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Unacknowledged legislators in the news

26 January 2014

Percy Bysshe Shelly may have defined poets as the “unacknowledged legislators of the world” but their doings are seldom remarked outside the halls of academia, or in the smallest of small circulation media.  Except maybe in Mexico, where not only do we put our dead poets (Octavio Paz, Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, Nezahaucoatl of Texcoco) on our currency, we publish updates on the health of our living ones.

2014-01-26_012211José Emilio Pacheco (“one of the most significant contemporary Latin American poets”) took a nasty fall at home yesterday, and was hospitalized.  While perhaps less newsworthy outside Mexico than, say, a 20 year old Canadian pop star being arrested in the United States, when a 75 year old national treasure is whisked to the hospital, it is national news here.

While, as one might expect, the leftist and intellectual La Jornada (for which the poet’s wife, journalist and TV personality Cristina Pacheco, is a regular essayist) gives prominent placement to Pacheco’s health situation on its website, the mainstream El Universal — a much more “U.S. style” publication — not only put a 2014-01-26_011906link to the article on Pacheco’s health on the home page of its on-line edition, but publishing a list of his visitors:

Accompanying the writers’ family were his editor Marcelo Uribe, the poet Coral Bracho, and literary critic Fernando García Ramírez.  Historian Enrique Krauze dropped by a few hours later.

Perhaps it means our priorities are right.  There’s not much we can do about our   “official” legislators and p9liticians come and go.  How they’re feeling doesn’t much interest anyone outside their own families.  Our unacknowledged legislators … are the indispensible men and women of the culture and cannot be replaced, thought one hopes, there will always be others.  But not too soon… get well José Emilio Pacheco.

Alta traición

No amo mi Patria. Su fulgor abstracto
es inasible.
Pero (aunque suene mal) daría la vida
por diez lugares suyos, cierta gente,
puertos, bosques de pinos, fortalezas,
una ciudad deshecha, gris, monstruosa,
varias figuras de su historia,
(y tres o cuatro ríos).

High treason (translation via Judith Pordon, Casa Poema)

I do not love my country. Its abstract splendor
is beyond my grasp.
But (although it sounds bad) I would give my life
for ten places in it, for certain people,
seaports, pinewoods, fortresses,
a run-down city, gray, grotesque,
various figures from its history
(and three or four rivers).

One Comment leave one →
  1. Wsmith permalink
    26 January 2014 2:31 pm

    Thank you for the poem, beautiful.

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