Festive Left Friday Blogging: A poem by Tony Guerrero


The other night, a Facebook friend had this link up on his wall. It’s a poem by Tony Guerrero, one of the Cuban Five, a group of antiterrorist agents jailed in the US as spies. Despite all talk of a War on Terror, it seems that if you try to fight terrorism coming from the US, you get dragged through kangaroo court in Florida and imprisoned. (The CIA doesn’t like people counteracting its terrorist schemes to control Cuba, you see.)

But the Cuban people are fighting for their own freedom, and it doesn’t come from the places that advertise themselves loudest as beacons of liberty. And even in prison, one of them has come out to say as much:

Dear friends:

Last night, while most people here were watching TV, I sat down to write a poem in my cell.

These verses were born, which I give you all as a gift, and most especially my brothers, in these days when people customarily give special gifts.

Simple Freedom

Simple freedom, sustained by dreams,
love of just one face, seen on the Moon.
Simple freedom, without bridles or masters,
free like nothing.

The simple freedom of the nameless summit
where night falls, buried in its lance.
The simple freedom in which man plants
magical hope.

Simple freedom, like the swallow
which strives to fly until it loses its wings.
Simple freedom under the sky and the ruins,
surrounded by bullets.

Simple freedom like the spring
singing to life, defying death.
Simple freedom, fiction of a border
against bad luck.

Simple freedom, birthing and rebirthing
cities, streets, houses, books, songs, struggles.
The simple freedom with which you go knowing
that your weapons are many.

Simple freedom, oh, face of love!
In the skin of the Moon it seems I can see you.
Simple freedom, feeling and honor
that they cannot take away from you.

Translation mine.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to preserve the rhythm or the rhyme scheme of Tony’s words. The imagery isn’t easy to sustain in English either. But I hope you get the general idea.

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9 Responses to Festive Left Friday Blogging: A poem by Tony Guerrero

  1. Jared Wolf says:

    Really gives you a different understanding of the word “freedom.” America has perverted the meaning of the word so much.

    Thanks for translating it for us!

    • Sabina Becker says:

      You’re welcome! This is my chance to do a couple of things I love: write poetry, and translate. And a third, too: Visit Latin America in my mind.

  2. Jared Wolf says:

    Yeah! I wish I could do that. Maybe you can translate the Selena song “Como la Flor” for me. It’s one of my favorites to play on my guitar. I know all the words, but I don’t know what they mean, and my pronunciation is terrible I’m sure.

    Como la Flor means “how the flower,” right? Then “Con tanto amore” I think means “with so much love?” I know Con and amore, but tanto I don’t know. I just love the song. It doesn’t get much better than tejano music.

    • Sabina Becker says:

      It means “Like the Flower”. I’m gonna google for the lyrics. Give me a bit, and I’ll see what I can do…

      Okay. Here ’tis:

      I know you have a new love,
      But still, I wish you the best
      If you couldn’t find happiness with me
      Maybe someone else will give it to you
      Like the flower
      With so much love
      You told me
      It withered
      I’m leaving today
      I know how to lose
      But oh, how it hurts me
      If you could only see how it hurts to lose your love
      With your goodbye, you took my heart away
      I don’t know if I can love again
      Because I gave you all the love I could
      Like the flower
      With so much love
      You told me
      It withered
      I’m leaving today
      I know how to lose
      But oh, how it hurts me
      My heart aches
      To see you in the arms of another love
      Dear love, how I wish
      You and I were still together
      And how I wish, love,
      To have you with me forever
      I cry and cry
      Knowing that you and I
      Never, never, never
      Will be together again
      My heart aches
      You left me without a reason why
      I can’t live without your love
      And I wish you would come back here with me
      And how I wish, love
      That I could have you here with me forever.

  3. Cort Greene says:

    Int’l Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5
    P.O. Box 22455 Oakland CA 94609 United States | info@thecuban5.org


  4. Jared Wolf says:

    Awesome, thanks so much for this! People would ask me, “what does the song mean?” I always say ‘I have no idea.’ It’s amazing to me that the lyrics are so simple yet sound so beautiful. Interesting; I knew ‘felizidad’ meant ‘happiness’ but in “Si en mi, no encontraste, felizidad” the word happiness is in the middle of the sentence in English but at the end in Spanish, as you would think “si en mi, in English the ‘me’ is at the end instead of the beginning of the sentence. Must make it hard to translate. 🙂

    Hey if you ever get bored some day and feel like doing some other songs, “Amor Prohibido” and “Tu solo tu” are a couple other ones I play. Tu solo tu I like mostly for the brass instruments, but I’ve always been really curious about the words in “Amor Prohibido.” I’m thinking ‘love prohibited,’ so my mind goes straight to ‘forbidden love.’ If it’s fun for you, it would be cool, no worries. I have a pay pal account though if you want to do some business. lol

  5. Jared Wolf says:

    Thanks a million though!!!!

  6. Jared Wolf says:

    Oh snap! You’re a professional translator! That’s embarrassing. You translate entire books professionally and here I am asking you to translate my goofy little songs. FACEPALM.

    I have a ton of other songs I’d love to know the lyrics to though. I’m not sure what you would charge per song, but if it’s something you would be interested in doing, it would be really fun for me.

    I’m having fantasies now of learning the Spanish language through music. HA! I wonder if that can happen. Hmm

    • Sabina Becker says:

      LOL…I don’t see why you can’t learn Spanish that way. I learned by reading Latin American alternative news, watching documentaries on Venezuela and Argentina, and movies about Che. Mind you, I also had a little old German textbook of my mom’s lying around to help me with the grammar basics. I ended up not needing it about halfway through, because I was getting more out of the process of translating for my blog.

      As for the translations of the songs, seeing as what I did here was quick and dirty, and not geared toward being sung (I’ve never heard the songs, so I don’t know what rhythm I should use), don’t worry about it. If you really insist on paying, though, I can send ’em to you by email; my PayPal account is linked to my home address. You can decide what you think is fair. (I don’t want to bankrupt a friend, after all.)

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