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Diatribe Against the Dead -- Angel Gonzalez

Guest poem sent in by Mack Freeman
(Poem #1751) Diatribe Against the Dead
 The dead are selfish:
 they make us cry and don't care,
 they stay quiet in the most inconvenient places,
 they refuse to walk, we have to carry them
 on our backs to the tomb
 as if they were children.  What a burden!
 Unusually rigid, their faces
 accuse us of something, or warn us;
 they are the bad conscience, the bad example,
 they are the worst things in our lives always, always.
 The bad thing about the dead
 is that there is no way you can kill them.
 Their constant destructive labor
 is for the reason incalculable.
 Insensitive, distant, obstinate, cold,
 with their insolence and their silence
 they don't realize what they undo.
-- Angel Gonzalez
Translated from the Spanish by Steven Ford Brown and Gutierrez Revuelta

I don't have much in the way of critical analysis for this piece, but it
reminds me of my high school theatre teacher who told everyone one day that
one of the most cathartic things you could do when dealing with death or
with the prospect of your own death was to plan your own funeral and to get
everything out of the way and to get closure with the situation.  I'm
sitting here now, a few days before I'm about to move and start a major life
change...and I'm just starting to realize all of the huge changes that go
around all of us in each day.  One of my aunt's is pregnant with what may be
a Down's Syndrome baby...but it's the daughter they've always wanted.
Another aunt is so sick it doesn't look like she'll make it through the
weekend...

This poem brings the idea that all of the sorrow over death is with the
living...all the anger, hate, fear, sorrow...emotion in general, is left
with the living because the dead have moved on.  It reminds me that a death
(and almost any life change) can destroy the people affected by it...that
some people can't pick up the pieces (immediately or sometimes at all) and
move on.  They get angry or they get destroyed.

Wow...that was really rambly, but maybe some of it made sense.  I just
discovered this poet in an anthology I was reading the other day and I was
just struck by his overall style and this piece in particular.

Mack F.

[Biographical Data]

Born in Oviedo in 1925, Angel Gonzalez yong life was stricken by the Spanish
Civil War with one of his brothers being exiled and another being
assassinated.  Eventually he became a lawyer and worked for the Civil
Administration in Madrid.  His first book of poems appeared in 1956 which
was positively received.  Awards he has received include the Premio Antonio
Machado in 1956 and the Premio Principe de Asturis de las Letras in 1985.
His main topics include mortality, love, and civil observance.

50 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Ameya Nagarajan said...

does anyone happen to have the spanish original?

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