Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Cuban Poetry by Jose Marti and Nicolas Guillen

I wish to leave the world
By its natural door;
In my tomb of green leaves
They are to carry me to die.
Do not put me in the dark
To die like a traitor;
I am good, and like a good thing,
I will die with my face to the sun.
Jose Marti
When I see and touch myself,
I, Juan with Nothing only yesterday,
and Juan with Everything today,
and today with everything,
I turn my eyes and look,
I see and touch myself,
and ask myself, how this could have been.
I have, let's see,
I have the pleasure of going about my country,
owner of all there is in it,
looking closely at what
I did not or could not have before.
I can say cane,
I can say mountain,
I can say city,
say army,
now forever mine and yours, ours,
and the vast splendor of
the sunbeam, star, flower.
I have, let's see,
I have the pleasure of going,
me, a farmer, a worker, a simple man,
I have the pleasure of going
(just an example)
to a bank and speak to the manager,
not in English,
not in 'Sir,' but in companero as we say in Spanish.
I have, let's see,
that being Black
no one can stop me at the door of a dance hall or bar.
Or even on the rug of a hotel
scream at me that there are no rooms,
a small room and not a colossal one,
a tiny room where I can rest.
I have, let's see,
that there are no rural police
to seize me and lock me in a precinct jail,
or tear me from my land and cast me
in the middle of the highway.
I have that having the land I have the sea,
no country clubs,
no high life,
no tennis and no yachts,
but, from beach to beach and wave on wave,
gigantic blue open democratic:
in short, the sea.
I have, let's see,
that I have learned to read,
to count,
I have that I have learned to write,
and to think,
and to laugh.
I have . . . that now I have
a place to work
and earn
what I have to eat.
I have, let's see,
I have what I had to have.
(translated by J.A. Sierra)
Nicolas Guillen

Jose Marti bio: Jose Marti (1853-1895) is considered an important national hero of Cuba. He became an influential leader in Cuba's efforts to free itself from Spanish domination. His defense of Cuban nationalism earned him the title, the "Apostle of Cuban Independence." His writings influenced the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro.

Nicolas Guillen bio: Nicolas Guillen (1902-1989) is best remembered as the national poet of Cuba. As a member of the Communist Party, he served for 25 years as president of the National Cuban Writers Union. He won the Stalin Peace Prize in 1954 and the Cuban National Prize for Literature in 1983.

Dawn Pisturino

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