Thursday, June 26, 2008

Three poems by Otto Rene Castillo

The other day i happend to read Guatemalan revolutionary Otto Rene Castillo's poems again. And i thought it would be apt to post some of them here.

Apolitical Intellectuals

One day
the apolitical
of my country
will be interrogated
by the simplest
of our people.

They will be asked
what they did
when their nation died out
like a sweet fire
small and alone.

No one will ask them
about their dress,
their long siestas
after lunch,
no one will want to know
about their sterile combats
with "the idea
of the nothing"
no one will care about
their higher financial learning.

They won't be questioned
on Greek mythology,
or regarding their self-disgust
when someone within them
begins to die
the coward's death.

They'll be asked nothing
about their absurd
born in the shadow
of the total life.

On that day
the simple men will come.

Those who had no place
in the books and poems
of the apolitical intellectuals,
but daily delivered
their bread and milk,
their tortillas and eggs,
those who drove their cars,
who cared for their dogs and gardens
and worked for them,
and they'll ask:

"What did you do when the poor
suffered, when tenderness
and life
burned out of them?"

Apolitical intellectuals
of my sweet country,
you will not be able to answer.

A vulture of silence
will eat your gut.

Your own misery
will pick at your soul.

And you will be mute in your shame.


The most beautiful thing
for those who have fought a whole life
is to come to the end and say;
we believed in people and life,
and life and the people
never let us down.

Only in this way do men become men,
women become women,
fighting day and night
for people and for life.

And when these lives come to an end
the people open their deepest rivers
and they enter those waters forever.
And so they become, distant fires, living,
creating the heart of example

The most beautiful thing
for those who have fought a whole life
is to come to the end and say;
we believed in people and life,
and life and the people
never let us down.

Before the Scales, Tomorrow:

And when the enthusiastic
story of our time
is told,
who are yet to be born
but announce themselves
with more generous face,
we will come out ahead
--those who have suffered most from it.

And that
being ahead of your time
means much suffering from it.
But it's beautiful to love the world
with eyes
that have not yet
been born.

And splendid
to know yourself victorious
when all around you
it's all still so cold,
so dark.

For those who dont know Castillo , here is a brief description
Otto Rene Castillo was born on April 25th, 1934. He was the son of Juana de Dios Castillo Merida, from whom he inherited his personality and verbosity. These characteristics eventually led him to win the title of Revolutionary Poet of America. Castillo went to primary school in Quetzaltenango and later moved to Guatemala City to attend secondary school at the Central National Institute for Boys. In the Democratic Republic of Germany, he attended the University of Leipzig. He majored in cinematography, taught by Jorvis Ivens, and graduated with a Master's degree in Arts.
At age eighteen, he began his career writing articles for youth magazines. In 1953, poet Werner Ovalle Lopez gave a seminar called, "The Sunday Hour" and declared Castillo a "worthy youth" because at this time he was writing articles for a variety of magazines. As a youth, Castillo participated in the student's association and was president of a youth organization called the Work Party of Guatemala. In 1954, during the Proimperialistic counter revolution, this leading youth with some other democratic intellectuals, went into exile.
Otto Rene Castillo took refuge in El Salvador where he worked as a laborer, salesman and clerk. His life as an emigrant was hard and poor. But during this time, he met Oswaldo Escobar Velado, Roque Dalton Garcia, Roberto Armijo and other writers who encouraged him by reading and promoting his literary works. These were published in the "Daily Latino. " From that point, he went to the university to study law and then founded the University Literary Circle. His influences were Neruda, Hernandez and Vallejo. In 1955, Castillo received the poetry prize of Central America , which was shared by Roque Dalton. In 1956, he received another prize from Guatemalan university students in celebration of the poem, "Motherland, let's Walk." This work, according to his critics, is a reflection of the misery and sadness caused by immeasurable exploitation.
In 1957 after the death of dictator Castillo Armas, the people were, "allowed to breathe easily." Otto Rene Castillo returned to Guatemala to integrate himself into the cultural movement and study law at the University of San Carlos. In 1959, he left for Leipzig by means of the Filadelfo Salazar Scholarship. Between 1957 and 1959 his poems were released in the student editions of "The Student informer" and the "The Impartial." He traveled to Europe, Asia and Africa, acquiring an extensive humane world vision. In 1964, he returned to Guatemala to dedicate himself to cultural activities and the political actions of the Worker's Party. He founded the Experimental Theater of the Capital City Municipality, collaborating with the association of university students who published some of his sonnets in their book "Tecun Uman." Castillo was also published in the university magazine, "Spears and Letters." In 1964, he was put in jail by the Peralta Azurdia regime. Later he was expropriated, traveling to Europe where he organized the World Youth Festival. He later returned secretly to Guatemala to gather up a rebel force to combat the Montenegrista regime. In the distant and humid mountain ranges of Zacapa and Izabel, Catillo experienced the demanding limitations of the guerrilla insurrection and the intimidating, harsh Guatemalan system. Still young Castillo promised the motherland to drink her bitter cups of grief and affliction and become blind so that she can see, fulfilling the words in his poem, "Vamos Patria a Caminar," March 19th, 1967 . He was captured in the mountains of Sierra de las Minas, along with Nora Paiz. He was taken to the brutal estate of Arrana in Zacapa, where he was tortured and burned with various other plantation workers.
The people paid homage in Guatemala, great Britain and Costa Rica to Castillo after his death, by publishing his work "Report of Injustice."
In the final words of Oscar Arutro Palencia, "The thirty three years that Castillo lived with us is our evidence that the decent, intellectual, artistic, and scientific man should grow, raising himself up with his own people, with the humble".


Anonymous said...

my husband is from Guatemala and I went there i we were driving through the country I asked his cousin to read aloud in spanish...a few of my favorite poems of Castillo. So beautiful. So moving. To see the earth, the country, the people he loved so much and gave his life for......his words still move me to be so young...and to lose your life.. for your country.....a true man of honor. My favorite poem is...Let's Go Country....

राही डूमरचीर said...

thanks very very much to sharings these poems...i was realy unware of this comrade poet..thanks comrade

Unknown said...

I remain a song dedicated to the revolution