a modern terror of ancient suffering

30 March 2013 2 comments
>> a poem by Ernesto Cardenal,
an interpretation of the biblical Psalm 22, of David,
from Cardenal's "Salmos de este momento en el mundo"
(click here to hear this piece read).
An English translation follows.

SALMO 21 (22)

Dios mío Dios mío ¿por qué me has abandonado? 
Soy una caricatura de hombre
el desprecio del pueblo 
Se burlan de mí en todos los periódicos
Me rodean los tanques blindados 
estoy apuntado por las ametralladoras 
y cercado de alambradas 
las alambradas electrizadas 
Todo el día me pasan lista  
Me tatuaron un número 
Me han fotografiado entre las alambradas 
y se pueden contar como en una radiografía todos mis huesos
Me han quitado toda identificación

Me han llevado desnudo a la cámara de gas 

y se repartieron mis ropas y mis zapatos 

Grito pidiendo morfina y nadie me oye
grito con la camisa de fuerza
grito toda la noche en el asilo de enfermos mentales 
en la sala de enfermos incurables
en el ala de enfermos contagiosos 
en el asilo de ancianos
agonizo bañado de sudor en la clínica del psiquiatra 
me ahogo en la cámara de oxígeno
lloro en la estación de policía
en el patio del presidio 
en la cámara de torturas
en el orfelinato
estoy contaminado de radioactividad
y nadie se me acerca para no contagiarse
Pero yo podré hablar de ti a mis hermanos 
Te ensalzaré en la reunión de nuestro pueblo 
Resonarán mis himnos en medio de un gran pueblo 
Los pobres tendrán un banquete
Nuestro pueblo celebrará una gran fiesta 
El pueblo nuevo que va a nacer.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

PSALM 21 (22) 

My God my God, why have you abandoned me?
I am a caricature of a person
despised by the people
They sneer at me in all the newspapers
Tanks surround me
machine guns take aim at me
barbed wire, loaded with electricity, imprisons me
Every day I am being called up
I am tattooed with a number
They photographed me behind the gates
and my bones can be counted like on an X-ray
All identification has been removed from me
Naked they pushed me into the gas chamber
and my clothes and shoes they have shared among themselves
I cry for morphine and no one hears me
I cry with the straitjacket
I cry every night in the mental hospital
in the ward for incurable patients
in the quarantine wing
in the asylum of the elderly
I agonize, covered in sweat, in the psychiatric clinic
I suffocate with the oxygen tank
I cry at the police station
in the prison courtyard
in the torture chamber
in the orphanage
I am contaminated with radioactivity
and no one comes near me, for fear of infection
But I will speak of you to my brothers
You I will praise at our public meetings
My hymns will be sung in large crowds
The poor will hold a banquet
Our people -- the people yet to be born -- 
will rejoice in a great feast.

I like this poem mainly for 2 reasons

1. Through its contemporization it gives me deeper insight into the sufferings of David and of Christ; it makes me to feel a modern terror of ancient suffering.

2. It draws a thick and intolerable line between the suffering Christ and the oppressed and forgotten of today.

It 100% succeeds as a poem. 

a piece of "Golgotha", a painting by Gebre Kristos Desta (1963, Ethiopia) 


  • Andrea said...

    Wow. It definitely reminds me of the purpose to Jesus' suffering, and His ability to understand our deepest fears and pain. Thank you for sharing.

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