Thursday, January 20, 2005

reading neruda

Gregg Chadwick
ciudad de la memoria
38"x38" oil on linen 2005
Private Collection, Beverly Hills

At times a work of art from years before still speaks directly to the present moment. I was reading Neruda today miles away from the coronation in D.C. This mix of Neruda's words and my most recent painting, "Ciudad de la Memoria", seemed to spark something new and important while at the same time bringing light to America's dark shadows.

"La United Fruit Co."

Cuando sonó la trompeta, estuvo
todo preparado en la tierra
y Jehová repartió el mundo
a Coca-Cola Inc., Anaconda,
Ford Motors, y otras entidades:
la Compañía Frutera Inc.
se reservó lo más jugoso,
la costa central de mi tierra,
la dulce cintura de América.
Bautizó de nuevo sus tierras
como "'Repúblicas Bananas",
y sobre los muertos dormidos,
sobre los héroes inquietos
que conquistaron la grandeza,
la libertad y las banderas,
estableció la ópera bufa:
enajenó los albedríos,
regaló coronas de César,
desenvainó la envidia, atrajo
la dictadura de las moscas,
moscas Trujillo, moscas Tachos,
moscas Carias, moscas Martínez,
moscas Ubico, moscas húmedas
de sangre humilde y mermelada,
moscas borrachas que zumban
sobre las tumbas populares,
moscas de circo, sabias moscas
entendidas en tiranía.

Entre las moscas sanguinarias
la Frutera desembarca,
arrasando el café y las frutas
en sus barcos que deslizaron
como bandejas el tesoro
de nuestras tierras sumergidas.

Mientras tanto, por los abismos
azucarados de los puertos,
caían indios sepultados
en el vapor de la mañana:
un cuerpo rueda, una cosa
sin nombre, un número caído
un racimo de fruta muerta
derramada en el pudridero.

- Pablo Neruda

"The United Fruit Co."

When the trumpet sounded, everything
on earth was prepared
and Jehovah distributed the world
to Coca Cola Inc., Anaconda,
Ford Motors and other entities:
The Fruit Company Inc.
reserved the juiciest for itself,
the central coast of my land,
the sweet waist of America.
It re-baptized the lands
"Banana Republics"
and on the sleeping dead,
on the restless heroes
who'd conquered greatness,
liberty and flags,
it founded a comic opera:
it alienated free wills,
gave crowns of Caesar as gifts,
unsheathed jealousy, attracted
the dictatorship of the flies,
Trujillo flies, Tachos flies,
Carias flies, Martinez flies,
Ubico flies, flies soppy
with humble blood and marmelade,
drunken flies that buzz
around common graves,
circus flies, learned flies
adept at tyranny.

The Company disembarks
among the blood-thirsty flies,
brim-filling their boats that slide
with the coffee and fruit treasure
of our submerged lands like trays.

Meanwhile, along the sugared up
abysms of the ports,
indians fall over, buried
in the morning mist:
a body rolls, a thing
without a name, a fallen number,
a bunch of dead fruit
spills into the pile of rot.

-Translated by Jack Hirschman from The Essential Neruda


Anonymous said...

One wonders what would have been the world's reaction (including the US) if Bush’s resonating message was one of love. I couldn't help but hear fear disguised as threats of aggression. Never have I associated the latter with Christ. As a Christian who is deeply troubled by the course of our country, I pray for the day our leaders have the courage to be heroic.

...thoughts of Lieutenant Colonel Chris Hughes race through my head today.

-- jw

Anonymous said...

where does christitanity have to do with anything. Praying is going to do nothing. I belive speaking out to be heard and physically objecting to what's happening in the world is a million times better than praying. I'm sure president Bush prays, or else he wouln't be a christian, right? what is his praying doing for this country?
Sorry but that day won't be coming anything time soon with ur prays.

It's not fear,aggression, and disguise it's the truth!!!!

Dai =0P