Stephen Hartke

IGLESIA ABANDONADA (1982) for Soprano and Violin Text by Federico Garcia Lorca Duration: 12 Minutes A setting in Spanish of a poem from Federico Garcia Lorca's last book Poeta en Nueva York. (English translation by the composer.) I had a son named John. I had a son. He was lost through the arches one All Souls' Day. I saw him playing on the last steps of the mass and he tossed a little tin pail on the priest's heart. I pounded on the coffins. My son! My son! My son! I plucked a chicken's leg from behind the moon and then I understood that my little girl was a fish down by where the carts draw away. I had a little girl. I had a fish, dead under the ashes of the censers. I had a sea. What? My God! A sea! I went up to ring the bells but the fruit had maggots, and the extinguished tapers ate the spring wheat. I saw the transparent stork of alcohol trimming the dying soldiers' black heads, and saw the rubber huts where the cup of tears went around. In the anemones of the mass I shall find you, my heart! When the priest raises the mule and the ox with his strong arms to frighten away the nocturnal toads lurking around the icy landscape of the chalice. I had a son who was a giant, but the dead are stronger and can eat pieces of the heavens. If my son had been a bear, I would not fear the alligators' stealth, nor have seen the sea lashed to the trees to be ravished and wounded by the throng of the regiments. Had my son been a bear! I will wrap myself in this hard canvas so as not to feel the cold of the moss. I know very well that they will give me an arm-band or a necktie; But in the middle of the mass I will break the rudder, and then will turn to stone the madness of penguins and seagulls that will make those who sleep and those who sing on street-corners say: He had a son, A son! A son! A son!