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Mano a Mano: The Art of Bullfighting in Seville

Bullfighting is a tradition with roots that are said to date back to pre-biblical times of worship and sacrifice. The modern style of fight which we see practiced today remains quite similar to the form Spaniard Francisco Romero developed in 1726 in Andalusia.  Although the practice has recently been outlawed in several parts of Spain, the art form lives on in places like Seville, where a group of Semester at Sea students had the unique opportunity to attend the last bullfight of the season.

Watch as veteran bullfighter Jose Maria Manzanares and newcomer Alejandro Talavante battle “mano a mano” at the Plaza de Toros in Seville, and learn a bit more about why bullfighting is revered by many as a treasured part of Spanish culture.

Note: Video contains some graphic images.

What follows is a section from Federico Garcia Lorca’s poem Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias

Absent Soul

The bull does not know you, nor the fig tree,
nor the horses, nor the ants in your own house.
The child and the afternoon do not know you
because you have died forever.

The shoulder of the stone does not know you
nor the black silk, where you are shuttered.
Your silent memory does not know you
because you have died forever

The autumn will come with small white snails,
misty grapes and clustered hills,
but no one will look into your eyes
because you have died forever.

Because you have died for ever,
like all the dead of the earth,
like all the dead who are forgotten
in a heap of lifeless dogs.

Nobody knows you. No. But I sing of you.
For posterity I sing of your profile and grace.
Of the signal maturity of your understanding.
Of your appetite for death and the taste of its mouth.
Of the sadness of your once valiant gaiety.

It will be a long time, if ever, before there is born
an Andalusian so true, so rich in adventure.
I sing of his elegance with words that groan,
and I remember a sad breeze through the olive trees.

–poem by Federico Garcia Lorca

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