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By using the tag Popular songs I am able to trace the development of my short and unsuccessful songwriting efforts. I started in September &...

Monday, September 12, 2016

Here's a bad poem

Hear is PN writing a bad poem (in my view) against the Cubans who had written a letter denouncing him on Fidel's orders. This is just using verse to express a message, in a ham-fisted and plodding what. I refuse to translate it. Even the literary devices are badly used. He appended it to a book he'd written for the Cuban revolution.

Bear in mind I'm not taking sides with anyone here. I agree more with Neruda in this particular case but that doesn't stop me from seeing the poem as regrettable for a poetic perspective. Neruda had been a staunch Stalinist but had seen the damage that the cult of personality did and was fearful of the same. He didn't really like Che or Fidel very much and they distrusted him too.

Against Fernández Retamar he says "Another one, so 'retamar' that / deprived of his 'fernandez' he is worth nothing." What does that even mean? Nicolás Guillén he calls a "cynical black man." This isn't going well, Pablo.


Si hay en la duración de los dolores
una sofocación, un entretanto
que nos lleva y nos trae de temores
hasta llenar la copa del espanto,
hay en lo que hace el hombre y sus victorias
una rama de puro desencanto
y ésta crece sin pájaros ni pétalos:
no la riega la lluvia sino el llanto.

Este libro, primero entre los libros
que propagaron la intención cubana,
esta Canción de Gesta que no tuvo
otro destino sino la esperanza
fue agredido por tristes escritores
que en Cuba nunca liberaron nada
sino sus presupuestos defendidos
por la chaqueta revolucionaria.

A uno conocí, cínico negro,
disfrazado hasta el fin de camarada;
éste de cabaret en cabaret
ganó en París las últimas batallas
para llegar campante como siempre
a cobrar sus laureles en La Habana.

Y a otro conocí neutral eterno,
que huyendo de los nazis como rata
se portó silencioso como un héroe
cuando era su voz más necesaria.

Y otro tan retamar que despojado
de su fernández ya no vale nada
sino lo que le cuesta a los cubanos
vendiendo elogios y comprando fama.

Ay Cuba! tu fulgor de estrella dura
lo defiende tu pueblo con sus armas!




Mientras Miami propala sus gusanos
tus propios escritores te socavan
y uno que se da cuenta de las cosas
y participa en la común batalla
distingue a los que luchan frente a frente
contra la ira norteamericana
de los que gastan tinta de su pueblo
manchando la centella solidaria.

Pero sabemos que a través del tiempo
a la envidia que escribe enmascarada
se le cae su rostro de combate
y se le ve la piel aminorada,
se le ve la mentira en la estatura
y se le ven las manos mercenarias.

En esa hora nos veremos todos.

Y desde ahora toco las campanas
para el Juicio Final de la conciencia.

Yo llegaré con mi conciencia clara.

Yo llegaré con la canción que tengo:
con lo que mi partido me enseñara:
llegaré con los mismos ojos lentos,
la misma voz, y con la misma cara,
a defender frente al insulto muerto,
Cuba, tu gesta revolucionaria.

5 comments:

Leslie said...

It's bad, yet is a poem (so, bad poem) and gosh you really can hear that Neruda voice. Also, PN keeps using a certain vocabulary, rhythm, and similar rhymes throughout his career. If he were an intermediate Spanish student I would say he needed to stretch, vary his style and cadences, and build his vocabulary.

Jonathan said...

I don't know why he uses the consonant rhyme -anto at the beginning then switches to the a-a assonance in the rest of the poem. All the lines scan but it's as though he could do that in his sleep.

Leslie said...

First strophe is more siglo de oro-ish because of that rhyme & some things with syntax and enjambement ... then he goes more Romantic for the rest of the poem. It is as though he had just spit it out, going with what was easy.

Today in class I was using anonymized essays of students to show what I was considering good-enough quality for this level of class. I was using one as an example of good-enough grammar and the student identified himself saying, but this essay is not good, I wrote it really fast, it isn't very well thought out or very organized, I was just writing whatever I could think of. That is how I feel this poem was made

Leslie said...

Also, y esto creo es importante: he is trying to make it work as poem by using endecasílabos. But they are about the laziest endecasílabos I have ever seen. I think I have just had some key intuition about endecasílabos generally, or understood something about them. Now want to levantar a bibliografía on them

Jonathan said...

Yes, they are metrical, technically, but it is as if he thought he could just count to 11. They have no backbone. It is "prose verse" so to speak. That oratorical style. We discussed this when we were looking at Jill's book Poetry Beyond the Page. I had mentioned this to them before as an example of bad poetry, and they wanted to see it. I sense another book of bad poetry waiting to get out of me.