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A song for Bolivar.

 Our father who art in the earth, in the water, in the air
 of all our great and silent breadth,
 all bears thy name, father, in our land:
 thy name the sugarcane raises to the sweetness,
 Bolivar tin has a Bolivar brilliance,
 the Bolivar bird over the Bolivar volcano,
 the potato, the saltpeter, the special shadows,
 the currents, the veins of phosphoric stone,
 all that is ours comes from thine extinguished life,
 thy heritage was rivers, plains, bell towers,
 thy heritage is this day our daily bread, father.

 Thy little brave captain's corpse
 has stretched to immensity its metallic form,
 suddenly thy fingers spread out through the snow
 and the southern fisher suddenly brings to light
 thy smile, thy voice throbbing in the nets.
 What color will be the rose that we lift next to thy heart?
 Red will be the rose that remembers thy step.
 How will the hands be that touch thine ashes?
 Red will be the hands that in thine ashes are born.
 And how is the seed of thy dead heart?
 Red is the seed of thy living heart.

 That is why there is today the circle of hands next to thee.
 Next to my hand there is another and another next to it,
 and still another, to the depths of the dark continent.
 And another hand that thou didst not then know
 comes also, Bolivar, to clasp thy hand
 from Teruel, from Madrid, from the Jarama, from the Ebro,
 from the prison, from the air, from the Spanish dead
 arrives this red hand that is a daughter of thine.

 Captain, fighter, where one mouth
 shouts liberty, where one ear listens,
 where one red soldier smashes a dark forehead,
 where one freeman's laurel blossoms, where a new
 banner is adorned with the blood of our illustrious dawn,
 Bolivar, captain, thy face is seen.
 Again amid powder and smoke thy sword comes to life.
 Again thy banner has been embroidered with blood.
 The evil ones attack thy seed again,
 nailed to another cross is the son of man.

 But toward hope thy shadow leads us,
 the laurel and the light of thy red army
 across the night of America look with thy look.
 Thine eyes that watch beyond the seas,
 beyond the peoples oppressed and wounded,
 beyond the black burned cities,
 thy voice is born anew, thy hand again is born:
 thine army defends the sacred banners:
 Liberty shakes the bloody bells,
 and a terrible sound of grief precedes
 the dawn reddened by the blood of man.

 Liberator, a world of peace was born in thine arms.
 Peace, bread, the wheat of thy blood were born,
 from our young blood, come from thy blood,
 will come peace, bread and wheat for the world that we
 shall make.

 I came upon Bolivar, one long morning,
 in Madrid, at the entrance to the Fifth Regiment.
 Father, I said to him, are you, or are you not, or who are you?
 And, looking at the Mountain Barracks, he said:
 "I awake every hundred years when the people awake."


From Residence on Earth, by Pablo Neruda. Translation by Donald D. Walsh, New Directions Publishing Corporation, New York [c]1973.
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Title Annotation:LATITUDES
Author:Neruda, Pablo
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Article Type:Poem
Date:Jul 1, 2008
Previous Article:Clash of literary titans.
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