Inspirational Speech By Federico García Lorca (a Spanish Poet, Dramatist And Theatre Director)
Speech given by Federico García Lorca
in the inauguration of his village’s library (1931)
“Half a bread and a book
When somebody goes to the theatre, a concert, or whatever event; if the feast pleased him he automatically remember his lover ones and feel sad about their absence. “How much my father, my sister, would like to be here and enjoy”, he would think. And for him, the spectacle is shadowed with a tiny melancholy. This is the melancholy I now feel, not for the people of my house, which would be small and mean; but for all the creatures who because of a lack of possibilities and for their unhappiness, are unable to enjoy the supreme goods of life, which are beauty, serenity and passion.
Because of that I never have a book, because I give all the ones I buy, which is a huge quantity. This is why I am here, honoured and happy to inaugurate this public library, which would be the first in the whole Province of Granada.
Not only from bread lives the man. If I would have to be hungry and helpless in the street, I would not ask for bread, but I would ask half a bread and a book. And I attack from here with violence those who only talk about economic claims without never mentioning the cultural ones, which are the ones people need and ask for, shouting at the top of their voices.
All people must eat, it is a need. But all people must also know how to enjoy all the fruits of the human spirit, because the contrary would convert them into machines to the service of the State, which means into slaves of a terrible social organization.
A man who wants to learn and cannot makes me feel terribly sorry, much more than a hungry one does. Because he can be easily helped by a piece of bread or some fruits. But the man of no means who long for knowledge suffers a terrible agony, because what he needs are books, books, many books, and where are those books?
Books! Books! What a magic word! It is like saying: “love, love”, and the villages must claim for them like they do claim for rain to water their sowing.
When the famous Russian writer, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, father of the Russian revolution much more than Lenin, was prisoner in Siberia, far away of people, closed into four walls amid of desolated prairies covered by never ending snow; and was asking for help writing to his far away family, he only said : “Send me books, books, a lot of books in order my soul would not die!” He was cold and did not ask for fire, he was terribly thirsty and did not ask for water: he only asked for books, which means horizons; which means ladders to climb to the top of their spirit and heart. Because the physical, biological, natural agony of a body due to hunger, thirst or cold, lasts little, during a very short time; instead the agony of the soul lasts the whole life.
The great Menéndez Pidal, one of the most credible learned historian writer of Europe, already said that the slogan for the Republic must be “Culture”. Culture because only through culture can be solved, the problems of the people of today, full of faith, but lacking of light. “