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A poet until proven otherwise

Last week Nicaragua celebrated its Annual Poetry Festival in Granada.  Poetry is a huge part of Nicaraguan culture and a major source of pride.  Salman Rushdie once wrote, “I did not think I had ever seen a people, even in India and Pakistan where poets were revered, who valued poetry as much as the Nicaraguans.”  There is a common saying that everyone in Nicaragua is a poet until proven otherwise.

I love the fact that people actually graffiti poetry in Nicaragua.  The lines above are part of the poem Habría que Sembrar Girasoles written by Francisco Ruiz Udiel, a young Nicaraguan poet that died December 31, 2010. These lines went up a few weeks ago and now we pass them most days on the way to work.

A few of his friends made the video below in his memory, using the words of the poem. Click for more for the full Spanish text of the poem and my English translation.


A Vincent Van Gogh

Habría que sembrar girasoles
a lo largo del camino,
sembrarlos en la tierra,
en la ciénaga, en el barro,
plantarlos bajo el odio,
como se planta el fuego.

Habría que sembrar girasoles
aunque la tarde prosiga
con su rumor de polvo.
La caverna está en el centro,
y tras los días, los girasoles
subvierten al desprecio,
pero habría que sembrar girasoles, digo,
—no por insistencia—
sembrar girasoles con afán
de prolongar partidas,
regarles la noche con ajenjo,
cubrir de arena la sorda vida.

Habría que sembrar girasoles de pesadumbre,
de tallos largos que sostengan
la gravedad del hombre,
sembrarlos a lo largo del camino,
plantarlos en los techos de las casas,
en todas partes, con su luminosa forma.

Si hacemos esto,
de aquí a veinte años,
aprenderemos a dar abrazos a las piedras
antes de arrojarlas al Sol.

You would have to sow sunflowers

To Vincent Van Gogh

You would have to sow sunflowers
all along the road
sow them in the earth
in the swamp, in the clay,
plant them underneath hatred
like kindling underneath fire.

You would have to sow sunflowers
even though the afternoon persists
with its rumors of dust.
Hollowness is at the core
and as the days pass, the sunflowers
are subverted by neglect,
but you would have to sow sunflowers, I say
–  not to belabor this –
sow sunflowers with desire
to prolong goodbyes,
water them at night with wormwood,
cover with sand this deaf life.

You would have to sow sunflowers with sorrow
with long stalks that could sustain
the gravity of man,
sow them all along the road
plant them on the roofs of houses
everywhere, with their luminous form.

If we do this
in twenty years time
we will learn to embrace the rocks
before we throw them at the Sun.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE this poem. Thanks for sharing it with us!

    February 24, 2011

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