Garcia Lorca, Play and Theory of the Duende, 1933

Ladies and Gentlemen, Between 1918 when I entered the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid, and 1928 when I left, having completed my study of Philosophy and Letters, I listened to around a thousand lectures, in that elegant salon where the old Spanish aristocracy went to do penance for its frivolity on French beaches. Longing for air and sunlight, I was so bored I used to feel as though I was covered in fine ash, on the point of changing into peppery sneezes. So, no, I don’t want that terrible blowfly of boredom to enter this room, threading all your heads together on the slender necklace of sleep, and setting a tiny cluster of sharp needles in your, my listeners’, eyes. In a simple way, in the register that, in my poetic voice, holds neither the gleams of wood, nor the angles of hemlock, nor those sheep that suddenly become knives of irony, I want to see if I can give you a simple lesson on the buried spirit of saddened Spain. Whoever travels the bull’s hide that stretches between the Júcar, Guadalfeo, Sil and Pisuerga rivers (not to mention the tributaries that meet those waves, the colour of a lion’s mane, that stir the Plata) frequently hears people say: ‘This has much duende’. Manuel Torre, great a rtist of the Andalusian people, said to someone who sang for him: ‘You have a voice, you understand style, but you’ll never ever succeed because you have no duende.’ All through Andalusia, from the rock of Jaén to the snail’s -shell of Cadiz, people constantly talk about the duende and recognise it wherever it appears with a fine instinct. That wonderful singer El Lebrijano, creator of the Debla, said: ‘On days when I sing with duende no one can touch me.’: the old Gypsy dancer La Malena once heard Brailowsk y play a fragment of Bach, and exclaimed: ‘Olé! That has duende!’ but was bored by Gluck, Brahms and Milhaud. And Manuel Torre, a man who had more culture in his veins than anyone I’ve known, on hearing Falla play his own Nocturno del Generalife spoke this splendid sentence: ‘All that has dark sounds has duende.’ And there’s no deeper truth than that. Those dark sounds are the mystery, the roots that cling to the mire that we all know, that we all ignore, but from which comes the very substance of art. ‘Dark sounds’ said the man of the Spanish people, agreeing with Goethe, who in speaking of Paganini hit on a definition of the duende: ‘A mysterious force that everyone feels and no philosopher has explained.’ So, then, the duende is a force not a labour, a struggle not a thought. I heard an old maestro of the guitar say: ‘The duende is not in the throat: the duende surges up, inside, from the soles of the feet.’ Meaning, it’s not a question of skill, but of a style that’s truly alive: meaning, it’s in the vein s: meaning, it’s of the most ancient culture of immediate creation. This ‘mysterious force that everyone feels and no philosopher has explained’ is, in sum, the spirit of the earth, the same duende that scorched Nietzche’s heart as he searched for its oute r form on the Rialto Bridge and in Bizet’s music, without finding it, and without seeing that the duende he pursued had leapt from the Greek mysteries to the dancers of Cadiz and the headless Dionysiac scream of Silverio’s siguiriya. So, then, I don’t want anyone to confuse the duende with the theological demon of doubt at whom Luther, with Bacchic feeling, hurled a pot of ink in Eisenach, nor the Catholic devil, destructive and of low intelligence, who disguised himself as a bitch to enter convents, nor the talking monkey carried by Cervantes’ Malgesi in his comedy of jealousies in the Andalusian woods. No. The duende I mean, secret and shuddering, is descended from that blithe daemon, all marble and salt, of Socrates, whom it scratched at indignantly on the day when he drank the hemlock, and that other melancholy demon of Descartes, diminutive as a green almond, that, tired of lines and circles, fled along the canals to listen to the singing of drunken sailors. For every man, every artist called Nietzsche or Cézanne, every step that he climbs in the tower of his perfection is at the expense of the struggle that he undergoes with his duende, not with an angel, as is often said, nor with his Muse. This is a precise and fundamental distinction at the root of their work. The angel guides and grants, like St. Raphael: defends and spares, like St. Michael: proclaims and forewarns, like St. Gabriel. The angel dazzles, but flies over a man’s head, high above, shedding its grace, and the man realises his work, or his charm, or his dance effortlessly. The angel on the road to Damascus, and that which entered through the cracks in the little balcony at Assisi, or the one that followed in Heinrich Suso’s

In the room was Ignacio Espeleta. without voice. with her mossy voice. whom people think are butchers. rejects all the sweet geometry we understand. but they’re from the Muse who inspires them and sometimes makes her meal of them. fiery aristocrat. a huge glass of fiery spirits. silvers and pinks of the finest English art. since they beat their wings of steel in an atmosphere of predestination. or that a huge arsenical lobster might fall on his head – things against which the Muses who inhabit monocles. musicians. with her voice of beaten tin. who was once asked: ‘Why don’t you work?’ and who replied with a smile worthy of Argantonius: ‘How should I work. or by the three paths of St. The great artists of Southern Spain. The audience remained silent. Paris!’ as if to say: ‘Here ability is not important. but who in reality are millennial priests who still sacrifice bulls to Geryon. suddenly. since it lifts the poet into the bondage of aristocratic fineness. La Niña de Los Peines had to tear apart her voice. but allow through a furious. as in the case of Apollinaire. and began to sing with a scorched throat. since it limits too much. or clothes Rimbaud’s delicate body in a saltimbanque’s costume. The Muse dictates. trembling like a medieval mourner. to discover the fraud. next to whom the divine angelic Rousseau once painted him. the Andalusian ‘Flamenco singer’ Pastora Pavon. because he wasn’t her equal in blood. with the look of a Cretan mask. While the duende has to be roused from the furthest habitations of the blood. it is her norm that the poet receives in his laurel grove. banish her Muse. paint with his knees and fists in terrible bitumen blacks. made ill by limitation. equal in power of fancy to Goya or Rafael el Gallo. She managed to tear down the scaffolding of the song. In the room were the Floridas. there was nothing there: it was useless. descended in line from Soledad Vargos. God sends his primal thorns of fire to those who seek Him. or gives the Comte de Lautréamont the eyes of a dead fish. The Muse stirs the intellect. whether by the barbaric way of the hermit or the subtle one of the mystic: with a tower. and there is no way to oppose their light. said: ‘Viva. Muse poets hear voices and don’t know where they’re from. and in the corner was that formidable breeder of bulls. Pastora Pavon finished her song in silence. the Muse form (Hesiod learnt from her). one of those dancing midgets who leap up suddenly from behind brandy bottles. and intellect is often poetry’s enemy. Teresa. like St. and not be full of indifference. sarcastically. as authors. she tangled it in her hair. without possessing duende: but we only have to attend a little. or the roses of lukewarm lacquer in a tiny salon.’ Then La Niña de Los Peines got up like a madwoman. so her duende . if I’m from Cadiz?’ In the room was Elvira. pure music with a body lean enough to float on air. Don Pablo Murube. The roads where one searches for God are known. who demanded not form but the marrow of form. We only know it burns the blood like powdered glass. but…with duende. And though we may have to cry out. huddled before the statue of Santa Bárbara. Only. They might deceive people into thinking they can communicate the sense of duende without possessing it. colour. nor technique. in one gulp. Seeking the duende. The true struggle is with the duende. painters. But. in the end. there is neither map nor discipline. Angel and Muse come from outside us: the angel brings light. who in ’30 didn’t wish to marry with a Rothschild. whore from Seville. sombre Span ish genius. or soaked it in manzanilla or abandoned it to dark distant briars. and give the Muse a kick. handsome as a Roman tortoise. create order. and occasionally prompts. breath. on the boulevard. know that emotion is impossible without the arrival of the duende. singers dancers. and literary fashionmakers deceive us every day. master of the greys. and be helpless. have no power. John of the Cross. that it shatters styles and makes Goya. Golden bread or fold of tunic. a little man. at dawn. Reject the angel. or sends Jorge Manr ique to wait for death in the wastes of Ocaña. was singing in a little tavern in Cadiz. where he forgets that he might be eaten. La Niña de Los Peines. because she knew experts were listening.’ finally. nor skill. or strips Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer stark naked in the cold of the Pyrenees. that make listeners tear at their clothes with the same rhythm as the Negroes of the Antilles in their rite. by ants. in Isaiah’s voice: Truly you are a hidden God. a great poet destroyed by the terrifying Muse. and chase off that clumsy artifice. and forget our fear of the scent of violets that eighteenth century poetry breathes out.footsteps. in a very soft voice. burning duende. She can do relatively little since she’s distant and so tired (I’ve seen her twice) that you’d think her heart half marble. What matters here is something other. She played with her voice of shadows. bringing a landscape of columns and an illusory taste of laurel. She had to rob herself of skill and safety: that is to say. Once. friend to those winds heavy with sand. that it exhausts. and of the great telescope in whose lenses the Muse. Gypsy or flamenco. and drank. sleeps.

and raise their contours above the precise present. The stallion’s hooves Throw off sparks of black pitch… to the youth of Salamanca. a country of death. Not in Spain. generating an almost religious enthusiasm. opened like a ten-fingered hand as in the feet. throwing back her head. as pure as that achieved by that rarest poet of the seventeenth century Pedro Soto de Rojas with his seven gardens. everyone feels the effect: the initiate in seeing style defeat inadequate content. the wheel of a cart. who says: The blood of my womb Covers the stallion. the rubble. and from Marbella in the seventeenth century. miraculous. creates a new wonder that has the appearan ce of. The hut. stirred by the duende. Tales of death and the silent contemplation of it are familiar to Spaniards. Marys. and the case of a delightful young girl in Port St. that could give life and knowledge to bodies devoid of expression. angel and Muse: and just as Germany owns to the Muse. and stamping with her foot on the floor: but in that crowd of Muses and angels with lovely forms and smiles. with a few exceptions. And how she sang! Her voice no longer at play. or the dances of that maestro Josef María de Valdivielso: it isn’t chance that among all the ballads of Europe this Spanish one stands out: . Naturally when this escape is perfected. where a nation goes to contemplate death. The arrival of the duende presupposes a radical change to all the old kinds of form. In every other country death is an ending. as in music. recently killed by a bull. the appearance of the duende is followed by sincere cries of: ‘Viva Dios!’ deep. the damp cupboards. tender cries of communication with God through the five senses. brings totally unknown and fresh sensations. perpetually. the living flesh is needed to interpret them. thanks to the duende that shakes the voice and body of the dancer. against lovely women and girls with liquid waists. the verses of Jeremiah. with the qualities of a newly created rose. Often the composer’s duende fills the performers. that fill the memory with the stale air of our own passing. nailed there but storm-filled. in Spain grow tiny weeds of death. the arrival of duende is greeted with vigorous cries of ‘Allah! Allah!’ so close to the ‘Olé!’ of the bullfight. All the arts are capable of duende. or John Climacus with his trembling ladder of tears. and the novice in sensing authentic emotion. and deign to struggle with her at close quarters. and on the more lyrical side with fragrant cypress: but a country where what is most important of all finds its ultimate metallic value in death. dance and spoken poetry. Years ago. song or elegy. perceptible to an alert spirit. In Spain they open them. whom I saw singing and dancing that terrible Italian song ‘O Mari!’ with such rhythm. and the case with Paganini.might come. who searched out failed plays to make triumphs of them through her inventiveness. human. the performer’s duende. A dead man in Spain is more alive when dead than anywhere else on earth: his profile cuts like the edge of a barber’s razor. who could earn the prize but her moribund duende sweeping the earth with its wings made of rusty knives. What happened was that each effectively found something new that no one had seen before. Many Spaniards live indoors till the day they die and are carried into the sun. the lace-covered saints. I’ve three scarves inside me. poetic escape from this world. when a poet or composer is no such thing. the wounding lines of eaves and balconies. an eighty year old woman came first in a dance contest in Jerez de la Frontera. the razor. It’s no accident that all Spanish art is rooted in our soil. since they have forms that are born and die. From Quevedo’s dream of skulls. country of ancient music and dance. who made one hear profound melody in vulgar trifles. merely by raising her arms. to Valdés Leal’s putrefying archbishop. dance. the flies. in the middle of the road. but where it naturally creates most space. and Italy the perennial angel. but is not. who cried out: Friends. a real. at all times. of a Christ by Juan de Juni. primitive form. In all Arab music. pauses and intensity that she turned Italian dross into a brave serpent of gold. and at other times. her voice a jet of blood. a country open to death. where the duende squeezes out those lemons of dawn. And this one makes four… stretches a rail of saltpetre flowers. Spain is. and who knows whether they are not the same? And in all the songs of Southern Spain. and the prickly beards of shepherds. full of thistles and sharp stones: it’s no isolated example that lamentation of Pleberio’s. with on the side that’s more bitter. I am dying: Friends I am done for. worthy of her pain and her sincerity. explained by Goethe. allusions and voices. dying in childbirth. This was the case with the duende-haunted Eleonara Duse. Every art and every country is capable of duende. the barren moon. It appears and they close the curtains. interestingly.

by contrast. by whom unforeseen shadows are dispelled. and with tears of ice and narcissi weaves the elegy we see trembling in the hands of Keats. however tiny. duende-filled St. If you’re my pretty lover why aren’t you kissing me? The lips I kissed you with I’ve given to earth below. all polychrome sculpture. equate culturally to the processions of San Andrés de Teixido. lies the strangeness. on his tender rosy foot! The duende. if he doesn’t know he can haunt death’s house. the ‘death with a guitar’ in the Chapel of the Benaventes in Medina de Rioseco. the whole of Goya’s work. why aren’t you hugging me? The arms I hugged you with Are covered with worms. Angel and Muse flee. the precise flowers painted by fifteenth century Italians and calls up Lucretius’ faithful cockerel. the inventiveness of a man’s work. and passing it magnificently three times. Those moon-frozen heads that Zurbarán painted. sound. gesture. looking for death within the rose-tree. or builds a plinth.If you’re my pretty lover. In the rose-tree they’ll kill me. with violin and compasses. Nor is it strange that this song is heard at the dawn of our lyrical tradition: In the garden I shall die. in funereal harmony. and the duende wounds. When the angel sees death appear he flies in slow circles. and being understood. and in trying to heal that wound that never heals. which she did: not because she thought herself pretty before Brother Juan de la Miseria: nor for slapping His Holiness’s Nuncio: but because she was one of those few creatures whose duende (not angel. form the popular ‘triumph’ of death in Spain. Father Sigüenza’s prose. Villasandino. consolation. Mother I went to gather roses. the apse of the Escorial church. Teresa. in its baptising all who gaze at it with dark water. why don’t you gaze at me? The eyes I gazed at you with I’ve given to the dark. in which the dead take their places: to the dirges that the women of Asturias sing. in the November night: to the dance and chanting of the Sibyl in the cathedrals of Mallorca and Toledo: to the dark In recort of Tortosa: and to the endless Good Friday rituals which with the highly refined festival of the bulls. In all the world only Mexico can grasp my country’s hand. or displays an urn and writes an epitaph with her waxen hand. Mother I went cutting roses. If you’re my pretty lover. Remember the example of the flamenca. if he’s not certain to shake those branches we all carry. and be certain of being loved. the duende delights in struggling freely with the creator on the edge of the pit. looking for death within the garden. the yellows of butter and lightning in El Greco. The magic power of a poem consists in it always being filled with duende. When the Muse sees death appear she closes the door. and this struggle for expression and the communication of that expression in poetry sometimes acquires a fatal character. but afterwards she returns to tending her laurel in a silence that shivers between two breezes. Beneath the broken arch of the ode. won’t appear if he can’t see the possibility of death. Flamenca not for entangling an angry bull. In the garden I shall die. since with duende it is easier to love. Herrera. she binds. in the rose-tree they will kill me. Bécquer. With idea. can never bring. But how it horrifies the angel if he feels a spider. the crypt in the Duke of Osuna’s house. that do not bring. with their flame-bright torches. you see. to understand. and Juan Ramón Jiménez. for the angel never attacks anyone) pierced her .

