A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.




 

Nicolás Guillén and the Switchblade
Wednesday, March 01, 2006


In 1967 my very Argentine but very communist aunt, Sara Lopes Colodrero de Irureta Goyena gave me three parting gifts when I left Buenos Aires. I shoved off in an ELMA (Empresa Líneas Marítimas Argentinas) Victory Ship called the Rio Aguapey. She told me that on board a long voyage, stopping at many Brazilian ports, anything could happen. "You will need this sevillana (switchblade) and so that it will open swiftly I am giving you this little bottle of whale oil. Whale oil is the best. And finally you will have plenty of time to read. I am giving you my copy of Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén's (1902-1989) Sóngoro Cosongo." I lost touch with Tia Sarita and the whale oil is long gone. But I still have the sevillana and I often read Tú no sabe inglé which is one of my favourite poems. I never had to use the switchblade on board the Rio Aguapey. I wasn't to know until 2000 that she had been built in North Vancouver.

Nicolás Guillén




Tú no sabe inglé
Con tanto inglé que tú sabía,
Bito Manué,
con tanto inglé, no sabe ahora
desí ye.

La mericana te buca,
y tú le tiene que huí:
tu inglé era de etrái guan,
de etrái guan y guan tu tri.

Bito Manué, tú no sabe inglé,
tú no sabe inglé,
tú no sabe inglé.

No te namore ma nunca.
Bito Manué,
si no sabe inglé,
si no sabe inglé.



 Nicolás Guillén
(Motivos de son, 1930)






     

Previous Posts
Gone Fishing

The Blue Chow (Chow)

Frank McCourt -Teacher Man

Laura Kramer and her Baroque Cello

Tamsin and Gerry Again

Gerry Gilbert's Bicycle

Carole Taylor, Art Phillips and the three Russians...

Billy "Bud" Cowsill 1948-2006

John Alleyne

Captain Schork's Intruder



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4/2/17 - 4/9/17

4/9/17 - 4/16/17

4/16/17 - 4/23/17

4/23/17 - 4/30/17

4/30/17 - 5/7/17

5/7/17 - 5/14/17

5/14/17 - 5/21/17

5/21/17 - 5/28/17

5/28/17 - 6/4/17

6/4/17 - 6/11/17

6/11/17 - 6/18/17

6/18/17 - 6/25/17

6/25/17 - 7/2/17