14 thoughts on “The Apostle of Cuban Freedom”

  1. A sincere man am I
    From the land where palm trees grow,
    And I want before I die
    My soul’s verses to bestow.

    I’m a traveller to all parts,
    And a newcomer to none:
    I am art among the arts,
    With the mountains I am one.

    I know how to name and class
    All the strange flowers that grow;
    I know every blade of grass,
    Fatal lie and sublime woe.

    I have seen through dead of night
    Upon my head softly fall,
    Rays formed of the purest light
    From beauty celestial.

    I have seen wings that were surging
    From beautiful women’s shoulders,
    And seen butterflies emerging
    From the refuse heap that moulders.

    I have known a man to live
    With a dagger at his side,
    And never once the name give
    Of she by whose hand he died.

    Twice, for an instant, did I
    My soul’s reflection espy:
    Twice: when my poor father died
    And when she bade me good-bye.

    I trembled once, when I flung
    The vineyard gate, and to my dread,
    The wicked hornet had stung
    My little girl on the forehead.

    I rejoiced once and felt lucky
    The day that my jailer came
    To read the death warrant to me
    That bore his tears and my name.

    I hear a sigh across the earth,
    I hear a sigh over the deep:
    It is no sign reaching my hearth,
    But my son waking from sleep.

    If they say I have obtained
    The pick of the jeweller’s trove,
    A good friend is what I’ve gained
    And I have put aside love.

    I have seen across the skies
    A wounded eagle still flying;
    I know the cubby where lies
    The snake of its venom dying.

    I know that the world is weak
    And must soon fall to the ground,
    Then the gentle brook will speak
    Above the quiet profound.

    While trembling with joy and dread,
    I have touched with hand so bold
    A once-bright star that fell dead
    From heaven at my threshold.

    On my brave heart is engraved
    The sorrow hidden from all eyes:
    The son of a land enslaved,
    Lives for it, suffers and dies.

    All is beautiful and right,
    All is as music and reason;
    And all, like diamonds, is light
    That was coal before its season.

    I know when fools are laid to rest
    Honor and tears will abound,
    And that of all fruits, the best
    Is left to rot in holy ground.

    Without a word, the pompous muse
    I’ve set aside, and understood:
    From a withered branch, I choose
    To hang my doctoral hood.


    Yo pienso, cuando me alegro
    Como un escolar sencillo,
    En el canario amarillo,–
    ¡Que tiene el ojo tan negro!

    Yo quiero, cuando me muera,
    Sin patria, pero sin amo,
    Tener en mi losa un ramo
    De flores,–¡y una bandera!


    Vierte, corazón, tu pena
    Donde no se llegue a ver,
    Por soberbia, y por no ser
    Motivo de pena ajena.

    Yo te quiero, verso amigo,
    Porque cuando siento el pecho
    Ya muy cargado y deshecho,
    Parto la carga contigo.

    Tú me sufres, tú aposentas
    En tu regazo amoroso,
    Todo mi amor doloroso,
    Todas mis ansias y afrentas.

    Tú, porque yo pueda en calma
    Amar y hacer bien, consientes
    En enturbiar tus corrientes
    Con cuanto me agobia el alma.

    Tú, porque yo cruce fiero
    La tierra, y sin odio, y puro,
    Te arrastras, pálido y duro,
    Mi amoroso compañero.

    Mi vida así se encamina
    Al cielo limpia y serena,
    Y tú me cargas mi pena
    Con tu paciencia divina.

    Y porque mi cruel costumbre
    De echarme en ti te desvía
    De su dichosa armonía
    Y natural mansedumbre;

    Porque mis penas arrojo
    Sobre tu seno, y lo azotan,
    Y tu corriente alborotan,
    Y acá lívido, allá rojo,

    Blanco allá como la muerte,
    Ora arremetes y ruges,
    Ora con el peso crujes
    De un dolor más que tú fuerte,

    ¿Habré, como me aconseja
    Un corazón mal nacido,
    De dejar en el olvido
    A aquel que nunca me deja?

    ¡Verso, nos hablan de un Dios
    Adonde van los difuntos:
    Verso, o nos condenan juntos,
    O nos salvamos los dos!