who sought anxiously in Theology for Muse and angel. and to the angel with the banderillas. The duende who. and between orbit and orbit lies the point of danger. where death sounds great bugle blasts on the arrival of Spring. and Goya’s chimeras. the living ocean of love liberated from time. and over all the liturgies of the bullring. from behind his monarchic greys. secretly. When he snows he makes Herrera appear naked to show that cold does not kill: when he burns he pushes Berruguete into the flames and makes him invent new dimensions for sculpture. In Spain (as among Oriental races. but in the work with the cape. the wound. the living cloud. It changes a girl. for the first time in sculpture. Belmonte with his Baroque duende. . where the dance is religious expression) the duende has a limitless hold over the bodies of the dancers of Cadiz. just as the melancholic Muse of Catalonia. The duende never repeats itself. showed. praised by Juvenal.with an arrow and wanted to kill her for having stolen his ultimate secret. stains with blood the cheeks of the saints of that master. by magic power. It seems as if all the duende of the Classical world is concentrated in this perfect festival. and draws close to places where forms fuse in a yearning beyond visible expression. into a lunar paralytic. bile and tears of mankind. over the hill. with its norms of sweeping sky and dry sierra. the fundamental basis of the festival. Its most impressive effects appear in the bullring. any more than the waves of the sea do in a storm. or Teruel. when: The wounded stag appears. with his Roman duende. and drives them away. or covers the cheeks of a broken old man. But it’s impossible for it ever to repeat itself. by playing with his life: but the toreador who is bitten by the duende gives a lesson in Pythagorean music and makes us forget that his is constantly throwing his heart at the horns. When he rains he brings duende-haunted Velasquez. the aid of the duende is required to drive home the nail of artistic truth. praised by Martial. Gonzalo de Berceo’s Muse and the Archpriest of Hita’s angel must depart to give way to Jorge Manrique. but has lowered himself to a ridiculous level. and the damp angel of Galicia. an authentic religious drama. The bullfighter who terrifies the public with his bravery in the ring is not fighting bulls. with adolescent blushes: gives a woman’s hair the odour of a midnight sea -port: and at every instant works the arms with gestures that are the mothers of the dances of all the ages. and it’s important to underscore this. a God is sacrificed to. and its art is always ruled by a shrewd duende which creates its different and inventive quality. from the twilight of the bullring. Most valiant vanquisher of the duende and the counter-example to Philip of Austria. and on the other with geometry. poets. and clears the way for an escape from the reality that surrounds us. and kicks out at Quevedo’s bailiffs. John of the Cross groan. and pass for a good bullfighter. and José de Mora’s angel must bow to the passage of de Mena’s duende weeping tears of blood. which can destroy it. is the same as he who tears apart El Greco’s clouds. painters and composers the four great highways of Spanish tradition. while the bull is still free of wounds. gaze in loving wonder at the duende of Castile. expounding the culture and the great sensibility of a nation that reveals the finest anger. and where the duende wears the mask of the Muse for the eternal punishment of that great king. is the same one who made St. to doing what anyone can do. wounded to death at the door of the castle of Belmonte. or burns naked nymphs in Lope’s religious sonnets. so far from their warm bread and gentle grazing cattle. and Cagancho with his Gypsy duende. and was imprisoned by a duende of icy ardour in the Escorial Palace. and at the moment of the kill. We have said that the duende loves the edge. Gongora’s Muse and Garcilaso’s angel must loose their laurel wreaths when St. and Martínez Montañéz’ duende with the head of an Assyrian bull. the subtle link that joins the five senses to what is core to the living flesh. where geometry borders on dream. The bull has its own orbit: the toreador his. since it must struggle on the one hand with death. You can own to the Muse with the muleta. and adored. Spain is unique. Gregorio Hernández’ Muse. The duende works on the dancer’s body like wind on sand. Lagartijo. Joselito with his Jewish duende. Neither in Spanish dance nor in the bullfight does anyone enjoy himself: the duende charges itself with creating suffering by means of a drama of living forms. The duende that raises the towers of Sahagún or bakes hot bricks in Calatayud. begging for alms in the wine-shops. a country where death is a national spectacle. the breasts of those who sing. where in the same manner as in the Mass. John of the Cross’s duende passes by. measure. where the vertex of terrible play exists. Mateo de Compostela.

