Treasure Island

Federico García Lorca

(5 June 1898 – 19 August 1936 / Fuente Vaqueros)

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City That Does Not Sleep


In the sky there is nobody asleep. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
The creatures of the moon sniff and prowl about their cabins.
The living iguanas will come and bite the men who do not dream,
and the man who rushes out with his spirit broken will meet on the
street corner
the unbelievable alligator quiet beneath the tender protest of the
stars.

Nobody is asleep on earth. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
In a graveyard far off there is a corpse
who has moaned for three years
because of a dry countryside on his knee;
and that boy they buried this morning cried so much
it was necessary to call out the dogs to keep him quiet.

Life is not a dream. Careful! Careful! Careful!
We fall down the stairs in order to eat the moist earth
or we climb to the knife edge of the snow with the voices of the dead
dahlias.
But forgetfulness does not exist, dreams do not exist;
flesh exists. Kisses tie our mouths
in a thicket of new veins,
and whoever his pain pains will feel that pain forever
and whoever is afraid of death will carry it on his shoulders.

One day
the horses will live in the saloons
and the enraged ants
will throw themselves on the yellow skies that take refuge in the
eyes of cows.

Another day
we will watch the preserved butterflies rise from the dead
and still walking through a country of gray sponges and silent boats
we will watch our ring flash and roses spring from our tongue.
Careful! Be careful! Be careful!
The men who still have marks of the claw and the thunderstorm,
and that boy who cries because he has never heard of the invention
of the bridge,
or that dead man who possesses now only his head and a shoe,
we must carry them to the wall where the iguanas and the snakes
are waiting,
where the bear's teeth are waiting,
where the mummified hand of the boy is waiting,
and the hair of the camel stands on end with a violent blue shudder.

Nobody is sleeping in the sky. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is sleeping.
If someone does close his eyes,
a whip, boys, a whip!
Let there be a landscape of open eyes
and bitter wounds on fire.
No one is sleeping in this world. No one, no one.
I have said it before.

No one is sleeping.
But if someone grows too much moss on his temples during the
night,
open the stage trapdoors so he can see in the moonlight
the lying goblets, and the poison, and the skull of the theaters.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Read poems about / on: dream, pain, sky, city, sleep, snow, spring, hair, moon, fire, death, butterfly, snake, rose, star, horse, kiss, dog

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Comments about this poem (City That Does Not Sleep by Federico García Lorca )

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  • Mackenzie Yates (1/5/2014 5:45:00 PM)

    I'm throwing in the idea that maybe Federico Garcia Lorca, considering his rebellious liberal views, constructed this poem to warn a certain political party or group of followers. He's telling them to not sleep, or be unaware, because there is still danger of prosecution in their wake. Evidence for this includes the fact that he says Does Not Sleep rather than Doesnt which implies that it's an order and not just a fluffy poem. Also, lines 25-29 (One day, The horses will live in saloons...) suggests an attack plan to followers in a code that uses animals as code names. Just a thought. (Report) Reply

  • Stephen Loomes (10/1/2013 7:11:00 AM)

    The city is in Lorca's mind, where he was condemned to wander endlessly without sleep; poet's notebook in hand (Report) Reply

  • Jasbir Chatterjee (10/1/2013 6:17:00 AM)

    This poem arouses a restless storm...but then nothing ever sleeps in the universe...everything changes and evolving... (Report) Reply

  • Karen Sinclair (10/1/2012 3:13:00 AM)

    slightly confusing for me... i can only assume he is comparing humans to creatures as he sees that they are not happy comfortable and behaving in a fitting manor, it sounds much like a hieronymus Bosch painting.... Hell on earth maybe....tyvm karen (Report) Reply

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