UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Spain of Blood and Jasmine by Francis Combes

Spain, of beaten leather
men carry as scarves neck-wise
with heavy guns in their hands
They stamp their feet blow on their fingers
to ward off the cold coming back up from the south
with Franco’s columns
Hitler and Mussolini’s airplanes
the cold of the black order
of the defenders of big landowners
and the church and the tradition
which wages war against life under the motto
Viva la muerte.

The silvery
olive-tree tops hold bodies of the tortured
put to the rack
but there are woods of justice
in the sorrow of the people.

On the plain, orange-trees
can no longer carry their crucified suns
in their arms.
O Spain of sweetness
Spain of the duende of violets
Spain of jasmine
of forged iron and wild mint
Spain of Federico, Miguel, Rafael
Spain of poets and goat-herders…
Still you’ve known hope
lorries rustling with red flags
traversing dry riverbeds
and crossing hills and valleys
with scarlet songs
and roars of laughter.
You’ve known youth’s living water drunk without
        putting your lips to the glass
the big sensitive drum of brotherhood
the warm friendship of the peoples
Teachers, workers or students
who’ve left their homes
to fly to the aid of your republic.

Spain, you became the home of the peoples
the motherland of the workers of the whole world.
You were defeated by the weapons of Franco, Hitler,
by the lack of help of the supercilious democracies
        and by your own divisions.

You bled along the way
they abandoned you in a ditch
like mule-carrion.

Spain of wire-guarded years
Spain of the sick dove in the confessional
Spain of pride tossed into the air
in the midst of tourists
like a cowboy hat
during the corrida.
Spain, you’ve left us the memory of a people
and the action of the Brigades
an epic of volunteer
soldiers without precedent
an action of international solidarity
humanity suddenly conscious of itself.

You’ll always look after your wounded flags
the sun of dignity
the blood of revolt
and your deep mauve sorrow.

But the people aren’t a bull in a ring;
men can plant banderillos in its back
make the red poppies of its blood
explode over the inky night of its spine
force it to its knees on the ground
thrust at it and drive
a sword between its two eyes
but they can never kill it
because though beaten down, vanquished, tortured
the people will always get up again
and sometimes will even arrive dressed in light
to gore their torturers
and dance on their disaster.