La Teja Fountain is next to the river Cubillas, in the municipality of Pinos Puente, and there the teenage Lorca retired to read and compose. The fountain of La Carrura that no longer exists, inspired scenes of Yerma.
Fuente de La Teja (La Teja Fountain) is a tiny spring located on the right bank of the river Cubillas, about 500 meters from Valderrubio, where the young Federico García Lorca retired to write. Much of his youthful work originated there. The river is backwatered when passing by the fountain and flows with a sweet and generous calm along the shore.
Although the appearance of the spring has changed over the years and it sometimes seems neglected, it still retains the candor and aquatic tranquility that Federico exalted in his poems. “In That Paradise,” recalls Isabel García Lorca, “among the poplar groves of the discreet river, which is the Cubillas, a tributary of the Genil, he spent hours writing.” From there comes much of his youthful poetry and most of the poems inspired by water.
If Fuente de La Teja invites you to relax, La Carrura Fountain, no longer existing, was a kind of agora where women came to do the laundry and talk about the events of the village.
La Carrura Fountain, today non-existent due to one of the changes in the course of the Cubillas, represents the other side of the springs. If that of La Teja imbues calmness, that of La Carrura was a kind of agora where the women of the neighborhood went to do the laundry and to talk about the events of the town. Lorca transferred the atmosphere of gossip and jokes he heard in La Carrura to the scene of the washerwomen in Yerma.
The walk to Fuente de la Teja was part of the García Lorca brothers’ daily summer ritual in Valderrubio. The family lived in Granada at the time, but returned to the village occasionally for the agricultural work.
The ceremony began at siesta time when everything came to a standstill; Federico and his three brothers would lock themselves in a large, cool room after lunch and sit on the rocking chairs. “It was like a beacon. Federico would play the guitar – the same one that today is preserved in the Huerta de San Vicente (San Vicente Farmhouse) and that I never heard played again – and we would sing; not the popular songs that he later collected; they were the cultured songs from the songbooks of the 15th and 16th centuries that he knew so well.” Later Federico, armed with paper and pencil, would go to the river to write. “What he wrote there,” recalls his sister Isabel in her memoirs, “is inseparable from the beautiful landscape that surrounded us.”
They would return at dusk at the same time as the shepherds were locking up the flocks. On other afternoons their sisters would also come to bathe in the cold, clear waters of the river, “and there Federico was sitting on the floor of the small fountain”, as he reflects in one of his most quoted poems, Dream: “My heart rests by the cold fountain / (Fill it with your threads, / Spider of oblivion)”.
The allusion to the “cold fountain” has also been interpreted as a premonition of his death next to the Aynadamar Fountain or the Fountain of Tears, in Alfacar.
One of the most moving texts in Suites refers directly to Cubillas and the fountains. It is entitled Meditations and Allegories of Water and is a lyrical description of those moments of pleasure: “Many years ago, I, modest dreamer and cheerful boy, spent every summer on the cool bank of a river. In the afternoons, when the admirable bee-eaters sing, sensing the wind, and the cicada angrily rubs its two golden blades, I sit by the lively depths of the backwater and let my own eyes fly and rest frightened on the water, or on the round tops of the poplars”.
There the poet discovers the chopped wicker, the “gusts of silence” that freeze the “astonished crystal” of his eyes; the reflections of the river, the brambles and the reeds “that curl like a nun’s cloth”. Until his gaze focuses on himself, on his inner self: “A freshness invaded my whole body, wrapped in the last strands of twilight hair, and an immense luminous avenue crossed my heart. Is it possible? Does my soul make excursions to the waves instead of visiting the stars?”
The water in the rivers and fountains of the Vega de Granada inspired Lorca not only to write single poems, which he included in his first books, but also a volume dedicated to water that he did not complete.
In a letter to Melchor Fernández Almagro, written in late July or early August 1922, he writes: “I have seen an admirable book that is about to be written and that I would like to do myself. It is ‘The Allegorical Meditations of Water’. What deep and living marvels can be said of water! The poem on water in my book has opened up inside my soul. I see an oriental/Christian-European poem on water; a poem where I sing in wide verses or in very rubato prose the passionate life and the martyrdoms of the water”.
The book projected by Lorca, written in verse and prose, was divided into chapters and stanzas with titles such as The Looms of Water, Map of Water, The Ford of Sounds, Meditation of the Spring, or The Haven. “If I were a great poet,” he explains to Fernández Almagro, “a so-called a great poet, perhaps I would find myself before my great poem.”
The summers in the Vega had a profound effect on the poet who, far from containing his fascination, spread it among his friends through letters.
In 1921, he wrote to Melchor Fernández Almagro from Asquerosa (Disgusting) to tell him how his most vehement passions, surely homosexuality, were calmed in the summer retreat: “I think my place is among these musical poplars and these lyrical rivers that are a continuous haven, because my heart rests in a definitive way and I mock my passions that in the tower of the city harass me like a herd of panthers. Asquerosa (Disgusting) is one of the prettiest villages of the valley because of the white and the serenity of its inhabitants. I am very happy surrounded by my family, who love me so much, and I work hard and profitably. They liked my poems!”
