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  • antonio2009: Two other songs also apply to this sexagenarian: “The Fool on the Hill” by the Beatles and “El Bobo de la...

  • antonio2009: Carlos Montaner needs to look no further than Cuban history of the 19th century to discover the Cuban Holocaust of...

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  • Humberto Fontova: An interesting question is could anyone but Batista have straightened out the political mess that was Cuba in 1933,...

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realclearworld

Reinaldo Arenas: I have two homelands

A poem by Reinaldo Arenas via Crossing the Barbed Wire:

I Have Two Homelands

Reinaldo Arenas, the genial writer from Holguin, the dissident against all the banners he saw fluttering before his path. Those homelands of Marti that he could rewrite, Cuba, his immense sorrow, and the night, that friend who accompanied him up to that final hour in which we all find ourselves.

I have two homelands: Cuba and the night.

By Reinaldo Arenas

Both plunged in a single abyss.

Cuba or the night (because they are the same).

They both confer the same reproach

In the foreign land, of a braggart ghost.

Until your own fright is an illusion,

A lost wheel of a foreign coach

that rushes into a cataclysm

where breathing is itself a waste.

The sun has no light and it would be cynicism

that the time you were living was for loveliness.

If that is the homeland (the homeland, the night)

that has left us centuries of egoism,

I await another homeland, that of my madness.

*Translator’s note: The title of this poem is the first line of a poem by José Martí, titled “Two Homelands.”

Translated by Regina Anavy

4 comments to Reinaldo Arenas: I have two homelands

  • Griffin

    A beautiful poem by the great and tragic Cuban writer. Here are a few more of his best:

    “I have always considered it despicable to grovel for your life as if life were a favor. If you cannot live the way you want, there is no point in living”

    “La diferencia entre el sistema comunista y el capitalista es que, aunque los dos nos den una patada en el culo, en el comunista te la dan y tienes que aplaudir, y en el capitalista te la dan y uno puede gritar.”

    “Históricamente, Cuba había escapado siempre de la realidad gracias a la sátira y a la burla. Sin embargo, con Fidel Castro, el sentido del humor fue desapareciendo hasta quedar prohibido; con eso el pueblo cubano perdió una de sus pocas posibilidades de supervivencia; al quitarle la risa le quitaron al pueblo el más profundo sentido de las cosas.”

    "Dictators and authoritarian regimes can destroy writers in two ways: with official censorship or by showering them with perks."

    Arenas' writing is a testament to the desire for freedom in every human heart.

  • ranavy33

    The day after I translated this, there was a showing in San Francisco of a movie made about him. The filmmaker interviewed his mother and his father, very interesting. It was presented at the LGBT film festival here.
    Thanks for posting, Alberto!

  • Griffin

    ranavy33, I believe this is the documentary you were referring to:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-bK490aEzI

    Arenas is interviewed in this documentary, Conducta Impropria (Improper Conduct) about the treatment of homosexuals by the Cuban revolution,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qyROTWpGtQ

  • ranavy33

    The movie is Seres Extravagantes, by Manuel Zayas.