I am disappointed in Lorca who never ceasing for one moment to see the beard of old beautiful Walt Whitman full of butterflies — mariposas — such a fetching image (see the cover of the City Lights 1988 edition) — turns the poetic voice to decry the
Ben Belitt in the Grove Press edition of Poet in New York renders them “perverts”. Carlos Bauer in the City Lights Ode to Walt Whitman and Other Poems renders them “faggots”. Jack Spicer in his adaptation renders them “cocksuckers” in After Lorca.
Disappointment and intrigued (sly one for the slang of mariposa is akin to the referent of marica), for after the salute to the grand old man, the poem turns the hated name into an epic catalogue:
Fairies of North America,
Pájaros of Havana,
Jotos of Mexico,
Sarasas of Cádiz,
Apios of Sevilla,
Cancos of Madrid,
Floras of Alicante,
Adelaidas of Portugal
And this is the intriguing part — there’s a shift in addressee (the faggots are called out) — and then the poem returns to the apostrophe to Whitman.
The good poet is unsullied. And yet that catalogue could have been lifted from Leaves of Grass *wink*
Whatever, Lorca’s listing of the many names, reminds me of the title of Larry Mitchell‘s The Faggots & Their Friends Between Revolutions (Calamus Books, 1977) — the reappropriation of terms of disapprobation. Mitchell captures the glee of a certain historical juncture: “The women who love women wrote a song for the faggots. It was called, “Anything you do that the men don’t like is o.k. by us.” For more fun, take the beginning of a piece called “Disruption: Tactics”
The faggots never tire of fucking with the men’s minds. Once all the faggots let their hair grow long, wore necklaces made of silver and shells and clothes colorful, elaborate fabrics. They looked so stunning that the men over-looked their principles and began to look stunning also. […]”
This was ages before Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (2003). So too was Lorca.
Lorca of the locked gates. Whitman of the open arms of comrades.
For a closer and more nuanced reading of the ambiguous pose of the poem that explains Lorca’s look at the homosexual “ranging from bitter condemnation to veritable idolatry” see the article by Ruth Tobias “Beauty and The Beast: Homosexuality in Federico García Lorca’s ‘Oda a Walt Whitman'” in Mester, 21(1)  See permalink: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/5dv8f3hg. [Mester is the journal of the graduate students of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of California, Los Angeles.] You might relish Tobias’s concluding speculations on the motivations of the poet — she moots the possibility of jealousy.
And so for day 1364