In honor of Revolution Day, we present this work by one of contemporary Mexico’s cleverest poets.
Having just heard, my love, that you won a seat by popular vote, I am overwhelmed with joy for you and your electorate and because I know you well I am sure you will legislate with courage and devotion making your voters feel represented forget these household chores a while you don’t have a spouse for nothing and focus on the legislative charge assigned you receive the citizens’ demands attend the sessions ascend the podium assert your views hear out your committee chairman be yourself and above all legislate, legislate, legislate our bed will not feel the void caused by all those nights you work late, legislating you will receive a salary and they will give you bonds and business trips and cell phones and chauffeurs and try, my love, not to be corrupted try to stay honest because you, Honorable Representative woman of laws and convictions our advocate you are our voice in Congress although I did not vote for you forgive me but I never thought you’d win.
In honor of Mexican Independence Day, we present this work by one of Mexico’s most celebratory poets.
Speak not a word of wild, blaspheming grief! Be proud, be brave, though fallen in the strife, And gaze, oh poet, with supreme disdain On all the dark injustices of life!
Thou shalt not seek for constancy in love, Nor aught eternal from frail mortals ask; To rear sepuchral monuments on high From all thy griefs, O artist, be thy task! Chisel thy statues out of marble white, Forms chaste of mien, though naked to the air; And let speech slumber on their sculptured lips; Let them stand deeply sad, yet silent there.
A name! A sounding echo on the air, Fleeting and frail, its life a moment’s span! A dreamer’s foolish idol! Name and fame! This is the last sad vanity of man. Why should we justice seek, or clemency.— If our own comrades here deny our plea— From the indifference, mute and icy-cold, Of unknown men, to live in days to be?
Tardy compassion why should we implore From strangers hid in shadows, one and all? The echoes sleep within the darksome wood, And no one, no one answers to our call.
The only consolation in this life Is to remember happy hours and fair, And lift our eyes on high to view the skies When skies are blue or stars are shining there;
To flee the sea, and on the sleeping lake Enjoy the water’s calm, the peaceful time; To sleep—to dream—our wizard strong, the Dream, Is a deceiver holy and sublime!
‘Tis true, alas, that in the honest breast The fresh wound calls for vengeance and for strife; But yet—forgive the evil they have done! All suffer from the malady of life.
The very men who crown themselves with flowers Are born to sorrow, and to perish, too. If those you love the most betray your trust, Forgive them, for they know not what they do!
Perhaps those instincts they inherited, And they avenge unknowingly to-day Races that gathered on their hapless heads All griefs and hatreds ere they passed away.
Are thou perchance the judge—the sinless one? Do justice and sweet mercy meet in thee? Ah, who is not a fugitive, that bears The weight of crimes unpunished, guiltily?
Who has not feigned to love, dared with false vows Into a maiden’s holy soul to steal? Who can be sure that he has never killed? Who is the just man, that may justice deal?
Pity and pardon for all those that live! So, full of love, in mild and gentle mood, We shall be tender and compassionate, And haply, haply, some time shall be good!
Friend, dost thou suffer? Seek thy sweetheart fair In deathless beauty, free from pain and fear— Live leaning on thy sadness, as of old On young Cordelia leaned the wandering Lear.
See, far and farther ebbs the dying day! How good it is to rest! In shade obscure The woodland lulls us with a music soft; Virgin the water is, the air is pure.
Weary, her eyes the light is closing now; Sad murmors sound, and many a mournful sigh. The night, descending, to the earth says, ‘Come! ‘Tis over. Go to sleep, and do not cry!’
To recollect—forgive—have loved, believed, And had brief happiness our hearts to bless, And soon, grown weary, to recline against The snowy shoulder of forgetfulness!
To feel forevermore the tenderness That warmed your youthful bosoms with its flame, Receiving happiness, if it should come, Like a glad visit from some beauteous dame;
To hold still hidden that which most we love— Smiling forgiveness on our lips to keep— Until at last, O earth! we come to thee In the complete abandonment of sleep:
This ought to be the life of him who thinks How transient all things are that meet his eyes, And, wisely, stops before the wide expanse Of falsehood’s ocean that around him lies.
Gather the flowers, while there are flowers to pluck; Forgive the roses for their thorny guise! Our sorrows also pass away and fly, Flitting like swarms of dark-winged butterflies.
Love and forgive! Resist with courage strong The wicked, the unjust, the cowardly. The silent night, when it settles down, Pensive and sad, is beautiful to see!
When sorrow dims my spirit, on the heights I seek for calmness and for shining light. Upon the frozen summits of my soul Infinite pity spreads its hue of white.
We present this work in honor of the 100th anniversary of the poet’s death.
It’s how she spreads, without a sound, her scent of orange blossom on the dark of me, it is the way she shrouds in mourning black her mother-of-pearl and ivory, the way she wears the lace ruff at her throat, and how she turns her face, quite voiceless, self-possessed, because she takes the language straight to heart, is thrifty with the words she speaks. It’s how she is so reticent yet welcoming when she comes out to face my panegyrics, the way she says my name mocking and mimicking, makes gentle fun, yet she’s aware that my unspoken drama is really of the heart, though a little silly; it’s how, when night is deep and at its darkest, we linger after dinner, vaguely talking and her laughing smile grows fainter and then falls gently on the tablecloth; it’s the teasing way she won’t give me her arm and then allows deep feeling to come with us when we walk out, promenading on the hot colonial boulevard. . .
Because of this, your sighing, modest style of love, I worship you, my faithful star who like to cloud yourself about in mourning, generous, hidden blossom; kindly mellowness who have presided over my thirty years with the self-denying singleness a vase has, whose half-blown roses wreathe with scent the headboard of a convalescent man; cautious nurse, shy serving maid, dear friend who trembles with the trembling of a child when you revise the reading that we share; apprehensive, always timid guest at the feast I give; my ally, humble dove that coos when it is morning in a minor key, a key that’s wholly yours.
May you be blessed, modest, magnificent; you have possessed the highest summit of my heart, you who are at once the artist of lowly and most lofty things, who bear in your hands my life as if it was your work of art!
O star and orange blossom, may you dwindle gently rocked in an unwedded peace, and may you fade out like a morning star which the lightening greenness of a meadow darkens or like a flower that finds transfiguration on the blue west, as it might on a simple bed.
We present this work in honor of the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
I am Mary, of Omnipotent God
the Humble Mother, Virgin sovereign,
a torch whose eternal light
is the splendid North Star of Mankind’s hope:
Let a perfumed altar in a holy temple
Be instilled for me in Mexico, once Pluto’s
profane dwelling whose horrors
my foot dispels in a storm of flowers.