I want to see if I can give you a simple lesson on the buried spirit of saddened Spain. with Bacchic feeling. and that . I don’t want that terrible blowfly of boredom to enter this room. on hearing Falla play his own Nocturno del Generalife spoke this splendid sentence: ‘All that has dark sounds has duende. No. is descended from that blithe daemon. the roots that cling to the mire that we all know. The Muse remains motionless: she can have a finely pleated tunic or cow eyes like those which gaze out in Pompeii. Longing for air and sunlight. the angel and the duende. canvas. That wonderful singer El Lebrijano. without finding it. in the register that. nor the angles of hemlock. Manuel Torre. the one with green anemones of phosphorus.’ Meaning. but of a style that’s truly alive: meaning. then.’ So. ‘Dark sounds’ said the man of the Spanish people. and medusa’s veil. This ‘mysterious force that everyone feels and no philosopher has explained’ is. it’s in the veins: meaning.’: the old Gypsy dancer La Malena once heard Brailowsky play a fragment o f Bach. a struggle not a thought. destructive and of low intelligence. Ladies and Gentlemen. but from which comes the very substance of art. and setting a tiny cluster of sharp needles in your. or the violins of Masolino or Rousseau. the ultimate matter. The angel can disturb Antonello da Messina’s heads of hair. So. creator of the Debla. having completed my study of Philosophy and Letters. a man who had more culture in his veins than anyone I’ve known. that we all ignore. as is natural. So. I listened to around a thousand lectures. in that elegant salon where the old Spanish aristocracy went to do penance for its frivolity on French beaches. Each art. Lippi’s tunics. secret and shuddering. and without seeing that the duende he pursued had leapt from the Greek mysteries to the dancers of Cadiz and the headless Dionysiac scream of Silverio’s siguiriya. eyes. the spirit of the earth. Dark sounds. nor the Catholic devil. the other with flowers of Ruidera gypsum. who disguised himself as a bitch to enter convents. The duende I mean. blowing insistently over the heads of the dead. crushed grass. And Manuel Torre. announcing the endl ess baptism of freshly created things. In a simple way. Sil and Pisuerga rivers (not to mention the tributaries that meet those waves. has a distinct mode and form of duende. inside. Guadalfeo. the colour of a lion’s mane. all marble and salt.’ All through Andalusia. zephyrs. on the point of changing into peppery sneezes. Brahms and Milhaud. people constantly talk about the duende and recognise it wherever it appears with a fine instinct. nor those sheep that suddenly become knives of irony. my listeners’. and uncontrollable mutual depth and extremity of wood. hurled a pot of ink in Eisenach. no. threading all your heads together on the slender necklace of sleep. I have raised three arches and with clumsy hands placed within them the Muse. I heard an old maestro of the guitar say: ‘The duende is not in the throat: the duende surges up. Between 1918 when I entered the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid. behind which in tender intimacy exist volcanoes. you understand style. said to someone who sang for him: ‘You have a voice. Those dark sounds are the mystery.Quevedo’s duende and Cervantes’. crown the altarpiece of Spain’s duende. and 1928 when I left. holds neither the gleams of wood. but their roots unite at the point from which flow the dark sounds of Manuel Torre. in my poetic voice. great artist of the Andalusian people. Whoever travels the bull’s hide that stretc hes between the Júcar. said: ‘On days when I sing with duende no one can touch me. I was so bored I used to feel as though I was covered in fine ash. but you’ll never ever succeed because you have no duende. of Socrates. and the vast night pressing its waist against the Milky Way. from the soles of the feet.’ And there’s no deeper truth than that. who in speaking of Paganini hit on a definition of the duende: ‘A mysterious force that everyone feels and no philosopher has explained. then. Ladies and Gentlemen. agreeing with Goethe. at the four-sided nose her great friend Picasso has painted her with. in sum. it’s of the most ancient culture of immediate creation. and exclaimed: ‘Olé! That has duende!’ but was bored by Gluck. that stir the Plata) frequently hears people say: ‘This has much duende’. word. nor the talking monkey carried by Cervantes’ Malgesi in his comedy of jealousies in the Andalusian woods. the duende is a force not a labour. ants. the same duende that scorched Nietzche’s heart as he searched for its outer form on the Rialto Bridge and in Bizet’s music. in search of new landscapes and unknown accents: a wind with the odour of a child’s saliva. sound. The duende…. whom it scratched at indignantly on the day when he drank the hemlock. from the rock of Jaén to the snail’s -shell of Cadiz. I don’t want anyone to confuse the duende with the theological demon of doubt at whom Luther.Where is the duende? Through the empty archway a wind of the spirit enters. it’s not a question of skill.

or the one that followed in Heinrich Suso’s footsteps. whom people think are butchers. without possessing duende: but we only have to attend a little. like St. They might deceive people into thinking they can communicate the sense of duende without possessing it. and that which entered through the cracks in the little balcony at Assisi. the Andalusian ‘Flamenco singer’ Pastora Pavon. one of those dancing midgets who leap up suddenly from behind brandy bottles. handsome as a Roman tortoise. or that a huge arsenical lobster might fall on his head – things against which the Muses who inhabit monocles. but they’re from the Muse who inspires them and sometimes makes her meal of them. she tangled it in her hair. with her mossy voice. if I’m from Cadiz?’ In the room was Elvira. Teresa. or by the three paths of St. and the man realises his work. create order. John of the Cross. but flies over a man’s head. that it exhausts. and there is no way to oppose their light. The true struggle is with the duende. Gabriel. or his dance effortlessly. because he wasn’t her equal in blood. Golden bread or fold of tunic. and not be full of indifference. sarcastically. or clothes Rimbaud’s delicate body in a saltimbanque’s costume. painters.other melancholy demon of Descartes. Muse poets hear voices and don’t know where they’re from. La Niña de Los Peines. rejects all the sweet geometry we understand. sombre Spanish genius. The angel dazzles. fiery aristocrat. to discover the fraud. master of the greys. nor with his Muse. high above. a great poet destroyed by the terrifying Muse. Seeking the duende. like St. In the room were the Floridas. like St. or the roses of lukewarm lacquer in a tiny salon. God sends his primal thorns of fire to those who seek Him. descended in line from Soledad Vargos. that. next to whom the divine angelic Rousseau once painted him. as in the case of Apollinaire. with the look of a Cretan mask. For every man. or soaked it in manzanilla or abandoned it to dark distant briars. and chase off that clumsy artifice. silvers and pinks of the finest English art. And though we may have to cry out. Gypsy or flamenco. know that emotion is impossible without the arrival of the duende. Reject the angel. but who in reality are millennial priests who still sacrifice bulls to Geryon. every artist called Nietzsche or Cézanne. The Muse dictates. She can do relatively little since she’s distant and so tired (I’ve seen her twice) that you’d think her heart half marble. In the room was Ignacio Espeleta. whether by the barbaric way of