Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Taking away the burden



"¡Pobre Miguel Hernández! Otro caso de esos en que uno ha tenido que dar por muerto y resucitar luego a una persona, para acabar en lo peor. Todo idiota, idiota. ¿Por qué había de morir ese muchacho, noblote y generoso, en una cárcel, cruelmente ayudado a morir, por no decir asesinado, por sus prójimos? Te diré que si el franquismo durante la guerra se me hizo odioso más se me está haciendo en la paz. Porque en esa política persecutoria y vindicativa, es fría infamia, mala entraña, nada más. Y ese mequetrefe [Franco] que se titula el general crisitiano, aún anda cortejado y halagado por unos y por otros, en estos meses."

-- Pedro Salinas, on hearing of the death of the poet Miguel Hernández

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Miguel Hernández – whose life began in poverty and ended in tragedy – wrote his best known poetry while serving time in prison for infractions against the Franco-era fascist government. Yet the record may soon be set straight for a poet who is as revered among readers of Spanish poetry as are Pablo Neruda and Federico Garcia Lorca. More from The Independent:

"Miguel Hernández died at 32 in prison in 1942, after a death sentence for his left-wing sympathies was commuted to 30 years. Now the poet’s family want his supposed crime wiped from the records. In a law suit filed this week in the Spanish Supreme Court they ask for his guilty verdict to be annulled. In March, the family had a posthumous 'declaration of reparation' from the Spanish government. But they are not satisfied. 'We want something more, that they void the death sentence, so we can take away that burden,' his daughter-in-law, Lucía Izquierdo, said. 'That’s why we are asking that justice be served, that they hand down a ruling of innocent.'"

Lucía Izquierdo was very kind to me when I undertook my translations of the poet, and she's remained devoted to his legacy. I hope that the family, and justice, prevail in this, the poet's centennial year.

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I thought of Hernández when I read this lovely recent proclamation by David Shapiro:


you have the right to remain silent
the right to write poetry in any way you want,
gratuitous act, gratuitous melody, the right to be humorous to the end, you have the right to sing as long or longer than 4 minutes 33 seconds, right to build a dream bridge between Deal and Lisbon,
you have the right to a defense attorney even against God, you have the right to
bear your children in your arms,

2 comments:

Francisco Aragón said...

Thanks for this, Don.

Marc said...

that Shapiro extract is fantastico - i yearn for the day when posthumous lit bios reverse the cliche to "death sentence for right-wing sympathies".