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Only he who loves, flies. But who loves enough
to be like the slightest and most fugitive bird?
It goes eastwards sinking, commanding hatred, all that
might have wanted to rise again, direct and alive.

To love... But who loves? To fly... But who flies?
I will conquer the blue, eager for plumage,
but love, always beneath, is saddened
at not finding the wings that sure courage gives.

An ardent being, clear of desires, winged,
wanted to ascend, to have freedom in which to nest.
He wanted to forget that men move away in chains.
Where they lacked feathers put valour and oblivion.

Sometimes he flew so high, that the sky shone
over his skin, under his skin, the bird.
Being, you who were once confused with a lark,
others, like weights of hail, brought you down.

You know already the lives of the rest are flagstones
to cover you: prisons to swallow what’s yours.
It passes, life, among bodies, behind bars of beauty.
Through the bars, the blood flows free.

Sad instrument happy to be worn: urgent
tube for desiring and breathing fire.
Sword devoured by constant use.
Body in whose closed horizon I unfold.

You will not fly. You cannot fly, body that wanders
through these corridors where the air is my knot.
No matter how hard you struggle in ascending, you are wrecked.
You will not cry out. The field is what follows, deserted and mute.

The arms do not flutter. Perhaps they are tail-feathers
that the heart wanted to launch into the firmament.
The blood is saddened at fighting on alone.
The eyes turn saddened from knowledge of evil.

Each city, sleeping, waking crazy, exhales
the silence of prison, of sleep that burns and rains down,
like a hoarse insect having no power to take wing.
The man lies down. The sky lifts itself. The air moves.


Miguel Hernández
Translation by A. S. Kline

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