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Celebrating the poetry of Ruben Dario

News from Nicaragua | Wednesday, 19 February 2014 |

 

The life and work of Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario is being celebrated this week at the Granada International poetry festival. Dario is recognised as initiating the Spanish American literary movement known as modernism that had a profound influence on 20th century Spanish literature and journalism.

Our thanks to poet and translator Dinah Livingstone for the translation of Ruben Dario’s poem to US President Roosevelt

To Roosevelt

Mighty Hunter, the way to reach you would be

with voice of the Bible or a Walt Whitman poem.

Primitive and modern, simple and complex,

one part Washington, to four of Nimrod.


You are the United States,

you are the future invader

of America the innocent, with her indigenous blood,

who still speaks in Spanish and prays to Christ.

 

You are a proud, strong specimen of your kind,

you are cultured and clever, you go against Tolstoy.

Taming horses or killing tigers,

you are an Alexander-Nebuchadnezzar.

(You are a professor of energy,

as the fashionable madmen cry.)

 

You think life is fire,

progress an eruption,

the future wherever

your bullet strikes.

                                    No.

 

The United States is big and burly.

When it shivers, a deep shudder runs

down the Andes’ giant spine.

If you shout, it sounds like a roaring lion.

 

As Hugo told Grant: ‘The stars are yours.’

(Argentina’s sun is just up and shining,

Chile’s star is rising…) You are rich.

As well as Hercules, you worship Mammon;

and, lighting the pathway to easy conquest,

Liberty lifts its torch in New York.

 

But our America has had her poets

since the far-off times of Nezahualcoyotl,

great Bacchus’ footprints are still preserved there

and Pan’s alphabet she learned long ago;

she consulted the stars and knew Atlantis,

whose name echoes down to us from Plato.

From her life’s earliest origins

she’s lived with light, fire, fragrance and love.

America of great Moctezuma and the Inca,

perfumed America of Christopher Columbus,

Catholic America, Spanish America,

America where noble Cuauhtémoc declared:

‘I am not on a  bed of roses,’ America,

hurricane-shaken, alive with love.

Yes, you with Saxon eyes and barbarous souls, she’s alive.

And dreams. And loves, and quivers; she is the sun’s daughter.

Take care! Long live Spanish America!

A thousands cubs have sprung from the Spanish Lion.

Roosevelt, God himself would have to make you

the terrible Gunman, the mighty Hunter,

for you to grasp us in your iron claws.

 

And though you’ve got it all: one thing you lack: God!

 

Rubén Darío
Translated by Dinah Livingstone

Layout is the same as in original Spanish in Rubén Darío Poesía

Editorial Arte y Literatura, Havana 1989