The memory of the innocence of the summers in the Vega reappears in numerous mature compositions, like the Double Poem of Lake Eden, from Poet in New York: “Era mi voz antigua [“It was my ancient voice] / ignorante de los densos jugos amargos. [ignorant of the dense bitter juices.] / La adivino lamiendo mis pies [I guess it licking my feet] / bajo los frágiles helechos mojados. [beneath the brittle wet ferns.] / ¡Ay la voz antigua de mi amor! [Alas the ancient voice of my love!] / ¡Ay voz de mi verdad! [Alas the voice of my truth!] / ¡Ay voz de mi abierto costado [Alas the voice of my open side] / cuando todas las rosas manaban de mi lengua [when all the roses flowed from my tongue] / y el césped no conocía la impasible dentadura del caballo!”. [and the grass knew not the impassive teeth of the horse!”].
In 1929, at a banquet offered to Lorca in Fuente Vaqueros, the poet praised the fountains of the Vega: “The fountain is the meeting place, the point where all the neighbors converge and where they exchange impressions and air their spirits. The fountain encourages women to chat, men to meet, and at the edge of the crystal clear water their spirits grow and they learn, not only to love each other, but to understand each other better”.
The adamic contemplation of the river and the backwater next to the fountain of La Teja is opposed to the carefree joviality of the women who come to do the laundry at the other fountain, La Carrura. The washerwomen in Scene I of the second act of Yerma unabashedly examine the behaviors of the neighborhood:
Washerwoman 1. All this would be fixed if they had children.
Washerwoman 2. All this with issues of people who have no conformity to their fate.
Washerwoman 4. Every hour that passes increases the hell in that house. She and her sisters-in-law, without lifting their lips, whitewash the walls all day long, scrub the copper, mist the windows, oil the floors. For the more the house shines, the more it burns inside.
Washerwoman 1. He is to blame, him. When a father bears no children he must take care of his wife.
Washer 4. It’s her fault, she who has a flint for a tongue.
Dice la tarde: “¡Tengo sed de sombra!”
[The afternoon says: “I thirst for shadow!”]
Dice la luna: “¡Yo, sed de luceros!”
[The moon says: “I thirst for starshine!”]
La fuente cristalina pide labios
[The crystal-clear spring demands lips]
y suspira el viento.
[and the wind, sighs.]
Yo tengo sed de aromas y de risas,
[I thirst for fragrances and laughter,]
sed de cantares nuevos
[thrist for new-made songs]
sin lunas y sin lirios,
[without moons and lilies,]
y sin amores muertos.
[and dead loves.]
Un cantar de mañana que estremezca
[A morning song which stirs]
a los remansos quietos
[the still oases]
del porvenir. Y llene de esperanza
[of prospects and which fills]
sus ondas y sus cienos.
[their silt and waves with hope.]
Un cantar luminoso y reposado
[A luminous song laid to rest]
pleno de pensamiento,
[full of thought,]
virginal de tristeza y de angustias
[unexposed to sadness and anguish]
y virginal de ensueños.
Cantar sin carne lírica que llene
[A song, stripped of lyric, which fills]
de risas el silencio
[the silence with laughter]
(una bandada de palomas ciegas
[(a flock of blind doves]
lanzadas al misterio).
[thrown into mystery).]
Cantar que vaya al alma de las cosas
[A song which goes to the soul of things]
y al alma de los vientos
[and to the soul of the winds]
y que descanse al fin en la alegría
[and which ultimately rests in joy]
del corazón eterno.
[from the eternal heart.]
- Federico García Lorca. Poems of La Vega. Selection by Javier Alonso Magaz, Luis García Montero and Andrea Villarrubia. Galaxia Gutenberg. Barcelona, 2014.
- Federico García Lorca. Word of Lorca. Full Statements and Interviews. Edited by Rafael Inglada and Víctor Fernández.
- Francisco García Lorca. Federico and his World. Alianza Tres. Madrid, 1990.
- Isabel García Lorca. My Memories. Tusquest. Barcelona, 2002.
- Ian Gibson. In Granada, his Granada. Plaza y Janés, Barcelona, 1989.
- Ian Gibson. From Fuente Vaqueros to New York. Biography. Grijalbo. Barcelona, 1985.
- Lorca´s location
- Fuente de La Teja
- current location
- Fuente de La Teja
- Carretera de Valderrubio a Fuente Vaqueros (GR-3401)
- DETAILS OF THE VISIT
Fuente de La Teja is in a public place next to the Cubillas river. A sign on the road from Valderrubio to Fuente Vaqueros (GR-3401) marks the turnoff to the access road.