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Translated from the Spanish by Martín Espada and Camilo Pérez-Bustillo
Published: Sun Apr 15 1990
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
from The Wooden Horse

Translated from the Spanish by Martín Espada and Camilo Pérez-Bustillo



I came to know him,
like an h imprisoned in the honey of his bees,
but the bars of honey were bittersweet,
and because
he lost himself
in love with liberation,
and because he did not abandon
his love nor she her lover,
the earth for him
is a hurricane of persecuted stars,
since liberation cannot
love anyone
except whoever loves
the earth, its sun, its sky.

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Clemente Soto Vélez (1905–1993) was an influential Puerto Rican poet and activist. He is well known in Puerto Rico for both his poetry and his advocacy for independence. A bilingual selection of his poetry, The Blood That Keeps Singing/La Sangre que Sigue Canta, was published in 2001 by Curbstone Press.

Martín Espada has published numerous collections of poetry, including The Immigrant Iceboy’s Bolero (Waterfront Press), Trumpets from the Islands of Their Eviction (Bilingual Press), and _Rebellion Is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands _(Curbstone Press). His awards include a Massachusetts Artists Fellowship and the PEN/Revson Foundation Fellowship. He lives in Boston, where he works as a lawyer and teaches at Suffolk University Law School. (updated 1990)
Camilo Pérez-Bustillo is a lawyer, professor, translator, and human rights activist. He has written extensively on the rights of indigenous and displaced peoples and has been an advisor on poverty to the UN Human Rights Council. He was the co-editor of The Poverty of Rights: Human Rights and the Eradication of Poverty_ _(Zed Books, 2001) and the co-translator of a selection of Clemente Soto Velez’s poetry, _The Blood That Keeps Singing _(Curbstone Press, 1995). (updated 6/2010)
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