Monday, August 26, 2013

Nicolás Guillén ~

I Have

When I see and touch myself 

I, John, a Nobody only yesterday,

and today John with everything,

and today with everything.

I glance around, I look,

I see and touch myself

and I wonder how could it happen.

I have, let's see,

I have the pleasure of walking through my country,

master of all there is in it,

looking very closely at that which

I couldn't have, nor could have had before.

I can say, sugarcane crop,

I can say, mountain,

I can say, city,

I can say, army,

now mine forever, yours, ours,

and a vast splendour

of sunbeam, star, flower.

I have, let's see,

I have the pleasure of going,

I, a peasant, a worker, a simple man,

I have the pleasure of going

(just an example)

to a bank and talking to the manager,

not in English,

not as 'Sir',

but calling him 'companero' as we say in Spanish.

I have, let's see,

that being Black

no one can stop me

at the door of a dance hall or a bar.

Or even at the hotel reception

yelling at me there are no rooms

not a tiny room, not a large one

or a small room where I might rest.

I have, let's see,

there are no rural police

to seize me and lock me in jail

or uproot me from my land

and throw me in the middle of the highway.

Having the land, I have the sea,

no country club,

no high life,

no tennis and no yacht

but from beach to beach and wave on wave,

gigantic, blue, open, democratic:

in short, the sea.

I have, let's see,

I've already learnt to read

to count,

I've already learnt to write,

to think,

to laugh.

I have, now,

a place to work

and I can earn

what I have to eat.

I have, let's see,

I have, what was coming to me.


translated by Salvador Ortiz-Carboneres 


from Yoruba from Cuba 

(Peepal Tree 2005)