  4. Pour out your sorrows, my heart,
    But let none discover where;
    For my pride makes me forbear
    My heart’s sorrows to impart.

    I love you, Verse, my friend true,
    Because when in pieces torn
    My heart’s too burdened, you’ve borne
    All my sorrows upon you.

    For me you suffer and bear
    Upon your amorous lap
    Every anguish, every slap
    That my painful love leaves there.

    That I may love, in peace with all,
    And do good works, as my goal,
    You thrash your waves, rise and fall,
    With whatever weighs my soul.

    That I may cross with fierce stride,
    Pure and without hate, this vale,
    You drag yourself, hard and pale,
    The loving friend at my side.

    And so my life its way will wend
    To the sky serene and pure,
    While you my sorrows endure
    And with divine patience tend.

    Because I know this cruel habit
    Of throwing myself on you
    Upsets your harmony true
    And tries your gentle spirit;

    Because on your breast I’ve shed
    All of my sorrows and torments,
    And have whipped your quiet currents,
    Which are here white and there red,

    And then pale as death become,
    At once roaring and attacking,
    And then beneath the weight cracking
    Of pain it can’t overcome: —

    Should I the advice have taken
    Of a heart so misbegotten,
    Would have me leave you forgotten
    Who never me has forsaken?

    Verse, there’s a God, they aver
    To whom the dying appealed;
    Verse, as one our fates our sealed:
    We are damned or saved together!

  5. I am still taken aback
    With a simple school boy’s glee
    By the yellow canary —
    Whose eye is so very black!

    When I die without a country,
    Nor to any man a slave,
    Place a wreath upon my grave
    And a flag drape over me!


    Yo soy un hombre sincero
    De donde crece la palma,
    Y antes de morirme quiero
    Echar mis versos del alma.

    Yo vengo de todas partes,
    Y hacia todas partes voy:
    Arte soy entre las artes,
    En los montes, monte soy.

    Yo sé los nombres extraños
    De las yerbas y las flores,
    Y de mortales engaños,
    Y de sublimes dolores.

    Yo he visto en la noche oscura
    Llover sobre mi cabeza
    Los rayos de lumbre pura
    De la divina belleza.

    Alas nacer vi en los hombros
    De las mujeres hermosas:
    Y salir de los escombros,
    Volando las mariposas.

    He visto vivir a un hombre
    Con el puñal al costado,
    Sin decir jamás el nombre
    De aquella que lo ha matado.

    Rápida, como un reflejo,
    Dos veces vi el alma, dos:
    Cuando murió el pobre viejo,
    Cuando ella me dijo adiós.

    Temblé una vez —en la reja,
    A la entrada de la viña,—
    Cuando la bárbara abeja
    Picó en la frente a mi niña.

    Gocé una vez, de tal suerte
    Que gocé cual nunca: —cuando
    La sentencia de mi muerte
    Leyó el alcalde llorando.

    Oigo un suspiro, a través
    De las tierras y la mar,
    Y no es un suspiro,—es
    Que mi hijo va a despertar.

    Si dicen que del joyero
    Tome la joya mejor,
    Tomo a un amigo sincero
    Y pongo a un lado el amor.

    Yo he visto al águila herida
    Volar al azul sereno,
    Y morir en su guarida
    La vibora del veneno.

    Yo sé bien que cuando el mundo
    Cede, lívido, al descanso,
    Sobre el silencio profundo
    Murmura el arroyo manso.

    Yo he puesto la mano osada,
    De horror y júbilo yerta,
    Sobre la estrella apagada
    Que cayó frente a mi puerta.

    Oculto en mi pecho bravo
    La pena que me lo hiere:
    El hijo de un pueblo esclavo
    Vive por él, calla y muere.

    Todo es hermoso y constante,
    Todo es música y razón,
    Y todo, como el diamante,
    Antes que luz es carbón.

    Yo sé que el necio se entierra
    Con gran lujo y con gran llanto.
    Y que no hay fruta en la tierra
    Como la del camposanto.

    Callo, y entiendo, y me quito
    La pompa del rimador:
    Cuelgo de un árbol marchito
    Mi muceta de doctor.

