Ernesto CardenalNicaraguaWriting2001

The other day coming back from Assisi to Civitella, I started thinking how St. Francis filled these hills and these valleys with love. Then I thought that the photographer that works with his camera does it for love too, and the same is for the artist working with engravings or colors on canvas, or the one making sculptures. That is love for humanity that moves the one who makes theater or the one who writes a score or the writer that renews language. After I thought that it is for love also that people work for a Foundation that gathers these artists in the Ranieri Castle in a beautiful corner of Umbria.

Translated from the Spanish by Claudia Cannizzaro

This Living Earth, 2011


The largest living creature on earth
is the Earth.

We’ve seen it in photographs:
the sapphire sphere amid white fleecy wisps
and gleaming white caps at its poles.
The new notion of Gaia -a living Earth.
The planet Earth, all one single, living being.
That’s how it was long before “life” began on its surface.
There’s no place to live except the heavens,
and so, emerging from the sun’s equatorial region
it became round in order to rotate.
A living being that didn’t need legs or arms or mouth or anus
just to be round and spin and spin going around the sun.
It rotated fast (5-hour days and 5-hour nights),
the moon creating tides ever since then.
By itself it created conditions for sustaining organisms
and then organisms with consciousness, people; and then
an organism that’s at once a community and individuals.
Burning and arid, smoking, spewing lava, molten glass,
it seemed the Earth had no future.
Who would have ever thought that from that flaming magma
forests arid cities and songs and longings would emerge.

Translated by Jonathan Cohen

Triumph of the Revolution in Nicaragua

When we reached Managua, thousands of people were awaiting the new government. They put us on a fire engine and we stood on its platform, overlooking the crowds. Much to our surprise, we found the outskirts of Managua silent, the streets deserted. But then we realized that everyone was in the square. As we approached, we heard a roar: shouts, rifle shots, bells tolling, and our fire engine honking its deafening siren. Several blocks away, the streets were already full of people heading for the square. All those red and black scarves and flags... How did they have time to make them? Toothless old women shouted: “¡Viva el frente Sandinista!”. How can I describe the feeling in that square? It was a sea of delirious people, packed in tight as a drum, yet more kept streaming in. The crowds pushed their way onto the cornices and the towers of the cathedral, which had been empty since the earthquake; it was swarming with people and looked as if it were about to collapse. In the park, the trees were also full of people, and the Teatro Ruben Dario facing the lake, and the rooftops of the Palacio Nacional as well. The crowds were dangling, clinging, scrambling. Columns from all the war fronts poured into the square, covered in sweat and dirt, radiant, in all kinds of vehicles taken over throughout the country during their victorious campaign: vans, cars, buses, trucks, military vehicles, armored cars, and tanks; they also arrived on foot, in olive green uniforms or in their tattered clothes, embracing comrades and strangers, hugged and kissed by the people, who were shouting and laughing and crying and jumping in joy, waving flags and banners, chanting slogans in unison, shooting rifles and shotguns and machine guns. It was a celebration that these people had never had in their 500 years of history. They were delirious; was it a dream? Were we also dreaming it all? Everyone was ecstatic, almost hysterical (were there 100,000, 200,000 people?) and nobody seemed to care about the brutal noonday sun beating down on Managua.

Translated from Spanish by Deborah Bonner