Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Death and the Dictator

/ a death too quiet /

So on Human Rights Day, 2006, Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte, died, aged 91 and not in custody. The death of the man responsible for thousands of deaths, torture and imprisonment in Chile, a crook, who supported a bizzare zoo of sadists, and turned Chile into a neoliberal Guinea Pig, was a cause for joy to many, a relief to some. It also means that among the protagonists of September 11, 1973 in Chile, only one remains alive today...
Instead of further expounding on the man's horrors, I present the following poem by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (who died a few days after Pinochet's coup).

The Dictators

An odor has remained among the sugarcane:
a mixture of blood and body, a penetrating
petal that brings nausea.
Between the coconut palms the graves are full
of ruined bones, of speechless death-rattles.
The delicate dictator is talking
with top hats, gold braid, and collars.
The tiny palace gleams like a watch
and the rapid laughs with gloves on
cross the corridors at times
and join the dead voices
and the blue mouths freshly buried.
The weeping cannot be seen, like a plant
whose seeds fall endlessly on the earth,
whose large blind leaves grow even without light.
Hatred has grown scale on scale,
blow on blow, in the ghastly water of the swamp,
with a snout full of ooze and silence
[translator unknown, found i.e. here,
more info on the translator welcome]
Los Dictadores

Canto General (1950)

Ha quedado un olor entre los cañaverales:
Una mezcla de sangre y cuerpo, un penetrante
Pétalo nauseabundo.
Entre los cocoteros las tumbas están llenas
De huesos demolidos, de estertores callados.
El delicado sátrapa conversa
Con copas, cuellos y cordones de oro.
El pequeño palacio brilla como un reloj
Y las rápidas risas enguatadas
Atraviesan a veces los pasillos
Y se reúnen a las voces muertas
Y a las bocas azules frescamente enterradas.
El llanto está escondido como una planta
cuya semilla cae sin cesar sobre el suelo
y hace crecer sin luz las grandes hojas ciegas.
El odio se ha formado escama a escama,
Golpe a golpe, en el agua terrible del pantano
Con un hocico lleno de légamo y silencio.

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