the hermit or the subtle one of the mystic: with a tower. in the end . it is her norm that the poet receives in his laurel grove. The audience remained silent. that it shatters styles and makes Goya. or strips Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer stark naked in the cold of the Pyrenees. and of the great telescope in whose lenses the Muse. who was once asked: ‘Why don’t you work?’ and who replied with a smile worthy of Argantonius: ‘How should I work. paint with his knees and fists in terrible bitumen blacks. fled along the canals to listen to the singing of drunken sailors. suddenly. Raphael: defends and spares. She played with her voice of shadows. or gives the Comte de Lautréamont the eyes of a dead fish. was singing in a little tavern in Cadiz. a little man. not with an angel. or sends Jorge Manrique to wait for death in the wastes of Ocaña. there is neither map nor discipline. musicians. sleeps. Don Pablo Murube. have no power. the Muse form (Hesiod learnt from her). and in the corner was that formidable breeder of bulls. at dawn. and give the Muse a kick. But. as authors. on the boulevard. or his charm. in Isaiah’s voice: Truly you are a hidden God. While the duende has to be roused from the furthest habitations of the blood. bringing a landscape of columns and an illusory taste of laurel. Only. where he forgets that he might be eaten. shedding its grace. and intellect is often poetry’s enemy. by ants. whore from Seville. there was nothing there: it was useless. like St. since they beat their wings of steel in an atmosphere of predestination. and occasionally prompts. diminutive as a green almond. as is often said. Michael: proclaims and forewarns. with her voice of beaten tin. every step that he climbs in the tower of his perfection is at the expense of the struggle that he undergoes with his duende. Pastora Pavon finished her song in silence. and forget our fear of the scent of violets that eighteenth century poetry breathes out. since it lifts the poet into the bondage of aristocratic fineness. equal in power of fancy to Goya or Rafael el Gallo. This is a precise and fundamental distinction at the root of their work.’ finally. and literary fashionmakers deceive us every day. We only know it burns the blood like powdered glass. Once. who in ’30 didn’t wish to marry with a Rothschild. Angel and Muse come from outside us: the angel brings light. The great artists of Southern Spain. since it limits too much. The Muse stirs the intellect. The angel on the road to Damascus. tired of lines and circles. The roads where one searches for God are known. made ill by limitation. The angel guides and grants. in a very soft . singers dancers.

Paris!’ as if to say: ‘Here ability is not important. human. and the novice in sensing authentic emotion. She managed to tear down the scaffolding of the song. an eighty year old woman came first in a dance contest in Jerez de la Frontera. without voice. and Italy the perennial angel. merely by raising her arms. to Valdés Leal’s putrefying archbishop. and began to sing with a scorched throat. Often the composer’s duende fills the performers. who says: The blood of my womb Covers the stallion. nor technique. so her duende might come. but where it naturally creates most space. What matters here is something other. the appearance of the duende is followed by sincere cries of: ‘Viva Dios!’ deep. In all Arab music. Tales of death and the silent contemplation of it are familiar to Spaniards. . a huge glass of fiery spirits. Spain is. Naturally when this escape is perfected. against lovely women and girls with liquid waists. everyone feels the effect: the initiate in seeing style defeat inadequate content. of a Christ by Juan de Juni. stirred by the duende. as pure as that achieved by that rarest poet of the seventeenth century Pedro Soto de Rojas with his seven gardens. with the qualities of a newly created rose. In every other country death is an ending. who made one hear profound melody in vulgar trifles. and raise their contours above the precise present. La Niña de Los Peines had to tear apart her voice.’ Then La Niña de Los Peines got up like a madwoman. brings totally unknown and fresh sensations. or John Climacus with his trembling ladder of tears. her voice a jet of blood. This was the case with the duende-haunted Eleonara Duse. because she knew experts were listening. huddled before the statue of Santa Bárbara. and at other times. and the case of a delightful young girl in Port St. and stamping with her foot on the floor: but in that crowd of Muses and angels with lovely forms and smiles. but is not. friend to those winds heavy with sand. The arrival of the duende presupposes a radical change to all the old kinds of form. All the arts are capable of duende. breath. at all times. angel and Muse: and just as Germany owns to the Muse. where the duende squeezes out those lemons of dawn. Every art and every country is capable of duende. I’ve three scarves inside me. It appears and they close the curtains. and drank. In Spain they open them. dying in childbirth. burning duende. but allow through a furious. as in music. What happened was that each effectively found something new that no one had seen before. recently killed by a bull. She had to rob herself of skill and safety: that is to say. who searched out failed plays to make triumphs of them through her inventiveness. primitive form. a real.voice. who cried out: Friends. said: ‘Viva. pauses and intensity that she turned Italian dross into a brave serpent of gold. creates a new wonder that has the appearance of. a country of death. nor skill. the performer’s duende. that could give life and knowledge to bodies devoid of expression. with a few exceptions. pure music with a body lean enough to float on air. worthy of her pain and her sincerity. song or elegy. generating an almost religious enthusiasm. whom I saw singing and dancing that terrible Italian song ‘O Mari!’ with such rhythm. colour. and be helpless. the arrival of duende is greeted with vigorous cries of ‘Allah! Allah!’ so close to the ‘Olé!’ of the bullfight. poetic escape from this world. miraculous. Not in Spain. I am dying: Friends I am done for. throwing back her head. and who knows whether they are not the same? And in all the songs of Southern Spain. banish her Muse. who could earn the prize but her moribund duende sweeping the earth with its wings made of rusty knives. dance and spoken poetry. and deign to struggle with her at close quarters. in one gulp. opened like a ten-fingered hand as in the feet. that make listeners tear at their clothes with the same rhythm as the Negroes of the Antilles in their rite. but…with duende. perpetually. since they have forms that are born and die. who demanded not form but the marrow of form. nailed there but storm-filled. trembling like a medieval mourner. thanks to the duende that shakes the voice and body of the dancer. and the case with Paganini. A dead man in Spain is more alive when dead than anywhere else on earth: his profile cuts like the edge of a barber’s razor. Years ago. when a poet or composer is no such thing. interestingly. dance. From Quevedo’s dream of skulls. explained by Goethe. a country open to death. tender cries of communication with God through the five senses. country of ancient music and dance. The stallion’s hooves Throw off sparks of black pitch… to the youth of Salamanca. the living flesh is needed to interpret them. in the middle of the road. Many Spaniards live indoors till the day they die and are carried into the sun. And how she sang! Her voice no longer at play. and from Marbella in the seventeenth century. Marys.

