watch over the child. That watch to ratify a superior interest, an interest to accompany him on his eternal journey to the peace of heaven. “The air watches it, watches it. The air is watching it. “

Literary figures

Among the most prominent figures in the poem, the similes of the moon stand out , which materializes dressed in a “bustle of spikenard”, has breasts of “hard tin” and its whiteness is “starched.” In this way, Lorca gives the text the whiteness of an immense full moon. 

Also noteworthy are the anaphoras (“the child … the child …”, “child, leave me … child, leave me”), as well as the polyptoton (“how the zumaya sings, oh how it sings in the tree!”) And a metonymy , since “the forge” is taken for the blacksmith’s workshop. In addition, we can find two more personifications : death as a rider and the wind that watches.       

  • Symbolisms : knives, metals, anvil, rings, air, wind, horse, necklaces.
  • Metaphors: The moved air, the moon moves her arms and shows, lewd and pure, her hard tin breasts. Oh, how it sings in the tree!
  • Antithesis : flee moon, they would make white necklaces and rings with your heart. The moved air moves the moon its arms.
  • Hyperbaton : Flee moon, moon, moon, I already feel your horses.
  • Reduplications : With the repetition of the word look, moon and candle. “The child looks at her, looks at her”, “Run away moon, moon, moon”, “The air is sailing, sailing.”
  • Polipote: This literary figure appears when the same word is used in different ways. Eg: “Sailing and watching” or “Look and looking”. 

Composition: rhyme and rhythm

As in all his romances, the lyrical speaker is a self that describes the event. In fact, Lorca dedicates the poem to his sister and it is as if he were telling her the tragedy. Furthermore, he uses a figure that can be read as a direct appeal to us: “The moon looks at her, looks at her “, “The wind sails her, she watches “.    

Like all romance, the metric is octosyllable:

– La / lu / na / vi / noa / la / fra / gua

The rhyme is mainly assonance in “a” and “o”. However, there are some consonant rhymes with “os”.  

The constant repetitions and the accentuation of octosyllables give the poem a unique rhythm that falls between the tragic and the suspense.  

This is how Lorca, a great poet of the generation of ’27 , sings an octosyllable rhyme that sweetly narrates the death of a child before the moon.   

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