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I wish to leave the world -- José Martí

Guest poem submitted by Movin Miranda:
(Poem #452) I wish to leave the world
 I wish to leave the world
 By its natural door;
 In my tomb of green leaves
 They are to carry me to die.
 Do not put me in the dark
 To die like a a traitor;
 I am good, and like a good thing
 I will die with my face to the sun
-- José Martí
I have chosen the poem not so much for its merit (can't say how much of it is
lost in translation) but because the poet's life fascinates me. It is very
unusual for a poet to be actually a guerrilla fighter and then be a hero to both
the extreme-right and to the leftists.

In Jose Marti's case both the Castro regime and its right-wing opponents based
in Miami have claimed José Martí as their own. Quizzards and music lovers will
recognise José Martí as the one who wrote the popular song "Guantanamera".
Actually the song is based on one of his poems. More trivia: the anti-Castro
stations Radio Marti and TV Marti, Havana's main airport and El Salvador's
leftist guerrilla outfit (the Farabundo Marti Liberation Front) are all named
for this Cuban patriot. Wonder why there is no Hollywood movie based on his
life, as yet.



José Martí (1853-1895)

Cuban poet, essayist and journalist, who became symbol of Cuba's struggle for
independence from Spain and who promoted better understanding among American

Martí was born in Havanna. He studied at the Instituto de Havana (1866-69), and
worked on the underground periodicals El Diablo Cojuelo and La Patria Libre. In
1869 Martí was arrested for subversion and sentenced to six years' hard labour.
He went into exile to Spain, where he studied at the University of Madrid (1873)
and University of Saragosa, receiving degree in law in 1873, and a year later
degree in philosophy and letters.  In 1875 Martí moved to Mexico and wrote for
Revista Universal. He taught then literature and philosphy at the University of
Guatemala and returned to Cuba where he worked in a law office. In 1879 he was
again deported to Spain.

Because of his political activities, Martí was unwelcome to many countries. In
1881 he moved to New York City, where he worked as an editor, journalist or
foreign correspondent for several magazines, including the New York Sun, El
Partido Liberal, La Opinión Nacional, La Nación, La República, El Economista
Americano, and La Opinión Pública. Martí also served as consul for Uruguay,
Paraguay, and Argentina, and was a Spanish teacher at Central High School.

Except for travels, Martí remained in the U.S. until the year of his death. He
published the periodical La patria, which followed events in Cuba, and launched
a crusade for independence of his birth country from Spain. In 1894 he founded
the Cuban revolutionary Party and tried to lead a company of revolutionaries
from the U.S. to Cuba. The plan failed but next year he succeeded in reaching
Cuba, and died in a skirmish at Dos Rios on May 19, 1895. Popular song
Guantanamera is based on Marti's poem. His style is still considered a model of
Spanish prose. Martí's collected writings in 73 volumes appeared in 1936-53.
Main body of Martí's prose was journalistic in nature, targeted for quick
publication in newspapers and magazines. In his essays he always reaffirmed his
anticolonialist and antiracists beliefs. During the last fifteen years of his
life, Martí sent regular contributions to important Spanish American newspapers
and displayed his his essays a new style, which had deep influence on the
literary prose of every Spanish-speaking nation.


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