Jose Marti (January 28, 1853–May 19, 1895)

“Only oppression should fear the full exercise of freedom.”


If you see a hill of foam
It is my poetry that you see:
My poetry is a mountain
And is also a feather fan.
My poems are like a dagger
Sprouting flowers from the hilt:
My poetry is like a fountain
Sprinkling streams of coral water.
My poems are light green
And flaming red;
My poetry is a wounded deer
Looking for the forest’s sanctuary.
My poems please the brave:
My poems, short and sincere,
Have the force of steel
Which forges swords.

26 thoughts on “Jose Marti (January 28, 1853–May 19, 1895)”

  1. great poet, gifted writer, fantastic essayist, muddled theoritst and horrible leader. you know there’s something wrong when both el exilio and the commies can both quote him to support their side. you sure as hell couldn’t do that with Washington or Jefferson.

  2. Actually, Cardinal, I think that your assessment of Marti was correct. He was first and foremost a superb poet. One of the things that I like about the man is that he was ordered/asked by the newspaper editor to write a novel, which he did. After he finished, he admitted it was bad. You have to admire a man that is honest enough to admit that.

    One of the things that I find laughable about some Cubans is that they have attributed everything and anything to Marti, including claiming that he was a philosopher. It’s really silly and I think detracts from his actual virtues.

    PS be prepared to be banned from this blog.

  3. LMAO! I don’t deny the sentiment behind what I wrote I just felt that it was a bit too antagonistic. My son is 4 and I’ve already started reading “La edad de oro” to him and it has been a huge thrill.

    Marti just had an unrealistic vision for his country and for its people a vision that while glorious, we will never achieve. Not on this dimension anyway.

  4. God only knows how different(or not)Cuba could have been if Jose Marti would have survived the war of Independence to lead the new Cuban Republic as it’s President.

    The truth is that even after death Marti and his dream of a free Cuba was the guiding force that keep the mambises fighting.

    Unfortunately Cuban history saw very small periods of political stability from 1902 to 1959. I guess that can be attributed to the nature Cuban people themselves and their political immaturity (but that goes for the rest of Latin-America). I guess we inherited this character trait from the Spanish (who knows).

    The truth is that the Cuban people lived fairly happy lives even under all the political instability that prevailed in the island until the arrival of Fidel Castro Ruz to the scene.

    The rest is history, and fifty years of blood, exile, tears and the destruction of a country, it’s people and it’s way of life.

  5. Spygirl,

    What is it then, exactly, that makes you Cuban? You obviously have isues with pretty much every aspect of every aspect.

    With each comment you make, I dislike you just that much more.

  6. One last thing,

    Jose Marti earned with his sacrifice for the cause of Cuba’s freedom the pedestal where resides today regardless of his detractors.

    The fact that Jose Marti was able to unite the many different Cuban independence groups for the War of Independence of 1895 makes him a great leader in my book. Take a look at us today and see how divided we’re. It is not an easy task to unite us, that’s for sure.

    Jose Marti was the dreamer, the poet, the statement, the visionary, and the one who inspired with his oratory the Cuban exile groups hungry for that one last try at winning freedom from the Spanish crown. He surely wasn’t a military leader (and that’s what’s got him killed). That job belonged to Antonio Maceo, Maximo Gomez and the many others that fought in the War of Independence of 1895.

  7. Freedom,
    I don’t really think that we can attribute our own political instability to the Spaniards. In fact, the Spaniards were famous for their political stagnation, whereas in Cuba, and elsewhere in Latin America, the instability is due to other causes. Keep in mind that our problem in Latin America is really the same age old problem that other countries have had, namely the military guy refuses to be subordinate and instead tries to take over the country. That was the problem with both the Roman Empire, the Persian Empire and the Chinese Empire: every jerk who commanded an army wanted to be the head honcho and the endless coup d’etats bled those civilizations to death. However, to get back to the case of Cuba, someone has to do some sort of analysis sooner or later as to why it is that Cuban politics attracts so many psychotics. It’s a real mystery. I mean, some of the characters that have participated in Cuban politics have been certifiable (Fidel Castro being the one that’s most obvious) and belonged in an insane asylum.

  8. Gee, Val, which statement was it that makes you dislike me more and more, the one about Marti being an excellent poet, that he was honest enough to admit that he was not a good novelist, or that some Cubans make the mistake of claiming that Marti was a philosopher?

