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Bells for the Dead

by Federico García Lorca

translated from the Spanish by Sarah Arvio

In the yellow
bells ring

In the yellow
bells ring and ring 

Death goes by
on the road
crowned with withered
orange blossoms
She sings and sings
a song
with her white lute
and sings and sings and sings 

In the yellow towers
the bells stop ringing 

Wind shapes the dust
into silver prows


Federico García Lorca (1898–1936) is considered one of the greatest poets and playwrights of the twentieth century. He was murdered by Fascist forces at the outset of the Spanish Civil War.

Sarah Arvio is the author of night thoughts: 70 dream poems & notes from an analysis; Sono: Cantos; and Visits from the Seventh (all Alfred A. Knopf). “Bells for the Dead” and “[The mown field]” are forthcoming in a new volume of the works of Federico García Lorca, Poet in Spain: New Translations (Knopf, 2017). (9/2017)

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