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Sunday, May 2, 2004

Like You, Reader

Jorge Guillén, from Horses in the Air & Other Poems

A man grows tired of being thing, a thing that serves knowing itself thing, silent thing capable of angry impulses. The manliness of man, of many men, grows dreadfully tired.

Now hands dirty and rough from drudgery cannot stop. Many eyes--naked eyes--see or half-see into the distance, even when bent toward the ground with its quagmires of laws.

Machine beside machine or alone exposed to the elements. Animal beneath a jungle sun, or in an utterly urban jungle. And the colors of the skin grow tired of their color.

Colors grow tired of being white, or yellow, or black: prostration. And millions and millions of hardships manage to form, at last, a single figure standing erect.

Neither hero nor monster. A wholly human figure that overwhelms, destroying and razing like Nature with geological--and mental--fury. But no. It is a crisis of History.

Crisis that would astound the gods themselves if they paid attention to our mud-mired slums. In the shanty towns they could glimpse people drowning and now seized by tides with fate's fury.

This time, certainly, the planet is off-balance. The colors are hurld upon the eminent, and the subjects, one by one, subjects swell the multitude that are oh! solid masses.

Masses of men who, one by one, could be men. Men like you, reader, reading, free, wrapped in the sovereignty of your skin, holding a volume in your hand, free.

Stop reading, look at the curtains at the window. No, it is not the air moving them. They are responding to that so fleeting motion that was a seismic movement. Watch out: it only foretells that....

To you also it fortells the catastrophe of castastrophes. Will slavery end? Will there be men who are not things? Men like you, reader, seated in your chair. Nothing more.

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