the precise flowers painted by fifteenth century Italians and calls up Lucretius’ faithful cockerel. or builds a plinth. When the Muse sees death appear she closes the door. But how it horrifies the angel if he feels a spider. In the garden I shall die. the ‘death with a guitar’ in the Chapel of the Benaventes in Medina de Rioseco. Mother I went to gather roses. where a nation goes to contemplate death. and on the more lyrical side with fragrant cypress: but a country where what is most important of all finds its ultimate metallic value in death. The hut. all polychrome sculpture. Nor is it strange that this song is heard at the dawn of our lyrical tradition: In the garden I shall die. the verses of Jeremiah. that do not bring. If you’re my pretty lover. that fill the memory with the stale air of our own passing. looking for death within the rose-tree. the wounding lines of eaves and balconies. in Spain grow tiny weeds of death. can never bring. she binds. form the popular ‘triumph’ of death in Spain. Villasandino. the wheel of a cart. Father Sigüenza’s prose. Herrera. the apse of the Escorial church. perceptible to an alert spirit. and the prickly beards of shepherds. Those moon-frozen heads that Zurbarán painted. If you’re my pretty lover why aren’t you kissing me? The lips I kissed you with I’ve given to earth below. in which the dead take their places: to the dirges that the women of Asturias sing. or the dances of that maestro Josef María de Valdivielso: it isn’t chance that among all the ballads of Europe this Spanish one stands out: If you’re my pretty lover. looking for death within the garden. equate culturally to the processions of San Andrés de Teixido. . the whole of Goya’s work. It’s no accident that all Spanish art is rooted in our soil. in the November night: to the dance and chanting of the Sibyl in the cathedrals of Mallorca and Toledo: to the dark In recort of Tortosa: and to the endless Good Friday rituals which with the highly refined festival of the bulls. if he doesn’t know he can haunt death’s house. Mother I went cutting roses. the barren moon. why don’t you gaze at me? The eyes I gazed at you with I’ve given to the dark. the flies. In all the world only Mexico can grasp my country’s hand. and with tears of ice and narcissi weaves the elegy we see trembling in the hands of Keats. and Juan Ramón Jiménez. In the rose-tree they’ll kill me. on his tender rosy foot! The duende. in funereal harmony. why aren’t you hugging me? The arms I hugged you with Are covered with worms. with on the side that’s more bitter. in the rose-tree they will kill me. Bécquer.And this one makes four… stretches a rail of saltpetre flowers. consolation. the lace-covered saints. you see. with their flame-bright torches. the yellows of butter and lightning in El Greco. or displays an urn and writes an epitaph with her waxen hand. the razor. won’t appear if he can’t see the possibility of death. full of thistles and sharp stones: it’s no isolated example that lamentation of Pleberio’s. but afterwards she returns to tending her laurel in a silence that shivers between two breezes. if he’s not certain to shake those branches we all carry. When the angel sees death appear he flies in slow circles. by whom unforeseen shadows are dispelled. the damp cupboards. the rubble. however tiny. Beneath the broken arch of the ode. by contrast. the crypt in the Duke of Osuna’s house. allusions and voices.

