Romero Murube, Joaquín

UL-Joaquin-Romero-Murube

He was an article writer, poet, Seville City Hall official, director (warden) of the Alcázar from 1934 to 1969 and a contemporary of the Generation of ’27. He was born in Los Palacios y Villafranca (Seville) on July 18, 1904, and died in the Andalusian capital in 1969. He met Federico García Lorca at the founding ceremony of the group held on December 11, 1927 in Seville and participated in the festivities that followed at the Real Venta de Antequera and the Pino Montano estate, owned by the bullfighter Ignacio Sánchez Mejías. In 1935, he was the host of Lorca during the visit to the Holy Week and the April Fair. Although after the uprising he was an active collaborator of Franco’s side, in 1937 he published in a private edition of 200 copies Seven Ballads, which contains the following dedication: “To you, in Vízna [sic], near the big fountain, already made earth and rumor of eternal and hidden water!”. A few months earlier, Romero, commissioned by Queipo de Llano, to whom some researchers attribute the order to assassinate Lorca, visited the place of the shooting.

In 1935, he was Lorca’s host during the visit to the Holy Week and the April Fair.

He was editor-in-chief of the Sevillian magazine Mediodía between 1926 and 1929, a period in which he was linked to the avant-garde, particularly ultraism, and reviewed Pedro Garfias’s book The South Wing. As a poet he made his debut in 1924 with Prosarios, which was followed by Passionate Shadow (1929). Critics saw in his work the traces of Gómez de la Serna, Valle-Inclán, Bergamín and Pedro Salinas. After the Civil War he published Song of the Andalusian Lover and Kasida of Forgetfulness (1945). He is the author of several books of essays such as God in the City (1934) or Discourse of the Lie (1941). After the proclamation of the Republic, the Alcázar of Seville became dependent on the City Council. In 1934, he was appointed warden, a post he held for 35 years until his death.

Joaquín Romero, Jorge Guillén, Federico García Lorca, José Antonio Rubio Sacristán and Pepín Bello in Seville in 1935.
Joaquín Romero, Jorge Guillén, Federico García Lorca, José Antonio Rubio Sacristán and Pepín Bello in Seville in 1935.

.In 1927, at the Pino Montano estate, in the party that followed the tribute to Luis de Góngora, he participated in a kind of poetic jousting that pitted local poets against those who came from outside. Romero Murube acted on the side of the Sevillians along with Luis Cernuda, Fernando Villalón, Adriano del Valle and Rafael Laffón. Federico García Lorca recited a selection of his gypsy ballads. According to Gerardo Diego, on one of those nights they organized “the heroic and nocturnal crossing of the overflowing Betis”. Murube wrote it in the dedication of one of his books: “To Federico… Do you remember the night we crossed the overflowing Guadalquivir? How scary, how you screamed!

Romero Murube, as warden of the Alcázar, invited Federico to visit the Holy Week in Seville and its Fair in 1935. The meeting was attended by Pepín Bello, Jorge Guillén and José Antonio Rubio Sacristán. Murube installed a grand piano in a garden next to the Alcázar where Federico improvised some melodies. Those were days of honey, love and wine. Lorca, fond of liturgies and religious pomp, enjoyed the Holy Week in Seville with recollection and lust. Invited by the historian Santiago Montoto, he stayed at the Venta de los Gatos stand. According to Gibson, from the poet’s stay in Seville there remains the testimony of a mysterious love affair, a handwritten note from the poet with the following message: “I have been looking for you, getting rid of a thousand people. Tonight I will wait for you at half past one in the Sacristy. Take Antonio Torres Heredia or Pepita or the girl with the horns. I’ll be there. Don’t forget. Federico”. According to Romero, the one who did not miss the appointment in Seville was Rafael Rodríguez Rapún, his lover and secretary of La Barraca.

According to Murube’s version, Queipo de Llano sent him to Granada in the middle of the war to identify the place where Lorca was executed.