  7. That photo of Jose Marti was taken in a New York City studio during a hot summer day. If you look closely at the speck to the left of the lower button, you will notice that it is a fly.

  8. “All of us who have experienced all the crises and humiliations of being an exile are best prepared to understand the moral strength necessary to remain firm and courageous as was José Martí during his extraordinary life.” — Stefan Sweig, (1881-1942), Austrian psychologist and biographer.

    “Martí expresses a keen sense of human responsibility, of indignation in the face of the justification of horror, and of disdain for the avoidance of moral duty.” — Bertrand Russell, (1872-1970), English philosopher and Nobel Laureate.

    “The greatest monument to Martí’s memory will be the collection of his thoughts. Through them he will always be present.” — Albert Schweitzer, (1875-1965), German philosopher, physician and Nobel Laureate.

    “Martí’s doctrine on love for our fellow man is deeply rooted in the Gospels and disproves the false conflict between faith in the Lord and service to one’s country.” — Pope John Paul II, (1920-2004).

    “Hundreds of Martí’s aphorisms are enough to justify viewing him as spiritual guide for today’s world.” — Emil Ludwig, (1881-1948), German historian and biographer.

    “José Martí was a hero not only in the battle for Cuba’s independence but also in the cause of the human spirit that strives to achieve liberty with integrity.” — Harry S Truman, (1884-1972), President of the United States.

    “It is certain that he will be remembered by the freedom-loving people of our world as a pioneer and leader in the movement for human liberation.” — Ronald Reagan, (1911-2002), President of the United States.

    “Humanity will forever recollect his struggle and his entire love for humanity inborn in his nature.” — Gamal Abdel Nassar, (1918-1970), President of Egypt.

    “José Martí expressed his deeply-rooted feelings about the brotherhood of all men and fought with his pen against all hatred.” — Itzhak Ben Zvi,, (1884-1963), President of Israel.

    “His entire life having been dedicated to the principle of the equality of man, the protection of individual liberties and resulting freedom, furnishes a concrete example to others who have or will continue the struggle.” — Thurgood Marshall, (1908-1993), U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

    “At the time of his death in Dos Ríos, José Martí’s name was already firmly inscribed in the hearts and minds of all who believe in the dignity and equality of the individual, of all who cherish wisdom, courage and self-sacrifice.” —Ralph Bunche, (1904-1971), Undersecretary of the U.N. and Nobel Laureate.

    “Those who value the democratic way are grateful to Martí because we know that he who advances freedom anywhere advances it everywhere.” — Adlai E. Stevenson, (1900-1965), U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

    “The modern world is in upheaval over the novelty of Mahatma Gandhi’s being a warrior without hate. That rare phenomenon appeared among us in Cuba, in America, in this fighting saint, José Martí.” —Gabriela Mistral, (1887-1959), Chilean poet and Nobel Laureate.

    “I have always felt about Martí, and about what he felt, what one feels in the presence of the light, or under a tree, or close to a flower or a river.” — Juan Ramón Jiménez, (1881-1958), Spanish poet and Nobel Laureate.

    “I admire his cosmic intellect, his magnificent spirit, the concentrated universe in a man who had action and dream, the ideal and the reality of life, the death of an epic hero, and in America unquestionable immortality.” — Rubén Darío, (1867-1916), Nicaraguan poet.

    Collected by Carlos Ripoll.

  9. José Martí was a poet, essayist, journalist, orator, statesman, abolitionist, and patriot.

    “One of the greatest prose writers of Spanish America, he is noted for his fluent style and vivid imagery. His disregard for the stilted rhetoric of most 19th-century Spanish literature made him a precursor of the Modernismo movement.”

    José Martí’s writings rival those of Tocqueville.

  10. “El amor, Madre, a la patria

    no es el amor ridiculo a la tierra,

    ni a la yerba que pisan nuestras plantas;

    es el odio invencible a quien la oprime,

    es el rencor eterno a quien la ataca:

    y tal amor despierta en nuestro pecho

    el mundo de recuerdos que nos llama

    a la vida otra vez, cuando la sangre

    herida brota con angustia el alma:

    la imagen del amor que nos consuela

    y las memorias placidas que guarda”.

    Jose Marti

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