Ernesto Che Guevara’s tribute to Palenque


Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Remember him, this handsome and dashing idealist and ideologue of the Cuban Revolution of 1959 led by Fidel Castro?

Yes, most of us do. But not many may be aware that this famous icon of the Cuban Revolution, Che as he is popularly known, is also a poet. Here is one I like. It is his tribute to Palenque titled “Palenque: Something lives on in your stone“.

“Something lives on in your stone,
sister of green dawning
and the silence of your ghosts
is a scandal to the tombs of kings.

Your heart is pierced by the indifferent pick
of some wise man in boring glasses
while your face is struck by the insolent offense
in the stupid “Oh!” of the gringo tourist.

But something in you is alive.
What it is I do not know
but the forest offers you the embrace of its trunks
and even the merciful scraping of its roots.

A huge zoologist wields the pin
with which to skewer your temples for the throne,
and still you do not die.

What force sustains you
beyond the centuries
live and throbbing as in your youth?
At the end of the day, what god blows
the breath of life into your stars?

Might it be the jocund tropical sun?
Why not in Chich’en-Itza then?
Might it be the forest’s jovial embrace
or the melodious song of birds?

And why is Quiringua’s sleep more sound?
Might it be the play of the melodious spring
beating in the rough of the earth?
And yet, the Incas have died”.

Cheers, amigos!!—Din Merican

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