7 January (1922): Frederico Garcio Lorca to Regino Sainz de la Maza

In the letter below Frederico Garcio Lorca addresses his close friend, Regino Sainz de la Maza, the classical guitarist of national fame. Garcia Lorca begs for a performance of “primitive music.” His love for cante jundo, the “deep song” of the gypsies, would later prove influential on his theory of duende. Garcia Lorca’s first collection of poems, Sketches of  Spain, had recently been published, and he writes in a corresponding fervor of exaltation.  

To Regino Sainz de la Maza

 [January 1922]

 (Granada. —Acera del Casino, 31, in case you forgot.)

 Dear Regino:

I received your letter in Madrid moments before returning to this marvelous city, and now I’m answering you begging you insistently not to delay as much in answering me. I’m crazy with happiness over a number of things that I’ll tell you about when we see each other (and it may be soon) and that give my life a high artistic meaning, a true and pure spiritual meaning.

 I’m suffering now from truly lyrical attacks and work like a child putting together a crèche; such is my illusion.

 I remember you with so much happiness and I long to hear you. Have you made progress? Study a lot, Regino, and comb with care the invisible strands of your heart. Be careful not to tangle them! I’ve spoken of you and proposed to my friends that you give concerts in a salon of independents which we are organizing and where I will give lectures. It’s a stupendous thing! You will play only primitive music, since I believe it has the most character alongside [Rafael] Barradas’ pictures, etc., etc. You’ll be amazed by the plans! I want to keep up your curiosity so that it will scratch your lyrical soul, disturbed today by the Catalan mud, that soul of yours with six string glances.

 Curiosity has a cat’s claws (didn’t you know that, Regino?). Sharp little claws that scratch the walls of the breast and make Madame Distraction close her one hundred vertiginous and cursed eyes…That’s why I’m igniting that fantasy in you.

 If you could only see! I have such enthusiasm…! My hands are full of dead kisses (apples of snow, with the trembling furrow of lips) and I hope to throw them into the broken air in order to catch new ones. Answer me immediately. A cordial embrace.


 Vela has died. I don’t wish to comment on it. Today Angel Barrios gave me regards for you. [Manuel de] Falla is here and I’m up to here listening to his things. What a marvel! We three are planning a trip to the Alpujarra. I am going to Madrid on the 8th (and you?).

Notes: Garcia Lorca is not referring to the physical death of Spanish critic Fernando Vela. Lorca’s embrace of the folk ran counter to Vela, who thought provincial cultures to be of little artistic worth. 

 From Selected Letters of Federico Garcia Lorca. Trans. David Gershator. New York: New Directions (1983), pp. 31. 


Sketches of Spain‘s inaugural translation into English last year.

The force found in the soles of the feet: Garcia Lorca on duende.

The images of the child at work and the fallen fruit would later appear in “Gacela of Dark Death.”

The sketches of Rafael Barradas for the 1916 publication of The Adventures of the Devil.