They told me you were in love with another man
and then I went off to my room
and I wrote that article against the government
that landed me in jail.
I first encountered the above four lines—the eighth section of
Cardenal’s long poem “Epigrams”—I was sure I was reading a Latin
American writer concerned, a la Neruda, with love and political strife
in equal measure. I was right, but little did I know of the complete
depth of Cardenal; little did I know that this poem, which is
wonderful, was not necessarily a perfect synecdoche of the
poet/priest/activist’s total abilities. “Epigrams” is early Cardenal,
written in a period of reaction against Somoza in Nicaragua. Though its
deep political leanings manifest before long, the poet as sad bastard
makes an appearance first . . .
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