Odes (Odas) is a set of poems written as tributes of very different kinds. The first, the Ode to Salvador Dalí is a poetization of the cubist aesthetic, with which Lorca does not quite identify, but it is also a hymn to friendship, to the Dalí of the Cadaqués period. Formally, it is an attempt to make a work where symmetry and objectivity prevail and where there is no sentimentality. It is influenced by the avant-garde presuppositions and by Dalí’s aesthetics of clarity, but the text is not a defense of these aesthetics, it is a defense above all of friendship with the painter and an invitation to the latter to let himself be carried away somewhat by life and passion.
The second ode, Solitude, is a tribute to Fray Luis de León, written in lyric, to celebrate the Fourth centenary of the poet’s birth. Although formally and thematically it coincides with the text of Fray Luis, the conclusion is different, the poem expresses desolation, there is no idyllic solitude, the only possible solitude is death.
The Ode to the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar sings the Eucharistic mystery beginning with an exposition and then dealing with the three enemies of the soul, the World, the Devil and the Flesh. The poet presents a desolate and negative vision of civilization that reminds us of some poems from Poet in New York.
Ode to Salvador Dalí: Revista de Occidente, Madrid, number 34, April 1926, pp. 32-58.
Solitude. Tribute to Fray Luis de León: Carmen, Santander, number 3-4, March 1928.
Ode to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar: is partially published in Revista de Occidente, Madrid, number 66, December 1928, pp. 226-298.
Ode and mockery to Sesostris and Sardanápalo and the Ode to the fighting bull were left unfinished.
In 1982, it was published for the first time as a book by Miguel García-Posada, Plays II. Poetry, 2, Akal.
The book project began to develop in 1924. On July 3, 1924, it is dated Apunte para una Oda (Note for an Ode), the predecessor of Soledad. Tribute to Fray Luis de León. The first great poem in the book is the Ode to Salvador Dalí, which he began to devise in the summer of 1925, which he spent in the Vega of Granada (the family had already bought the Huerta de San Vicente (San Vicente Farmhouse), but were still renovating it). On several occasions, the author announced the finished book as ready for publication. At one point he said it would be accompanied by pictures. Like his other announced books, it would not be published as such during the author’s lifetime.
In 1925, Lorca travelled to Cadaqués and Barcelona. This trip and his friendship with Salvador Dalí was to be the biographical material on which his Ode would be based. During 1926, he continued to work on it, among other projects. He made fragments of it known to Dalí through his letters, and the latter protested that he still did not have access to the complete poem.
The Ode to Salvador Dalí attracted the attention of foreign critics such as Jean Cassou, who on July 1, 1926 praised it in the Mercure de France as a manifestation of “a completely new mood in Spain”. Cassou believes that this new way of doing things was to spread in Spanish poetry and that Federico’s poem was a demonstration or manifesto, and he recommends that some French magazine should offer the complete translation. Federico was very satisfied with these words and said that they were proof that he was being listened to, even in Paris!
At his speech-recital on April 8, 1926 in Valladolid he read extracts from the Oda a Salvador Dalí (Ode to Salvador Dalí), among other texts. It was a time when he took the opportunity at any conference, whenever he could, to speak of Salvador, whom he sincerely admired. He also had great success reciting the Ode to Salvador Dalí at the fifth session of the Spanish Cinema Club, a session called ”Oriente y Occidente” (“East and West”), in early April 1929. He recited it, after the films representing Oriente (Orient), this ode and the poem Thamar y Amnón (Thamar and Amnon).
The Oda al Santísimo Sacramento (Ode to the Blessed Sacrament) was started in early 1928 (letter from Lorca to Sebastià Gash in January 1928). Most of it was composed in the summer of that year, in the Huerta de San Vicente (San Vicente Farmhouse), at the height of the poet’s crisis after his relationship with Emilio Aladrén (letter from Lorca to Jorge Zalamea, summer 1928). A few months later he delivered the first two parts to the Revista de Occidente magazine, dedicating them to Falla. The musician came across the text in the magazine and wrote him a letter in which he thanked him for the dedication and expressed his differences with the author regarding the subject matter.
