Reading: The little mute boy by Lorca

I am going to call Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) one of my favorite poets. Perhaps because I like surrealism when it is done well, or because I am as old today than he ever became, which gives some profundity to my admiration of his mighty words. I enjoy the power of longer poems like City that does not sleep and Gacela of the dark death that are also available on poets.org, but for this series I find it apt to read, paradoxically, a poem about a mute boy:

The little boy was looking for his voice.
(The king of the crickets had it.)
In a drop of water
the little boy was looking for his voice.

I do not want it for speaking with;
I will make a ring of it
so that he may wear my silence
on his little finger

In a drop of water
the little boy was looking for his voice.

(The captive voice, far away,
put on a cricket’s clothes.)

I am often looking for my voice and it’s great to have some idea of where to look next. How do I find the king of the crickets? And isn’t what mesmerizes us about the crickets that their concerts are effortless, even without a conductor let alone a king?

And then I (the boy, who has become Lorca or vice versa?) doesn’t even want to speak with it. I make a ring of the voice so that the boy can wear it (the memory of speech, hence a symbol of silence) on his finger… did we lose him here?

It’s all play. The voice was held hostage by the crickets and became (forced to be) like a cricket himself by putting on a cricket’s clothes. That means he speaks like the other crickets, indistinguishable, devoid of any individuality, and annoying. And it seems the boy never finds his voice, so there is no raw material to make a ring of silence.

Lorca seems to remind us here that you can only be silent in a meaningful way when you have already found your voice. But then, it must be understood that we are different persons: In looking for ‘my’ voice I become me; the mute little boy is both older and younger than the persona of the poem.

Reading: The little mute boy by Lorca was originally published on Meandering home

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Published by

Kamiel Choi

Dutch philosopher and poet, sometimes sharing thoughts on the internet.

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