Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Miguel Hernandez was one of the twentieth century’s most beloved Spanish Poets. Born in to an impoverished family in Orihuela ,Spain in 1910, Miguel herded goats for his father in the Alicante countryside he would later immortalize in his works. Pablo Neruda said of him “His face was the face of Spain”
Hernandez soldiered for the Republic for the entirety of the war and was captured trying to escape to Portugal after the fall of Barcelona. Captured by Franco’s minions he was imprisoned in Madrid in 1939. Admirers managed to secure his release, whereupon he returned to his beloved Orihuela, but was rearrested shortly thereafter and sentenced to death by Franco’s courts. The death sentence was commuted but nonetheless carried out, he contracted TB in the goal and died in 1942. Next to his prison cot his last poem was written, appropriately, on the wall….
“Farewell brothers, comrades, friends; Give my goodbyes to the sun and the wheatfields.”

Sitting upon the Dead

Sitting upon the dead
fallen silent these two months,
I kiss empty shoes
and make an angry fist
with the heart's hand
and the soul that drives it.
That my voice climb the mountains

and descend to earth as thunder:
this what my throat begs
now and forever.
Come close to my clamor,

people fed from the same breast,
tree whose roots
keep me in prison,
because I am here to love you
and I am here to defend you
with my blood and with my mouth
like two faithful rifles.
If I came out of the earth,

if I was born from a womb,
pitiful and poor,
it was only that I would become
the nightingale of the pitiful,
echo of bad luck,
to sing and to repeat
to those who must hear me
everything of pain,
everything of poverty,
everything of earth.
Yesterday the people woke

stripped and with nothing to cover themselves,
hungry and with nothing to eat,
and now today has dawned justly hateful
and justly bloody.
In their hands the rifles
long to become lions
to finish with ferocity those
who have been so many times ferocious.
Even if you have no weapons,

people of one hundred thousand strengths,
don't let your bones thin;
punish those who wound you
as long as you have fists,
fingernails, saliva, and you have
heart, entrails, guts,
testicles and teeth.
Wild as the wild wind,
gentle as the gentle air,
kill those who kill,
hate those who hate
the peace of your heart
and the womb of your women.
Don't let them stab you in the back,
live face to face and die
with your chest before the bullets,
large as a house.
I sing in grief's voice,

my people, for your heroes:
your desires like my own,
your misfortunes that have
the same metal and tears,
your suffering in the same grain
and of the same wood,
your thought and my mind,
your heart and my blood,
your pain and my laurels.
Life looks to me like
a barricade of nothingness.
I am here to live

while the soul permits,
and here to die,
when the hour arrives,
in the veins of the people
now and forever.
Life is a lot to swallow,
death is only a gulp.


Blogger Private Partz said...


Sigh. So many have lived such larger lives than my own. Alas, I am no "pollo primivera", but then again, the lamp is not run dry of oil, eh? I thought the last two lines were a bit clunky, though I loved the sentiment, then I realized the poem was most assuredly written in Spanish and I laughed at my own American arrogance.


7:35 PM  
Blogger durrati said...


I find that much of Spanish Poetry suffers or benefits from the skill of the translator. It is difficult enough for an Anglo to translate the visceral passion of a Spainard, let alone considerations of dialect and idiom. Imagine a learned linquist from Madrid striving to interpret Chuck Berry or Warren Zevon....

8:19 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

And Partz,

So many of the people you will meet here were sore tested by poverty and oppression almost unknow to us... let us hope, in the end, our country will not perish from our relative affluence....

8:27 PM  
Anonymous WhattheH said...

I read this yesterday and needed to digest. One can feel the pain and fury that Hernandez experienced. Strange how we always end up killing the best and brightest of the human race, mostly because they are the ones who open our eyes, and who could lead us out of the dark.

Kid, If you read this, I keep trying to leave a comment or two at your site, but they get consigned to some dark pit somewhere. I'm not sure why, but I think it may have something to do with me not having a blogger ID?

4:41 AM  
Anonymous WhattheH said...

Speaking of the brightest and best, I note you've added Ava's site to your blogroll. Well done. She's one truly amazing 15 year old. Makes me ashamed of myself for not getting more inovlved.

5:39 AM  
Blogger durrati said...


I love these lines:

That my voice climb the mountains
and descend to earth as thunder:
this what my throat begs
now and forever.

Young Ava has climbed the mountain and her visions crash down like lightening; she has the makings of a great cinematographer or director, talent like that will always out.

I had the same problem at Kids place but he did something yesterday that seemed to help :).

I am still on J.C.'s shitlist :o

6:35 AM  
Blogger Joe Don Martin said...

Hernandeth's poetry is gut-wrenching, as true poetry ought to be. One question; Is "Orihuela", perhaps, the way that a Spaniard might pronounce "Orwell"? As if that weren't coincidence enough, as a young whippersnapper, we had a pet Cocker Spaniard named Senor Wences. And, just out of curiousity, has it ever occurred to anyone that the Led Zeppelin song title "D'yer Maker" was the phonetic spelling of the Cockney pronunciation of "Jamaica"- considering that the song itself is in the reggae style, the only thing Bonzo ever failed to master?
Just wonderin'

Hoe Down Martin

9:39 AM  
Blogger durrati said...


"D'yer Maker?"

"No, she went of her own accord."

10:49 AM  
Blogger KidKawartha said...

The interesting corollary to whattheh's obsevation about "the brightest and the best" is that without suffering on the order of the Spanish anti-fascism conflict, perchance so many beautiful things would not have been born into our history and memory- I think it is also at times that true beauty is borne out of suffering and desperation, thereby withholding the ultimate victory over oppression and wanton destruction: that which rises from the ashes and the death of innocents and freedom seekers is so powerful as it is, that the likes of Bush and Franco can never ultimately win- nature has it's own way of subverting evil.

Please try dropping a comment at my place, each comment entry is ABOVE it's post, and try to ignore the fact that all my guy commenters are missing the point and commenting only about baseball.......a lady's touch is welcome. Thanx to all of you for making my blog an interesting place, little by little.

12:00 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

Good comment, Kid, men often find their best when faced with adversity...and stupidity will ever extinguish itself...

5:57 PM  
Blogger KidKawartha said...

Sorry, everyone, that last comment didn't come out quite right. I was trying to make fun of how easy it is to get guys to talk about baseball instead of themes of death and rebirth, etc. You've all been great commenters at my place. 2 new posts up!

6:34 PM  
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4:47 AM  

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