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Saturday, 26 November 2016

As Great Men Leave The World ….

Among the flood of tributes to the late Cuban leader, Fidel Castro has been one at The Guardian newspaper where historian Richard Gott noted:

Jos-Julin-Mart-Prez6Cuba under Fidel was a country where indigenous nationalism was at least as significant as imported socialism, and where the legend of José Martí, the patriot poet and organiser of the 19th-century struggle against Spain, was always more influential than the philosophy of Karl Marx.”

Regarded as the symbol of Cuba's bid for independence from Spain in the late 1800s, José Julián Martí Pérez may also be viewed as being in the tradition of the valiant soldier poet. One must wonder how he would have reacted on learning that whereas his work to unite the Cuban émigré community, particularly in Florida, was crucial to the success of the Cuban War of Independence, many 20th century Cubans fled back there once Castro gained power in 1959.

Although Marti is now best remembered for the poem that became the lyrics to the Cuban anthem, Guantanamera, I pause below with a few simple lines that may be more appropriate for the day of Castro’s passing.

I Wish To Leave The World

I wish to leave the world
By its natural door;
In my tomb of green leaves
They are to carry me to die.
Do not put me in the dark
To die like a traitor;
I am good, and like a good thing
I will die with my face to the sun

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But the past half-week has also been one of more semi-mourning for Israel where, The Times of Israel reports, the mix of terrorist-triggered arson and wildfire blazes have caused thirty per cent more land devastation than the Carmel Forest fire of 2010.

Ordinary Israelis – Arabs along with Jews - have reacted as ever with gestures of love, sympathy and practical support for those who have had homes and businesses wrecked – and memories destroyed.

At times like these even the non-religious seek comfort in the bible and among items posted on social media has been this wonderful version of Psalm 121, attributed to King David, one of the world’s first acclaimed soldier poets. The singer is Shelly Markalov, who was aged only eight at the time of recording. You have my permission to weep. I did!

© Natalie Wood (26 November 2016)

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