Friday, August 01, 2008

To Roosevelt by Ruben Dario

Ruben Dario wrote "To Roosevelt" (for Teddy) shortly after the Spanish American War, when the rest of the Americas feared U.S. imperialism. It remains a strong statement about American power and the potential abuse of that power.

To Roosevelt

The voice that would reach you, Hunter, must speak
in Biblical tones, or in the poetry of Walt Whitman.
You are primitive and modern, simple and complex;
you are one part George Washington and one part Nimrod.
You are the United States,
future invader of our naive America
with its Indian blood, an America
that still prays to Christ and still speaks Spanish.
You are strong, proud model of your race;
you are cultured and able; you oppose Tolstoy.
You are an Alexander-Nebuchadnezzar,
breaking horses and murdering tigers.

(You are a Professor of Energy,
as current lunatics say).
You think that life is a fire,
that progress is an eruption,
that the future is wherever
your bullet strikes.
No.

The United States is grand and powerful.
Whenever it trembles, a profound shudder
runs down the enormous backbone of the Andes.
If it shouts, the sound is like the roar of a lion.



--Translated by Lysander Kemp



Ruben Dario, a native of Nicaragua, is considered one of the great poets of Spanish Literature, and was the leader of its Modernist movement. Dario's admirers included Pablo Neruda, Federico García Lorca, Jorge Louis Borges and Octavio Paz.


29 Comments:

Blogger Ginger said...

and many of us are still very afraid...even those who live here.

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Blogger homefris said...

I thought you might enjoy this one:

Where I Found the Women

Once in Spain a path led me through woods
to a village of pink stone where I found the women,
sweltering in black, throwing the hay to the sun.
"Not for you, hi ja!" they laughed and went on lifting.
I stood in the shade watching the field blaze and fall.

Yesterday the path swung out over the ocean
so suddenly it hurt – that huge blue knocking my lungs
full of hope when I'd been bent over mosses,
tuned to the squelched sound of the creek.
So often the path leads nowhere, backs up into brush,
disappears in a parking lot, butts into wire.
Days I'm longing for something to lift me
like a birthday to where I am praised
just for coming, just for staying on –

And I remember the women in Spain,
how they wouldn't be led from the field.
They gave me cider and shade but kept
the color of their clothes,
the heat of the day, their hay's sweetest hour.

-- Noelle Oxenhandler

4:34 PM  
Anonymous HowdyDoody said...

Homefris I did enjoy that poem very much, as the one posted on site. I loved the image of the spine shuddering, yes indeedy! And the blueness of the ocean; that I could feel.

10:30 AM  
Blogger DRchiick21 said...

The poem does has its truth. Well written and I enjoyed it very much.
I do strongly believe that Ruben Dario is a very famous, excellent writer.

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Anonymous laura gail said...

Where is the rest of the poem???? You have cut out about half of the poem as translated by Lysander Kemp and as written by Dario!

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