Nanas De La Cebolla

I have only been to Spain once, a few years ago and we stayed with some friends who live there in a small village several miles from the coast. We had a wonderful, unforgettable holiday, and I would love to visit Spain again.

I have a new friend who is Spanish and we were talking about poetry and I told her about my favourite poet, Martín Espada, and she told me her favourite poet was Miguel Hernandez. I had not heard of him before but decided to find out more. To my amazement he was born in  Orihuela where our friends live, it seemed such a strange coincidence that the only place I knew in Spain was where this great but tragic poet came from.

Miguel_hernandez

Miguel was born in 1910 into a poor family; he had little proper education and was a goatherd. However, by the age of twenty-three he had published his first book of poems. he got married in 1937, when Spain was descending into the chaos of its struggle against fascism. His first child born later that year died in 1938 but a few months later a second son was born. Miguel was arrested many times for his stand against the Right, but in the end he was sentenced to death, and although this was commuted to life imprisonment, he died at the age of thirty-one after terrible and harsh treatment and submitting to typhus and tuberculosis.

I don’t speak Spanish, but this poem is so beautiful it speaks across the language barrier. it is addressed to his wife who has written telling him that while he is in jail all she and their baby have is bread and onions to eat. “In the poem, the poet envisions his son breastfeeding on his mother’s onion blood (sangre de cebolla), and uses the child’s laughter as a counterpoint to the mother’s desperation. In this as in other poems, the poet turns his wife’s body into a mythic symbol of desperation and hope, of regenerative power desperately needed in a broken Spain.” (Wikipedia)

NANAS DE LA CEBOLLA
.
 ( Dedicadas a su hijo, a raíz de recibir una carta de su mujer,
en la que le decía que no comía más que pan: y cebolla)
 .
La cebolla es escarcha
cerrada y pobre.
Escarcha de tus días
y de mis noches.
Hambre y cebolla,
hielo negro y escarcha
grande y redonda.
.
En la cuna del hambre
mi niño estaba.
Con sangre de cebolla
se amamantaba.
Pero tu sangre,
escarchada de azúcar,
cebolla y hambre.
.
Una mujer morena
resuelta en luna
se derrama hilo a hilo
sobre la cuna.
Ríete, niño,
que te traigo la luna
cuando es preciso.
.
Alondra de mi casa,
ríete mucho.
Es tu risa en tus ojos
la luz del mundo.
Ríete tanto
que mi alma al oírte
bata el espacio.
.
Tu risa me hace libre,
me pone alas.
Soledades me quita,
cárcel me arranca.
Boca que vuela,
corazón que en tus labios
relampaguea.
.
Es tu risa la espada
más victoriosa,
vencedor de las flores
y las alondras
Rival del sol.
Porvenir de mis huesos
y de mi amor.
.
La carne aleteante,
súbito el párpado,
el vivir como nunca
coloreado.
¡Cuánto jilguero
se remonta, aletea,
desde tu cuerpo!
.
Desperté de ser niño:
nunca despiertes.
Triste llevo la boca:
ríete siempre.
Siempre en la cuna,
defendiendo la risa
pluma por pluma.
.
Ser de vuelo tan lato,
tan extendido,
que tu carne es el cielo
recién nacido.
¡Si yo pudiera
remontarme al origen
de tu carrera!
.
Al octavo mes ríes
con cinco azahares.
Con cinco diminutas
ferocidades.
Con cinco dientes
como cinco jazmines
adolescentes.
.
Frontera de los besos
serán mañana,
cuando en la dentadura
sientas un arma.
Sientas un fuego
correr dientes abajo
buscando el centro.
.
Vuela niño en la doble
luna del pecho:
él, triste de cebolla,
tú, satisfecho.
No te derrumbes.
No sepas lo que pasa ni
lo que ocurre.
.

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