The Opposite of Ornate and Rbetorical Poetry

by José Martí

José Martí

The opposite of ornate and rhetorical poetry
Is natural poetry. Here a torrent,
There an arid stone, here a golden
Bird that gleams among the verdant branches
Like a nasturtium among emeralds.
There the fetid viscous traces
Ofa worm, its eyes two bubbles
Of mire, its belly brownish, gross and filthy
Above the tree, far higher and alone
In a steel-gray sky, a constant
Star;, and down below the star a furnace,
A furnace in whose fires the earth is cooking
And flames, the flames that struggle, with open
Holes for eyes, their tongues like arms,
Their sap like a man's blood, their sharpened
Points like swords: the swords of life that finally,
From fire to fire, acquire the earth
The fire climbs, comes from within; it howls, aborts.
Man starts in fire and stops in wings.
At his triumphant step the sullied
And vile, the cowards, the defeated
Like snakes or mongrels, like
Crocodiles with powerful teeth,
From here, from there, from trees that shelter him,
From lands that hold him, the brooks
That slake his thirst, the very anvil
Where his bread is forged-they bark at him,
Nip at his feet, throw mud and dust in his face,
And all that blinds him on his journey.
But beating his wings he sweeps the world
And rises through the fiery air
Dead as a man, but like a sun serene.
This is what noble poetry should be:
Just as is life: both star and mongrel:
A cave serrated by fire,
A pine tree in whose fragrant branches
A nest of birds sings in the moonlight:
Birds singing in the moonlight.

Last updated November 30, 2022