Federico Garcia Lorca's Romancero Gitano, usually translated as Gypsy Ballads, is a collection of poems, about which Wikipedia says:

All of the poems deal with the Romani people (gypsies) and their culture, but only as a theme used to carry the larger message that the poet was trying to convey. [...]

It was a highly stylised imitation of the ballads and poems that were still being told throughout the Spanish countryside.

Are the poems just about the Romani people, or are they imitations (or even translations?) of actual Romani ballads?

I've read one of them, "Sleepwalking Ballad" as translated by Kirkland and Maurer, and it mentions a "gypsy girl" but I can't tell if the poem could have come from Romani culture itself or if it just happens to feature one of the Romani people as a character.

What is the backstory behind these poems? Were they inspired by Romani literature in any form?

  • I don't think so. Romanis have been very present for centuries in Andalusia (where Lorca came from) and so he noted: The book as a whole, although it is called gypsy, is the poem of Andalusia, and I call it gypsy because the gypsy is the most elementary, the deepest of my country, the most representative of his way and he keeps the blood and the alphabet of The universal Andalusian truth. The gypsies lived in a world of dreams, tremendously vital, of strong passions (reference) – fedorqui Dec 10 at 15:50
  • @fedorqui Thanks! I was guessing there must be a lot of info I'm unable to access without understanding Spanish :-) That would make a decent answer, if you want to turn it into one. – Rand al'Thor Dec 10 at 16:16

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