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José Martí: Un Hombre Sincero

Without a word, the pompous muse
He set aside and understood:
From such a withered branch he chose;
To hang thereby his doctoral hood.

He knew when fools were laid to rest,
Honor and tears would yet abound.
And that of all fruits, the very best,
Was left to rest in hallowed ground.

All was beautiful and all was right;
All was musical, with much reason.
And all, like diamonds, poured out light;
Sparkling bright, and without treason.

On his brave heart, was alas engraved
A sorrow patently hidden from all eyes.
A stalwart patriot of a land enslaved;
To live and suffer, because of spies.

So trembling thus with joy, and dread,
He grasped the heavens, with hope untold.
The distant firmament above his head;
Perchance some mercy would with Grace unfold.

He knew the inhabited world of man was weak.
There, citizens hunkered gladly to the ground;
And that his kinsmen, bold or meek,
Sought from him encouragement profound.

He saw across the distant skies
A wounded eagle bravely flying.
Knowing how his wizened eyes
Could sense the venom — for him lying.

With this rear view that he obtained,
More worthy than a jeweler’s trove,
He surmised that he had then gained,
A knowledge earned from Heaven above.

He heard a sigh across the earth.
It was a sigh from oceans deep:
The kind of sigh that gives one mirth:
A native land — rising from sleep.

So he rejoiced in being free,
Despite the suffering and the blame;
Knowing that such a man as he,
Would yet, in dying, erase much shame.

He trembled when amidst the dung
They threw him down, only to be fed
With vermin, and with wasps that stung.
Leaving him lifeless — to be dead.

Twice, for an instance, he did stare.
His soul reflecting on his life;
Twice, he hoped his life they’d spare,
Without rancor, although with strife.

He knew with instinct, how a man could live,
If he kept courage, steadfastly by his side.
Then physical death would surely not deceive.
His conquering spirit would in him survive.

In such a state he now saw surging
Amidst the pressing painful boulders,
His chrysalis self, with butterfly wings, emerging;
From heap of refuse rising, up to his shoulders.

A vision seen through dead of night.
Around his head a circle fall;
Angelically providing light;
Archangels approaching, with a roll call.

They knew his name; they knew his past.
They knew the bickering, and the woe.
He knew himself the die was cast.
He’d be examined, from head to toe.

While though a traveler with earthly smarts,
In Heaven, he’d be a mere newcomer anon.
That, despite his achieved legalistic arts,
He’d be a novice, his heroic feats now all done.

A sincere man indeed, let none deny.
José Martí, with a patriot’s script to liberate
An island nation; and, by gunfire, shot to die;
Writing verses that will forever reverberate.

About this poem

“Apostle of Cuban Independence,” José Julián Martí Pérez (1853-1895), was a Cuban nationalist, poet, philosopher, essayist, and journalist considered a national revolutionary hero and patriot. This poem, “José Martí: Un Hombre Sincero,” is an adaptation of the Cuban poet Martí’s “Un Hombre Sincero” poem, recorded in “Versos Sencillos” (1891), and adapted and popularized in song by American folk singer and musician Pete Seeger, as “Guantanamera.” The opening lines of the original Spanish composition reads as follows: “Yo soy un hombre sincero De donde crece la palma, Y antes de morirme quiero Echar mis versos del alma. ” In my composition of this poem, I’ve reversed the order of the original eighteen stanza rhymed quatrain, with the eighteenth stanza becoming the first stanza, and with the first stanza now set as the eighteenth stanza. Additionally, the contents of the original poem (in English translation) have been substantially modified to present this poem in the form of an ode or lyric poem; and to convey the exalted and inspired emotion of a fallen, yet risen hero, expressed in an imaginative language that presents the imagery of a national hero prepared to meet his Maker in the afterlife journey as a Guerrillero Héroico Andante in the fashion of Miguel de Cervantes’ El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de La Mancha. As the ancient Chinese philosopher and writer Lao Tzu (circa 6th century-4th century BCE), once said: “What the caterpillar in chrysalis stage calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly soaring with angelic wings.” Fly, butterfly, fly. Fly like a newborn eagle. Fly loftily, upward bound, with newborn angelic wings. 

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Written on November 07, 2022

Submitted by karlcfolkes on December 07, 2022

Modified by karlcfolkes on May 31, 2023

2:51 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 2,818
Words 572
Stanzas 18
Stanza Lengths 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4

Karl Constantine FOLKES

Retired educator of Jamaican ancestry with a lifelong interest in composing poetry dealing particularly with the metaphysics of self-reflection; completed a dissertation in Children’s Literature in 1995 at New York University entitled: An Analysis of Wilhelm Grimm’s “Dear Mili” Employing Von Franzian Methodological Processes. The subject of the dissertation concerned the process of Individuation. more…

All Karl Constantine FOLKES poems | Karl Constantine FOLKES Books

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