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The winds of the people carry me,
the winds of the people blow me on,
scattering this heart of mine
and readying my throat.

Oxen bow their heads,
impotently weak,
at their punishment:
lions lift theirs
and at the same time punish
with their clamorous claws.

I am not from a race of oxen,
I am from a race that holds
the mines of lions,
the passes of eagles,
and the ridges of bulls
with pride in the horn.
Oxen never prospered
in the wastes of Spain.

Who spoke of throwing a yoke
over the neck of this race?
Who ever yoked
or hobbled a hurricane?
or kept a lightning bolt
a prisoner in a jail?

Asturians of courage,
Basques of armoured stone,
Valencians of happiness
and Castilians of soul,
labouring like the earth
graceful as wings;
Amdalusians of lightning
born among the guitars
and forged on torrential
anvils of tears;
Estramadurans of rye,
Galicians of rain and calm,
Catalans of firmness
Aragonese of lime,
Murcians of dynamite
fruitfully multiplied,
Leonese, Navarrese, masters
of hunger, sweat and the axe,
kings of minerals,
lords of the tilled soil,
men who among the roots,
like elegant roots,
go from life to death,
go from void to void:
people of ill descent
want to put yokes on you,
yoke you must leave
broken across their backs.

The twilight of the oxen
is the point of daybreak.

Oxen die humble,
clothed in the stink of stables;
the eagles, the lions,
the bulls, die with pride,
and behind them the sky
is un-darkened and endless.
The agony of the oxen
makes the spirit small,
that of the wild creature
enhances all creation.

If I am dying, let me die
with my head held high.
Dead and twenty times dead,
my mouth in the grass,
I’ll keep my teeth clenched
and my chin resolute.

Singing I wait for death,
for there are nightingales that sing
above the fusillades
and in the midst of battle.


Miguel Hernández
Translation by A. S. Kline

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