Elegy, poem by Jose M Heredia

Died! It does not exist anymore the one that one day
was honor and luster to my country!
Died! He does not exist! In him death
just robbed us of the best father,
of the philosopher, the wise fair man;
the most loyal husband: to the hand
that never refused the abated poor,
to the courageous and decisive liberal,
to Hernandez, I say finally, about the tyrants
mortal enemy, and from the country
the titular official; the first
who descended his cadaver to the cold tomb?
instead of doblegating to the infamous tyranny,
nor ever truce with the fierce crime.

Melpomene loan me, your favors:
without your divine help, without your protection,
in vain the honorable zeal of my pains
pretended to sing about this rare man
the merit without the same. Here in my mind
a copious torrent
pours out of your fire
that to my uneducated number illuminated
up to the sublime he raised later
of so many dignified enterprises…
And you, of which exercise, of which career
is in an immortal book, divine Cleo,
to guard from virtue immense history,
writes that of imminent Hernandez
while in Cuba with hurt gesture
perpetuates with his death his memory.

That he raised himself from his cradle like it rises
the flower that is growing next to some river,
care and gift of my country
that in him enjoyed his splendor and shine;
that ran through the intricate sciences,
that got drunk, that formed with them,
for more obstacles, that in its course found:
and when the highest classroom put law in his hands
went to see him and listen to him among the laws
to work for the good of the Cubans.
Did the tyrants resound?
Look at him then execrate their lives
more than praised always cursed
even by his own children. And such monsters
should exist in future years?
No: tyrants; no more. Perpetual rancor
has pledged us the entire world!

The century has arrived of your ruin,
no more chains, nor oppression!
Flying boils of liberty the divine flame
that will dethrone you and that will embrace you
has sunk you in deep Hell!
You will fall, fall. And from the fierce fall
up to the tomb will be heard, and then
to the live air the heroes will come back
victims of the infamous tyranny,
our chest scratching,
of serpents they have filled our impious soul.
And you, illustrious and venerated champion,
the triumph will reach of your justice,
you to whom venal curse, torpid malice
submerged early among the tomb
for way very distant
from the dignified to your virtue!… Vile assassin
that confused in the noble debate
of this brave and courageous Colatino,
of this intrepid Brutus
favor to the despotism that you drank
its fatal disgrace that you offered.
Fattened yourself with his blood; already dead
your anger left him: fatten and look at
the black life and the criminal enjoys
that this illustrious citizen expires.
No of Hernandez the courageous chest
entrance gave to infamy: I saw him
in tireless zeal, without being frightened of risks
liberty planting that in him boiled
and mourning for his victims dressing
to pledge for his ashes the revenge
of the cruel tyrant: already consoling
the one who is sunk in greasy dungeon?
for his country suffered,
or also giving his generous help
to the courageous men that in far away
absence in outside and dilated climate
lay in poverty away from their country
and their families.

Nor other has ever been;
the poor never reached to his doors harassed
by hunger and nakedness, without relief
of their sorrow; nor the hurt
widow asked for favor and shelter
that he did not console her,
and the orphan in him his father would find.
That is how he was in wisdom: when at the law bar
the bitter litigations were fermented;
when the opposing litigants
deaf to equality fought fiercely,
if to Hernandez for the end committed each other
evermore complicated being could be,
so much more rapidly Hernandez cure them
and in peace the funerary war he finished.

If a fast glance to his eloquence
we threw for fortune,
we will find the good sense and the prudence
of Camillus and Valerius, and all of Rome.
What am I saying! Lieutenant Epaminondas,
Aristides, Greece was never
more wise that this Aristipo form Havana.
When the print shop would free a happy letter
a liberal he printed of his talent;
when a foolish jury censured him,
there we heard his intrepid anger;
there he went to confuse the judged cured
if despot at the same time… He was declared not guilty.
More than blind Tarquino pledged it
his funeral ruin, and it has accomplished
when his country the sovereign people
lays in slavery from a tyrant king.

Knitting the imposture of the conspiracy…
In which does Hernandez
appear as a criminal! How does he get so angry?
the vile Nero that his disgrace he pledges!
Prisoner to the hero that imposes him and suffered
at the fort “Severe” of Matanzas,
that has never locked up more virtues
nor more innocence. But, nothing
his strong chest could
if such misfortune did not gather
to another such misfortune. His sweet lover,
his most tender wife to the bony woman
in three suns behind has gone down
when he was oppressed! So much misfortune
the templar rancor has reached
the Diocletian himself
if today would not be greater the despotism
that all that have subjugated man.

Suffer Hernandez the limit of destiny
following honor, even if infamous
they dragged him from castle to castle,
even if to cruel prison he is dragged…
To prison, Oh, God! Where the iniquitous
the murderer, the thief, that of black soul,
horrendous, awaiting for their punishments
they still detest the light…! Serene calm
always breathes the wise! The pure soul,
the noble soul could be abated,
but don’t make it truce with imposture!
Power of virtue! Socrates strong
before the stain and the affront
the calyx he hurried of infamous death.

Firm resists Hernandez, like standing
robust palm tree that ascends to heaven;
that if in destructive storm doblegates
of north wind the push, a little later
his old serene majesty is too much.
In this manner like this the rapid days
they saw each other resist their opponents,
and they saw him triumph, if the impious
Deaths without wounding his handsome existence
dignified of more living, of most happy
and prosperous fortune…

Died! It does not exist anymore the one that one day
was honor and luster to my country!
Just souls cry: never the crying
had better occasion nor reason;
and you Oh official! Animates again my despair
that it feels expire my first love.
Long live the wicked? And that the fierce
executioners of his life instead of mourning
dressed in bright colors and in victory
an smile give to his memory…?

Burning rays! To my hands
come only once, and will die
if I don’t purge the Earth of tyrants!
But the stain, the affront, the insult
to Hernandez will cover…? Famous descendancy
survives him. Oh you! growing genius
of virtue and knowledge! In you I didn’t take care
of your father’s honor; you imitating
his patriotic ardor, and surpassed
the iniquity of his cruel opponents,
from the crying that your tender face wilted
of this pain that the heart agitates
you will give birth to laurels,
the tree of glory
that will surround some day his victory!

Grow, and growing equally like Orestes
the hate against the vile perfidious Egisto,
avenge him of blur… Everything is possible
from time and virtue! It awaits you written
posthumous errand of illustrious father:
Ah! Never forget that as he died he told you:
“Wash my affront, is your duty…” A son
of such hero you will be, when at his shadow
you placate, even though late, in great day
more than with blood with sharp steel
of virtue, the eloquent lip,
destructive knife! Weapon of the wise!
And you, patrician, condemned sad
within the soul to drown emotion
of so much suffering, free course
give to crying; to painful torment
give rein without end: without end your sorrow
Cry, Matanzas, Ouch! Cry, Havana,
unhappy mother that oppresses slavery.

Unhappy Cubans! Yes; I can see you
all over going around in pain
the eyes raise to high heaven
swollen from crying, and more swollen
of repressed liberty! Let us cry,
and the tyrant surprises us
to Hernandez invocating at the sepulcher,
of your sacred repelling
the ferocious look of his executioner,
pushing him to exclaim: “Save, tyrant
the kingdom of the just; don’t perturb
the celestial quietude of your unhealthy breath!”

And the yellow face coming back wilted
to the insensible marble
shout with pain and anguish
Died! It does not exist anymore the one that one day
was honor and luster to my country…!

Elegy, poem by Jose M Heredia


Lawndale, United States

  • Artist

Artist's Description

my own translation from Spanish of a poem by the 2nd most famous poet from Cuba, makes some references to the Roman empire.

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