  9. Spygirl,

    Farbeit for this son of a welder to have the audacity to question a multi-degreed intellectual about meaning and profundity.

    From now on, Ill limit my comments towards you to:

    “Que vuelta, asere? que bola con tu cake?”

  10. Spygirl,

    Sorry, not this time as I don’t have time to explain to you about what we inherited from the Spanish (as it would be a large post) that I meant in my post.

    I guess your utmost intellect does not allow you to understand it.

    Maybe some other time as I just don’t have time for your game (or your intelligence complex) now.

  11. the worst thing I can do is defend Spygirl since it is only bound to make her look worst but my comments were far worse. Nothing that any one of says is that controversial or new. No one can deny Marti as symbol for Cuba or his literary gifts. He was just an imperfect leader – his death while dramatic and romantic was absurd to an extreme. His political thinking lacked cohesiveness and consistency. Even Carlos Alberto Montaner makes that case. No one will ever question his love for Cuba and it’s people but that doesn’t mean that he was perfect.

  12. Cardinal,

    I dont find your comments disturbing at all. You stated your opinion respectfully and without spygirl hubris.

    You also didnt bash Cubans who admire the man from a self-centered ivory tower.

  13. Every great leader is history had his or her flaws and yet it doesn’t degrade them from their accomplishments and place in history.

    We are humans; we’re not perfect, only God is perfect.

    For us Cubans Jose Marti was the greatest leader we ever had, and I don’t have a problem with that.

  14. Freedom, what the hell was that about? Why the insult? Can’t we ever discuss a topic here without the inevitable insults?

  15. Spygirl,

    the saying is actually real Cuban dialect and not insulting at all. of course, it might be just a little to prosaic for the likes of you.

    Oh, and, I dont veil my insults.

  16. Spygirl, I actually read a book, like you usually do, on this subject. It’s the CUBICHE-TO-ENGLISH/ENHLISH-TO-CUBICHE dictionary published by Random Casa. “Que vuelta, asere? que bola con tu cake?” can be roughly translated into “Hello. How are you? How is it going?”

    Just FYI so you can add it to your higher learning credits…

  17. Freedom –

    I prefer Maceo for some reason, can’t back it up intellectually just admire his intransigence. Though he was a bit before their time Jose Antonio Saco is my favorite Cuban thinker of pre-independence period. Varela just his due but Saco doesn’t. By the way a huge thrill for me was attending mass at the Church Varela founded in the infamous 5 Points in New York City.

  18. Cardinal,
    I admit I don’t know what the 5 Points or who Jose Antonio Saco were. Can you write something about them?

  19. My father told me the story that when he was growing-up in Cuba in his farm there was a veteran of the Cuban War of Independence of 1895 that fought under Antonio Maceo.

    He told my Dad that in those days that it was mostly a guerrilla type of war with a few shots fired at the Spanish Army (because the insurgents didn’t have much ammo) and then running away from the Spanish into the cover of the hills until they could ambush them at close quarters and attack them with their machetes.

    This man claimed that was most of the type of fighting engagements that he was involved during his days under the command of General Antonio Maceo.

    My Dad tells me that this former fighter bottom of his feet were so thick and callous from all the running in the countryside without shoes that the could walk on top of broken glass without getting cut or punctured.

  20. Very cool – that sounds about the way Maceo’s men would fight. I was disgusted with the way the commies used his memory to politicize their efforts.

    5 Points is in New York – it was a horrible slum rife with violence and all sorts of illicit activity. The movie “Gangs of New York” is about life in the 5 Points. Father Varela founded the Church of the Transfiguration on Mott Street – there is a plaque at the front gate telling Varela’s story. It is now in Chinatown and many of the services are in Mandarin (I think) although I was able to catch one in English. New York is so cool – that same day I went to the room at Fraunces Tavern where Washington bade farewell to his officers. Later went to the church where Washington worshipped and paid my respects at Hamilton’s grave…all that while on foot.

    Jose Antonio Saco was a man way ahead of his time. A liberal (in the classical, not post FDR sense) he advocated the formation of a distinct Cuban identity, freer markets and the abolition of slavery. He was a journalist and essayist primarily. I see a direct ideological lineage from him to Montaner who I confess is my favorite Cuban thinker/writer.

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