Festive Left Friday Blogging: Chavecito waxes poetic

Did you know that Chavecito’s not just a president, he’s also a slam poet?

Okay, that’s not his own poem he’s reciting there (with guitar accompaniment by the great Cuban folk singer, Silvio Rodríguez). It’s a poem by Alberto Arvelo Torrealba about Simón Bolívar, called “Por Aquí Pasó” (Through Here He Passed). Here’s my (admittedly rough) translation:

Through here he passed, comrade,

toward those distant mountains.

Look at that trail through the grasses,

look at it, comrade,

it’s like the clear rains

in the dust-dry landscape,

like a well among tablelands,

like a star in a tunnel,

like the heron in the rushes,

like flights in the evening sky,

like the snow on the mountaintop,

like a fire in the night,

like a firefly in the air,

like the moon among sand dunes,

like the white horse on the coat-of-arms

and the tricolor in the sky.

Through here he passed, comrade,

toward those distant mountains.

There goes his only image,

grave, but aquiline,

saddle of burnished leather,

dapple-grey horse, brave of heart.

His cape like a flag,

his horse in the lead,

artist engraving villages,

man restoring nations,

tasting glories, great herdsman!

Through here he passed, comrade,

toward those distant mountains.


Listen to that suspended voice

over the sun-gleam of those sand-dunes.

The voice that shouts the loudest,

listen to it, comrades!

It’s like the sound of the conch-shells

when the mule-drivers pass,

like the breeze in the palms,

like the eagle in the ceibo,

like the thunder in the distance,

like the four-stringed guitar in the air,

like the anguish in my song,

like the rooster in the silence,

like the gunshot in the attack,

like the bull in the rodeo,

like the horse’s whinny in the air,

like the helmet in the silence,

like the cry of the centaur in the Queseras del Medio,

like the Homeland in the anthem,

like the bugle on the wind.

Through here passed Bolívar, comrade,

toward those distant mountains!

In the evening sun today his profile

will rise, to return

over this immense desert.

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