The birds of death. Verses like bombs

"Versos como bombas" (Verses like bombs) is a collection of poetry's response to the barbarity of the civil war, or "uncivil" as the photojournalist Alfonso Sánchez Portela called it, shocked by the corpses he had to photograph during the three years of the war. In the search for graphic material in the press on the bombing of the capital, texts censuring the attack on the civilian population and especially on children have been found, including the "Ode to the children of Madrid killed by shrapnel" by Vicente Aleixandre, published in the newspaper "Ahora" on 18 January 1937. The poet of the Generation of '27 was 38 years old at the time, and his sculptural physique of a "gentleman of good" retained the sensitivity of a man wounded by so many dead children. And he composed the lyrical song, dedicated to all those who suffered. Also to those who fell in the area around Peironcely, next to the house that Robert Capa photographed and from whose shrapnel holes today the verses sprout like bombs. In the game of life, Peironcely's house now merges with the poet's house (formerly called Velintonia). There, in his garden, he enjoyed eating the oranges that Miguel Hernández cut for him, and it was there that he wrote: "Rivers of dead children go looking for a final destination, a high world. Under the moonlight the stinking birds of death were seen: aeroplanes, engines, dark vultures whose plumage encloses the destruction of beating flesh".

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Juan Miguel Sánchez Vigil
Juan Miguel Sánchez Vigil

Professor at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, director of the Fotodoc Research Group and professional photographer. He has been an editor and graphic documentalist at Espasa publishing house for forty years. He has published several books and dozens of articles on the documentary value of photography. In this case, we quote “Fotoperiodismo y República”, dedicated to the graphic reporters who covered the Spanish civil war. His latest publication was carried out by the Spanish National Research Council (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas) under the title: “La fotografía. Historical interpretations in the Spanish press (1839-1900)”.