The Selected Poems of Miguel Hernandez: A Bilingual Edition

"Miguel Hernández . . . was one of the most open-hearted and heart-breaking Spanish-language poets in the 20th century. Although less well-known in the United States, he is a figure comparable to, say, Federico García Lorca, Cesar Valléjo and Pablo Neruda. . . . Ted Genoways's triumphant new bilingual edition . . . gives us a rich opportunity to experience Hernández's emotionally charged poetry, which is so filled with human difficulties, so full of the earth and the spirit of freedom."—Edward Hirsch, Washington Post Book World

"Miguel Hernández was a poet of superb quality and international greatness. He stands out among the brilliant generation of Spanish Poets of the Twenties and Thirties as one of the most human, honest, and truly loyal to the common peoples' cause. Ted Genoways has shown profound judgement and discretion in selecting the best translations from prestigious poets, critics, and admirers. This is an excellent edition of the most representative poems by Miguel Hernández in an English translation that will be very helpful in approaching the work of one of the most powerful and passionate poets of the twentieth century."—Juan Cano Ballesta

Three poems from
The Selected Poems of Miguel Hernández
Translated by Ted Genoways

Sitting upon the Dead

Sitting upon the dead
fallen silent these two months,
I kiss empty shoes
and make an angry fist
with the heart's hand
and the soul that drives it.

That my voice climb the mountains
and descend to earth as thunder:
this what my throat begs
now and forever.

Come close to my clamor,
people fed from the same breast,
tree whose roots
keep me in prison,
because I am here to love you
and I am here to defend you
with my blood and with my mouth
like two faithful rifles.

If I came out of the earth,
if I was born from a womb,
pitiful and poor,
it was only that I would become
the nightingale of the pitiful,
echo of bad luck,
to sing and to repeat
to those who must hear me
everything of pain, everything of poverty,
everything of earth.

Yesterday the people woke
stripped and with nothing to cover themselves,
hungry and with nothing to eat,
and now today has dawned
justly hateful
and justly bloody.
In their hands the rifles
long to become lions
to finish with ferocity those
who have been so many times ferocious.

Even if you have no weapons,
people of one hundred thousand strengths,
don't let your bones thin;
punish those who wound you
as long as you have fists,
fingernails, saliva, and you have
heart, entrails, guts,
testicles and teeth.
Wild as the wild wind,
gentle as the gentle air,
kill those who kill,
hate those who hate
the peace of your heart
and the womb of your women.
Don't let them stab you in the back,
live face to face and die
with your chest before the bullets,
large as a house.

I sing in grief's voice,
my people, for your heroes:
your desires like my own,
your misfortunes that have
the same metal and tears,
your suffering in the same grain
and of the same wood,
your thought and my mind,
your heart and my blood,
your pain and my laurels.
Life looks to me like
a barricade of nothingness.

I am here to live
while the soul permits,
and here to die,
when the hour arrives,
in the veins of the people
now and forever.
Life is a lot to swallow,
death is only a gulp.

To the International Soldier Fallen in Spain

If there are men who contain a soul without frontiers,
a brow scattered with universal hair,
covered with horizons, ships, and mountain chains,
with sand and with snow, then you are one of those.

Fatherlands called to you with all their banners,
so that your breath filled with beautiful movements.
You wanted to quench the thirst of panthers
and fluttered full against their abuses.

With a taste of all suns and seas,
Spain beckons you because in her you realize
your majesty like a tree that embraces a continent.

Around your bones, the olive groves will grow,
unfolding their iron roots in the ground,
embracing men universally, faithfully.

[Everything is full of you]

Everything is full of you
and I am full of everything:
the cities are full,
and the cemeteries are full,

you, with all the houses,
me, with all the bodies.

Down the streets, I will leave
something that I will retake:
pieces of my life
come from far away.

I go, feathered by agony
against my will, to see myself
in the threshold, in the bottom
hidden since birth.

Everything is full of me:
of something that is yours and memory
lost, but found
once more, some day.

Days that linger behind
decidedly black,
indelibly red,
golden upon your body.

Cast from your hair,
everything is full of you:
of something that I haven't found
and look for among your bones.


Copyright notice: Excerpted from The Selected Poems of Miguel Hernández: A Bilingual Edition by Miguel Hernández, edited by Ted Genoways, published by the University of Chicago Press. ©2001 by the University of Chicago. All rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that this entire notice, including copyright information, is carried and provided that the University of Chicago Press is notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the University of Chicago Press.

Miguel Hernández
The Selected Poems of Miguel Hernández: A Bilingual Edition
Edited and translated by Ted Genoways
With a Foreword by Robert Bly. With additional translations by Timothy Baland, Willis Barnstone, Robert Bly, John Haines, Geoffrey Holiday, Edwin Honig, Philip Levine, Gary J. Schmechel, Don Share, and James Wright.
©2001, 436 pages, 9 halftones
Cloth $25.00 ISBN: 0-226-32773-6

For information on purchasing the book—from bookstores or here online—please go to the webpage for The Selected Poems of Miguel Hernández.

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