Articles / Opinion / Opinion / My flesh and bone Jose Marti
Monday, February 9, 2009
My flesh and bone Jose Marti
By Jose Raul Gallego, student of Journalism.
Jose Marti is a symbol for all Cubans. Considered the apostle of this Island nation, the architect of the Cuba's War of Independence (1895-1898) and ultimately the mastermind of the attack on the Moncada garrison in 1953, Marti was the most lucid thinker of his time. However, this Marti is simply a small portion of an unbreakable whole.
The greatness of some men sometimes is misinterpreted by others, and often people commit a naïve mistake which is idolizing them and believing they are mythical, beyond any mortal.
Discovering Marti has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. For years I recited the Versos Sencillos, learnt by heart his chronology, his aphorisms – useful enough to support my essays at school-, however, I didn’t know the man. I knew that he had been born in Havana, that had wrote much, that had founded the Cuban Revolutionary Party, that had fought for the freedom of this country, and something else. That was the Marti of my childhood, someone resembling a statue or a drawing hanging on the wall of my first school. Among so many historic dates, fragments of his literary work and busts, I had forgotten the man.
Marti was only that, nothing else. Unconsciously, I was missing the best of the greatest Cuban. But time set people and experiences on my way and little by little they opened my eyes. So, after hours of reading, the cold marble that I had in my mind began to take shape. I started to envisage him, skin-headed in a prison, and with his ankle bleeding because of a blister, caused by a thigh and heavy shackle. I discovered him courageous, facing those who branded him a coward, wearing a black tie and an iron ring with an inscription on it that read: “Cuba”. Or I imagined him walking down the streets of New York or Tampa, thinking how to be a good provider for his only child, but without touching the funds of the Revolutionary cause.
That man was somebody new, different, and unknown. He was human like me. A student full of love and ideas, wandering around the city of Aragon, in Spain, far from his family, his beloved mother and without the hope of seeing the palm trees again. Banished to a foreign country, but with the Island beating in his chest. He lived scorned by some who didn’t want an educated urban fellow to lead the insurrection.
Embracing his son, Marti wrote letters to the generals of the previous warfare and collaborated with several publications in the continent to support his family. An in the evenings he awaited his verses, endless companions that followed him like ghosts and obliged him to leave his soul on the paper, to suffer his anguish, his infatuations, his long-held desires, to lay the foundations of one of the greatest literary movements in America: El Modernismo.
This is the Marti I admire. The one, who was mistaken with the impressionist painters, but knew to rectify on time. The one, who could overcome the initial glare produced by a society that appeared like a model of freedom for the eyes of the world, and looked even further the horizon to discover its hatreds and contradictions. The one, who admired Abraham Lincoln and revered Karl Marx.
The one who showed refined manners in the ballroom and appraised the good wine, but also took the wheel under the storm and faced the bullets of the enemy when it came down to it. The gallant man who once wrote that his teeth hurt because of “the cups of flesh”.
The father, who knew synthesized, in the genial verses called Ismaelillo, the tenderest images of love. The one, who left aside his delicate writing and turned his pen into a knife to vindicate Cuba from the offences the US daily The Manufacturer had published. That flesh and bone man who elaborated an ethical time-proof project, based on dignity, on the respect to the human being, on love. A program that does not grow old because everlasting are the ideals of justice.
And Marti became my Teacher. He taught me to think by myself, he showed me the need to fight for what one believes, regardless the price one has to pay, he taught me about politics, about economy, philosophy and arts…And also about life. I learnt from his poetry that “of woman, you may die of her bite, but don’t tarnish your life defaming a woman” and men are not “measured by the times they fall, but for the times they stand up.” And that distant Marti became an example, a goal, a patter to follow.
And the thing is that the greatness of some men lies in what they are capable to demand from themselves, of living a life of sacrifices and going forth when others receded. No one tries to imitate the impossible, but the heroes are there – like the Sun, with spots and lights- by one side of the road, telling us that we can, that we carry what is essential inside us. And that above doctrines, isolations, material and ideological borders lays the human will, the love that creates wonders. (Translation Gualveris Rosales Sánchez)
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