Monday, February 22, 2010

"He was always on the side of justice"

The BBC is reporting that the Spanish government will formally recognise one of the country's best-known poets as a victim of the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.

Here's some of the info, via reporter Sarah Rainsford in Madrid:

"The decision to rehabilitate him comes as Spain marks the centenary of the poet's birth with a series of events. 'We have always lived with this sadness, and finally we have cleansed his memory,' the poet's daughter-in-law, Lucia Izquierdo, told the BBC. 'We wanted his image restored as a poet of the people, and a great man.'

'Lullaby of the Onion'

The family applied for the rehabilitation under Spain's Historical Memory Law, passed in 2007 to recognise the victims on both sides of the Civil War, and during Franco's rule... Ranked alongside Federico Garcia Lorca and others as one of Spain's finest poets, Miguel Hernandez was from a poor, peasant family. A staunch Republican, many of his poems depict the horror of the Civil War. He was arrested and imprisoned in 1940, when he refused on principle to sign a confession and apology in return for permission to go into exile.

'He was never a traitor, he was always on the side of justice,' Ms Izquierdo said. 'It is frightening to think what they did to him. He never took up arms, but they were against him because he defended Spain with his pen. His legacy is some of the most beautiful poetry we have. His unjust death deprived us of more...'

Many of the poet's most moving works were written in prison, including the famous 'Onion Lullaby.' He addressed that poem to his wife when he learned she and their child were surviving on nothing but onions."

I don't often put in a plug for myself, but... You can read my translations (which were awarded the TLS Translation Prize, among other honors) of this astonishing poet here; for a few sample poems, click here.

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