The Romance de la Guardia Civil (Ballad of the Spanish Civil Guard) is inspired by a real scene that Lorca witnessed. In Granada, conflicts between gypsies and Guardia Civil were frequent. In November 1919, Lorca, accompanied by Manuel Ángeles Ortiz, witnessed one of these clashes in the city center and was very shocked.

The poems featuring gypsies and the Guardia Civil of Poema del cante jondo (Poem of the Deep Song) and of Romancero Gitano (Gypsy Ballads) would later cause him some problems with the Benemérita (Spanish Police) even being denounced years later by a stranger and having to answer and explain his poems before a judge.

Likewise, during a visit to the villages of the Alpujarra in 1927, he had the opportunity to see the violence exercised by the Guardia Civil. In a letter to his brother Francisco he writes: “The country is governed by the Guardia Civil. A corporal from Carataunas who was being bothered by some gypsies, called them to the barracks and with pliers taken from the fire he pulled out a tooth from each of them in order to make them leave, saying: ‘If you are here tomorrow, you’ll lose another one’. Naturally, the poor gypsies had to emigrate elsewhere. This Easter, in Cáñar, a 14-year-old gypsy stole five hens from the mayor. The Guardia Civil tied him to a pole with a rope around his arms and paraded him through the streets of the village, beating him severely and forcing him to sing loudly. I was told this by a boy who saw the procession pass by from school. His account had a poignant, bitter realism about it. All this of an unsuspected cruelty… and of a strong Fernandine flavor”.

Federico (in profile looking left) on the roof of the Órgiva bus.
Federico (in profile looking left) on the roof of the Órgiva bus / Photo: FGL Foundation