Monday, April 23, 2018

Debasis Mukhopadhyay writes

one illusion against another foretells a darkness

glued on the blind bottom
of such a darkness
roots pause
i remember how
the blue lacerations
of my shackled ankles
oared away
too fast

i wish i could touch you
almost like a sky
to let pass
the echo
which asks of you
the assurance of palpable bones

here some days the wholeness of future drifts toward exile
other days toward home
where lilies make a place to rest in my mouth
as i sing mi caballero

This poem is a fragment of a work which alludes to Jose Marti’s first collection of poems Ismaelillo (1882). Written in exile, Ismaelillo was dedicated to his then three-year-old son.
 José Martí & son José Francisco "Ismaelillo" Martí Zayas-Bazán

1 comment:

  1. José Julián Martí Pérez was a Cuban poet and revolutionary. At 16 he was arrested for treason, imprisoned, and exiled to Spain at 18. Unable to return to Cuba after finishing his education, he moved to Mexico and met his future wife María del Carmen Zayas Bazán Hidalgo, daughter of a Cuban landowner who had fled the revolutionary chaos at home; they married 2 years later in Cuba, after the 1st war of liberation ended. Eleven months later José Francisco Martí Bazán was born, but 15 days after his baptism the poet was arrested again due to his participation in the Guerra Chiquita (Little War), the 2nd failed Cuban revolution. Again deported to Spain, he made his way to New York and resumed his political activity. In 1882 Thompson and Moreau published his 1st volume of poetry, 15 poems dedicated to his son. The foreword read, “Son: Scared of everything, I take refuge in you. I have faith in human betterment, in the future life, in the utility of virtue, and in you. If someone tells you that these pages look like other pages, tell them that I love you too much to desecrate you like that. As I paint you here, my eyes have seen you. You have appeared to me with those gala attire. When I have stopped seeing you in a way, I have stopped painting you. Those streams have passed through my heart.” He told Charles Dana that the book “is the romance of my love affair with my son; one gets so tired of reading so many romances about love affairs with women." His wife and son rejoined him in New York in 1891 but, unable to share his political zeal, returned to Cuba 2 months later. Martí never saw them again but fathered another child with Carmen Miyares de Mantilla, a Venezuelan who ran a boarding house in New York; their daughter later became the mother of Cesar Romero, the actor who played the Joker in the “Batman” TV series of the 1960s. Two months after his family’s departure he published “Versos Sencillos”(Simple Verses), which contained his best-known work (adapted by Pete Seeger as the song "Guantanamera"). The 3rd attempt to free Cuba began in February 1895, and Martí persuaded Máximo Gómez y Báez, the chief theoretician of guerrilla warfare, to lead an expedition, and together they issued the Manifesto de Montecristi, The force left Florida on 1 April and landed at Playitas 10 days later. At the battle of Dos Ríos on 19 May, Gómez ordered his men to disengage. Martí was supposed to be part of the rearguard but became separated from the rest but, spotting a courier, he ordered him to charge the Spanish troops. He had always been derided by other revolutionaries due to his lack of combat experience, which may have been a factor in his suicidal 2-man charge. Years later his son became a prominent politician and general; as Martí had written in “Ismaelillo,” "I am son of my son! / He remakes me!" Among the poems in that book was "Mi caballero" (My Horseman):

    Every morning,
    My little one
    Would wake me up
    With a huge kiss.
    Astride my chest,
    He would make bridles
    Out of my locks.
    Intoxicated with delight was he,
    Just as I was, delighted,
    My horseman would spur me:
    What a gentle spur,
    These two springy little feet!
    The way he laughed,
    My rider boy!
    And I would kiss
    His tiny feet,
    The feet that fit
    In but one kiss!

    --tr. Juan Ribó Chalmeta & Irina Urumova


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