Two Chiles

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Two Chiles

By Pablo Neruda & Tom Raworth

‘Science for the People’ Vol. 5, No. 6, November 1973, p. 24—25

THEY RECEIVE INSTRUCTIONS AGAINST CHILE

But we have to see behind all these, there is something
behind the traitors and the gnawing rats,
an empire which sets the table,
and serves up the nourishment and the bullets.
They want to repeat their great success in Greece.
Greek playboys at the banquet, and bullets
for the people in the mountains: we’ll have to destroy the flight
of the new VIctory of Samothrace, we’ll have to hang,
kill, lose men, sink the murderous knife
held to us from New York, we’ll have to use fire
to break the spirit of the man who was emerging
in all countries as if born
from the earth that had been splashed with blood.
We have to arm Chiang and the vicious Videla,
give them money for prisons, wings
so they can bomb their own populations, give them
a hand-out, a few dollars, and they do the rest,
they lie, bribe, dance on the dead bodies
and their first ladies wear the most expensive minks.
The suffering of the people does not matter: copper
executives need this sacrifice: facts are facts:
the generals retire from the army and serve
as vice-presidents of the Chuquicamata Copper Firm,
and in the nitrate works the “chilean” general
decides with his trailing sword how much the natives
may mention when they apply for a raise in wages.
In this way they decide from above, from the roll of dollars,
in this way the dwarf traitor receives his instructions,
and the generals act as the police force,
and the trunk of the tree of the country rots.

                                              — Pablo Neruda

 

THE SONG OF MAN AT DEATH

When the social revolutions spread over the world
planting their justice, and there’s no more hunger
or crimes of other hungers, man will continue to breathe out
his song, that springs to life
from the ephemeral lips that shaped it. Strange destiny,
bright and courageous. Strange and delicate.
Then many men will have sufficient peace
to revel in the beauty of the song, in the beauty that travels
the changing human world, in the human art. And they will need songs
to go with them, and will rejoice
in new and ancient art, in their defiance of death.
Like every man, the singer confronts his shadow;
it has eaten childhood, adolescence and friends,
parents and days, loves, dreams and deeper parts. He enters it
shrinking in its illusion, with the weariness it causes
that violence at death shall not exist. He enters it
with the huge treasure of the dreams of youth,
vast well-spring cast into the hints of time.
These were the greatest days;
within himself he carried an immense
unspeakable confusion. He could never sing of it.
His mouth serves to light fires. The evenings tired him.

                                             — Tom Raworth

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