Prayer to a Farm Worker

We present this work in honor of Dia de la Raza.

Victor Jara
Chilean
1932 – 1973

 

Rise up and look at the mountain, from
where the wind, the sun, the water arrive.
Thou, who determines the course of
rivers, thou who scatters the flight of
your soul.
Rise up. Look at your hands. Join
hands with your brothers, together
in blood we go. Now is the time that
can be tomorrow. Tomorrow.
Deliver us from the men of
misery. Take us to your kingdom of justice and
justice. Blow like the wind the gorge’s flower.
Clean the fire
in the barrel of my gun.
Thy will be done
Here on Earth. Give us your strength and
your courage in combat.
Blow like the wind the field’s daffodil.
Clean fire in the barrel of my gun.

Rise up and look at your hands. Join
hands with your brothers, together
in blood we live,
now and at the hour of
our death. Amen. We live. Amen.

To the Bio-Bio

In honor of Chilean Independence Day, we present this work by one of Chile’s greatest poets.

Andres Bello
Chilean
1781 – 1865

 

Blest were he, O Bio-Bio!
Who could dwell forevermore
In a deep grove, cool and shady,
Upon thine enchanted shore!

Just a lowly thatched-roofed cottage
Where thy limpid waters are seen
Pouring their calm flood in silence
Amid foliage fresh and green;

Where, instead of shifting changes
In the fickle things of state,
Wind-stirred oaks and maitens murmur,
And the forest peace is great;

Where the bird amid the branches,
In the early dawning gray,
Sings its untaught, artless music,
Greeting thus the new-born day.

In that humble thatched-roof cottage,
Oh, how happy were my lot,
In the peace that nothing troubles,
Envied not and envying not!

This to me in truth were sweeter
Than the Babel wild and loud
Where in chase of a chimera
All are rushing in a crowd;

Where dark treachery and falsehood
Near the quaking altar stay
That the people’s favor raises
To the idols of a day.

Sweet repose, most blissful quiet,
Earthly paradise divine!
Has the palm of war or wisdom
Worth which can outrival thine?

Truth I love, not adulation—
Truth all unadorned and plain,
Not the clamorous applauses
That are raised in Fortune’s train.

Growing old, for that false treasure
I would cease my soul to fret—
Say ‘Farewell to disappointments!
The forgetful I forget.

‘Others call excitement pleasure,
Madly seeking fame or pelf;
I in earth’s most hidden corner
Wish to live now for myself.’

Autumn, 1930

In honor of the Chilean holiday, the Feast of St. Peter and Paul, we present this work by one of the great Chilean poets of the 20th century.

Winétt de Rokha
Chilean
1892 – 1951

 

Beneath the white arch,
terrified of the blue winds,
I throw a glance
(like lips on their way to a kiss)
through the balustrade at the yellow ocean.

How it lives, the odour
of rosebush and orange after rain.

A cat — flower of the winter thistle —
electrifies itself, begins to sing;
flies look for smoke-blackened beams;
chickens cluck and shake out their underclothes;

and my heart, trying
to house its sorrow when all covering has been ripped to pieces,
goes barefoot, and blindly.

Night

Vicente Huidobro
Chilean
1893 – 1948

 

You hear the night glide across the snow

The song fell down from the trees
And through the fog sounded voices

I lit my cigar at a glance

Every time I open my lips
I flood the void with clouds

In the harbor
The masts are full of nests.

And the wind
groans in the birds’ wings

THE WAVES ROCK THE DEAD SHIP

Whistling on the shore I
Look at the star that glows between my fingers

The Bohemian Raises His Glass

Carlos Pezoa Veliz
Chilean
1879 – 1908

 

Don’t look down on the drunkards who perish
befuddling their sorrows with wine:
you don’t hate the flowers that flourish
light-headed in morning sunshine.

The eyes of the ladies attract us
to the high drunken rapture of passion;
their kisses are Bacchus’s nectars –
our lips are in thrall to sensation.

Drunk with light goes Ophelia, sunken
in the gloom of a desolate plain;
the priest at the altar is drunken
with the blood of a god that is slain,
like the poet who gazes unblinking
at the boundless blue eye of the main.

Love

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 200th birthday.

Hermogenes Irisarri
Chilean
1819 – 1886

 

Fair maid! believe me, love is like a lake,
Whose crystal depths reflect thy brow of snow;
The roses on thy cheek that come and go,
When in thy azure eyes the smiles awake.

No passing winds the liquid mirror wake,
The cool refreshing airs so softly blow.
But hidden currents in the depths below
The angry surface in an instant shake.

Gaze then in safety from the emerald shore;
Nor launch thy shallop on the treacherous wave.
Even the gentle touch of thy light oar
May rouse the slumbering peril from its grave.
Thy fragile bark is on rough waters tossed;
The picture fades, thou sinkest, and art lost.

Those Who Do Not Dance

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 130th birthday.

Gabriela Mistral
Chilean
1889 – 1957

 

A crippled child
Said, “How shall I dance?”
Let your heart dance
We said.

Then the invalid said:
“How shall I sing?”
Let your heart sing
We said

Then spoke the poor dead thistle,
But I, how shall I dance?”
Let your heart fly to the wind
We said.

Then God spoke from above
“How shall I descend from the blue?”
Come dance for us here in the light
We said.

All the valley is dancing
Together under the sun,
And the heart of him who joins us not
Is turned to dust, to dust.

The Memory of Lisa

Roberto Bolaño
Chilean
1953 – 2003

 

The memory of Lisa descends again
through night’s hole.
A rope, a beam of light
and there it is:
the ideal Mexican village.
Amidst the barbarity, Lisa’s smile,
Lisa’s frozen film,
Lisa’s fridge with the door open
sprinkling a little light on
this disorganized room that I,
now pushing forty,
call Mexico, call Mexico City,
call Roberto Bolaño looking for a pay phone
amidst chaos and beauty
to call his one and only true love.

Sonnet XXVII

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we present one of the most widely loved celebrations of erotic romance in poetic history.

Pablo Neruda
Chilean
1904 – 1973

 

Naked, you are simple as one of your hands,
Smooth, earthy, small, transparent, round:
You have moonlines, applepathways:
Naked, you are slender as a naked grain of wheat.

Naked, you are blue as the night in Cuba;
You have vines and stars in your hair;
Naked, you are spacious and yellow
As summer in a golden church.

Naked, you are tiny as one of your nails,
Curved, subtle, rosy, till the day is born
And you withdraw to the underground world,

as if down a long tunnel of clothing and of chores:
Your clear light dims, gets dressed, drops its leaves,
And becomes a naked hand again.