The visit apparently strengthened the bond between Lorca and Murube. After the military uprising of 1936 Murube supported Queipo de Llano’s side and collaborated with him in propaganda activities. Gonzalo Queipo de Llano, the military man who directed the repression in Andalusia and ordered the systematic murder of some 45,000 Republicans, was according to Gibson the one who gave the order to kill Lorca with the code phrase “give him coffee, lots of coffee” (CAFE was the acronym for the political slogan Camaradas Arriba Falange Española) (Comrades Up Spanish Falange) although there is no documentary evidence. Queipo also urged the troops to rape the women: “After all, these communists and anarchists deserve it, haven’t they been playing free love? Now at least they will at least know what real men are and not faggot militiamen.They’re not going to get away no matter how much they struggle and kick.” According to Murube’s version, Queipo sent him to Granada in the middle of the war to identify the place where Lorca was executed.

Next to Federico, on the right, are Joaquín Romero, Manuel Chaves Nogales and Núñez de Heredia. On the left, Jorge Guillén.
Next to Federico, on the right, are Joaquín Romero, Manuel Chaves Nogales and Núñez de Heredia. On the left, Jorge Guillén.

.In 1937, he published the book Seven Ballads which supposedly suggests condemnation of the murder, without mentioning Lorca or his executioners. In addition to the dedication, which seems to allude to Lorca, the book contains the Ballad of the Crime which some interpret as an “important and risky denunciation of Lorca’s crime”: “Al acordeón del puerto [To the port acordeon] / le han estrangulado el cante. [They have strangled the song.]// En Argel y Alejandría, [In Algiers and Alexandria,] / en Melburne y Buenos Aires. [in Melburne and Buenos Aires.] // Se han secado las espitas [They have dried the spigots] / en el cristal de los bares. [on the glass of the bars.] // La policía ha prohibido [The police have forbidden] / cierta música en los bailes. [certain music at dances.] // Los niños llevan a casa [The children take home] / pistolas, bombones, guantes”. [pistols, bonbons, gloves”.] However, the poem was published well before 1936, specifically on February 14, 1929, in the magazine Mediodía as part of a collaboration entitled The Assassins. Later, in the Poetic Anthology of the Uprising (1939), Murube published the poem Don’t Forget where some see a new allusion to the murder of Lorca: “No te olvides, hermano, que ha existido un agosto/ en que hasta las adelfas se han tornado de sangre…” (Don’t forget, brother, that there was an August/ in which even the oleanders turned to blood…).

Another of the poems is the Ballad of the Civil Governor of Seville dedicated apparently to José Cruz-Conde Fustegueras, military and political Cordovan who held relevant positions in the Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. Although he conspired in the 1936 uprising, he did not participate in it and remained in hiding in Madrid. The sonnet contains the following verses: “-Yo soy el Gobernador” [-I am the Governor] / de Sevilla… ¿Quién se atreve? [of Seville… Who dares?] / Los generales me huyen. [The generals flee from me] / El dictador me obedece. [The dictator obeys me.] / Yo mando lo que me cuadre [I command whatever suits me] / y en cordobés, aunque pese”. [and in Cordovan, even if it weighs”.] The sonnet, more than a denunciation of recent behavior, seems to be a retrospective criticism against a military man who in 1936 chose to disappear.

Joaquín Romero, at the Mercurio fountain at Reales Alcázares in Sevilla.
Joaquín Romero, at the Mercurio fountain at Reales Alcázares in Sevilla.

The newspaper ABC relates in this melodramatic way the death of Romero on November 15, 1969, who had previously been diagnosed with colon cancer: “After the evening meeting [attended by Jaime García Añoveros; Pablo Atienza, Marquis of Salvatierra and Professor Manuel Olivencia], the couple returned to the Alcázar at the stroke of midnight. They went to bed and, at around 1:30 a.m., Doña Soledad noticed that Joaquín seemed be breathing very slowly. He was asleep and unconscious. The sleep was already eternal. A doctor came to try to revive him, but he had fallen suddenly. A bloody myocardial infarction ended the life of the finest singer of Seville”.

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