Saturday Evening Poetry: Roque Dalton

I find poetry hard to understand, the subtle nuances and hidden meanings often escape me. For a long time, this has been a reason why I avoided poetry like the plague. But I realized that I am avoiding a very rich, very varied source of literature. So, starting today, I am going to devote this fortnightly to poetry, especially to poets I have never heard of, though I will definitely come back to the masters from time to time. I hope you readers will join me in this poetry reading and carry on the tradition (if you can call it that) on your blogs as well.

This week, I will start off with the Salvadoran Poet Roque Dalton. He was a political activist, journalist and poet associated with the People's Revolutionary Army, shot dead in 1975. His most popular poem is Poema de Amor (Love Poem). In this poem, originally "El Descanso Del Guerrero", he writes about the fate of the modern revolutionaries, whose deaths raise more questions than their lives.


The dead are more unmanageable every day.

Before it was easy with them:

we gave flowers to the uptight ones

we gave the relatives the names on one long list:

to these we gave national borders

to those we gave remarkable peace

that one we gave a monstrous marble tomb

Then we saluted the memory of the corpses

and went to their cemetery rows

marching to the compass of old music.

But where the dead go

is different now.

Today they ask

ironic questions.

And it seems to me that they fall more and more

on account of being

more and more

the majority.

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