As the poem was incomplete, he hoped that the rest of it would change his impression. On September 17, he finished the Ode started at the beginning of the year, when he was already in New York. This Ode was read in Cuba by the critic Francisco Ichaso before a speech by Federico and some people reacted to it with indignation.
It seems that in Oda y burla de Sesostris y Sardanápalo (Ode and Mockery of Sesostris and Sardanápalo), composed, mainly, during the summer of 1928 in the Huerta de San Vicente (San Vicente Farmhouse), Lorca tackles the subject of homosexual eroticism. It could be that it conceals references to the person of Emilio Aladrén.
Pange lingua gloriosi
Cantaban las mujeres por el muro clavado
[The women were singing in the nailed wall]
cuando te vi, Dios fuerte, vivo en el Sacramento,
[when I saw you, strong God, alive in the Sacrament,]
palpitante y desnudo, como un niño que corre
[throbbing and naked, like a child running]
perseguido por siete novillos capitales.
[chased by seven capital steers.]
Vivo estabas, Dios mío, dentro del ostensorio.
[you were alive, my God, inside the monstrance.]
Punzado por tu Padre con aguja de lumbre.
[Punctured by your Father with a needle of fire.]
Latiendo como el pobre corazón de la rana
[Beating like the poor heart of a frog]
que los médicos ponen en el frasco de vidrio.
[which the doctors put in the glass jar.]
Piedra de soledad donde la hierba gime
[Stone of the loneliness where the grass groans]
y donde el agua oscura pierde sus tres acentos,
[and where the dark water loses its three accents,]
elevan tu columna de nardo bajo nieve
[raise your nard column under snow]
sobre el mundo de ruedas y falos que circula.
[over the world of wheels and phalluses that circulates.]
Yo miraba tu forma deliciosa flotando
[I observe your delicious shape floating]
en la llaga de aceites y paño de agonía,
[in the sore of oils and cloth of agony,]
y entornaba mis ojos para dar en el dulce
[and I would squint my eyes to hit the sweet]
tiro al blanco de insomnio sin un pájaro negro.
[target of sleeplessness without a black bird.]
Es así, Dios anclado, como quiero tenerte.
[Like this, anchored God, how I want to have you.]
Panderito de harina para el recién nacido.
[Flour panderito for the newborn.]
Brisa y materia juntas en expresión exacta,
[Breeze and substance together in exact expression,]
por amor de la carne que no sabe tu nombre.
[for the love of the skin that doesn’t know your name.]
Es así, forma breve de rumor inefable,
[It’s like this, brief form of ineffable rumor,]
Dios en mantillas, Cristo diminuto y eterno,
[God in veils, tiny and eternal Christ,]
repetido mil veces, muerto, crucificado
[repeated a thousand times, dead, crucified]
por la impura palabra del hombre sudoroso.
[by the impure word of the sweating man.]
Cantaban las mujeres en la arena sin norte,
[Sang the women in the sand without a north,]
cuando te vi presente sobre tu Sacramento.
[when I saw you in your Sacrament]
Quinientos serafines de resplandor y tinta
[Five hundred seraphs of radiance and ink]
en la cúpula neutra gustaban tu racimo.
[in the neutral dome they liked thy cluster.]
¡Oh Forma sacratísima, vértice de las flores,
[O most sacred form, vertex of flowers,]
donde todos los ángulos toman sus luces fijas,
[where all the angles take their fixed lights,]
donde número y boca construyen un presente
[where the number and the mouth build a present]
cuerpo de luz humana con músculos de harina!
[body of human light with muscles of flour!]
¡Oh Forma limitada para expresar concreta
[Form limited to express concrete]
muchedumbre de luces y clamor escuchado!
[crowd of lights and clamor heard!]
¡Oh nieve circundada por témpanos de música!
[O snow encircled by floes of music!]
¡Oh llama crepitante sobre todas las venas!
[O flame crackling over all veins!]