Some were unaware.
They believed that the earth was still habitable.
They didn’t look at the crack
that the earthquake opened up; they weren’t there when the cancer
appeared on the frightened face of a man.
They laughed the moment
an apple, instead of falling,
flew off and the universe was declared insane.
They didn’t witness the decapitation
of the innocent. They never distinguished
between an innocent and one who is not.
(On the other hand right from the start
they had approved the death penalty.)
They kept turning up to the places,
demanding a more comfortable chair, a tastier
menu, a more appropriate treatment.
My dear, if they wait on you ungratefully, punish them!
And on the walls there was a strange disorder
and on the tables there was no food but hate
and hate in the wine and hate in the tablecloth
and hatred even in the wood and in the nails.
The absent-minded whispered among themselves:
What’s going on? You have to complain!
Nobody was listening. Nobody could stop.
It was the time of emigrations.
Everything burned: cities, entire forests, clouds.
Rosario Castellanos (1925-1974)
(translation by John Lyons)
Poetry is universal. Rosario Castellanos wrote many poems about the dispossessed of Mexico. When we read her poetry we are all Mexicans, and in our minds and hearts in this tragic moment, we are also all Ukrainians, as Zelensky says : Shakespeare is Ukrainian, Dante is Ukrainian, Cervantes is Ukrainian. All cultures are one human culture and culture, by definition, resists and denounces all tyranny and inhumanity for all time.