Two Poems by Mario Benedetti

Mario Benedetti

Mario Benedetti (September 14, 1920 – May 17, 2009) was one of the most eloquent voices of the New Latin American Literature of the 1960s.  Committed to progressive change and anti-imperialist in form and content, Benedetti’s poems inspired activists and revolutionaries of all stripes for over forty years.  Targeted by the military dictatorship that ruled his native Uruguay in the 1970s and ‘80s, Benedetti spent those years in exile in Argentina, Peru, Cuba, and Spain.  The author of scores of novels, plays, and poetry collections, Benedetti is considered one of the most significant 20th century Latin American authors.  Many of Benedetti’s poems have been set to music and performed by the Argentine cabaret singer Nacha Guevara.

 

 

 

We’ll Go Together

Translated from the Spanish by Alfonso Casal

With your “I can” and my “I will”
We’ll go together, comrade.

Comrade, the same restless
Fate awakens us
You promise and I promised
Together to light this flame.

With your “I can” and my “I will”
We’ll go together, comrade.

Death kills and listens
Life follows later
The only worthwhile union
Is that which unites us in struggle.

With your “I can” and my “I will”
We’ll go together, comrade.

Like a bell
History sounds its lesson:
To enjoy tomorrow
We must fight today.

With your “I can” and my “I will”
We’ll go together, comrade.

For good or bad
We’re innocent no more
Let each take their place
For in this there can be no surrogates.

With your “I can” and my “I will”
We’ll go together, comrade.

Some cry “Victory!”
Because the people pay in lives
But these beloved deaths
Are writing history.

With your “I can” and my “I will”
We’ll go together, comrade.

We’ll go together, comrade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distressed, Enraged (a poem on the death of Che Guevara)

Translated from the Spanish by Alfonso Casal

Here we are
Distressed
Enraged
Although this death was one of the absurdly predictable ones

It’s shameful to look
At pictures
At chairs at rugs
To take a bottle from the refrigerator
To type the three global letters of your name
On the rigid machine
Whose ribbon was never
Ever
So pale

It’s shameful to feel cold
And sidle next to stove as always
To be hungry and eat
Such a simple thing
To open the record player and silently listen
Especially if it’s a Mozart quartet

Comfort is shameful
And asthma is shameful
When you, Commander are falling
Bullet-ridden
Fabulous
Irreproachable

You are our conscience, torn apart

They say they burned you
But what fire
Could burn your good
Good news
The irascible tenderness
Which came and went
With your cough
And your wheeze

They say they incinerated
All of you
Save one finger

But that’s enough to show the way
To accuse the monster and its lackeys
To squeeze the triggers yet again

You are dead
You are alive
You are falling
You are cloud
You are rain
You are star

Where you are
If you are
You are arriving

Take the opportunity
To breathe easily at last
To fill your lungs with heaven

Where you are
If you are
You are arriving

It’s a pity that god doesn’t exist

But there will be others
Surely there will be others
Worthy to welcome you
Commander

Surely there will be others worthy to welcome you

 

 

 

 

 



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