the fundamental basis of the festival. We have said that the duende loves the edge. and this struggle for expression and the communication of that expression in poetry sometimes acquires a fatal character. It seems as if all the duende of the Classical world is concentrated in this perfect festival. and be certain of being loved. You can own to the Muse with the muleta. and it’s important to underscore this. or covers the cheeks of a broken old man. for the first time in sculpture. The duende that raises the towers of Sahagún or bakes hot bricks in Calatayud. and passing it magnificently three times. lies the strangeness. poets. and pass for a good bullfighter. is the same as he who tears apart El Greco’s clouds. a God is sacrificed to. but has lowered himself to a ridiculous level. the aid of the duende is required to drive home the nail of artistic truth. Spain is unique. But it’s impossible for it ever to repeat itself. and Cagancho with his Gypsy duende. and in trying to heal that wound that never heals. which she did: not because she thought herself pretty before Brother Juan de la Miseria: nor for slapping His Holiness’s Nuncio: but because she was one of those few creatures whose duende (not angel. where the vertex of terrible play exists. the wound. and clears the way for an escape from the reality that surrounds us. with adolescent blushes: gives a woman’s hair the odour of a midnight sea -port: and at every instant works the arms with gestures that are the mothers of the dances of all the ages. The bull has its own orbit: the toreador his. gesture. and to the angel with the banderillas. The magic power of a poem consists in it always being filled with duende. where geometry borders on dream. praised by Juvenal. the living ocean of love liberated from time. with violin and compasses. from the twilight of the bullring. The duende works on the dancer’s body like wind on sand. where death sounds great bugle blasts on the arrival of Spring. and Goya’s chimeras. showed. Flamenca not for entangling an angry bull. praised by Martial. stains with blood the cheeks of the saints of that master. painters and composers the four great highways of Spanish tradition. the breasts of those who sing. Most valiant vanquisher of the duende and the counter-example to Philip of Austria. which can destroy it. is the same one who made St. Belmonte with his Baroque duende. for the angel never attacks anyone) pierced her with an arrow and wanted to kill her for having stolen his ultimate secret. The duende who. begging for alms in the wine-shops. duende-filled St. since it must struggle on the one hand with death. and between orbit and orbit lies the point of danger. and adored. while the bull is still free of wounds. any more than the waves of the sea do in a storm. the living cloud. bile and tears of mankind. Angel and Muse flee. an authentic religious drama. with his Roman duende. where in the same manner as in the Mass. sound. a country where death is a national spectacle. Remember the example of the flamenca. in its baptising all who gaze at it with dark water. Neither in Spanish dance nor in the bullfight does anyone enjoy himself: the duende charges itself with creating suffering by means of a drama of living forms. by playing with his life: but the toreador who is bitten by the duende gives a lesson in Pythagorean music and makes us forget that his is constantly throwing his heart at the horns. the inventiveness of a man’s work. and kicks out at Quevedo’s bailiffs. into a lunar paralytic. and over all the liturgies of the bullring. who sought anxiously in Theology for Muse and angel. but in the work with the cape. or Teruel. Teresa. and being understood. measure. John of the Cross groan. expounding the culture and the great sensibility of a nation that reveals the finest anger. to understand. Mateo de Compostela.With idea. since with duende it is easier to love. the subtle link that joins the five senses to what is core to the living flesh. The duende never repeats itself. Lagartijo. to doing what anyone can do. The bullfighter who terrifies the public with his bravery in the ring is not fighting bulls. and drives them away. by magic power. . and at the moment of the kill. In Spain (as among Oriental races. Its most impressive effects appear in the bullring. and the duende wounds. and draws close to places where forms fuse in a yearning beyond visible expression. and on the other with geometry. the duende delights in struggling freely with the creator on the edge of the pit. and its art is always ruled by a shrewd duende which creates its different and inventive quality. where the dance is religious expression) the duende has a limitless hold over the bodies of the dancers of Cadiz. and where the duende wears the mask of the Muse for the eternal punishment of that great king. and was imprisoned by a duende of icy ardour in the Escorial Palace. Joselito with his Jewish duende. or burns naked nymphs in Lope’s religious sonnets. It changes a girl.

and José de Mora’s angel must bow to the passage of de Mena’s duende weeping tears of blood. has a distinct mode and form of duende. and medusa’s veil. Gregorio Hernández’ Muse. and the damp angel of Galicia. behind which in tender intimacy exist volcanoes. so far from their warm bread and gentle grazing cattle. the ultimate matter. The Muse remains motionless: she can have a finely pleated tunic or cow eyes like those which gaze out in Pompeii. I have raised three arches and with clumsy hands placed within them the Muse. Ladies and Gentlemen. wounded to death at the door of the castle of Belmonte. the angel and the duende. zephyrs. announcing the endless baptism of freshly created things. blowing insistently over the heads of the dead. in search of new landscapes and unknown accents: a wind with the odour of a child’s saliva. the one with green anemones of phosphorus. Quevedo’s duende and Cervantes’. John of the Cross’s duende passes by. just as the melancholic Muse of Catalonia.When he rains he brings duende-haunted Velasquez. the other with flowers of Ruidera gypsum. and Martínez Montañéz’ duende with the head of an Assyrian bull. and the vast night pressing its waist against the Milky Way. but their roots unite at the point from which flow the dark sounds of Manuel Torre. over the hill. The duende…. with its norms of sweeping sky and dry sierra. word. ants. Buenos Aires 1938 . Each art. crown the altarpiece of Spain’s duende. Lecture. when: The wounded stag appears. sound. at the four-sided nose her great friend Picasso has painted her with. and uncontrollable mutual depth and extremity of wood. canvas. secretly. Gonzalo de Berceo’s Muse and the Archpriest of Hita’s angel must depart to give way to Jorge Manrique. gaze in loving wonder at the duende of Castile. or the violins of Masolino or Rousseau. Lippi’s tunics. crushed grass. from behind his monarchic greys. Gongora’s Muse and Garcilaso’s angel must loose their laurel wreaths when St. as is natural. Dark sounds. The angel can disturb Antonello da Messina’s heads of hair.Where is the duende? Through the empty archway a wind of the spirit enters. When he snows he makes Herrera appear naked to show that cold does not kill: when he burns he pushes Berruguete into the flames and makes him invent new dimensions for sculpture.