Yes, It Is Spain

by Nancy Cunard

Nancy Cunard

What is a bomb?
Something I can’t yet believe.
What is a tomb?
Something I can’t yet see.
And what is a wound in its wounding,
And the shot cutting a vein and the blood coming
Out of an eye, say, stabbed - are these things too for me?

Bitter, how bitter, do you remember in a certain by-now long ago,
Anger boiling through in tears on the foul London midnight stain.
18, 18, 18 - if a man, yes, I’d have been shifted over into it then,
Into the great-to-do, the last one, the Grande Guerre,

With some cross-eyed crossroad finger pointing at me
“On!” on to some bottomless pit for the long waiting and wondering:
“Can you tell me what it’s about?” till the hour’s coming
With its “Ready for death?” “Hell no - ready for nothing”... that’s me.

You, man, mumbling that misplaced, ridiculous “a spot of bother”,
O brother contemporary, and some of you the salt of the earth -
What else could you do but go? We shall not forget you,
(And that’s fact, humanly not officially said),
Nor forgive the present Flanders-Poppy flaunting ahead towards the next one,
By La-Der-des-Ders into La Prochaine. I have not forgot my dead.

You think this is something new? No; this too becomes Spain,
All of it, all of it’s Spain, with the dial set at Revenge -
No past pageantry of wan mothers and lovers weeping,
Ruined, undone for ever, that Spain cannot avenge.

I’m of a mood tonight, boy, marked DO NOT TOUCH,
Though somebody, say, like Villon, may have the best of it,
Long dead and safe from the shells and cries and wounds,
And the scythes of war mowing ground for our latter-day tombs.

I’m of a mood with Bosch and Zola and Villon,
Who brooked no nonsense, who wrote and painted and said
Their NO against foolery, NO against lying, their NO to
The proud-fleshed fakir, their NO to the living-dead,

The popes and imposters, the critics pragmatic, the pomps - to
Prick irony into function by use of the heart and the fact -
Into the washtub with History, for the better showing of it;
Then, now, à la mode du temps - that the artist becomes the act.

Blake too - you’ll do well to remember that naked man’s announcement:
“It is impossible, yes, for truth to be told so’s understood
And not be believed”. Great Blake is the Day of Judgement,
Vengeful, oppressive, peculiar - Blake’s all to the good.

Daddy Hogarth, and Faust, Shakespeare, Chaucer and Marlowe,
Goya, Heine and Daumier, and the long-exiled giant, Hugo,
Dante - what do you think they’d say to you, artist in hesitations?
Shall I call on these our dead for their answer? “Go,

Learn from the day’s ruins and tombs” they say, “our trust’s in the people
Who fought against iron, Church and Bank, with naked fist, fight not in vain -
Every man to his battle, child; this is yours, understand it,
In that desert where blood replaces water - Yes, it is Spain.”


Last updated February 19, 2023