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The South Also Exists [El Sur también existe]

Con su ritual de acero

sus grandes chimeneas

sus sabios clandestinos

su canto de sirena

sus cielos de neón

sus ventas navideñas

su culto de Dios Padre

y de las charreteras

con sus llaves del reino

el Norte es el que ordena

pero aquí abajo, abajo

el hambre disponible

recurre al fruto amargo

de lo que otros deciden

mientras el tiempo pasa

y pasan los desfiles

y se hacen otras cosas

que el Norte no prohíbe.

Con su esperanza dura

el Sur también existe.

Con sus predicadores

sus gases que envenenan

su escuela de Chicago

sus dueños de la tierra

con sus trapos de lujo

y su pobre osamenta

sus defensas gastadas

sus gastos de defensa
con su gesta invasora

el Norte es el que ordena.

Pero aquí abajo, abajo

cada uno en su escondite

hay hombres y mujeres

que saben a qué asirse

aprovechando el sol

y también los eclipses

apartando lo inútil

y usando lo que sirve.

Con su fe veterana

el Sur también existe.

Con su corno francés

y su academia sueca

su salsa americana

y sus llaves inglesas

con todos sus misiles

y sus enciclopedias

su guerra de galaxias

y su saña opulenta

con todos sus laureles

el Norte es el que ordena.

Pero aquí abajo, abajo

cerca de las raíces

es donde la memoria

ningún recuerdo omite

y hay quienes se desmueren

y hay quienes se desviven

y así entre todos logran

lo que era un imposible

que todo el mundo sepa

que el Sur,

que el Sur también existe

With its ritual of steel

its great chimneys

its secret scholars

its siren song

its neon skies

its Christmas sales

its cult of God the Father

and of epaulets

with its keys
to the kingdom

the North is the one
who orders

but down here, down

hunger at hand

resorts to the bitter fruit

of what others decide

while time passes

and pass the parades

and other things

that the North doesn’t forbid.

With its hard hope

the South also exists.

With its preachers

its poison gases

its Chicago school

its owners of the Earth

with its luxurious costume

and its meager frame

its spent defenses

its expenses of defense
with its epic of invasion

the North is the one
who orders.

But down here, down

each in their hideaway

are men and women

who know what to grasp

making the most of the sun

and eclipses

putting useless things aside

and using what is useful.

With its veteran faith

the South also exists.

With its French horn

and its Swedish academy

its American sauce

and its English wrenches

with all its missiles

and its encyclopedias

its war of galaxies

and its rich cruelty

with all its laurels

the North is the one
who orders.

But down here, down

near the roots

is where memory

omits no memory

and there are those

who defy death for

and die for

and thus together achieve

what was impossible

that the whole world
would know

that the South,

that the South also exists

Mario Benedetti was born in Paso de los Toros, Uruguay, on 14 September 1920.  He did journalism for the weekly Marcha from 1945 till it was shut down by dictatorship.  He also taught Latin American Literature at the Faculty of the Humanities in Montevideo.  After the military coup in 1973, he resigned his university position and went into exile, first in Argentina and later in Peru, Cuba, and Spain.  In 1976, he began to serve on the board of the Centro de Investigaciones Literarias of the Casa de las Américas in Havana.  He lived in exile till 1983, and he now lives in Montevideo and Madrid.  He has published more than 40 books, which have been translated into 18 languages.  His novels and short stories have been adopted for radio, television, and cinema.  This poem has been popularized by Joan Manuel Serrat‘s song.  Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi (@yoshiefuruhashi | yoshie.furuhashi [at]


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