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«War» poem by Miguel Hernández


All the mothers in the world
hide their wombs, tremble,
and wish they could turn back
into blind virginities,
that solitary beginning,
and past without heritage.
Pale, overwhelmed,
fertility remains.
The sea is thirsty and the earth
yearns to be water.
Hatred flames out,
and love shuts doors.
Voices shake like spears,
voices like bayonets.
Mouths lunge like fists,
fists arrive like hooves.
Breasts like hoarse walls,
legs like sinewy paws.
The heart races,
storms, explodes.
It throws sudden black scum
into the eyes.

Blood waves the body,
flings the head off,
and searches for a hole, a wound
to leap outside through.
Blood parades through the world,
caged, joyless.
Flowers wither,
devoured by the grass.
An urge to kill possesses
the bottom of the lily.
Every body
longs to be joined
to a piece of metal:
to be married and horribly possessed.

To disappear: a vast, growing
anxiety rules over everything.
A ghostly procession of banners,
a chimerical flag,
a myth of nations:
a grave fiction of frontiers.
Outraged songs,
tough as boots,
scar the face of every hope
and tender guts.
The soul rages, fury.
Tears burst as lightning.
What do I want with light,
if I stumble into darkness?

Passions like horns,
chants, trumpets that urge
the living to eat the living,
to tear themselves apart stone by stone.
Whinnies. Reverberations. Thunder.
Spits. Kisses. Wheels.
Spurs. Mad swords
tear open a huge wound.

Then silence, mute
as cotton, white as bandages,
scarlet as surgery,
mutilated by sadness.
Silence. And laurel
in a corner among bones.
And an impassioned drum as
a tense womb, sounds
behind the countless
dead who never go away.

Miguel Hernández (1910-1942) fue un poeta de la célebre generación del 27. Participó activamente en la guerra civil española y fue un furibundo republicano y antifascista. Murió de tuberculosis, preso del franquismo.

Illustrations: Dazazás; Translation: América Rodríguez and Ricardo Vaz

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